By: Jeremy M. Evans, @JeremyMEvansESQ
Managing Attorney at California Sports Lawyer
In previous articles with Front Office Sports, we discussed the importance of learning from those who have come before us in “From Volunteer to the Front Office: Hard Work and Opportunity Determines Success.” Then, we discussed ways to build your brand and career in “Finding Your Way.” This article will lay out the Top Five to Ways to Connect with People without Expectations that you may want to connect with for an internship, a job, or business development purposes (e.g., referrals).
Some might call this “networking.” We should remove the word “networking” from our vocabulary. The word sells short exactly what is happening when people are meeting and getting to know each other.
Meeting people is really about relationship building. It is the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” If you stick to the Golden Rule in your relationship building, meeting people will be one of the things that will actually become easier as you get older. Treating people right is about treating them how you would like to be treated, how you think they might like to be treated, and/or how you know they would like to be treated.
With the Golden Rule in mind, here are the top five ways to introduce yourself to someone you would like to meet:
1. Have someone you know introduce you to the person you want to meet and expect nothing in return.
With an emphasis on the word know, make sure the person introducing knows you and the person you want to meet. Introductions with context, background, and information are always preferred. Be interested in other people, not what they can and cannot offer you. You will be surprised on what happens when you do not have expectations for a return on your time and energy investment. Never ask for something other than information about the person’s business and experience in the initial call or email. Such requests are inappropriate on the “first date.” In general, opportunities are offered and given, not requested, demanded, or taken.
2. Compliment the person you want to meet in something they did or accomplished and expect nothing in return.
When you see someone doing great work, compliment them. People want to know they are doing a great job. A compliment is non-threatening if given free of expectations and truthfully from the heart. People will remember you as an honest person who cares. Being an honest and caring person is essential and invaluable in all relationships. You can do this through email or other electronic communication if there is no prior personal relationship.
3. Share helpful information about a topic or an upcoming event with the person you want to meet in an area or industry that interests them and expect nothing in return.
If you know that the person you want to meet works in a certain industry and would appreciate information on a topic, send an email to the person with the article, etc. You could also invite someone you respect and want to hear their expertise in a subject to speak on a panel, write an article, or to provide a quote for an article. Of course, the above scenarios require you to keep up on the news in an industry and to be involved and in a position to invite someone to speak, write, or comment. The above cannot be accomplished in a vacuum—context, involvement, and consistency matter. You may be surprised how appreciative people are for thinking of them.
The same information sharing process can be utilized on your social media platforms as well. Share information that you know, wish to know more about, and that is helpful to your readers (e.g., social media colleagues) in your industry or generally. Being a sharer of helpful information will help to keep you relevant in your knowledge of the topic and with people. People remember those who share, give back, and do so without expectation.
4. Refer business to the person you want to meet because that person is good at what they do and expect nothing in return.
We live in a world where experts thrive. In the legal industry, if you are not familiar with an area of practice, you refer it out to another qualified and reputable attorney or bring in a qualified and reputable attorney who can help you and in turn help the client with the matter. It should be of no surprise that the most successful and happiest people in the world are those who master one or two things and focus years on mastering those skills, while practicing the Golden Rule in all of their relationships. The setting, plot, and other factors may change, but a skill set is still good for life.
Moreover, why risk a malpractice lawsuit? The money paid by the client is never worth the headache. Without knowing the work required in the matter at hand how could you possibly know how much to charge? By passing business to a qualified professional you gain the professional’s trust and the client’s as well.
Being a professional in any industry consists of passing up economic gain or notoriety for doing the right thing by taking care of the client first, which may be through another professional with the requisite knowledge and experience. You can gain many friends by passing opportunities without expectations (Note: California Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 2-200: Financial Arrangements Among Lawyers, in California an attorney may receive a referral fee if the receiving/retaining attorney pays them and the client approves of the referral in writing beforehand). Lastly, referring business is also a great introduction to a person you would like to meet.
Then, once you have completed steps two, three, and four, repeat them, consistently, with people you know and trust and would like to know and trust.
5. Introduce yourself to the person you want to meet through a phone call or email and expect nothing in return.
Listed last for a reason, regardless of the medium utilized (email, LinkedIn, or phone call, etc.) a blind introduction without context is generally the most difficult and should be attempted last where the above options are not available. Blind introductions are difficult because it might be intimidating or perceived as unprofessional depending on how the introduction is worded or spoken. Even worse would be a situation where the person wanting to meet (the initiating party) asks for something, like a job or internship, without context except for an attached resume, on the first try. Ask the person to coffee before you ask for a job and never do it at the same time.
First, always establish a relationship first before requesting something of value. Second, be willing to give of your time and resources without an expectation for a return on your investment. Third, remember that giving generally precedes receiving anyway.
Of course if you have a great reputation, the person may have already heard of you, which could help you to make a long-lasting connection. Point being, having a good reputation to stand upon is always best in developing business relationships. Hearing “your reputation precedes you” when meeting someone you want to meet is always a good start.
Truly, wishing you success in your business endeavors and introductions.
About the author: Jeremy M. Evans is the Managing Attorney at California Sports Lawyer, representing sports and entertainment professionals in contract drafting, negotiations, licensing, and career growth. He provides legal advice and general counsel services for businesses, which includes development, contract drafting, review, negotiations, protection, and compliance. He is the Director of the Center for Sports Law & Policy at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, California, where he is also an Adjunct Professor of Sports Law. Evans is an award-winning attorney and community leader. He can be reached at Jeremy@CSLlegal.com or via his website: www.CSLlegal.com.
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