Pumpkin spice is all the rage right now. Personally, I don’t quite get the obsession. I do know that it signals a change in the seasons.
It’s not just fall.
It’s football season.
More than watching games on Saturday or Sunday (or Monday, Thursday and Friday, which is getting a little ridiculous.) you should be using the start of football season to ramp up your networking efforts. Before you raise any objections, you don’t have to be a hard-core, watch-every-game-there-is type of a fan.
Football season should help kick your networking efforts into gear. Here’s why:
1. Summer is over. Making connections during the summer months can be hit-or-miss with vacations and family obligations. Schedules get more predictable when the kids are back in school and you’re back in a regular routine.
2. Finish 2017 strong. If you want a strong Q4 finish, you need to set the wheels in motion now. People tend to hunker down in November when they start noticing the holidays are right around the corner. Get some meetings on the books and use the next couple months to re-establish business connections.
3. Football is king. Yearly surveys show that football is the most popular sport in the United States. Football dominates the sports headlines this time of year and generates a lot of discussion. Use that to your advantage. Networking can happen while standing in line waiting for coffee and talking about the upcoming Seahawks season. Be prepared to join one of the many football conversations taking place around you, even if you’re not a diehard fan. Remember sports isn’t always about sports. Sports talk can be a conduit to bigger conversations, like the ones that build relationships and lead to business interactions.
So the next time you order a pumpkin spice latte or see football highlights, use it as a reminder to get a few networking opportunities on your schedule.
Speaking schedules, I’ve got October 4th marked on my calendar. That’s the date my new book The Influential Conversationalist launches. Conversations don’t have to be hard. Face-to-face interactions aren’t something you should avoid because your career opportunities depend on it. The book is filled with conversation strategies I use in my job as an NFL sideline reporter and includes perspective from a few of the NFL players I work with. Get a sneak peak and download a special preview chapter of the book through my website.
Jen Mueller is the radio sideline reporter for the Seattle Seahawks, and a member of the Seattle Mariners television broadcast team on ROOT SPORTS. She founded Talk Sporty to Me in 2009 and advocates using sports conversations as a business tool. Hire Jen to speak to your group for a unique take on business communication: Jen@TalkSportytoMe.com.
This is what relationship building looks like… a Gatorade bath. Literally. That’s me somewhere under the umbrella of blue Gatorade hitting my grey suit. If you’re a sports fan, you’ll also recognize this scene as fairly common after a big win.
Here’s what isn’t common – me smack dab in the middle of the celebration. But when Guillermo Heredia scored the game-winning run for the Seattle Mariners in the 13th inning of the game against the Boston Red Sox, he insisted which is how it became a relationship building opportunity.
Heredia speaks very little English, so up to that point in the season he was never tapped for a “walk-off” interview. (The interviews that happen live in the dugout immediately following the final out of the game.) He had, however, seen plenty of them and knew the usual set up for those types of interviews. Heredia knew that I always stand next to the player in the dugout and in front of the camera. So when I tried to follow the suggestion of his teammate Danny Valencia and get out of the way by moving to the top step of the dugout, Heredia knew something was amiss.
“No, no,” he said smiling and pointing to the exact spot I would usually occupy. He then positioned himself accordingly, put his arm around my shoulder braced for the icy cold Gatorade.
I think I squealed. (I think most people would, it’s pretty cold.) And I knew I had taken another step in building a stronger relationship with someone I see and work with every day.
Heredia wanted me to stand there. To experience the moment with him. That’s how relationships are built.
My self-interest was secondary. Who cares that I would get cold? Who cares that my suit would be wet and sticky? Who cares what my hair and makeup would look like on TV after that?
Developing better business relationships requires you to be where your colleague needs you to be.
Sometimes your colleague needs you to show up in a physical space other times it’s a matter of being attentive to what they’re saying, or present in a conversation.
Your relationship building opportunities probably won’t include a Gatorade bath. Heck, it’s not included in most of the interviews, which is why I have to look for ways to build relationships through the conversations I have with players every day. You can do the same thing.
Commit spending 3-5 minutes today talking to a colleague, about something they want to talk about other than work. Remember, your self-interest in secondary which means, even if the subject matter bores you to tears, you need to engage and actively listen.
Or you could try a surprise Gatorade bath.
Jen Mueller, America’s Expert Talker, is obviously a member of the Seattle Mariners television broadcast team based on the photos shown in this post. She’s also the radio sideline reporter for the Seattle Seahawks (and dodges much less Gatorade in that position.) Jen founded Talk Sporty to Me in 2009 and makes sports useful in business conversations. Hire Jen for your next business communication training session. Jen@TalkSportytoMe.com