Building a Strong Network

networking professional development Jun 25, 2023

A strong network is an extremely valuable asset, no matter what your goals are. Your network can help you find job opportunities, connect with brands, embark on new career paths and so much more. It can also offer you mentorship, experience and resources to grow from as you continue your athletic career and as you start the journey into what’s next. 

So how can you build a strong network to help you in the future?

Start now. 

You don’t have to wait until you retire from sports or start a job to build a strong network of relationships. You can start right now! If you’re still playing sports, talk to those individuals who work in your front office or athletic departments. What do they do? How does their job work and is it of interest to you? If not, you could still learn a lot about how they got where they are today, and what resources they may be able to share and offer. 

If your team or school has a sponsor, see who you can meet and chat with at that organization. And of course, be sure to stay in touch with your coaches, teammates and support staff, as they can be a huge addition to your network no matter where you go. 

Don’t be afraid to look outside of your circle of contacts. 

A strong network is made up of people from all different backgrounds and walks of life. If everyone in your network is from your team or teams you’ve played on, you are missing out on opportunities to meet people with different interests, perspectives and reach. 

If you’re interested in technology and you don’t start building real relationships with people in that space, you’ll miss out on key connections. Join a club that focuses on technology. Tune in and reach out to podcast hosts or experts that share a lot about tech. See if you can learn more about their work and their journey. The further out of your comfort zone you grow your network, the stronger it will become. 

Be sure you are building relationships - not just reaching out to ask for help

Strong networks are based on the important value that both people give to each other. If the relationship is one sided, it will not go far. The other person will likely not be as willing to help you because you only reach out when you need something. The idea is to build genuine relationships - really show that you care and want to support that person too. That means offering to help or offer value when you can. 

Stay in touch! 

A strong network is one that you reach out to often and continue to nurture. If you don’t keep in touch with those you want to build a relationship with, you will end up only reaching out when you need something. Be sure to reach out and say hello! Ask how things are going, send them an article you thought they’d enjoy or just send them an update from your end. This doesn’t have to happen more than a couple times a year, but do something to show those in your network that you are thinking of them and putting in the time. 

Strong relationships are so important to help you succeed. Make the time to build those genuine relationships, continue to maintain them and add value as often as possible to those in your circles. That’s how your network can work for you as hard as you’re working for it! 


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