Mark Packer Q&A Part 2
When I caught up with Mark a week ago he had just returned from the Red River Showdown between Oklahoma and Texas. For those who aren’t aware, the game is just part of the weekend. The game takes place at the old Cotton Bowl stadium and is also part of the Texas State Fair. Food, Fun, and Football? Sounds like a perfect Mark Packer weekend.
Matt: You just got back from your first trip to the Red River Showdown. Sounds like a perfect Mark Packer weekend. Can you give me some of the highlights from your trip?
Pack: Number one—it was a perfect Mark Packer weekend. It involved everything being deep fried and it was a great football atmosphere. I’ve been to Georgia-Florida which is great– “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party!” This is Georgia-Florida on steroids because you throw it into the state fair of Texas which has been going on since 1886. When I say they deep fry anything…if it moves they deep fry it. The fair has 277 acres and I saw every square inch of it.
Then you throw in Texas and Oklahoma—a pair of teams ranked in the top 20 for the first time since 2012—stadium is split right down the middle, 50/50. Fans were great. People were great. The bands were great! The food was great! The weather was great and oh by the way Texas won 48-45 on basically a walk-off field goal. If you have the chance to go—you must go!
Another thing that made it cool is that it’s still played in the Cotton Bowl. In this day and age where everyone builds the brand, spanking new multi-billion dollar stadium—and Texas certainly has that in “Jerry’s World.” There’s still something cool that it’s still at the old Cotton Bowl that’s been hosting this game since 1929.
Is it a beautiful place? No, but if you’re a college football junkie and historian like I am you remember all the incredible games that have been played in that stadium. To have 92,000 split between the Crimson and the Burnt Orange it was the first time I’ve ever seen it and IT WAS AWESOME!!
Matt: One of my favorite parts of your shows is when a caller calls in and tells you they’re going to a college campus for the first time and invariably you have great advice on where to eat, tailgating, where to go after the game, you name it. How did that start and how do you have such a vast knowledge of all these college campuses?
Pack: I’m Old!! (laugh) Seriously though, it probably started when I was a kid. My old man is Billy Packer and he would take me on college trips with him when I was a young knucklehead. I started seeing things that just became normal and commonplace in our world. When I went to college at Clemson I loved going on road trips as a student for a road football game. I have always loved the aspect of tailgating as part of the fabric of college football, even the fabric of college basketball for that matter.
When I finally got into doing radio I thought all that would be a neat thing to incorporate into the show. That’s when I started a thing called “The Southern Fried Football Tour.” I did that back in 1998 and I incorporated the name and started the company. Trademarked the name and turned it into a radio program, TV program, website, merchandise and I still have it to this day. That basically encompasses everything we’re talking about. From the games to the tailgating to the food to what you eat, what you bring, where you need to drink, where you need to eat. You name it. It started when I was a kid growing up with Billy and I thought it was a neat lifestyle thing to add to the radio show. I’ve been doing it now for twenty some odd years on radio and some on television.
That’s all part of the coolness of what sports can do. There’s nothing better than a great game to bring people together but there’s nothing better than food and drink to do the same thing. To me they’re the perfect match, the perfect marriage–why not do that on-air?
Matt: It seems to me that it has been such a great way to make such a close connection to your listeners?
Pack: Here’s the other thing, I keep ridiculous notes and I still have notes from every show I’ve ever hosted back to my days at WFNZ. My wife always gets on my case, “What are you doing with all those boxes and boxes of note pads?” Everything is hand written. I told her that one of these days when I get done doing radio I’m going to write a book. I have met so many unbelievable people and have such crazy stories. I will eventually have the time to write a book.
I have every note from interviews to crazy stats to food to restaurants. It looks like a Leonardo Da Vinci scribble of my show notes. I always keep a running tablet of suggestions I get from fans. It’s a great ice breaker. It’s cool when you go on the road and try certain things. When I went to the Texas State Fair I couldn’t wait to have a deep fried Snickers. How good is that gonna taste?
Matt: It seems like you are the busiest man in radio—you’re doing two shows a day and travelling almost every weekend to a college campus or big game site. How do you do it all and to the level of quality you have set for yourself?
Pack: Number one—I love to work. To me, this is not work. I love sports. I love people. To me mowing the yard, cleaning the gutters, washing windows-that’s work. I read constantly so you’re constantly acquiring content and information and coming up with creative ideas of how to present stuff on the air. I love that part of it. To me that is the most fun part of what we do—having the ability to create.
