Saturday, August 1, 2009

How Badly Do You Want to Work in Sports? part 1

This is a question that every person considering a career in sports should ask herself: How badly do your really want it? Are you willing to be persistent in your contacts, to the point of being just shy of annoying?

I think I might institute a new personal policy. I might wait until the second or third time that someone contacts me for advice to get back to them, to see if they're persistent. I know, this flies in the face of what I've written before about the need to get back to folks within 24 hours, but I don't care. This is a separate issue for me.

Being persistent is one of the things that it is going to take to be successful in sports. If someone provides you a contact and you email or call them (and I've found with students it's either one or the other, because god forbid they do both) and that person doesn't get back to you after your first or even second contact, do you give up or do you push on? Do you leave a voice mail message saying, "I know you're incredibly busy, but my schedule is flexible. If it is easier for you to speak before or after traditional business hours, I'm available during those times, too." And then even suggest some days and times.

Last semester, I contacted a friend of mine who works at the USOC, someone at the director level no less, to see if he would mind speaking to a student who had applied for a summer internship at the USOC. The U-S-O-C! Pretty major sports organization. He said that he would. I provided her his contact information. When I asked her about it a couple of weeks later, she said she had left him a voice mail, but hadn't heard back from him. She said she was going to call him a second time. Whether she did or not, I don't know, but I do know that she didn't get the internship at the USOC. Could he have helped? Who knows? More importantly, who cares?! This is a new contact to add to her network that could become an acquaintance in the sports world. Like it or not, the sports world requires a network and it requires persistence. If you're not willing to be persistent, it may be a good idea to think twice about what you want to do.


Chris Kosmala said...

I agree- I just gave my new roommate some contacts and even an internship lead- no follow-up with anything.

Which is sad, because I;ve never heard a sports exec complain about someone being persistent or going after his/her goals with full force.

Michelle Wells said...

Doesn't that just shock you? It always does me. Sometimes you can't save people from themselves.

After something like that, you should probably feel relieved, Chris, because this person was going to use your name and contacts, and if he was that lackluster about following up with your contacts, he probably wouldn't have represented you well as the person who referred him.