Fellas, it’s that time of year again to get together with your boys, acquaintances and coworkers at bars and restaurants to watch another NBA Finals series. Of course people are going to have food and drinks—along with some healthy arguments—before the first game begins tomorrow night. Why not slide in a side of networking between your plate of wings and raucous laughter?
Sports gatherings can be the best places to make new connections—and enjoy yourself at the same time. When people are relaxed and having fun they tend to be more open to meeting and connecting with others. Here are a few things you can do that will give you a leg up in networking at events like these:
Freshen up your knowledge on key players and popular history of whatever sport it is, so that you can actively participate in the conversation. It’s alright if you have no idea how basketball, soccer, or baseball works. Skim the local sports section of the paper or news sites, and add in a reporter’s opinion. (No one will know, right?)
Survey the crowd or find out invitees. Who do you know? Who do your friends know? Take the perfect opportunity to get a gist of everyone and know who you need to speak to before the night is over. Who knows, maybe that human resources rep that interviewed you this morning is a Heats fan (or Spurs … but you’d want to know that ahead of time if you can.)
Be open to simply speak to the strangers around you. It’s not awkward because everyone is there for the same reason. Many conversations can start from a simple “What’s up” or head nod.