Learning how to build a professional network is a necessity for anyone striving for a successful career. Job changes require more than just a solid track record; they require contacts. Having people in your professional circle provides you leads on new positions and aligns you with mentors to help guide your career. Networks can be especially important in the sports industry, given how competitive it can be to get positions.
Building a professional network hinges, in part, on having your contacts within an organized setting. A network of contacts should be well documented and maintained. Names, titles, companies, email addresses, and phone numbers can be organized within a spreadsheet, along with brief notes related to each encounter you have with them (where, when, etc.).
Many people rely only on social networks to keep track of these contacts. This article discusses general advice on how to build a professional network, along with specific information on how our sports-industry social network can be an instrumental career accelerant.
Keys to building a professional network:
- Show competence
- Practice consistency
- Get help
- Think about the other person
- Get yourself in a job search mindset
- Leverage social media
- Optimize your social profiles
How to Build a Professional Network
Building a professional network in the sports industry can be achieved through the following techniques:
#1. Show competence.
Part of the beauty of a network is that it can create referrals for you – new opportunities that were only accessible through the network. In order for people to make introductions, though, you first must make a strong impression with them. For that reason, keep up with the latest industry news. You can start a meaningful discussion with professional contacts when you are abreast of industry developments.
#2. Practice consistency.
People often think about building a professional network only during certain phases, such as when they are actively seeking employment. However, your network will achieve sustained growth if you keep re-engaging your contacts through regular outreach.
Set up calendar reminders to reach back out to people within your network. Make contact with everyone individually, at least annually. Ask how they like their current workplace and what’s new in their personal life. Avoid asking if they can help you get a new job.
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#3. Get help.
Reading an article on how to build a professional network may assist you from a knowledge perspective, but you can also use some assistance on the ground. While you do not want to directly ask people in your network about job openings, you can ask for any introductions they could make. Often people will make those connections since they know how much value it provides each party.
#4. Think about the other person.
When you are concerned about networking and focused on your career, it is easy to get selfish. It is important to establish a strong basis with each person you meet. Get to know each other. Then ask them what you can do for them. They may ask what they can do for you in turn. If not, you could then ask for a connection or simply keep them in your network for future interaction.
#5. Get yourself in a job-search mindset.
Actively seeking a new job will motivate you to better understand how to network. Whether you need a job right now or not, you can network more effectively simply by thinking from a job-search perspective. Set aside 15 minutes each day to reach out to contacts, explore conferences, or perform other networking tasks.
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#6. Leverage social media.
When it comes to social media, you can go beyond LinkedIn, Instagram, and Alignable. Get more sophisticated and specific with our LinkedIn for the sports industry. Our Network at JobsInSports.com allows you to create a profile to showcase yourself to potential networking contacts. You can then engage with industry professionals, as well as being able to apply for sports jobs.
#7. Optimize your social profiles.
Work hard to make sure your social profiles are thorough and impeccable. It is your first chance to make a great impression and establish trust so that contacts can confidently recommend you.
Who Should Be Included In Your Network?
Focus is critical to success in business. You do not simply need to expand your network. You need to connect with the right people: professionals in your field.
One way to meet people within the sports industry is through professional associations, such as the North American Society for Sport Management. Another important strategy is to connect with people through a social media platform-specific to your industry, as ours is to sports.
Building A Professional Network The Smart Way
Do you want to succeed in the sports industry? At JobsInSports.com, we offer the premier network for professionals within the sports Industry. Join for free today and start connecting and talking to industry professionals and create a path to career success.