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Gregory Kershaw's Weblog


Apr 07 2010

SEME 2010: Thoughts and Reflections

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SEME 2010 started off on a rain delay.  The tarp was on the field, players retreated to the clubhouse, and the viewers at home were stuck watching M.A.S.H. reruns.

Well, not exactly.

In reality, a cold and wet Friday morning at Nationals Park was no match for the power of sports networking.  Attendees filed in seeking refuge from the rain and insight into the sports industry.  Here are some general thoughts and reflections from the phenomenal weekend that was SEME 2010.

*The list of attendees was a hodgepodge of students, business professionals, sports executives, and curious individuals.  I spoke with one person who had a law degree and worked for a firm, but was looking to get their feet wet in the sports industry.  A large group of students from Old Dominion, fresh off their victory over Notre Dame in the NCAA tournament, carpooled to D.C. for the conference.

*Social media was the buzzword of the weekend.  Facebook, blogging, and Twitter were brought up in some capacity in almost every panel.  More so in the panel on The Changing Role of News and Social Media in Sports, but it always boomeranged back into the conversation.  Basically, every panelist recommended becoming familiar with the use of social media, because it will be a huge platform for sports in the future. Also, I just tweeted that.

*Buffy Filippell, the founder and President of Teamwork Online, could be found speaking to a large group of people in between panels.  She offered tips and tricks on how to get the best out of your Teamwork Online profile, including activating the ‘Teammates’ feature, which helps you create a network of friends and colleagues in the industry.  She stressed that building connections is crucial to getting your foot in the door in sports.  Ms. Filippell also mentioned that you often need to highlight your unique attributes to get a interviewer to remember you.  Using a student in the group as an example, she said that even something like horseback riding could set you apart from the crowd.  In a related note, I am now taking up horseback riding, pottery, Irish step dancing, and the Finnish language as hobbies.

*Glenn Chin, the Vice President of Global Brand Management for EA Sports, mentioned that when he first started, he was one of four people in the entire sports division at EA.  This has me wondering if I should concentrate on my Wii Bowling skills.

*The networking lunches were a great opportunity to get face time with some of the sports executives at SEME.  Each table in the conference room featured one individual from the sports industry who would answer questions, collect resumes, talk about what they did, and how they got there. After about ten minutes, with the polite encouragement of a SEME staff worker (thanks, Craig!) guests would switch tables and strike up a conversation with another player in the industry.  You could mill about as you choose, ‘speed dating’ at your own pace.  Just be sure to swallow your food completely before you ask a question.

The SEME Networking Lunch. Courtesy of www.seme-now.com

The SEME Networking Lunch. Courtesy of www.seme-now.com

*My favorite moment of the weekend was the presentation by Sunil Gulati, President of the U.S. Soccer Foundation, who spoke about the legacy of hosting the World Cup and the United States bid attempt for 2018 or 2022.  His entertaining and powerful presentation was definitely one of the highlights of SEME.   Mr. Gulati talked about what makes the U.S. a premier destination for the world’s biggest sports event.  He broke down the bid process and all the elements that go into bringing the event back to America.  However, due to rules and regulations concerning the U.S. bid for the World Cup, he asked that we not “tweet any of his comments.” However, I think I can sum up the presentation by saying, “U-S-A! U-S-A!”

U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati.

U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati. Courtesy of www.seme-now.com

*One way to wake up a large group of conference attendees on an early Saturday morning? Invite the gang from Under Armour University.  They had everyone on their feet, clapping, stomping, and shouting the ‘Under Armour Breakdown.’  This change of pace presentation talked about team training exercises and employee development within the company.  What makes Under Armour so unique is how they incorporate philosophies and methods used in sports into the business world.  Also, it’s pretty funny to see 300 people in business casual attire stamping their feet in rhythm and screaming ‘Fired Up!’ at the top of their lungs.  It’s experiences like this that you just won’t get in other industries.

Overall, SEME 2010 was a great experience.  This was my first time attending, and I could not have pictured myself rubbing elbows or sharing a lunch with these people a year ago.  This was a great opportunity to establish connections and get the upper hand on all those ‘battleaxes’ competing for jobs in the sports industry.  In order to get your foot in the door, you first have to know where the doors are.

Gregory Kershaw is a current Georgetown SIM student.

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