Do you have a “human bucket list” of people you would like to meet? Are you interested in injecting some new life into your connection circle? If not, I certainly would challenge you to do so. You might not need a job or a favor today, but chances are in the near future you will.
Having a goal in mind can help filter and guide your efforts of expanding your connection circle. For instance, are you looking to broaden your cultural perspective? Or wanting to learn more about peripheral areas of your expertise? Planning for a second career? Depending on your goal, different people might be more suited for you than others at this point in time.
For a professional athlete, doors are opened (especially in their team state) more readily than for the average Joe, and that should be taken advantage of. Relationships that are started in the right way can lead to endorsement partnerships, charitable and financial donations, a post sports career, or a new mentor/friend.
Expand your circle
There are a couple of ways of expanding your connection circle:
1 – Ask people you respect and admire (your coach, family/friends, manager) if they have 2-3 contacts they would recommend you connecting with. The connections should be in line with helping to achieve your set goal. See if they wouldn’t mind doing the introduction for you.
2 – Based on your set goal, put together a bucket list of those you would like to meet. If you do not have connections to them, there is no harm in cold calling. In fact, nothing shows true desire better than a little initiative. My feeling is that a phone call is always best, especially if you have prepared your reason for wishing to meet them.
The above should be done with nothing more than information gathering in mind. You are beginning a relationship, not checking a box or asking for something, and should act accordingly.
Go into the meeting with set questions in areas you want to hear more about. Or if you know of someone who can help them out in their endeavors, become a connector. I have had people make meetings with me in which I thought they were going to ask for something. The great surprise was that I actually gained a connection through them that would help my business.
And finally, follow-up with a thank you. I am still a fan of handwritten notes, but a well-written email highlighting a particular point from the meeting works just as well. Remember this is just the start, if there was a connection then continue the relationship.
By meeting someone and showcasing genuine interest in who they are and what they do, you create extensions of your personal brand.
Katie Marston is a partner in VMGelement , a personal brand development company focusing on professional athletes. Follow her on Twitter at @ktmarston