Breaking into the sports industry requires creativity. It’s a no-brainer. Besides having a foot in the door at a sports organization, the way you land internships and jobs involves some sort of unique method or tactic that garners attention and gets people talking about you, typically in a good way. Such positive word of mouth might just be enough to get you over the edge and into the industry.
To me, creativity is all about seeing the world differently and standing out from the crowd. It’s the ability to come up with fresh ideas on a regular basis. Often, the ideas you generate are centered on solving problems, whether personal, practical or business related. Creativity is also about figuring out how to do something when all the options seem to have run out. It’s rooted more in intuition than logic. Your life experiences inform your creative juices and contribute to developing a vision for your ideas. Anyone and everyone can be creative.
You have to be creative in the sports industry for several reasons. First, it is so difficult to break through the mold and catch a hiring manager’s eye. Human Resources employees stare at a pile of cookie cutter resumes all day, every day. It’s your job to get to the top of that pile through thinking outside the box. In addition, creativity will help you shine during sports internships/jobs and hopefully lead to the full-time position or promotion you always wanted. For example, organizations often hold internal brainstorms to spawn new concepts that will make the company better. These informal sessions are the perfect opportunities for you to show off your innovative ideas, so come prepared! If you don’t become creative, you can bet that others around you will. These people will receive credit and attention for their ideas and be the ones to advance in the company.
Lastly, you have to be creative in order to stay in the sports industry. Once you get into the business, someone else will constantly be gunning for your job. Specifically, this person will try to be more creative than you and likely offer to do your job for less pay. Watch your back! It’s also important to remember that since the sports business is a driver of new technologies, the industry changes at an incredibly fast pace. If you do not react to the changes and adapt, you will not survive long. If you do constantly remain cutting-edge, you will see opportunities where others will not, leading to increased creativity.
Creativity does not stop at the production of ideas. If you come up with a novel idea that draws interest from your coworkers or interviewers, they are definitely going to ask you to take your concept a step further. Be prepared to answer why you think your idea would work, how it would affect the bottom line, and how you would go about executing it. Getting ahead in life is not just about showing up. It’s also about speaking up. A grand vision with no execution plan is an idea that falls by the way side.
Now that you have read about my stance on creativity, here are a few actionable ideas that can help you stand out when trying to successfully break into sports:
1. If you’re going to a professional sports business event and want to meet someone who is speaking, send him or her an email or tweet beforehand. Express how excited and interested you are to hear them speak and that you will try to meet them if possible. When you do get the opportunity to introduce yourself, you will already have context. This will give you more confidence when asking him or her questions as well as increase your chances of being remembered.
2. Conduct a report for the company you want to work at and mail it in. The report should be specific to your interest in working at the company and be filled with analyses and ideas about how you could help them make more money. Tell the company you will follow up with a phone to make sure they received it.
3. Try to connect with someone who is in charge of the hiring manager, preferably over the phone. He or she will likely suggest that you call the hiring manager and you will get instant credibility when you tell the manager, “So and so suggested I contact you.”
4. Create one or more elevator pitches on Youtube. You can have a general pitch and tailor other ones to positions you are interested in. Hardly any aspiring sports business professionals are doing this. You can tweet the video at sports organizations or specific people you would love to work for as well as embed it in an email.