Have you ever witnessed the ritual of players swapping jerseys at the end of an athletic contest? It is by far the most outward display of mutual respect, especially since the exchangers often find themselves on opposing ends of the win-loss spectrum. The significance of this practice is not to be taken for granted. After all, you are handing over a prized article bearing your most valuable asset—your name.
When it comes to career development, the jersey-swapping ritual is no foreign concept. As we all know, athletics is a relationship-based business, so the importance of having champions in your corner is of paramount importance. It is no different from wearing the jersey of your favorite sports champion. You are openly informing people of where your loyalty lies and whom you represent. A public display of this nature comes with a great deal of responsibility, nonetheless.
When a career champion vouches for you, or permits you to use him/her as a reference, you all are abstractly swapping jerseys. Everything you do will now be associated with the name “stitched across your back.” The image of one reflects the image of all. As a result, you must be intentional in upholding the highest standards of performance, integrity, and professionalism in accordance with your champion’s brand.
Since this is a swap and not a one-sided endowment, you must ensure your jersey is also worth sporting. Although your champions may occupy more prestigious roles, that does not mean you can’t provide reciprocal value in some form. For instance, make a deliberate decision to hold yourself accountable for your thoughts, actions, and the service you provide to those you represent. Embodying a mentality of this nature, not to mention acting on it, will reflect positively on your champions. Accordingly, they will be held in high esteem for their ability to identify talent and put people in position to make a play.
After all, true success is measured by how many people one helps to become successful, so it’s key to help others help you. In this way, you and your supporters become champions for one another, and no longer will there be a loser involved in your jersey swap.
It evolves into a win-win situation…and everybody loves a winner!
For more information on relationship building, be sure to check out The Blueprint for a Successful Career on Amazon.
Will Baggett, Strategic Brand Management–IMG-CLC,is an honor graduate of both the University of Mississippi (2012) as well as Baylor University (2014). He began his career as a graduate assistant with the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) and later completed an internship with the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. He is the author of The Blueprint for a Successful Careerand recently founded The Executive Image, a professional presence and strategic communication training program. A self-proclaimed “high school has-been” basketball player, Will resides in Atlanta, Georgia.
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