The Madness is upon us. College basketball fans wait the entire year for this while many employers dread what’s about to happen.
The NCAA Tournament tips off Thursday with wall-to-wall games through Friday. Estimates vary on just how many people will fill out their own bracket to predict the winner of the tournament, but it’s in the ballpark of 50 million.
Those fans want to know the results and many will glue themselves to their television or computer screen to watch the action. Every year this leads companies to worry about how much money and productivity they lose during the Tournament, especially during their first two days of action.
Employers are concerned about employees watching games during work hours and engaging in basketball related conversations instead of business ones.
But they’re approaching this the wrong way.
The NCAA Tournament doesn’t have to cost you money. It can be a very useful tool in making you money – if you know how to use it. Here are a few ideas.
- Relationship Building. Connecting with colleagues about something other than business is a key component in building relationships. Whether you’re rooting for the same team or on opposite sides, it’s all in fun and you’re interested in the same thing. When you share a common interest there’s a greater chance you’ll build the “know, like and trust” factors that actually increase productivity.
- Business Development. An estimated 50 million people are filling out an NCAA Tournament Bracket. That means there are 50 million people who care about the results of games. If you’re among that group of people who fill out a bracket or take an interest you have access to everyone else in that group. Think about this in terms of business development. Who do you want to connect with? Were you waiting for an obvious entry point? Use the Tournament to reach out and start a conversation. It’s not a cold call if you share a common interest like the NCAA Tournament and with so many people following it, you’ve got a good shot of hitting your mark.
- Follow Up Opportunities. Business doesn’t get done after one conversation. It takes a series of exchanges to build rapport. The NCAA Tournament provides built in follow up opportunities to make this easier. Try sending notes to specific colleagues or clients after each weekend of the tournament (there are three of them) inquiring about their bracket. This will keep you on their radar for nearly a month and open the door for you to talk business.
Here’s what this comes down to. The passion and momentum of sports fans surrounding the next three weeks is too big to ignore. Embrace that passion and you can put all that momentum to work for you and get ahead in business. Don’t ignore this opportunity or you will be the one losing productivity and money.
Jen Mueller, America’s Expert Talker, is the sideline reporter for the World Champion Seattle Seahawks. She also works on the television broadcasts for the Seattle Mariners. Jen is the author of Game Time: Learn to Talk Sports in 5 Minutes a Day for Business.. Her step-by-step process makes sports accessible and practical for relationship building in business. The book is available through Amazon.