Worried about finding some way to round up the money to attend NACDA or another big conference next summer? I agree that there is no bigger opportunity to dive in than to attend a conference, but there is no need to wait or rely solely on these events to start networking in college athletics. Further still, these conferences can be costly, and I for one, had very limited resources as an undergraduate. I still haven’t been able to attend a NACDA convention, and was only able to attend my first conference, Emerging AD, due to the kindness of the conference founder in providing a scholarship for my registration. That said, opportunity waits for no one, we are each responsible for preparing ourselves to receive good fortune.
Months before I would have my first internship, I was engaging on a college athletics Twitter chat on Sunday nights called #scachat for small college athletics professionals. Led by Jim Abbott, athletic director of Oklahoma City University, this group was rich with experience to say the absolute least. Beyond being able to engage with dozens of professionals in the field I aspired to be in, participating in the chat was entirely free.
Since then I have continually engaged with #scachat and several others of specific interests. I have said that knowing your information is the least that one can do, but what good is information if you aren’t challenging what you know and forcing yourself to continue to grow? These athletics Twitter chats span various areas within athletics including ticketing, sponsorship, marketing, digital branding, and my recent favorite #YPSportsChat that focuses on various topics, inviting sports professionals early in our careers to engage.
Understandably, it sounds easy to get engaged with these opportunities, but stumbling upon these opportunities were like striking oil for me, so I can only imagine the amount of individuals who are simply unaware that these opportunities exist. I’ve shared all the chats that I know of, but the beauty of these chats is that any group can start them and reach out to other sports professionals and encourage them to contribute. Chats are no substitute for conferences all together, but chats are able to do what conferences can’t, which is consistently have professionals engage with each other. So while saving up for the opportunity to attend your next conference make sure you staying engaged in the industry. Hopefully I see you all on a chat some time.