20 November 2012

Professional Communication: A Primer

Last night, I had the good fortune to speak at the Sigma Alpha Sigma Mu (SASM) meeting. SASM is believed to be the first sports management oriented professional fraternity in the United States. The members invited me to speak about professional communication.

I covered what I consider to be a primer on professional communication. While each topic itself could have been a session, we worked on email etiquette, letter writing, socializing at networking events (e.g., career fairs), and writing a thank you note. The summary handout I left with the students is reproduced below. It should help you get started on improving your own communication practices.

If you are a student at Ohio University, please watch our listserv for other workshops like this one in the future. Thank you to the SASM members for working with me last night! MEP

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Professional Communication Workshop Summary Sheet

19 November 2012


EMAIL
v  Include a proper and professional greeting
v   
   In the text, address reason for contacting, provide possible meeting dates, times, and/or locations as needed
v   
   Include a proper and professional farewell
v   
   Please check the text for proper spelling and grammar; no contractions, no cursing, no slang
v   
   If including contact information, hyperlinks, quotations, or other information at the bottom of your email, please check for proper spelling and grammar
v   
   If attaching files, double check to attach them

THANK YOU LETTERS
v  When to write one depends upon style (e.g., email, hardcopy) as mail takes time
v   
   Should be concise, but also cover key points from prompting context (e.g., a reminder of a conversation or a great piece of advice given)
v   
   If hardcopy, then handwrite, but write out what you want to say ahead of time to minimize errors and internal editing as you go. When you write the letter, it should be a final copy the first time
v   
   Please check the text for proper spelling and grammar; no contractions, no cursing, no slang

INQUIRY LETTERS (INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEW)
v  Letters to arrange telephone, SKYPE, or in person interview
v 
     State reason for writing
v 
     Use connections to assist in obtaining the interview
v
      In the text, address reason for contacting, provide possible meeting dates, times, and/or locations as needed
v 
      Please check the text for proper spelling and grammar; no contractions, no cursing, no slang

INQUIRY LETTERS (JOB OR INTERNSHIP)
v  Please note, this is not a cover letter
v  Letters to arrange telephone, SKYPE, or in person interview
v 
      State reason for writing including type of position sought, where discovered, and/or if someone suggested you contact the person
v 
     Use connections to assist in obtaining the interview
v 
     In the text, address reason for contacting, provide possible meeting dates, times, and/or locations as needed
v
     Please check the text for proper spelling and grammar; no contractions, no cursing, no slang

BASIC NETWORKING SKILLS
v  Dress for the event plus a slight level above expectation
v   
   Have business cards available, but do not hand out to everyone you meet (unless appropriate)
v   
   Examine the room before setting off by walking around or glancing from a corner area
v   
   If possible, know guest list or target certain people to meet ahead of time
v   
   Be friendly and not always on
v   
   Know your history so you can bring pieces up as needed rather than constantly telling your life’s story
v   
   Open your eyes and ears and close your mouth when others are speaking
v   
   Take breaks from the event to refresh and to take notes, mental or otherwise
v   
   Put nametag (if sticker) on opposite side of how you shake hands
v   
   Smile as you walk around even if not speaking to someone at that moment, you are not Steven Segal
v   
   Respect others as you move around because someone you hovers or intrudes on a conversation is not always well received
v   
   Find a way to follow up (e.g., Linked In, email, telephone call)
v   
  Relax because you know yourself, you are interesting, and you find others interesting too; they are just people like you
-END-


24 April 2012

Since I heard about the practice of using Facebook and LinkedIn as primary application and information tools during the recruitment process (e.g., by Under Armour), I have been telling students to create personal AND professional Facebook, LinkedIn, and email accounts. Today, the following article came through my email and speaks to this issue. MEP


http://socialmediamagic.com/blog/important-separate-professional-persona-personal-persona-online/?utm_source=SagamoreNet%2C+April+2012&utm_campaign=SagamoreNet+apr+2012&utm_medium=email

23 April 2012

Etiquette

Here is an article about five rules regarding business etiquette. Obviously, there are many more, but this should cause you to think a bit as you prepare for interviews or jobs. MEP

http://www.inc.com/eliza-browning/business-etiquette-rules-that-matter-now.html

16 April 2012

Challenges to (sport) business education in the future

Here is a link to an interesting article about the challenges facing (sport) business in the future. It cuts to the heart of the work we do on a daily basis in the College of Business. MEP

http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB10001424052702304072004577323754019227394-lMyQjAxMTAyMDAwNjEwNDYyWj.html?mod=wsj_share_email_bot

09 April 2012

The Advisor

I was scrolling through my advisee list last week looking for the name of a student who sought my help. I noticed a number of names on the list that I recognized for being there, but realized I had never spoken with these students in person (and some were seniors). This prompted me to think about the role of the faculty advisor in a students' career planning.

