“Be normal. You just want more friends, and no one can ever have too many friends.” Making friends? I love making friends! Growing up I was never described as shy; I was always talking – sometimes too much. Until now, I had not really equated making friends with building my professional network. Building a “professional network” seemed so formal, so “professional.” Quite honestly, while I understood networking to be an essential part of making it in this competitive sports world, I was a little intimidated by it; It seemed awkward for a college student and extremely time consuming.
“Let’s begin our journey together by building, nurturing and cultivating relationships with each other because, while we may all be college students today, I have no doubt future league commissioners, general managers, rising sports agents and successful sports business professionals fill this group.”
Tonight we had the pleasure of hearing one of my MSBA Mentors, Alex Rosen, Counsel for Major League Baseball, speak about the art of relationship building (aka “networking”). I learned it is not about collecting business cards at an event. It is not about sending hundreds of emails in the hopes someone will respond. It is most certainly not about keeping my head down and just being a good student. It is all about making connections and building, nurturing and cultivating relationships. Wow – making friends, something I know how to do.
Alex provided us with invaluable advice and insight, emphasizing the importance of eye contact, body language, word flow and engagement in your conversations. He also shared ideas for how to make networking a regular activity. Attending industry conferences gives you a chance to meet professionals with similar interests, but networking does not end when you walk out of the conference – follow up with an email or a note. Social networking is also very important today, and a great website for making new contacts and maintaining old ones is LinkedIn.
Alex’s advice was not only informative but timely – what a great way to kick off our eight-week journey that is certain to be filled with countless opportunities to build our “professional network.” Through the Mentorship and Speaker Series aspect of the program, MSBA has given each of us the priceless opportunity to build a rapport with some of the leading sports professionals.
I am sure everyone has heard the old saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” So MSBA Class of 2017: let’s seize the opportunity! As we were told, “No one will ever be more willing to talk to you than they are today.” Let’s begin our journey together by building, nurturing and cultivating relationships with each other because, while we may all be college students today, I have no doubt future league commissioners, general managers, rising sports agents and successful sports business professionals fill this group.