A guide to building an effective network in the sports industry
Even if you’re not looking for a job right now, career networking should be a regular activity you invest your time in alongside university studies. It’s about building a network of close contacts in the industry – people who share a common interest and/or career ambition to you. The contacts you make may be very useful to you further down the line, whether it’s for advice or for searching for a new role in the industry. Building contacts and relationships take time and effort – so it’s never too early to start networking in your career.
1. Get work experience
Volunteering your services alongside university studies is the best way to start building your network in an industry sector of interest. Work placements or internships allow you to showcase your skills and what you can offer to an employer, as well as enabling you to meet key contacts in the industry. Making a good impression within an organisation may open up further opportunities or give you that crucial reference when applying for future roles in your career.
2. Attend events
Make the effort to attend any industry / career-related events taking place in or around your university. Once there, be confident and introduce yourself to people. Start by asking them about their career life or achievements. People appreciate being asked questions about themselves, so genuinely try and be interested in who you’re talking to. You’re also likely to find out something interesting and useful about a particular industry sector.
Remember – it probably won’t be the right time to try and sell yourself. If you find out a lot about someone but don’t get chance to talk much about yourself, it doesn’t matter – people appreciate being listened to and if you exchange details, the chances are you’ll get the opportunity to discuss your career ambitions in the future.
3. Go online
Social networking sites such as LinkedIn are a great way to meet new people and build an online presence in the industry. But it’s not about just adding as many contacts as you can and asking around for job opportunities. Rather, you should work on building an identity for yourself in a particular industry sector that will be attractive to other like-minded people. Do this by contributing to and starting your own discussions in relevant groups. Add credibility to your discussions by researching the area and building a knowledge bank of valuable industry information. This is the best way to get your presence out there and build contacts based on mutual ideas and interests.
Remember that a good network in the sports industry is based on quality – not quantity. After making the initial connection, it’s important to invest valuable time in building these relationships and keeping in touch. A large network of contacts who you’ve barely spoken to won’t be nearly as helpful to you as a small network of close contacts. So take time to building a relationship with your connections – these will be the people to help you out in your future career.