During this time of year, many pro athletes are enjoying a well deserved offseason. While the summer may be slower for live sports action, athletes have a huge opportunity to make connections and create relationships in the community.
Every sport has their own offseason schedule, training camps, preseason, etc. but as an athlete it’s important to take advantage of what free time you do have and start building connections that can establish your brand and career outside of sports.
How can you go about doing that?
If you aren’t sure exactly what your passions are outside of sport, volunteering for different organizations is a great way to learn more about what you like and, more importantly, what you don’t like. Ask your teammates, friends and family about organizations in your community that may need help.
Whether it’s through spending time with the people they support, passing out food, clothes or other supplies or helping with administrative support tasks in their offices, volunteering your time for worthy organizations can help you make invaluable connections in the community and build your brand.
In the same spirit- if you have the right amount of time in your offseason schedule, intern for an organization for 2-3 months in a specific role to really learn more about what they do and gain experience to benefit your future.
When you understand the challenges and issues going on in other parts of the world, you can better understand how to solve some of the problems facing us socially and politically. Reach out to local government officials or local nonprofit organizations that can help you better understand the needs of the communities that you are visiting and how you may be able to shed a light on it through your network.
Traveling to different parts of the country and different parts of the world opens your eyes to new perspectives in the world that you would never come across otherwise. The best kind of trips aren’t just going to a beach or tourist spot, but also meeting with locals from that community or region of the world and learning about how they live.
Even better, if you have the time and ability, make your travels a volunteer mission or spend a day or two of your trip giving back to a local nonprofit organization.
Your goal as an athlete is to create relationships in the communities that you live and work in so that when your days playing sports come to an end, you have other experiences to fall back on. Volunteering a couple days a year isn’t going to create an entire career outside of sports for you, but it will be a start for you to learn what you are interested in and the opportunities that are out there.
You have a powerful voice and influence, and while you are playing you have the strongest ability to create opportunities for yourself off the field. Enjoy your offseason, but make your offseason productive for your future!