Fans strained to get a glimpse. Media members stood at the ready with cameras and recorders. Teammates reveled in their chance to play with one of the greatest receivers of all time.
That’s the impact Terrell Owens had during his first practice with the Seattle Seahawks Wednesday. I watched as the 38 year old ran effortlessly down the field and looked every bit of the great receiver he once was.
T.O.’s arrival in Seattle surprised fans here in the Northwest and across the country, but the way it came about offers a lesson for everyone in business.
Owens spent all of the 2011 season rehabbing a knee injury. He hadn’t played in the NFL since 2010 and had developed a reputation as a diva, a selfish player and a quarterback killer. Not the type of guy most teams want around their young players.
When news of the deal broke most people asked, “why?” Seahawks General Manager John Schneider offered a simple answer, “because he blew us away at the tryout.”
T.O. didn’t miss his opportunity to impress when he got face time with decision makers in the Seahawks organization. Taking advantage of the tryout earned him a chance to continue his NFL career despite past baggage.
Football players and athletes get tryouts to show what they can do. Tryouts for business professionals take on different forms, including during small talk.
Think about it for a second. Small talk is your chance to get in front of people and make a good impression. Small talk allows your communication skills and interpersonal skills to shine. Small talk at work helps colleagues and coworkers get past any negative or false perceptions of you. If you can engage in effective small talk when you’re around influencers and decision makers you greatly increase the opportunities you get in the future.
Far too many people overlook the importance of small talk. They consider it useless, boring and unproductive. But if you have a good strategy in place, one that showcases your skills it can be the most effective business tool you have.
Small talk is the gateway to bigger and better things, just like T.O.’s tryout led him to sign a contract with the Seahawks.
I speak quite often on engaging in effective small talk. You can download a few of my strategies here. And if you like the correlation between sports and business, read my weekly Conversation Starters blog to understand one of the many ways you can leverage sports talk at work.