It’s Opening Day of baseball season! It’s freshly mowed grass, it’s crisp white uniforms, the smell of popcorn venders and the sounds of a bat crack against a ball.
Opening Day will also be a major moneymaker and we’re not just talking about the stadiums, teams and players. Did you happen to see the article last week in the Seattle Times with this headline?
“Lawmakers use sports events to score cash”
You can read the entire article online, but here’s a quick summary. Lawmakers are using pregame parties and sporting events – like Opening Day – as fundraisers. You’ve heard of congressmen, senators, etc… charging $1000 a plate for supporters and lobbyists to attended black tie dinners. This is basically the same thing – but better according to lobbyists. Here’s a quote from the story.
“Sporting events are ideal for lobbyists. You get to talk to the member and root for the congressman’s team. It’s a lot better than going to an opera where all you can do is listen.”
The ability to root for someone’s team and share a passion helps form a bond. Remember people work with those they “know, like and trust.” Being at a sporting event allows people to engage with lawmakers in a way they can’t do at any other event.
Here’s another quote from the article.
“A sports event in a skybox gives you a chance to form a more personal relationship.”
That’s a powerful statement and observation. The simple act of engage with a sports fan helps to build instant rapport and set the wheels in motion for a successful business interaction.
It’s important to note that watchdog groups aren’t happy about how this is playing out. They feel lobbyists can get too tied into the lawmakers and become too close at sporting events. Whether you share the same concerns or disagree, the fact remains that being able to talk sports helps in the business world. These lawmakers are raising thousands of dollars. Hosting a fundraiser at a baseball game might not be part of your company strategy. But what about asking your new client about his/her favorite team? You can build rapport just by opening the lines of communication and tapping into their passion as a sports fan.
Once you establish the trust and likeability factor business can get done, money will exchange hands and you’ll be able to say that talking sporty works for you.