In business, politics and yes, even sports, women have proven they can play with the big boys. They have the know-how and the technical skills to run companies. They race cars and coach athletic teams. Heck, a woman may even run the country some day soon. And, when it comes to sports marketing and sponsorship activations, women have earned their seat at the decision-making table, too. Sure, the guys in the room may be empowered with a life-long passion for their sport, they may speak the lingo and know the rules. But even if they’re not total sports fanatics, women can hold their own in that environment. Here, some advice from two women who have thriving careers in sports marketing and events.
1. Sound Credible
Most women acknowledge that few of them share a passion for sports to the same degree as men. “When you compare fandom between men and women with certain sports, there is a significant difference, so when you talk about sports, you need to be credible and sound credible because it will take just seconds in a male-dominated field to knock you down,” says Michelle Donovan, who works with the NCAA as part of her role handling consumer promotions and sponsorships at LG. “You don’t have to be a fan of every single sport you represent, but you have to have an understanding and an appreciation for it.”
2. Be Confident
“Know what you are an expert in and the value that you bring to the table,” says Erin Keating, general manager of experiential marketing at Audi. “When I am sitting in the room with Major League Soccer, I really don’t know a lot about the sport of soccer, but what I do know is how to build a business and market a product and integrate sponsorship opportunities into my business.”
3. Ask Questions
You don’t necessarily need to know all the sports stats and insider terms, but you do need to be able to ask questions in an intelligent way. Doing that, says Keating, can earn the respect of the others at the table. “Remember, most people like to talk about their passion, so showing interest and asking questions, as opposed to showing up and acting as if you have been passionate about the sport all along, gives them the opportunity to tell you about what they do,” she says.
4. Network, Network, Network
The best advice Donovan has to offer is the obvious one, to network. The strategy worked for her when networking with the NFL and resulted in a good deal for her. “It’s not an easy industry to break into, it’s not about what school you went to or what job you had in the past, it’s who you know,” she says.