Mastering LinkedIn: Personal Branding Tips for Sports Business Professionals

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Our world is constantly evolving, and so is the way careers are being built.

With over 500-plus million users, LinkedIn is the largest and fastest-growing social network for professionals. According to LinkedIn Research, social professional networks are the No. 1 source of quality hires. Connections can lead to job offers and other great professional opportunities, if you know how to leverage the platform properly.

When it comes to branding yourself in the sports business industry on LinkedIn, heed the advice of social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of VaynerMedia and Co-founder of VaynerSports, before you share your next article, post, or update: “Respect the psychology of what people are doing when they’re on the platform.”  

SEE MORE: How Social Media is the Key to Your Next Opportunity 

Baron Davis, a former NBA All-Star and current entrepreneur and investor, has personally discovered the value of LinkedIn. “I started seeing all these people, and I’m like, connect, connect, connect, connect, connect, connect, connect,” he said in an interview with Bleacher Report. “There were old friends, business partners, and former teammates. I became obsessed with the app.”

With over three million jobs posted on LinkedIn in the U.S. every month and 95 percent of recruiters using the platform to find talent, the opportunity is high for you to be discovered — but so are the risks.

Here are tips to maximize your personal brand on LinkedIn as a sports business professional.

Make a Great First Impression

Ninety percent of information transmitted to the brain is visual. Branding on LinkedIn starts by presenting yourself in the way you want people to see you. A professional headshot and a cover photo play a significant role in your first impression. When it comes to headlines, you only have 120 characters to tell your story and articulate your brand, so use your words wisely to clearly state who you are and what you want to be found for. Industry buzzwords and “value-adds” are all great places to start.

SEE MORE: 4 Ways to Making Breaking Into the #SportsBiz Much Easier

Once your headline is completed, be sure to fill out the rest of your profile. Members with complete profiles are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities through LinkedIn. List all of your relevant work experience, education, and accomplishments; downplaying yourself could lead to downplaying opportunity. Be sure to take advantage of the summary section and custom LinkedIn URL feature as well. These are simple, yet impactful ways to optimize your discoverability and allow others to find you that much faster.

Add Value Through Content

Malcolm Lemmons, founder of the Players Point Agency, a branding and marketing agency that advises professional athletes shared that “Linkedin is the perfect platform to display your other professional interests and ambitions. With the ability to write articles and curate images and videos that align with industries and business sectors that you might be interested in, you can show that you’re multi-dimensional.”

The age-old marketing phrase of “content is king” rings true on LinkedIn. People (and recruiters) want to know who you are as a person. Your profile shows your “hard skills” and experience, but adding value through content showcases how you communicate and demonstrates your “soft skills.” Eighty-nine percent of executives say that it is difficult to find people with soft skills; organizations are compensating by making training for soft skills a top priority for talent development in 2018. Think of yourself as a news channel or subject matter expert rather than a personal infomercial.

Another hidden gem of LinkedIn are the connections, conversations, and collaboration that occur in groups. Here are a few examples of sports business groups to join on LinkedIn:

Not sure where to start? Search for your school’s alumni or former colleagues. Open the door to a conversation by commenting on recent posts or providing recommendations with those in your network. A LinkedIn recommendation is a testimony to your professional value and 87 percent of recruiters say the best channel to recruit quality candidates is employee referrals. Adding value through quality content, referrals, and connections can all enhance your professional profile.

Most importantly, follow up and follow through with your network and connections. Step away from the computer and put down your phone. Support your online networking with a real human touch. Set up calls, attend live events, and send a thank-you note in the mail to people you interact with on LinkedIn.

The internet has created incredible access to upward mobility. Mastering LinkedIn and leveraging the platform can open countless doors for your sports business career, but you still need to be the one to walk through them. Don’t allow your first impression to keep you from an opportunity. Add value through content, connections, and collaboration. Follow through with a real human interaction and allow your personal brand to be seen “as advertised.”