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Look Beyond What's In Front Of You

Tracie Hitz's picture

It's Symposium Season! That means young pros are finishing up their graduate or undergraduate programs and looking for jobs. It also means that I'm traveling around the country to talk with these folks to help them figure out what they want and how to get it.

I was on a panel at the Illinois State Sport Management Symposium last month, which had almost 300 attendees who came from all over the Midwest to be part of the event. They even live streamed and archived the event so more people could access the information that was being shared that day. I was impressed by the openness of this event because most sport management programs keep things private for their students only. I understand the value of keeping things private, but by opening up this symposium, they generated revenue, increased the networking opportunities for those students and served as an advertisement to potential students across the country.

When a student asked one of the panels how he could set himself apart, we all agreed that by coming to the event, he had already started that process of standing out. By asking a question and following up with people after the event, will give them additional opportunities to make things happen after graduation. Students spend so much time in class, but the panelists were also unanimous on looking for people with experience first and education second. It's not enough to just get the degree, you need to be getting experience at the same time.

After the event, I heard the veteran sports pros talking about how they wished there had been symposiums back when they were in school because the information shared that day took them years to find out on their own back in the day. We thanked everyone who helped to put on the event, including two students who did the bulk of the organizing. What an incredible opportunity for them to get experience that was noticed by all of the speakers they brought in to speak that day.

While us older folks wished there had been events like this back in the day, we talked about organizations that are out there for sports pros of any age for professional development, like NACMA, NSMN, WISE, CoSIDA, etc. Don't just join these organizations, be active in the programming and networking they provide to get the most out of what they have to offer. If you attend a convention, tweet tidbits from the presenters. Much like sports teams, people like to follow the live action tweets. I view convention as such an event because I want the best insight from those in attendance. If people rely on you to have access to information they wouldn't find anywhere else, you will see your number of followers growing quickly over time.

Follow members on Twitter and then reach out to them when there's an opportunity to share insight, ask questions or compliment them on something they've accomplished. Find the conversations to then become part of them. And lead the conversations whenever you can, which can include opportunities to present at their conventions, host a webinar, etc. If you don't think you have anything to say, look harder. What is your proudest accomplishment? What advice do people routinely ask you for? What do you want to be known for?

Don't wait for things to happen to you. The people who go beyond what is offered to them are the ones who create even more opportunities to grow. When you find your voice, look for ways to be heard. Of course, don't just talk to talk. Value what you are saying to ensure sports biz pros will see you as a good source of information. Twitter is a great platform for giving and receiving info with people who you may never meet. Building relationships in person or online aid professional development, so don't be afraid to speak up at the right time.

Tracie Hitz became the Chief Marketing Officer at Old Hat Creative after working for 13 years in the athletic department at Northwestern University. Every year, she helps sports biz pros land jobs in the sports industry. You can contact her at or @TracieHitz.

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