The Blog of Jake Kelfer
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Earlier this week, I went to visit four colleges in Rhode Island. Luckily for me, the state is pretty small so I was able to cover a lot of ground. It also helped that these four colleges were all pretty close to one another.
My mission was to walk into each school and find decision makers who brought in speakers as well as meet with the athletic department at Providence College.
I had no meetings scheduled. No one was expecting me. No one knew who I was. I was just showing up and going for it. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I knew that I would have to be creative and make sure that I was sharp with my elevator pitch and reason for being there.
Building connections is the key to unlocking human potential. All of the greatest companies in the world were created through relationships. At the start there may have only been one person with an idea, but it takes a community of people to make that idea take off. Or, there may have been a team of people working together to create something special. However you look at it, no one and no company would be where they are without the power of connections.
Take MVMT Watches for example. Would Jake Kassan and Kramer LaPlante, the cofounders, been able to create the globally known brand without the help of a great team? Would they have been able to create a global community of loyal followers if they didn’t first build connections?
When you think of a fun time, do you immediately think of going to a networking event or professional conference? Probably not. You probably consider binge watching the latest season of The Office on Netflix or going to 2 for 1 happy hour a fun time.
When you go to a networking event, you have two choices. You can go and wish you were somewhere else the whole time or you can commit to networking and try to make some new connections. And, let me tell you something… it’s easy to spot the people who are there because they feel they have to be and the people who are there because they want to be.
Part of being successful at a networking event is having a plan and strategy but more importantly having fun. Just because you are at a professional event, doesn’t mean you can’t laugh a bit and enjoy yourself. I recommend mixing business with a human element of getting to know someone’s journey and story. The best relationships don’t come from only discussing serious topics; they come from finding commonalities.
I recently posted a survey for a new online networking course called the Sports Networking Playbook that I am creating with one of my mentors and good friends, Sergio Millas.
Something that kept coming up in the responses was getting nervous before a big interview or networking meeting. Knowing from experience, this is definitely a real concern, especially when you are looking for a job, when you are trying to find your next client or when you are putting yourself out there for the first time.
If there is anything you need to remember it's that they agreed to interview you or take your meeting. That means they want to talk with you and hear what you have to offer! Don't ever forget that.
When dealing with people it’s important to know that no matter who you are meeting with or interviewing with, they are human just like you and me. CEOs, executives, professors, recruiters, decision makers, or whomever you are meeting with, all still want to feel good.
I think it’s safe to say that we are all different. We come from different backgrounds. We speak different languages. We have different beliefs. We have difference senses of humor. We like different foods. We want to have different jobs. We have different ideas of love.
I think, at the end of the day, we can all agree that we are the same. We all want to be loved. We all want to feel valued. We all feel good after being complimented. We are all trying to figure out the journey of life. We are all PEOPLE.
Once you fully understand that people are people and we all have the same basic wants, you can begin to understand why it is so important to show interest in other people.
Tim Ferriss recently wrote a book called Tribe of Mentors, and after listening to him talk about it on 5 or so podcasts, I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of mentorship.
More than that, I’ve been thinking about what makes a great mentor and what impact they can have on someone’s life. Finding a mentor is one thing, but finding a great mentor can be life changing.
They can help you grow as a professional. They can encourage you to take or pass on a certain job. They can introduce you to new contacts. They can give you confidence and push you to achieve your definition of success.
Click here to read the whole article on Front Office Sports.
It was last fall. I decided to do work at a Starbucks while I waited for my Wi-Fi to be fixed. I had a few speeches coming up and I needed to prepare. Normally, when I go to Starbucks I don’t think too much about my outfit. Other times, I do.
It just so happened that this time I thought about what shirt I was going to wear before I went. Why? Because I was headed into the heart of Brentwood, CA and I had this feeling that I should wear a shirt that could be a conversation starter.
I’m always thinking of ways to meet new people or have new people connect with me and clothes are an easy way to make this happen. If someone is wearing USC, Lakers, or Dodgers gear I will always make a comment to them and say something like “Fight On!” or “Did you see the game last night?” So because of this I thought that if I wear a shirt from one of my previous work experiences and someone knows about it maybe they will say something.
That’s when I made the decision to wear a NBA Summer League polo. It was a simple polo with the logo on the left chest. It wasn’t anything huge or crazy, but it was noticeable enough that if someone knew sports or basketball, they might say something. It wasn’t a common shirt so I knew that if someone was going to say something, they either loved basketball or probably worked in the business. I wanted to give myself a chance to connect with someone new!