4 ways to grow your career in sports (without a new title)
by Warren Parr - Senior Director of Ticket Sales at the Atlanta Falcons | November 19, 2019
This past summer I was fortunate to travel to West Creek Montana with 20+ fellow associates from AMB Sports and Entertainment (the parent company for the Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta United, and Mercedes-Benz Stadium) for leadership training. Over the course of the week, there were many discussions had by the group, one being focused on professional growth and how as an organization we could foster it as much as possible with our associates.
In my recent experience, it seems like many professionals only define their growth through a title change or higher compensation. With social media playing such a big role in our lives, it’s almost a sense of “Keeping up with the Joneses” to ensure that you are ascending the career ladder as fast as your peers and other colleagues. It could be perceived that the title is more important than the professional skills that are being developed.
While it provides a sense of gratification to receive a change in title, the reality is, the further you get in your career in sports, the expectation of a title change every year (or every 2-3 years) is unrealistic. Professional growth should be defined by more than just a title change. There are a number of ways to grow professionally and I’ve outlined a few important ones below:
Expand your network
There’s a common saying that’s often thrown around in sports “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. While there is certainly some truth to that, I tend to believe “It’s not who you know, but who knows you!” Developing meaningful relationships and expanding your professional network are vital to your career growth in sports. These relationships are not just within the walls of your organization, they extend to peers and colleagues with other teams. There are many resources available for you to expand your personal network. Sports Career Fairs, Teamwork Online Networking events, (theClubhouse!) and industry conferences are great ways to meet other executives and share best practices. The stronger the relationship, the more those individuals are willing to go to bat for you vs. you just being someone they know.
Invest in yourself
Far too often we rely on our managers to provide us with all the tools and training to make us successful at our jobs. However, taking time and energy to invest in your own professional growth is often ignored. There are several ways that any employee can personally better themselves. Anything from taking time to read professional development books, listening to relevant podcasts on your car ride to work, various webinar trainings, or executive coaches for Sr. level professionals are all good examples of investing in yourself. Furthering your career in sports is often doing the things that others are either unwilling or too lazy to do. Investing in yourself is a no-brainer, so do it!
Professional growth is also influenced by how you are living your life outside of the everyday 8a to 5p. Volunteering your time and finding opportunities to give back to your local community are great ways to demonstrate your leadership skills and your ability to act as a mentor to others. It’s amazing the satisfaction that can be had from being a big brother/big sister or offering up your professional advice to those that are looking for a second chance. You’d also be surprised to learn how these opportunities can also enhance relationships with powerful and influential individuals in your community.
Learn a new skill
We all strive to be experts in our field, as we should. But as our business continues to evolve and change, it never hurts to learn a new skill that is relevant and can easily be applied to your role. Sometimes organizations offer Learning Management Systems (LMS) that deliver educational courses, along with training and development programs. LinkedIn Learning is another great tool that provides access to thousands of subject matter expert led professional courses. Having more tools in your toolbox increases your value to your team and knowledge of the overall business.
Adopting any of these practices will not only put you on a path to professional growth and success but they will help provide a sense of professional accomplishment regardless of whether or not your title changes.
Warren Parr is the Sr. Director of Ticket Sales at the Atlanta Falcons. He has 14+ years' experience and a proven track record of success in selling, sales management, revenue management, and customer service. He’s a strategic thinker who applies industry experience and new trends to effectively manage people and maximize revenue possibilities. You can learn more about Warren by visiting his LinkedIn profile here.