The jersey will come off one day. Only about 2% of student-athletes will go professional in athletics after their collegiate career. Having a head start on a plan for after the game will be crucial for long-term success when athletes step off the playing surface. While Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok might get the most attention from student-athletes, the platform that has the potential to provide the longest-lasting value is often overlooked: LinkedIn.
So, how can you start now to build a LinkedIn brand that can be valuable for life?
Create a Great Bio
Before you start connecting, ensure your profile is an authentic representation of you.
Here’s a checklist of items to get started:
- Professional profile and header photo
- Current position, ex: Student-Athlete, Sport at University
- Current location and school
- Major your pursuing
- Talents, skill sets, interests
- Skills you’ve learned as an athlete
- What you’re looking for in the future
- Projects you’ve worked on (either in class or on the job)
- Updated Resume
- Work experience
- Volunteer experience
- Certificates and awards
Tap into a network of people already cheering you on. Alumni are fans of your success on the field, and they’d love to help you achieve that level of success off it. You can filter, sort, and search alumni to find people who fit the industry or location you want to be in after graduation. Start reaching out now and developing relationships. Continue to connect with new people, you never know who is going to be a potential employer or mentor.
Once you understand the why behind connecting with new people, the hardest part can be the how. Sending a note on Linkedin and introducing yourself with no prior contact can feel weird. Use this example to get started and put your own spin on it.
My name is name and I am currently a year at School or University. I’m a sport student-athlete pursuing a degree in Degree/Major. I noticed you are a School or University Alum and currently working in Role at Company. I’d be interested in learning more about what your day-to-day is like, as I’m gathering more information on various positions to get an idea of what types of roles I want to apply to after graduation.
I’m sure I will have follow-up questions and would appreciate connecting either via phone, Zoom, or in-person to discuss further.
Thank you for your time,
Here’s a checklist for the perfect Linkedin introduction:
- Personal introduction
- Why you’re connecting with them
- A question or something to learn more about
- Encouragement for follow-up
- Thank you or a closing statement
Linkedin is also a great resource to find events to attend. Either virtually or in person, aim to attend one or two per semester. It can be difficult with a booked class and practice schedule, but many virtual events have a networking portal and sessions recorded so you can participate on your own time. Follow people in roles you’re interested in or companies you’d like to work for. Keep an eye out for networking events they are hosting, or that their employees are participating in. Don’t be afraid to reach out to those people for more information or simply to say how excited you are. Small interactions can go a long way.
Share your success. Your connections will want to see it, so don’t hesitate to update your network on your growth. It doesn’t always have to be a job update. Share a big project or paper you recently worked on and found interesting. Reshare a post and add your own insights, or uplift someone up on their recent success. There are many ways to participate on Linkedin outside of career-driven content.
Frequency and Consistency
Content on Linkedin lives on the feed for a long time, unlike other platforms such as Twitter and Instagram. Content on Linkedin is about quality insights and, as an athlete, your thoughts, ideas, and opinions are going to stand out because athletes bring a unique viewpoint to the platform. You don’t have to be sharing an in-depth piece of content every day, posting on Linkedin weekly or monthly will still drive high results.
Different types may include sharing participation in recent events. You can add insights to existing posts, share your interest or current activity, or simply thank an organization that you’ve worked with.
Here are examples of what current athletes are posting: