Last fall, I found myself in a rut; I started to question what I was doing with my life. Then, on a Tuesday afternoon in September, it came to me. I went to the Richmond Oval to watch a friend play at the World Wheelchair Rugby Championships, and by the end of the match I thought to myself, “I need to do this”.
Less than a year later, I am in my second week at my new job as High Performance Coordinator with the Disabled Skiers Association of BC (DSABC) and I got this by volunteering, using social media, and networking.
Go Out and Volunteer
I had NO experience in the Sport Industry and I knew volunteering was a great way to gain some skills and meet new people, so I approached BC Wheelchair Sports & BC Wheelchair Basketball and got involved with their Event Organizing Committees.
Volunteering gives you an opportunity to try something you are interested in, do good in your community, and meet tons of great people. (I love our guest blogger Lindsay Thom’s post on this a few months back.)
You should also not be afraid to use it as work experience on your resume. LinkedIn has just added a new section called “Volunteer & Causes” where you can now claim those hours.
I also love this survey to find out your volunteer personality—I was a Type A ;-).
Use Social Media
My most fortunate and fruitful meeting was with our Connector in Chief, Jen Schaeffers. Gaining a connection through Linkedin, I set up an informational meeting with her (another GREAT tool when changing careers).
Jen shared her knowledge about the sport industry but what I remembered most was what she said about social media, “Get on Twitter” and “Make sure your Linkedin is up to snuff”. Most importantly, she told me to be real. Be human. Be approachable. People want to know there is a real person behind the online personality.
Twitter was my first step in building my personal brand and although I was initially hesitant about “putting myself out there” what you see on Twitter and Linkedin is a true reflection of me. That being said, everyone is entitled to their personal life which is why I keep Facebook strictly for close friends and family.
Attend Networking Events
I had attended networking events before but never one out of my industry where my sole intention was to meet new people and learn more about the sports industry.
My first event was a tweet up in March 2011, a few months after I started tweeting. To say I was intimidated and uncomfortable is an understatement. I didn’t know a soul and I had no idea what I was doing on twitter! But I pushed myself out of that comfort zone and grew some balls. It turned out to be a defining moment in my career change due to the people I met.
(The next YVR Sport Biz tweet up is next week and I am very excited to return this time to see some new friends and reconnect with some of the wonderful people I met last Spring).
So, after a year do I have hundreds of followers or connections? Nope! But that’s OK, because for me, it’s about quality not quantity. I feel I have made much more than just connections along the way.
When I sent off my DSABC application, I was confident that the mutual connections I had with the Hiring Manager would speak to my experience, passion and skills in a way that would help me in securing the job. My connections knew the real me and that what I had demonstrated to them was truly what I would bring to any role. I am positive that had I applied for the same role 6 months ago, (with the exact same passion, skills and experience), I would have not been called for an interview…THAT is the power of Volunteering, Social Media and Networking.
“It isn’t sufficient just to want – you’ve got to ask yourself what you are going to do to get the things you want.”-Franklin D. Roosevelt