We know that sports in the U.S. is an extremely small community. We talk to each other, about each other, on a daily basis. We look for connections or ins, wherever we can. We need for this person to make an introduction to that person, so we can get the pitch opportunity we need. We need to call this guy to help this client get tickets to that event, which of course has been sold out for years. Those of you looking for a job (and I have been in that position), it's especially critical to rely on your network.
In my opinion, your personal brand is even more important than your network. How do you come recommended? What do people think, say and feel about you? In the last 18 months or so, I've been evaluating my own personal brand as well.
It involves not only how I'm perceived in reality, but also digitally. How do people see me offline and online? Do they like working with me, or would they rather pass? Would they want to work with me in the future, or look for opportunities to avoid me? Am I a leader or someone that needs more seasoning? Am I a people person or difficult to work with? These are all pretty difficult questions to ask yourself looking in the mirror in the morning.
(I want to digress a bit here. This effort for me involves a pretty major personal fitness rebranding, a.k.a weight loss and fitness effort. I think it has helped my confidence and overall approach to life. If you're considering something like this in your life, do it. Don't wait. It will make a difference.)
To expand my brand digitally, I've recently launched this blog and have been into the #sportsbiz Twitter scene for a while, but I wanted to continue to cultivate my digital presence in the hopes that it might drive opportunities for me to connect and build on this brand.
I've recently updated my LinkedIn presence with new details and I'm hoping that it continues to bridge to new opportunities to engage with smart #sponsorship people. But, today, I took a step that I had not felt comfortable taking before. I asked for recommendations.
Here's the email I sent:
Sports and Event Marketing colleague --
As you know, LinkedIn is a powerful connection tool for reaching out to new partners and potential opportunities out on the horizon. In this effort, I'm continuing to build out my personal presence on the site.
I'd like to personally ask you for an endorsement of my work and our relationship. I'd be more than happy to reciprocate.
Thank you for your time and consideration. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.
It was something that I really had not been comfortable with before now.
I'm not a serial LinkedIn user (I know they're out there), but it seems that the platform is here to stay and probably has more value than I originally assessed. And, even though it sounds haughty to say so, I'm not honestly in the self-promotion business -- but I think we all have to be at some point. For me, it felt like the right time. (It's something you can't always articulate -- you know?)
When I looked upon why I was really engaging more with my LinkedIn crowd, it came back to my own personal brand, and how I'm trying to build it out. It's a part of a discovery process. But man, is it hard.
To understand my own personal brand, I'm going about it much like how we'd work with the companies we engage with on a daily basis. What's my brand character? What's my brand purpose? How would I define my brand character?
If I'm being critical, which I think is important, I think there's areas that I can continue to build equity in. I think there are other areas where I'm probably stronger than others. It's something that I'm constantly evaluating, and trying to keep in consideration. I don't always do that.
So, in today's post, I'd like to challenge each reader to think about what their own personal brand is, and how it affects their day-to-day professional life in sports. Push yourself to think about what you mean to others, those who are close to you, those who are at arms' length and those who you're no longer close to, but were at one time in your professional career.
Then settle in to understand the most important brand you'll ever represent: yours.