Most students know their advisor is there to help them with their academic plan and issues that arise related to it. However, I am not certain students know what else their advisor can do for them. The most important function, at least to me, is that of a sounding board. The advisor can be help in terms of feedback regarding career questions, potential academic or career plans (e.g., where I want to work in the United States), and, depending on their nature, personal issues. Personal issues have been, for me, those difficult discussions about a student's behavior, study habits, or other matter. When I taught in Thailand, students opened up to me about every possible issue imaginable. Here, though, students do not feel the same sense of comfort to disclose. That's fine. The advisor can be a bridge between worlds for a student as they can be a friend, but are not like a student's classmates and friends. They can be a parent, but not replace a student's parents. It is a funny role for us to play.

For new students entering the DSA, I would recommend setting a time to meet your advisor within the first quarter of the first year. This can be a meeting to introduce each other to each other. The more an advisor knows about a student, the better he or she can help that student with advice, ideas, or important decisions.  I am not advocating complete disclosure on day one, but I am certain that opening that door early on makes it easier for the student to get to know the advisor, and teachers in general, and allows the advisor to understand this particular face in a crowd.

In the end, I recommend the following baseline topics to discuss with your advisor.

1. Career interests and the pathway(s) you see that can get you there; advisors have contacts and friends in the industry and are usually ready to help if, first the student will help themselves, and second, if the advisor feels comfortable with the student and believes he or she is worth mentioning to a contact (e.g., for a job interview)
2. Academic progress including concerns that might be had about a class (e.g., an ECON class) or study habits in general
3. Important, non-academic issues that the advisor should know about if it means his or her knowledge can assist in any way (e.g., special testing needs)
4. A life outside of school. Getting to know your advisor on a personal (and him or her allowing you to get to know them), humanizes both of you and allows the possibility of a better relationship to develop
5. Exchange information; many students and advisors are on LinkedIn and it is a good idea to check with your advisor to see if he or she will accept student contacts...most will

From these five main areas, it is my hope that a solid relationship will develop and the advisor - advisee relationship can become a stronger one along the lines of a mentor - mentee relationship.  MEP

13 March 2012

A Nice Article About Chad Boeninger

Chad has helped numerous students develop better projects and reports through his work as the business librarian. Here is a nice article about his work.

http://www.ohio.edu/compass/stories/11-12/3/Chad-Boeninger-2012.cfm

28 February 2012

Finding a job in sports: How hard could it be? (Part Two)

This is the second part of Dan Williams' story about his experiences finding his first job. When we last met Dan, he was waiting...

***

Then, as I was walking to my intermural basketball game on Tuesday, January 31st, I received a phone call from a Florida number at 4:57PM (yes, I remember the exact date and time…deal with it). The first thing that ran through my head was, “Well, here we go.” I answered and it was the Senior Recruiter from the Orlando Magic. Here is a summary of how the conversation went:

“Hello, this is Dan.”

“Hi Dan, this is Karen from the Orlando Magic. How are you? Is this a bad time?”

“Well…I’m in my sweatpants, so I’m not professionally dressed…is that OK?”

 “(Chuckling)No, no, that is quite alright! I wish I was in sweatpants right now. Anyways, Dan, I have some exciting news for you. We would like to offer you a Ticket Sales Representative position with the Orlando Magic! What do you say?”

“You just made my day! I have a smile from ear to ear right now! Thank you so much! My initial inclination is to say ‘yes’, but let me check in with my family and get back to you.”

“OK! Let us know by Friday.”

After calling my parents and telling them the news, they were ecstatic and wanted details on the position. So I sent them my offer letter and the benefits, etc. They said to jump at this opportunity and run with it.

I officially accepted a couple days later and everything has been a whirlwind since. Between finding a place to live (which I recently have taken care of), finding a truck (which has also been handled), spending as much time with my friends as I can before I leave Athens, and classes, the last month has been a blur, but I have loved every second of it. The biggest thing I have realized throughout this entire process is how blessed and fortunate I am to have such a loving and supporting family, amazing friends (and saying that is an understatement), and professors here at Ohio University who care an enormous amount about the success of their students. 

