Networking. It Actually Works!

ImageAfter a long delay, I’m back to talking about one of my favorite things, sports. I’m lucky enough that I have been able to prolong my career in the sports industry despite my graduating from my beloved University of Oregon. However, it didn’t come easily.

Like a typical kid just out of college, I was concerned about not only finding a job but also finding one that would allow me to thrive and enjoy my passion, sports. I wanted to get out into the sports world, learn new things, meet new people and grow as a, hopeful, professional in the sports industry. This is my brief story of how I made that happen through networking.

Less than 24 hours after I walked across the stage and received my diploma, I found myself sitting alongside NBC Sports professionals helping them prepare for the 2012 Track & Field Olympic Trials. Now, only two months later, I’m working on the set of one of America’s most recognized shows, Sunday Night Football.  To this day, I still can’t believe that I am fortunate enough to get to do exactly what I wanted to do after graduating. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I got where I am because of hard work and a lot of networking.

Networking is not just a buzzword; it actually works if you know how to use it. Once it’s mastered, the things that will unfold in front of you are unbelievable. For me, some of my networking started by mistake. As I began to understand how networking was helping me, I began to consciously work on it. I was constantly going to new events, meeting new people and talking with pure honesty and passion about my post-college goals.

It’s fun to go back and trace my steps and see what it took for me to get where I am now. Personally, it keeps me grounded. I had made a friend in one of the fraternities on campus who connected me with a marketing and promotions internship that I got with the UO Athletic Department. Through that internship, I worked with the Assistant Director of Oregon’s Track and Field teams who then got me in touch with NBC Sports professionals that were town to work the Trials. What was supposed to be a 10-day gig turned into my now, part-time job with NBC’s Sunday Night Football.

In all honesty, working the Trials was something that was handed to me. My boss had been asked by NBC for “runners”, a fancy word for assistant, and gave them my name. I didn’t have to apply or interview, and in exchange had one of the best experiences of my life. The next step of my journey is where I had to earn it. On day eight of the Trials, I finally found the courage I needed to ask my bosses about the Sunday Night Football logo that was on the side of their truck. I learned that that truck travels across the country every Sunday for their pre-selected Sunday Night Football games. I then told them that I needed more. Working the Trials was an amazing and once in a lifetime experience but me being the greedy sports fan that I am, needed to know more, go further and get a taste of the professional sports world after having spent the previous year working with collegiate athletics.

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Denver Bronco’s stadium, Al Michaels & Chris Collinsworth and me enjoying my time with Bronco’s mascot, Thunder on the SNF set!

They trusted me and for some reason, granted to my wish to go with them. I’m not sure why but I’m sure glad they did. I have worked two Sunday Night Football games thus far, one in Denver and one in San Francisco, with two more to go.

My point being, if networking can work for me, a 22-year-old kid competing with all the other post-college grads for a job in sports, then it can work for you. If you want something enough, make it happen. You are the one in control. People will begin to see how badly you want something and will want to help you achieve your goals. Even though I have only two games left, I know this experience will get me to new places and I can’t wait to see where my next step takes me.

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