Recently, I was introduced to the wonderful Jen Mueller, a Seattle sports broadcaster and the founder of Talk Sporty to Me. She wrote the book--quite literally--on using sports conversations to effectively build business relationships, create opportunities, and advance your career. Talk Sporty to Me discusses different means to leverage the passion of sports fans, build a conversation game plan, and the dos and don'ts for talking sports at work. With Jen's tips and tricks and our Goalposte newsletter to keep you up-to-date, you should be able to master any sports conversation!
In particular, Jen's 6 different reasons that you should talk sports at work resonated with me. Below is just a taste of the content you'll find in Jen's book:
1. It's small talk that's productive. Unlike many other conversation starters--like the weather, sports can be the anchor for building a long-term business relationship. Through a short conversation on sports you can establish a connection, build a rapport, and create follow up opportunities.
2. It's DVR-Proof. Gone are the days of "Must See TV" lineups. Shows like Friends, Seinfeld and ER not only dominated the overnight ratings, but conversations on Friday. If you didn't watch on Thursday night, you were left out. Now with the advent of DVRs and streaming sites like Hulu and Netflix, sports are one of few remaining programs that are consumed live. Sporting events happen every day and knowing that fans track outcomes every day gives you fresh conversation topics. If you follow sports headlines, you won't be left standing in awkward silence wondering what to say.
3. Sports provide follow up opportunities. Sports seasons least for months at a time. The sheer number of games and events can seem tiring and overwhelming at times, but try thinking about each game as a chance to engage with a fan you're trying to connect with or work with.
4. Sports are customizable. Sports provide a number of different avenues to follow during a conversation. Think about the Super Bowl game for a minute. How many different things do you hear fans talking about around the time of the "big game?" You could take about the commercials, the parties, the food at the parties, the half time performers, the prop bets, the location of the game, the teams actually playing the game, the cities those teams are located in and the results of the game. There's something there for everyone!
5. Sports are ubiquitous. Sports fans talk to other sports fans. It's as simple as that. From executives to recent college grads and the cleaning staff to the chief of staff -- sports fans are part of a community and they're happy to share their enthusiasm, frustration, opinions and fandom with others in that community.
6. Sports offer personal branding opportunities. The way you talk about a game says a lot about you. Are you a gracious winner or a sore loser? Often the way fans react to a game or an outcome is the same way they respond to similar situations at work. When talking about a specific game, favorite team or player, decide what message you want to get across about yourself.