I don’t care if you rode the bench for three years at Nowheresville College. If you are (or were) a college or professional athlete, you can leverage it in business. This is something I am deeply passionate about.
I make my living digging into businesses to uncover what makes them special and then I turn that into successful marketing. My favorite businesses (or entrepreneurs) to work with are those who are killing it at what they’re doing but don’t have the slightest clue how to market themselves.
Many athletes fall into this category, but have an even greater advantage than the successful businesses. They can actually launch a successful business (or at least get off to a great start) around being an athlete.
Again, I don’t care where you played or whether you played. Our culture loves athletes. Simply carrying that label will open doors.
If you are currently an athlete, network NOW
Make your current experience section within LinkedIn your status as an athlete and search for anyone and everyone relevant to what you want to do (or think you want to do) in business.
There are three kinds of connections you can make:
- Fellow athletes. You have street cred simply by playing college or professional sports. Look for athletes with successful businesses and connect. Ask for advice. There are waters they’ve already navigated and they can provide invaluable insight.
- Business pros. Do your research and find business professionals you respect. If you are a higher profile athlete, you have many people bugging you for attention. They want you to start a business with them. They want you to work with them. Make sure you find the business professionals you want to work with.
- Influencers. Depending on the type of athlete you are, this may include media, performers, speakers, or authors. You will capture attention simply by being an athlete. Use that to your advantage.
If you are a former athlete, leverage your past
Whether you have a business or you’re working for someone else, your past as an athlete will open up conversations. Maybe you’re in sales and being a former athlete is a point of connection with potential clients or customers.
Perhaps you’re starting your own business and bringing up your playing career will open doors for sponsorships or partnerships. There is a way to leverage your past — regardless of what you do for a living — if you do it the right way.
The key is to look at what you do and strategically work it in. This may be in the public eye or behind the scenes, but there will be a way you can benefit from playing college or pro sports.
If you don’t believe me, I am living proof and I didn’t even play professional (or college) sports. I managed a website for an NFL team and my husband works in media relations for a college program. Mentioning what we do (and who we know) opens doors.
The same will happen for you.
It’s never too late to start
Even if you’re 10 years beyond your playing career, it’s never too late to start. Optimize your LinkedIn profile to include your playing career and start connecting. Add custom notes to your connection requests mentioning your past as an athlete.
Connect with big-time influencers who went to your college or university or businesses associated with the pro team you played for. Reach out to other former players and athletes. Take the same determination you used to compete and leverage it in business!
About Chrissie Wywrot
Chrissie Wywrot is a B2B lead generator and personal brand strategist who works with passionate entrepreneurs and professional athletes. To learn more about her services, visit her LinkedIn profile or email her firstname.lastname@example.org.