                If I could give any advice to younger students hoping to break into the sports industry, it is to befriend as many upperclassmen as you can and STAY IN TOUCH WITH THEM—AKA NETWORK. Instead of spending hours on facebook, email them once a month, call them. Hell, write them a letter checking in every now and then if you really want to stand out in a crowd. This will only help you out in the long run. Look at me—I wrote Yao a thank you letter after I met him four years ago, and have actively stayed in touch with him ever since and he is the man responsible for getting me a job. Also, BE PROACTIVE! Don’t be that person who waits for things to happen, go make things happen! If you want something badly enough, find a way to make it work, and don’t stop until you get to where you want to be. Yes, it may be hard, challenging and frustrating at times, but guess what—if it were easy, it wouldn’t be worth it. 

-End-

27 February 2012

Finding a job in sports: How hard could it be? (Part One)

This post is the first of two from one of our undergraduate students, Dan Williams, and the long and winding road he took to land his first job in professional sport. I hope to have more of these stories from different students and post them here to help younger sport management majors understand the process of finding work, to show older students that persistence will pay off, and to help everyone get motivated to find a position starting NOW. I will also ask recent graduates to write about their experiences as well in order to pull the curtain back on life after college. MEP

***

My Process of Landing a Job
By: Dan Williams

I could not have been more excited when I landed my first job after college with the Orlando Magic of the National Basketball Association (NBA). If you would have told me my freshman year that I would be graduating early and be working for the Orlando Magic, I would have probably scoffed and you and told you that was “not part of my plan”. Oh, how na├»ve I was (and still am, but aren’t we all?). 

The job application process was a long, tedious and stressful process for me, but looking back on it, the whole reason why I had the three interviews I did was because of the one word I disliked so strongly my freshman year—networking. Yet, it was because of my networking that I had an interview with the San Antonio Spurs, Sporting KC (formerly the KC Wizards), and of course, the Orlando Magic. My friend at the Spurs, whom I worked with during my time with the Southern Ohio Copperheads, made sure my resume got a good look. The Spurs gave me a call, and I also was able to interview with them in person while visiting my family for Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, they needed me to start three months too soon, which is OK. Everything happens for a reason, or at least that is what I kept telling myself. It was my friend at the New York Yankees, Yao Williams, whom I met during my senior project in high school and have stayed in touch with since, or as Dr. Pfahl would say, “networked”. Anyways, Yao put me in touch with his friend who was the Manager of Sales Associates at Sporting KC. After a few emails were exchanged, we spoke on the phone for a while and he was very impressed. He told me to reach out to him once I was back in school and we would catch up. So, once I was back in school, we touched base and talked again. They were going to get back to me in a few more weeks to let me know if I got the job or not, but they wanted someone to start ASAP, which I can understand. Timing has never been my forte, and it was evident throughout this entire process…until positions opened up with the Orlando Magic.
            
     Before I applied for the position with the Magic, I emailed Yao to keep him in the loop as to what was going on with me finding a job. I mentioned the position with the Magic, and yet again, Yao knew someone with the Magic. He had me email him my resume and put me in touch with another one of his friends, whom he worked with during his time with the Charlotte Bobcats. His friend, Jamie, reached out to me and made sure I filled out their online application so I was in the system. I did so, and then a few days later I had my phone interview. It went OK, but I have had better phone interviews. I was told they would reach out to me if they wanted a second interview. I was hopeful, but not banking on being asked for a second interview.

                Much to my surprise, I was emailed to schedule a Skype interview. I was surprised more than anything, in addition to being a little relieved. I emailed a few of my professors, including Dr. Pfahl, with the hopes of using a webcam (quick plug—buy your own webcam, it would be a wise purchase). Dr. Pfahl was going to let me borrow his laptop and we were going to be good to go…or so I thought.

                The day of the interview, I was dressed to impress (naturally) and walked into Dr. Pfahl’s office ready to knock the interview out of the park. Then the internet was not working on his laptop. This was at 9:23AM, and my interview was at 9:30AM. I ran (literally) down to Professor Moran’s office, and fortunately he allowed me to use his webcam and his computer for my interview. The webcam was made in circa 2001, but hey, as long as it got the job done, I didn’t care. The webcam didn’t fit on the monitor, so I had to set it on Professor Moran’s desk. Talk about an awkward angle. When the Magic called, the audio wouldn’t work. They had to call me on my cell phone and I put in on speakerphone. Needless to say, I felt as if the technology gods were mocking me that day for their amusement. Aside from all of the technological shortcomings, the interview went well, very well. No questions caught me off guard, and I was able to let my personality show through all of the questions they asked me.
They told me I should expect to hear back from them within the next week. So I waited. And waited. And waited some more. 

-End of Part One-