By: Chase McCaskill, @itsmechase
Front Office Sports had the pleasure to sit down with Steve Richards, COO of Sports Networker, a website devoted to helping students and young professionals find jobs in the sports industry. Steve was given the opportunity to prove himself as an unpaid intern with Sports Networker. Through hard-work and dedication, Steve has worked his way into his current role. He was able to share with us the importance of initiative, setting lofty goals, and personal skill diversification.
Tell me a little about yourself, how did you end up at Sports Networker, and what the role of COO entails?
In college, I received a degree in sports journalism. From there, I applied for some internships and got hired by Sports Networker as a writing intern. They wanted to hire me because they realized that although people want to hire someone with experience, it’s tough to get experience if no one gives you the chance. I began moving up the company and kept getting promoted, eventually into a paid position. After the former COO left, he decided to pass the COO roll on to me, which is what I am currently doing. Currently I am running the entire site: I edit and optimize the articles that go onto the blog, I write some of the articles, I handle the advertising (communicating with potential advertisers, getting the ad up on the site), and I create the newsletter we send out.
Talk a little bit about Sports Networker and the services you provide?
Our goal is to help people find jobs in sports. We have articles from those who have already made it into the industry and we attract people looking to find a job in sports. People come to our blog to check out articles of those whom have already made it [in the industry]. We offer e-books people can buy that teach them how to write a cover letter, prep a resume, and how to conduct yourself in an interview to help stand out. Our users can buy and download the stuff we write to help stand out from the crowd and get hired. We offer a membership program called the Sports Executives Association. [This service] expands on everything that Sports Networker offers and provides a members-only Facebook page, LinkedIn Group, and a dashboard that allows for people to connect. Sports Networker is about people helping people. We want to be sure that people are going after what they want to do and being sure they do something they love for a living.
I understand you’ve done some podcast hosting, any tips for people out there looking to run their own podcast?
The great thing about podcasting is that anyone can do it. I had somebody ask me if I wanted to do a fantasy football podcast called “Prime Time Fantasy Football.” I was interested in sports and wanted to get into sports media any way possible. Our podcast ended up being successful so I was asked to join two other guys on a pop-culture podcast as well, called “The Showcast.” All that anybody needs to do is show initiative because it is completely free and open space. If you want to get into the media/broadcasting space this is a great start and it allows you to build a portfolio.
Much of your experience is in writing, any advice on how students or young professionals can get good practice writing to help develop those skills?
Yeah I also have a blog called “stevenrichards.net.” Again, like the podcasting, it's 2015 so people can pretty much fire up something themselves. No one needs the go-ahead from anybody except for themselves. If you’re interested in building up your portfolio and getting into the print world then I would suggest using your free-time [in this way]. Keep in mind, it doesn’t have to be a long article, in this day and age people like the shorter stuff as opposed to the longer stuff, people tend to get bored pretty quickly. [Your blog post] doesn’t have to be any longer than 500 words, just try and write down what you’re thinking and let people read it. It’s all about building your voice.
So you’ve done a bit of recruiting for Sports Networker, what would you say are the general qualities of your best candidates?
What [Sports Networker] looks for is somebody with initiative, somebody that actually wants the position. We would rather have somebody who is willing to learn and wanting to go get it than somebody who already knows how to do the job but has no initiative. People who have the drive are the people that we want. Our job is to get people in the industry that they want to be in, and if you’re not showing the drive to learn and get better than it probably isn’t where you really want to be anyway.
If you could give aspiring students/young professionals one piece of advice on pursuing a career in sports business, what would that be?
Make today’s ceiling tomorrow’s floor.’ Always try to get better every day. Don’t stay stagnant and don’t move sideways or laterally. Always move forward and get better today than you were yesterday. It seems like a long ways away but if you grind out today then eventually you’ll get noticed by the right person and be in your dream career before you know it.
We would like to thank Steve for taking time out of his day to offer up some great advice for our readers!