Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat: Those are the social media networks that come to mind when you think of professional athletes. The one network you don’t think of is LinkedIn, and that’s why I was shocked when I got a message one evening on LinkedIn from Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver and founder of CHARG1NG, Braxton Miller.
When I come across a pro athlete’s profile on LinkedIn, there is often nothing to see. Their profiles are nothing other than a place holder and there is no content posted. Braxton believes athletes are missing a tremendous opportunity to set themselves up for success in business after their athletic careers are over. In fact, I asked him to share why he believes pro athletes who may not be active on LinkedIn should take a second look at the world’s largest business social network.
1) Build a business network that invests in your future
A Sports Illustrated study once showed that a shocking 78% of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress due to joblessness just two years after they’ve retired from the league. And it’s not just the NFL; within five years of retirement, an estimated 60% of former NBA players are broke.
In a 2018 CNBC article titled, “Money lessons learned from pro athletes’ financial fouls,” former New York Knicks Center turned financial advisor, Chris Dudley said this about the financial health of his former teammates after retirement from basketball, “During my 16-year NBA career, I saw newly retired teammates lose everything to financial schemes and scams, dishonest or unqualified advisors, and reckless spending only a few years after leaving the league.”
Braxton believes using LinkedIn can help pro athletes plan for the career beyond their playing days and set them up for success in business.
“Pro athletes need to be thinking about their goals for after they’re done playing and the type of network they need to make that happen. LinkedIn is an investment in their future selves. I’m making real relationships with people in the business community. They ask me about what I’m up to professionally outside of football. That doesn’t happen too often on other platforms. On other platforms, there are so many automated bots commenting and liking, you don’t know what’s real and what’s not,” said Miller.
While no social platform is bot-free, LinkedIn has less bot activity than platforms like Twitter and Instagram. Braxton has racked up over 27,000 followers on LinkedIn, and he feels the quality relationships he is building on LinkedIn are allowing him to invest in his future.
With more than 500 million users on the platform, athletes need to realize that LinkedIn is the place for business networking now and in the future. LinkedIn is fundamental to athletes’ long-term career success beyond their playing days.
The search feature on LinkedIn is a powerful tool that athletes can use to get more endorsement deals, find investors in their businesses, get more speaking engagements, get a side gig, or land a book deal. They can search for coaches, executives, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and the key players from any company worldwide. There is just no better way for athletes to connect with and reach out to the decision makers who can impact their future.
2) Take advantage of LinkedIn’s organic reach and new live video feature to reach new audiences.
LinkedIn’s algorithm seems to favor video created on the platform with users reporting the highest reach with video over all other types of content. And with LinkedIn launching its new live video feature soon to all users, we can expect to see video content continue to be pushed heavily by LinkedIn’s algorithm for the foreseeable future.
Some LinkedIn users are seeing continued engagement from their videos weeks later after posting them. That type of longevity for content is nearly unheard of without paying to have it boosted.
Braxton recommends athletes launch their LinkedIn page with a highlight video telling their story from high school to where they are now. And don’t get caught in the old thinking that LinkedIn’s not a place for athletes. It’s THE network for professionals. So, if you are a professional athlete, you and your content belong, period. He sees the types of videos athletes are posting on other sites, and he thinks they just don’t realize the kind of reach those same videos would have on LinkedIn.
“Don’t be afraid to post content that in the past you wouldn’t expect to see on LinkedIn. Meaning, post whatever you believe fits your brand and target audience whether it’s football content, motivational quotes, or publishing articles,” said Miller. “LinkedIn’s organic reach on videos is far greater than any other platform’s.”
3) LinkedIn gives athletes a complete profile that displays all of their professional interests.
Let’s face it. There’s not a whole lot you can share about yourself and all of your interests on your Twitter and Instagram profiles.
“Athletes should be using their profile to highlight their business investments, sharing ideas about where they want to be once they finish playing. Make sure to update your headline to let your potential network know why you’re on LinkedIn. For example, my summary begins with ‘Professional Football Player looking for speaking engagements, Advertising Opportunities, and Corporate Engagements.’ Therefore, if someone wants to connect or message me, most likely they want to talk for a reason that will benefit both of us or a potential opportunity,” said Miller.
Being active on LinkedIn ensures that an athlete is taking the right steps and making the connections so they will be ready to move on to their career after playing pro sports. An athlete’s online presence matters so much in today’s world.
The bottom line is this: “Athletes who have a multi-dimensional brand have better long-term earning potential than those with a singular brand. LinkedIn gives athletes a chance to showcase themselves to a business-savvy audience that won’t see them on Snapchat,” said Miller.
You can catch Braxton Miller’s LinkedIn Live today April 25th at 6 PM EST courtesy of DID Management and MMP Digital.