Building a strong network is one of the best ways athletes can prepare to develop and leverage their brand. But how you actually grow your network can feel like a bit of a mystery.
So let's unpack how athletes can grow a great network and start making connections to support their brand development.
What is a network?
Your network typically consists of:
- A few very close people who you have developed a good, strong relationship with over time
- People who you have a new or casual relationship with (you aren't in regular, constant contact with each other)
- People who you would consider associates. E.g. you know each other but don't know much about yet.
The key thing to remember when growing your network, is not just what you want to get out of it, but what you are willing to put in.
Can you be relied upon, trusted and even called upon for a recommendation or connection?
While growing your network has a strategic purpose, it will be so much more rewarding and valuable if you also contribute to those within your network (rather than just taking from them).
The benefits of growing your network as an athlete
There are so many amazing benefits to growing your network as an athlete.
- Meet or connect with sponsors through your network
- Grow and engage your supporters/followers/fans
- Connect with people who can help you get paid speaking opportunities
- Make media connections
- Meet people in your industry who can help you with your career and/or business goals
- Build a great reputation and be known for something
- Connect others to your network
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How to connect with people and build your network
Sometimes you can strategically pick out people you’d like to connect with, other times you just want to be open minded and connect for no reasons other than they share similar interests, values or ambitions.
Here are some great places to build your network:
- Business events
- Meet up groups
- Online groups
- University lectures
- Expos and conferences
- Events your sports organisation, sponsor or other brands you represent host
Top tips for nurturing your network
By nurturing the relationships in your network, you will keep it healthy, allowing the relationships to grow and creating an environment that other people want to be a part of.
You’ll build a good reputation, and others will see (through observing interactions you have online and offline) what a great person you are, and the way that you treat others.
Here are our best tips for growing a valuable network.
- Comment and like other peoples posts online (especially LinkedIn). Aim for genuine, thoughtful comments that focus on them.
- Share articles, events, podcasts or news with people in your network. You can send these individually or for a select group. The goal here is to show that you are thinking of them and are sending them something they will find interesting or valuable.
- For those in your inner circle (say 5-10 people you have or would like to have a strong relationship with), each couple of months or so, get in touch with them individually and just check in on how they’re going.
- Make it about them more than you, but feel free to share any of your own news.
- Be a great connector. E.g. If someone is looking for a great photographer, make sure you recommend someone you know (and is great!).
- Don’t be a connector of people who just want to sell something and are using you to get to your network. Be really strict with this, because it can really affect your credibility and trust level within your network.
The final word
Now it's time to start building your network, making connections and nurturing the relationships you've built.
Got questions about growing your network? Reach out anytime by emailing email@example.com.
Leverage your network by becoming a paid speaker
Would you love to leverage your network to become a confident, paid public speaker?
Join us on Saturday November 18 on the Gold Coast for an all-day speaking masterclass. We're teaming up with Elite Athlete Business School to deliver this hands-on, practical session that will teach you how to tell your story and get paid for sharing it.