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Current and former sports professionals – it’s time to rethink LinkedIn

Admittedly, a lot of sports professionals are not even on LinkedIn. The smart ones are. But, are they (are you!) making the most of

the platform, the most of your transferrable skills, and future-proofing your own career?

I’ve spoken to an awful lot of sports people in this area. Former world champion boxers, England footballers, international rugby playe

rs, Olympic gold medallists and gold medal Paralympians. There’s a common thread that runs through everyone, irrespective of discipline. Thoughts of their 2nd career are often left too late. Many don’t know what to do next, they don’t know their purpose and they are told to be focussed on the here and now, not tomorrow. Some don’t know who to talk to. Talking about life after sport is even discouraged in some circles. That doesn’t sit well with me, and we need to find a way to alleviate the stigma around retirement from sport. In fact, even the word ‘retirement’ doesn’t sit well with me! Surely it’s a career pivot?!

It’s not all bad news though. There’s a lot of good advice out there, and LinkedIn may well be one of best places any sports person, (current or former) can look to expand their personal brand, connect to opportunity and build for the inevitable when they hang up their proverbial boots.

Some have got things just right. Most haven’t – yet. These sports people look backwards, not forwards. They look to the career they had, not the one they want. LinkedIn by nature is a forward facing, progressive, purpose driven platform that looks to the future, and sports people should write their profiles with an eye on where they (you!) want to be, not where you are or have been. The m

essages you put out there, the tone of voice you use and the interactions you have should be about what you are trying to do outside of sport. Think about your goals (not those ‘goals’!), your aspirations, your interests, your passion. Think about your long term strategy, your vision and how you will get there. Think about your connections, and those you want to connect to. Think about your transferrable skills (drive, determination, focus – all of these are highly sought after traits). Get LinkedIn right and it will serve you well, I promise.

To kick things off, I’ve listed the five main things that all sports people – former and current – should be doing on LinkedIn right now.

1.  Work on your profile -

  • Get this optimised. Do it yourself if you can, or have a pro do it for you. This is your shop window after all and it needs dressing accordingly. Neglecting your profile limits the opportunities that may come your way, and remember someone else – your competition – is just a click away.

2.  Connections -

  • You are better connected than you realise, but you need to make the most of it. Ensure you build your network effectively and consistently with the people that matter.

3.  Build your LinkedIn feed -

  • If you’re not spending at least 15 minutes a day on LinkedIn, then the platform isn’t working hard enough for you. It’s not providing you with valuable content. Work on this by following the right people, the right hashtags, the right companies, and unfollow those that block your feed with irrelevant content.

4.  Content -

  • What value can you provide? How can you utilise your current or former position to provide value. Plan a content calendar a

nd think about both creating and curating content. Build on the transferable skills you have (and you have an awful lot more than you realise), to create a path to your future.

5.  Use your transferable skills -

  • Your determination, focus and drive got you to where you are – or were. Use that with a new focus, a new goal and push through the difficult parts.

It’s not easy stepping out of your comfort zone. It’s takes effort and courage, and the journey towards your second career will be tough. But the sooner you work on it, the easier it will be.

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