It’s Not Who You Know, but Who Knows You

Posted: June 16, 2011 in Networking
Tags: , , ,

As I alluded to in my earlier post Did You Say…..”Networking?”, just knowing someone in the sports industry is not going to cut it these days. The only exception might be a family friend who you have already established some kind of rapport with. Let’s face it. Most kids trying to break into sports do not have such a connection.

However, you might think you “know” someone in sports just because you collected their business card and sent them a generic email once. If that email had an eye-catching subject line, there is a good chance that your new contact responded to whatever your inquiry was. To you, it might seem like you “know” someone who works in sports, but to your contact, you are just some kid who they met and helped out once. This is where I like to say, “You separate the men from the boys.” Most students would stop the relationship here and revert to that contact only when they needed something from them. At the point, your contact is likely to have forgotten about you and may not even respond.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to stay in touch with members of your professional network, especially those fortunate enough to work in sports. To have a contact “know you,” you have to check in with them from time to time. I try to do so once a month if I can. You are probably thinking to yourself, “What is something interesting that I have to say that they would want to hear?” It might feel awkward or forced at first, but you have to take a genuine interest in that person’s life. Ask them how they are doing. Google them and their company so you have something relevant to say. Make them want to get back to you. If you can keep the conversation going and connect with the person on a level beyond sports, that is what counts. That person will remember you, and you will become an active member of their professional network. You are what author Harvey Mackay says, “digging your well before you’re thirsty.”

  1. chris says:

    Nice post! The key is to make a connection, not just a contact.

    A connection is deeper, more meaningful. And it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process a lot like courting. If you come on too strong, you lose. Too light, you never get anywhere.

    There’s a delicate balance. Smart students know it is.

  2. mjr89 says:

    I agree. When trying to establish a relationship with someone in sports, you don’t want to appear fake, but you don’t want to be too over-the-top either. Finding that balance will take time, but you have to make the necessary investment in the relationship. Just be yourself.

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