Archive for May, 2011

As a matter of fact, I did. Networking is a term that makes many high school and college students cringe. The thought of talking to a total stranger and turning that conversation into a lasting relationship can be a scary one. Why? It might be because you are afraid that the other person will not like you. Maybe you feel uncomfortable presenting yourself. Perhaps you are not the world’s best conversationalist.

If you feel like any of my comments above describe your attitude towards networking, all hope is not lost. I, too, was in your position not so long ago. Before Georgetown, I admit that I was a pretty shy person when it came to talking to adults. However, when I got to college, I quickly discovered the importance of networking for a successful business career. I promised myself that I would be more outgoing and change my approach to meeting professionals for the better. So can you. It is never too late to leave the past behind you and start putting yourself out there. Let today be the first day of the rest of your life.

After all, the sports industry is all about networking. There is no shying away from the fact that the sports business is a people intensive one. Establishing contacts and building relationships are vital for anyone who wants to make it in sports, let alone any profession. Networking can lead to a variety of opportunities including new business leads, friendships, job leads, etc.

At some point or another in my life, I have come across one of the most popular quotes associated with the concept of networking. The saying goes, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” While this statement over-emphasizes the significance of networking, there is definitely some truth to it. Just think about attending your high school reunion years down the road. Undoubtedly, some of the kids you thought were not the brightest will be more successful than some of the other intelligent kids you knew in high school. The reason for their success might be what you call “luck,” but what they call “networking.” There’s a good chance that those people outhustled the smart ones to land the better jobs.

As you re-evaluate your attitudes towards networking, I will leave you with a more modern interpretation of the above quote that I have heard since my time at Georgetown. Instead, the saying should read, “It’s not who you know, but who knows you.” There is more on this quote to come in future posts.

After sifting through the websites on my blogroll and other internet searches you have conducted, write down the types of sports jobs you found most intriguing. Maybe you want to be an agent. Perhaps a broadcaster. Whatever it may be, try to prioritize your findings by creating a list.

Now that you have a list, start a more detailed research effort on the top item and work your way down. Here are some questions that will help you out when learning more about each specific sports job:

1. What type of educational degree is most useful?

You do not necessarily have to have a business or sports management degree to work in sports, but it certainly helps. It really depends on what job you are looking at. Some upper level jobs even require advanced degrees like MBAs or JDs.

2. What are the job’s duties?

You might think you like a sports job because it sounds cool, but you have to get a good sense of the types of daily activities you can expect. Knowing the duties will tell you what areas of the job you should become an expert in.

3. What other professional skills are required?

Regardless of what job you are researching, you must learn to work in a team environment, communicate effectively (both verbally and non-verbally), and organize. You should also know Microsoft Office, especially Excel and Powerpoint. Some jobs might even require knowledge of more specialized software programs. Find out what they are and learn them.

4. Who are the top 5 organizations that offer the job?

Know who the major players are for that specific job. It might be a league, team, or agency. Pick your favorites and analyze.

5. Are there internships available that will expose me to the job so I can find out if I like it?

Hopefully, internships will be available at these top 5 companies or elsewhere. If so, apply, apply, apply. Try to get your foot in the door any way you can. Do not expect to be paid.

6. Do I know anyone who currently has that job?

You might or you might not. If you do, reach out to him or her to see if you can set up an informal meeting or an informational interview. If you do not, see next question.

7. Do I know anyone who knows anyone who currently has that job?

Talk to your parents, friends, and family. Ask around. You never know the extent of someone’s network.

8. What is the typical career path of the job?

Develop a plan. Find out how many years it will take you to get where you want to be. See if you need any advanced degrees to get there or even rise the ranks further (Note: Most of the time, there is no particular path in the sports industry, but you should still have a general direction you are headed in).

9. How much does the job pay?

You already know that you are not going to get paid a lot initially, but you still have to pay the bills. The answer to this question really should not matter if you are passionate enough about the job.

10. Have industry professionals written books that would give you better insights into the job?

Go onto Amazon and type in the sports job you want. You might be pleasantly surprised by the results. Getting an inside perspective from an expert will go a long way.

You have now accepted the truth about what working in the sports industry entails. Now that you are committed to breaking into sports, it is time to find out what part of the industry is going to make you tick.

I recommend starting in Google by typing in searches such as “careers in sports.” Spend at least an hour clicking through the top results and learning about the diversity of jobs available. If a particular aspect of the business catches your eye, do a separate search and continue to absorb as much knowledge as you can.

Besides Google, I also recommend checking out the following links which you can find under my Blogroll:

  • Sports Agent Blog – specifically geared to those who want to pursue careers in athlete representation.
  • Sports Business Daily – a must-read for any aspiring and current sports business professional. It covers the biggest stories in sports business every day. It requires a subscription, but does have a discount for students.
  • Sports Networker – focuses on sports marketing and social media tips.
  • TeamWork Online – database of sports and live event jobs.
  • Work in Sports – database of sports jobs and internships. The job and internship search is free, but it requires a subscription to actually pursue leads.
If your appetite for knowledge about the sports industry is not satisfied, I would recommend purchasing a sports management textbook like Principles and Practice of Sport ManagementWe used this book for my Sports Marketing Strategy course this past semester. I can personally say that the book provided a great overview of the different areas of the sports industry that you could break into. After pursuing these various options, you should have a pretty good idea about what sports career you might like to pursue.

You have decided that you want to break into sports, which is great. Before you go out and tell all of your friends and family, you have to first ask yourself the question, “What do I know about working in the sports industry?”

Your answer is likely to reflect some far-fetched lifestyle in which you are a glorified fan who makes lots of money and attends all the must-see sports games. This perception is likely due to pop culture influences such as the movie Jerry Maguire and even the hit HBO show Entourage. While I love both of these, the reality is that this fantasy life is the exception rather than the norm. You must accept the fact that sports is a business that often requires long hours, pays low salaries, and extends beyond being a diehard fan.Yet, most sports jobs do have some perks, which vary depending on the nature of the job. There are even high-paying positions, although they are limited.

If you are discouraged by what I am telling you, then the sports industry is probably not for you. However, if you are like me, you put the glitz and glamour aside and see breaking into sports as a challenging, yet fulfilling venture. Once you have developed this attitude, it is time to research and discover what it is exactly that you might like to pursue as a career within the industry.

This blog is for anyone who aspires to one day break into the sports industry. More specifically, I want to target high school and college students that are looking to get their foot in the door and launch a successful sports career.

I write this blog from a unique perspective as a student trying to find his niche within the sports industry. As a rising senior at Georgetown University, my goal is to land a job in sports come graduation one year from now. Over the past three years, I have gained experience in the industry by working for free. On campus, I have volunteered my time with the Georgetown University Athletics Ticketing Office and co-hosted a sports radio show (“The Locker Room“) for WGTB Georgetown Radio. I have also interned remotely at a sports and entertainment talent agency called Q2 Sports & Entertainment. Although I have these experiences under my belt, I will not consider myself “broken in” until I land my first job in sports.

That being said, I want to continue to educate myself and you about how to accomplish that goal. I plan to share my knowledge and advice about the industry with you as well as interview sports business professionals whose input will help you on your quest to break into sports.

You can expect 2 – 3 posts per week. I encourage an open forum of discussion, so please comment on any of my posts. If there are any topics you specifically want to learn about, feel free to email me at mjr89@georgetown.edu.