Jen Mueller's office is the locker room. She's mastered how to use sports talk to boost her career and she's sharing her secrets on how you can too.
Jen Mueller, America’s Expert Talker is rarely at a loss for words. A 16-year sports broadcasting veteran, Jen currently serves as the Seattle Seahawks sideline radio reporter. She is also part of the Seattle Mariners television broadcast team on ROOT Sports. In addition to her work on the sidelines, Jen launched Talk Sporty to Me in 2009 and teaches business professionals how to improve communication and leverage fandom in business. She is the author of two books and a graduate of Southern Methodist University.
How sports talk can boost your career
Sports and sports fans are everywhere and using sports talk at work can help start conversations and open doors. Sports talk can build your business relationships, help you network more effectively and improve your business communication. Sports talk is one of the most universally accepted “small talk” topics.
Go after the career that you want
In this conversation Jen shares her personal career journey of being a sports producer to becoming an on-air sports broadcaster. Do whatever you need to do to follow your goals. Sometimes that means working on your goals on the side while you maintain your current job. Sometimes that means saying “"I'm willing to do that job, and..." Take the opportunity to communicate additional long-term goals you have and plant the seed for what you want to do in the future.
Sports allows you to bridge communication gaps
In surveys each year, more than half of all Americans say they are sports fans so you can go into a room and know that you can make a connection with many in the room with sports talk. Sports talk can give you something to talk with the CEO or new Account Exec or that new customer. Stacy and Jen discuss how sports fans can be found in all roles and functions in an organization and how talking sports can put you on the same footing as others in your organization.
Sports talk can help you start the conversation
“Did you see the game last night?” is the ultimate conversation starter. If the answer is yes, then you can dive into talking about the game. If the answer is no, then you can then ask what they did last night and the conversations goes from there. You’ll want to listen in to this part of the conversation as Jen goes into details about how to keep the conversation going regardless of the answer to the question “Did you see the game last night?”
Even if you aren’t a huge sports fan you can still use sports talk in business
Think of sports talk as a relationship building opportunity and networking capability. The conversation about sports will eventually change into other business topics and you want to be sure to be a part of that conversation. Stacy and Jen discuss ways about how to come up to speed on sports topics so you can jump into that conversation at work. Jen recommends even if you don’t love all sports, getting a few key points from the games over the weekend can be a game changer for your career.
Outline of this great episode
- Stacy introduces Jen and we hear Jen's career journey.
- Sports are everywhere
- "I'm willing to do that job, and..." Take the opportunity to communicate additional long-term goals you have and plant the seed for what you want to do in the future
- It may seem like a short-term lateral move but longer term, is there more opportunity for growth?
- Do whatever you need to do to follow your goals
- When Jen walks away from her broadcasting career she knows that she will have done everything that she set out to achieve (and more)
- The perfect job description is a fallacy so write your own
- Put yourself in a situation where you have options
- Show up for the job you want
- Be there every single day
- "Keep me in mind"
- Jen paid to go and used vacation time to go to training camp in preparation for being ready when the opportunity became available
- More than half of all Americans say they are sports fans
- Every room you walk into has a sports fan
- You have something new to talk about with sports fan every single day
- Sports gives you access
- From six year olds to CEOs, sports fans want to talk about sports
- What happens if someone is not a sports fan - use sports as the go-to
- Did you see the game? No? What did you get up to last night?
- Get in on the conversation
- Know what they're talking about - what is driving the conversation?
- Pick up (print) or follow a sports publication (social) and read the headlines - you'll find 5-8 pieces of information to engage in the conversation every day
- Sports fans just want an opening to talk about their favorite team or sport
- View sports as a networking opportunity
- Even if you're not a sports aficionado, sports conversations don't have to last long but can open the door to build long-term relationships
- When you see someone wearing a hat or a jersey, know that they want to talk to about their favorite team
- Whether traveling the world or walking into a room where you don't know anyone, if you see someone wearing a sports jersey or hat, you already have something to talk about with them
- On a boat in the Panama Canal, Jen knew that she could talk to at least one stranger…the one wearing the Russell Wilson jersey
- Become sports savvy - sign up for the Talk Sporty To Me newsletter
- Understand who you are talking to and their communication style
- It usually takes up to five (5) interactions to develop engagement
- Conversations can start small but make sure you have them every single day
- Sports seasons last a minimum of 7 months - use calendar reminders for continued engagement
- Identify five (5) people you want to engage with
- Jot down which ones are driven by connection (how they feel about the game or being in the stands) or detail (stats and scores)
- Stay on their radar with regular communications (in-person, phone, email, social)