Image: Randy Chiu
What do baseball and football (or any other sport for that matter) have in common with business? They're fail-safe things you can talk to your colleagues and customers about.
Your work most likely takes you around this great country to various organizations where you no doubt meet and interact with people of all stripes. When you sit down with your clients or vendor partners for a meeting, in the first few minutes there will invariably be two types of people in the room: the ones who are talking and the ones who have nothing to say. Why? Because before you get down to the brass-tacks of business (and while you're waiting for stragglers to arrive) the ice-breaker is more often than not, sports. Some people feel that sports is beneath them and so don't deign to follow which means they can't participate in this important part of the business ritual.
According to this study, college educated women enjoy sports as much as their male counterparts but men watch more sports than women and have a greater grasp of sports trivia. Sadly, there are still more men than women in leadership positions in the U.S. (source: Catalyst research) but the chances are, for your client or colleague of either gender, sports is a great water-cooler topic to chat about. The same holds true for vendors, regardless of whether they have a college education or not. Plus, it's much safer ground than politics, or religion, or what kind of car you drive.
I'm not just talking about sports, really. Think communication, connection and preparation; all things you need to be good at to make it in business. If you really care about your various stakeholders and you want to forge a strong bond with them, or strengthen an existing relationship, demonstrate that you care what they care about, be prepared and spend some time reading up on their sports teams.
Natalie Zensius is a marketing communications strategist with experience in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors. Learn more about Natalie at http:www.linkedin.com/in/nzensius.