We’ve all heard the saying; “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”, and while this may not be strictly true, there’s no denying the influence a strong professional network can have over your career success. The reality is, now more than ever, good business relationships are essential for career advancement and when done well, networking can really be the key element that lands you your ideal job role in the future.
As a competitive athlete, you’ll already understand the importance of good relationships. For years, you’ll have invested your personal time into building connections, creating the support network needed for your athletic success. In many ways, you’re a top-notch professional in approaching people and then leveraging those relationships for mutual gain and business networking, is very much the same practice.
Today, we’re thinking about the advantages of forging a solid business network and how those relationships can support your athlete career transition. Before we delve into that, here a quick couple of tips to help you get started:
Tip #1 - Do it before you need to.
This is probably the most important step in business relationship building. Most times when you need to network, it’s too late to do so. Particularly in the case of the athlete, where career transition may come much sooner than anticipated, the best scenario is to have those links already in place so you can simply utilise them when the time is right. Networking is a continuous thing, it’s something that you need to do consistently, not just when life throws a curve ball and you need a fast plan of action. By creating a relationship bank in advance and then nurturing it in the lead up to your athletic retirement, you’re setting solid foundations for your next career venture.
Tip #2 – Get your personal branding in order.
We’re living in a digital world, and everything there is to know about you can pretty much be found online. With just a few clicks, most people could access a wealth of information about your background, your current career status and gain a small insight into your life. First impressions can make a significant difference to potential future employers, so take the time to ensure your personal branding is not only consistent throughout all social media platforms, but is positively reflective of the person you are.
So, now you know how to start the network process, let’s take a look at the positive influence it can have your career transition.
It’s the perfect way to exchange ideas and information.
For most athletes, when the time comes to move on from sport, the possibilities of the future remain unknown. This is sometimes down to unexpected early retirement or simply because the athlete has been so invested in their sport that future career roles have become an afterthought. For the select few, there will be some consideration to life after sport and they may already show a natural interest in career paths beyond the athletic arena.Whichever of these apply to you, building good business relationships prior to transition, can be the ideal way to source relevant information.You’ll not only be able to showcase your own personal capabilities; you’ll also be able to learn from others about which skills are essential and desired for the job roles you’re considering. And if you’re not yet sure which career choices you find appealing, through networking with others, you’re most likely to find out.
Relationship building provides the opportunity to upskill.
Once you’ve discovered some sense of career direction, you’ll start to think about how your unique set of transferable skills could be applied to future positions. As a high-performing elite athlete, you’ll have a backpack of highly sought-after skills and talents and you can be confident in the knowledge you could provide tangible benefit to any hiring business or organisation. Though, you may also realise there are gaps in your knowledge and experience, and this may slightly disadvantage you when the time comes to apply for the positions you’re interested in pursuing. Networking really is advantageous here because done well and within a decent enough time frame, you’ll be able to source relevant courses, qualifications and work experience in order to upskill before submitting any applications. This is a simple, yet effective way to start your athlete career transition with the ultimate end-goal in mind.
Good business relationships can help get you noticed.
A career change at any point can seem a daunting prospect, but particularly in the case transitioning from sport onto something completely new and unknown. Retiring athletes are stepping out into a busy corporate landscape, where recruiters are continually looking for ideal candidates to fill executive roles with ease. The talent pool is vast and often, finding the right person for the right job is much like finding a needle in a haystack. Nearly everyone is driving for the same result – to get noticed and get hired! By building links and connections with the appropriate people from the organisations and companies you’re particularly interested in, you’re giving recruiters and hiring managers a name to remember. Continually updating your social profiles, reaching out to make your existence known and sending the occasional personal note to the relevant people will mean your resume is much less likely to be sat at the bottom of the pile. Your effort to build connections will make it easier for hiring teams to remember and more carefully consider your interest in their business.
It will boost your transition confidence.
It goes without saying that your confidence will increase tenfold when the time is taken to build good, solid foundations. By the time you’re ready to accept that shiny new job offer, you’ll have spoken with a minefield of like-minded individuals, you’ll have upskilled your existing knowledge bank and you’ll have been noticed by CEO’s, Directors and hiring professionals within the corporate sphere. All these elements come together nicely to provide a much-needed confidence boost ahead of your career transition, thus making retirement from sports an easier and more enjoyable experience.
So, we end this thought piece with a very simple question – How are those business relationships looking right now?