Recently I was at a think tank regarding advertising and professional sports leagues. It was a great experience to hear about what trends were in marketing in the professional sports realm. I like to go to events like these to give my students a real look at what sports marketing looks like.
As I was networking, I spoke to a few young professionals trying to make their way into the industry. I like to ask a lot of questions and see what they envision themselves being a part of as a career. I usually follow that up with a question about how they think they are going to get there. Then finally I ask what their value is to a company they want to work for is. That is the question that usually stops and makes them think.
"Then finally I ask what their value is to a company they want to work for is. That is the question that usually stops and makes them think."
Let’s take for example one of the conversations I have at this event. Let’s call the young professional John to protect the innocent. John was 23 years old and a college grad. I asked John what he wanted to do as a career. John stated he wanted to be an events planner. He wanted to be a part of huge events around the Chicago area and beyond. John has big plans. I asked John what he is doing now in order to reach that goal. John said he was doing some temp work here and there and meeting a lot of people in the industry. Then came my big question. I asked him what made him valuable to an events planning company. The answer I got didn’t surprise me. John mentioned his value came in his college degree, his contacts in the industry and his resume on Linkedin. John has no value. It’s a hard truth.
As I spoke with John, it became a little more disturbing to find out that he wasn’t on social media other than Linkedin. Let me remind you that John wants to become an events planner. One of the biggest ways events are being promoted today is through social media!
"People have to realize that money isn’t the only form of payment someone can give you."
Too often people like John think they have to meet the right person to get an in to make their dreams come true. Yes, that happens rarely. When you meet that person, you actually have to show value! You have to have done something! I told John a few things in this conversation that he should do to create value. First I told John to start creating his brand of himself as a planner on social media. By doing that, he should actually create a few small events and show success and learn from failures. I mentioned going to his local town or suburb and working on an events project for the local Chamber of Commerce or village FOR FREE! Yes, I said it. For FREE. People have to realize that money isn’t the only form of payment someone can give you. In John’s case, the payment is experience in actually doing something. The payment is learning. The payment is creating value. Not money. John needs to start somewhere to build. No one will hire you just for knowing someone or just because of a degree. If you are chasing a career and struggling to get a foot in the door, create your own opportunities and do something yourself. Create your value.