As a college professor, I often find myself talking to students about the value of networking, especially in the field of sport management, my area of expertise. My colleagues are in agreement that building a network, starting at least in college, is a good strategy when trying to find an internship or a full-time position.
The interesting thing is that if we were able to meet our students earlier in life, we would be giving them the same talk about networking, because when it comes down to it, it is never too early to start networking.
Sports is a great way to meet people and make friends, a.k.a. network. While it may be off-putting to talk about a professional concept like networking in the context of kids, we all do it. From the very beginning, parents are looking to establish play-groups. A few years after, they are looking for activities where the kids can get involved, e.g. music, dance, art, and of course, sports. What are the best grade schools, junior high schools, and high schools? Are parents, or kids themselves, so calculated in finding “good” activities and schools? Maybe, maybe not, but the idea of getting together with folks who may have similar interests and/or contribute to our lives is widely accepted. Actually, it is expected.
So why bring up networking here? Well, Up2US Sports is a networker’s network. I love the idea of organizations joining up to share ideas and best practices. It is the heart of networking. And it helps everyone get better at what they do. I also love the idea of kids getting to meet new kids and all of those kids getting to work with great coaches. They may not know it, but they are building a powerful network.
Sports-based youth development is a growing field that demands the best of everyone involved – kids, parents, coaches, administrators, academics, corporate supporters, etc. To think that one group has all the answers is not reasonable. We must work together to do the most good. We must ask one of our friends or colleagues if s/he “knows someone who knows someone who knows person “x.” That is, we must network.
My embrace of networking and meeting good people is how I got to know about Up2Us Sports more than five years ago. In reading some alumni news from Georgetown, I came across a profile of Paul Caccamo, Up2Us Sports’ founder and fellow Hoya. I had friends who were involved with the first sports-based youth development organization he founded, America SCORES. (If it is sports and Georgetown-related, I want to know about it!) I reached out to Paul and in our first meeting we talked kids and sports and the potential of both working together for more than two hours. (It would have gone on longer if we had the time.) Since then I have developed a friendship with Paul, have gotten to know his incredible team, and met dozens of others from the world of sports-based youth development and “sport for good.” efforts.
I admire Up2Us Sports for the work it has done and continues to do. I admire the work of the organizations that are part of the Up2Us Sports network. And I admire the kids and coaches who are bettering themselves and others every day. That is certainly the type of network that I want to be a part of.
(If you want to network, contact Sports Doing Good via email (firstname.lastname@example.org), on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram or connect with me on LinkedIn.)