There are things you hope your colleagues notice about you. Maybe it’s how hard you work, the pride you take in getting things done ahead of schedule or the positive attitude you bring to your job. Those things are obvious to you, but sometimes your colleagues are too dense (busy is probably more accurate) to notice or comment.
So make it easy for them.
Tell them what’s important to you in the way you talk sports.
You can’t (let’s rephrase, you shouldn’t) just walk up to colleagues and give them a tutorial on what they they should know about you, that’s weird and not a terribly effective conversation starter. Here’s what you can do – include things that are important to you in the way you talk about games, athletes, teams and outcomes. Praising a player’s work ethic clues colleagues in to the fact it’s important to you. Talking about the way a team bounces back from adversity can highlight a quality you try to bring to your own team.
Sports conversations are more than sports talk. Use them to your full advantage.
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So why are you putting so much pressure on yourself to become one?
What’s holding you back when you stop speaking up in a meeting, introducing yourself to an influencer, or adding something to a conversation?
Is it because you don’t know what to say… or that you don’t know what to say, next?
When people ask me about the interviews I do with athletes during pre-game or post-game shows, I often tell them I know how the interview starts but I never know how it’s going to finish. I know what questions I’m going to ask, but I don’t know how they’ll be answered. Here’s what I’ve learned after 20 years working in sports broadcasting, you don’t need all the answers. You just need to start the conversation. You’ll figure it out as you go.
The same is true in business conversations. Stop trying to be the know-it-all, or waiting until you’re in a more senior position, or waiting until someone asks you.
Take the initiative. Start the conversation and let the people around you benefit from the expertise and ideas you have to offer.
If you’re not sure where to start, take a page from my book (literally) and use sports conversations as a starting point. Sports small talk is a low leverage opportunity to practice the skills you need in bigger business settings. Every week I publish weekly sports Convo Starters to make it easier. Sign up here!
You’re missing a critical part connecting with sports fans if you don’t consider their level of fandom.
There’s no “right” way to be a fan which means you’ll encounter lots of different types of fans at work, board meetings, networking events and even around your dining room table. It also means you can’t have the same conversations with every sports fan and expect the same results.
Just like in any business conversation you need to know who you’re talking to and craft your message accordingly. If it seems like a lot of work to strategize small talk or to cater to sports fans at work, consider how much better your work day goes when people are on the same page, moving the same direction and getting things done. That’s what good business communication is.
Sports small talk is part of business communication because it’s one of the ways you build relationships with colleagues and clients. Make it easier on yourself by knowing which type of sports fan you’re talking to. The video explains more.
Of course, since this is Part 2, you might be interested in seeing Part 1 and the difference between novice and diehard fans. There’s an obvious difference when it comes to knowledge base, but don’t overlook or write off either set of fans, as I mention in the video.
Jen Mueller is a veteran sports broadcaster and a rock star keynote presenter. Jen is a member of the Seattle Mariners television broadcast team and the sideline reporter for the Seattle Seahawks. She provides ways to make sports useful in business through her books and blog at Talk Sporty to Me. Sign up for weekly insights and conversation strategies here.