Why networking is essential to your sports marketing efforts for future training programs
When you are looking for tips for marketing your next sports event, networking is not usually the first thing that comes to mind. But networking is one of the most important things you can invest your time and energy in as a trainer or sports academy owner. Have you spent much time maximizing your networking opportunities? Here is some insight into why it is so important to your brand to build a powerful network.
In order to get a clear picture of this, it's important to understand what networking is not. Networking is not simply sending out a mass email to friends and business acquaintances, getting together to chat about each other's business or exchanging business cards. It is all about creating a powerful network that enables you to help build your brand awareness and expand your audience reach. If you are purposeful in building a network of reputable individuals who have an influence in your field, it will be the single most important thing you ever do to build your business. Here are some essential elements to keep in mind:
- Start with someone you know. After all, that is the easiest way to get introduced to people you do not know but would like to meet. Ideally, this contact is someone who is already a client. In the case of a youth training program or coaching business, you might also start with a friend of yours that coaches a local youth team. This is a casual conversation, low-pressure, non-selling focus. At the end of this discussion, ask for a few introductions. Know ahead of time who you might like them to introduce you to in terms of their team, fellow coaches or local influencers.
- Initiate conversation with a new introduction and find a way to get a few minutes with this person. Perhaps you attend an event with your friend where you have the opportunity to gain a couple of new introductions. Make sure you’re prepared and get to know potential contacts’ businesses beforehand. What are some of their biggest challenges? You should have already looked at their LinkedIn and have a feel for who they are, possibly where they are from, who their acquaintances might be or where they went to school. Try to offer something of value to them in conversation, perhaps an area of expertise they may not be tapped into. You are looking to build your business and they have goals as well. Perhaps you could introduce them to potential corporate team sponsors. You’ve got the idea - find a way to offer value in exchange for what they have to offer you.
- By the end of conversations like this, you have established value that you bring to the table, explained what audience you are trying to reach, and asked the individual for introductions to their network. It's really a simple ask. "Would you mind introducing me to Bob, who is the treasurer of the girls travel lacrosse program?"
- If you have done your homework and followed some of these tips, you should be in possession of several new leads or referral partners, and in turn, they walk away knowing that you have expressed interest in their business and have offered value to them as well. Be sure to thank the person, and in a day and age of rapidly growing technology, don't neglect the follow-up "thank you for your time and help" note. Even if it is electronic, a simple thank you goes a long way!
As you build your network, your sports business and brand will grow. The right network of people will help build credibility and trust of your sports academy and training services. It is a natural cause and effect process. Solid connections lead to solid referrals, which ultimately help increase your number of clients. If you skip this step early on, you'll continue to need to find additional ways to build your brand recognition and awareness, as the natural word-of-mouth through references will become stagnant. So, why not tap into the least expensive form of marketing there is and build a reputable network right off the bat?!