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Professional athletes are increasingly turning to LinkedIn as their new social media platform of choice. And it is precisely LinkedIn’s reputation as a place to do business and build a professional network that appeals the most to them. In many cases, they are doing away entirely with any photos of their former professional athlete days, and instead, using photos of themselves in suits and professionally written bios to land investors, sponsors and agents.
Exploring second careers
Make no mistake about it, the average career of a professional athlete is short. Unless you’re an ageless Hall of Fame athlete like Tom Brady, your time is limited to a few years at most. As a result, more athletes are waking up to the idea of a second career after a career in the NFL, NBA or MLB.
LinkedIn gives them the perfect platform to do that. In many cases, athletes are re-connecting with people that they met in earlier phases of their career, all of whom can help to steer them in the way of new career paths. Gone are the days when the only options of a retired athlete were to become an agent, scout or high school coach.
Finding investors and doing deals
Moreover, many pro athletes are reinventing themselves as entrepreneurs, angel investors, venture capitalists and dealmakers. Here is where the social connectivity of LinkedIn really comes into play – when it’s time to raise a new $50 million VC fund, or attract deep-pocketed investors for a new business launch, LinkedIn makes it possible to find the right people at the right time.
The worlds of money management and professional athletics are blurring right now. It’s no longer uncommon for athletes to be buying up business franchises (not just sports franchises), acquiring equity stakes in companies, or deciding where to invest last year’s multi-million-dollar paycheck.
Keeping busy during the offseason
The long off-seasons of many sports such as football can be used in various ways. Typically, these months are used to get into tip-top shape for the season ahead, and maybe to relax a bit after taking months of pounding from 300-pound behemoths. But now LinkedIn opens up an entirely new opportunity – to track down sponsors, endorsements, or promotional gigs, all while enjoying some R&R in the sun. While you’re chilling in South Beach, for example, you can also be checking out local endorsements or promos.
Changing attitudes and public perception
Finally, LinkedIn serves another role – and that’s in the shaping and honing the public image of a pro athlete. These days, pro athletes have a team of sports agents, PR reps and image consultants, all of whom can help them change the way they are viewed by the media and fans. Want to appear as a local philanthropist, and perhaps be featured on a local sports broadcast for supporting the local community? It helps if you can build local links on LinkedIn, and find the right charitable organizations via LinkedIn.
Of course, LinkedIn still is fighting its image as a boring, uninspired social media platform. It’s not a place you spend a lot of time unless it’s related to your career or your business. But we live in a world where people have multiple careers, where it’s possible to reinvent oneself online, and where it only takes a few minutes to connect with people anywhere in the world. At a time when the sports world and the business world continue to blur, it’s perhaps no surprise that LinkedIn has become relevant for professional athletes looking ahead to the future.