Every day is a blank canvas and I treat it that way. Whether your show is great or it’s a disaster and you hope they’re not disasters—you want people to be entertained. When they get in their car from having a real job, not what we do, you want them to turn on the radio and say ‘that guy right there has the greatest job in the world and it sounds like he is having the most fun of anybody on the planet.” I have that in my head before every show. I may be having a terrible day personally, but I know that from 7-10am ET on the ACC Channel and from 4-7pm ET on “Off Campus” on ESPNU Radio I’m gonna give you the impression that I have the world by the “you know what.” Even if I’m having a lousy day, I’m not gonna have a lousy day on your time.
We get into great content and topics. I want it to be different and entertaining every day. I also think that in this day and age that people are always worried about how a show should be done. There’s a thousand different ways to have a successful show. I always think it’s cool to get feedback from our listeners. I love to listen. It’s probably the biggest trait I’ve acquired over a couple of decades. Not necessarily to talk but to listen. It’s amazing how often I will learn something about a team, a player, a coach by just listening to one of our listeners who calls in.
Going back to your question of how I do it all in a day. I don’t sleep much. I don’t sleep but a couple of hours a day. It may just be the fact that I’m a San Francisco Giants fan living on the east coast. I’m used to staying up late watching them lose. I just get used to two hours a night. I’ve gotten into a routine when I know when I need 30 minutes for myself just to get re-energized between shows. The travelling part, I’ve always loved to travel. I’d much rather be working than not working. I kinda look at it that way. If I feel that I’m slipping or the show is slipping because I’m not focused or dialed-in, then I’ll kick back and decide to go forward or go backwards. Right now, I just love to work. I love what I do.
Matt: There have been so many crazy things that have happened on your shows throughout the years. What is the craziest and most unexpected thing that has happened on one of your shows?
Pack: For folks who listened to our “Primetime with the Packman” show in Charlotte, we had always opened the show with the James Brown song “Living in America” as the theme song for the show. I don’t remember what year this happened. One night, it was the night of a Duke-UNC basketball game which is a big deal in North Carolina. One of the guys on our show was nicknamed “Hayseed.” Hayseed hated North Carolina and he had a bet with a listener about wearing a t-shirt or sweatshirt depending on who won the game.
With about 15 minutes left in the show we get a phone call and it turns out that James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, is listening to our show. The reason he’s listening to our show is because he’s coming to Charlotte to perform the next night. He’s listening to this crazy banter about Duke-North Carolina. He calls our show. So I have two co-hosts at the time and we bring on James Brown and what I hear sounds like gibberish and you know immediately it’s really James Brown.
Now I realize we’re talking to James Brown and I don’t know a word he’s saying. For the next 15 minutes I pretend I know every word he’s saying. I’m focusing so hard to just pick out one word so I can setup the next question with James Brown. You can’t understand a word he says. We go for 15 minutes. My co-hosts are on the floor laughing and I do the entire interview by myself. We get done with the interview and I rip my co-hosts sideways. Here I am trying to conduct an interview with one of the most iconic figures in America and you guys are laughing on the floor. That’s how we end the show.
The next day we start the show at 3pm and North Carolina has beaten Duke—meaning Hayseed has to wear a North Carolina sweatshirt, but he refuses to wear it. Now the North Carolina fans are coming out of the woodwork wanting to kick his rear end. They are really mad at him! All he’s done is talk trash all week and he won’t wear the sweatshirt.
We get to the last hour of the show. My producer, Daniel Norwood, who now is an executive at SiriusXM, comes up and says, “You’ve got to see something.” He grabs me and brings me over to the window; we’re on the third floor. I look out the window and there is a caravan of cars—limos, all kinds of cars. It turns out that James Brown and his entire band have showed up to our studios to hang out with us. The doors open up for the last hour, here’s James Brown, his backup singers—the whole band.
Every Friday on our show we would have Bubba’s BBQ. We had ribs, chicken and mac and cheese. The next hour on the air, James Brown is singing, they’re raising hell; they’re having a good time. It was a gospel, one hour free-for-all. It was unbelievable!
He was dressed head to toe because they are going right from our studio to the concert. He’s got the robe, he’s got the hairdo working, and he’s ready to go. At the end of the hour, on the air, James Brown says “Where’s that Hayseed?” So I point to the window. James Brown says, “Hayseed let me tell you something, brother. You ain’t nothing unless you’re a man of your word. Put on the sweatshirt!” He puts on the sweatshirt and that’s the end of the show.
That’s what makes live radio great!
Mark Packer can be heard weekdays on SiriusXM. From 7-10am Eastern he co-hosts “ACC this Morning” on ACC Channel 371 and from 4-7pm Eastern he hosts “Off Campus” on ESPNU Radio, SiriusXM 84.
Matt Fishman is a former columnist for BSM. The current PD of ESPN Cleveland has a lengthy resume in sports radio programming. His career stops include SiriusXM, 670 The Score in Chicago, and 610 Sports in Kansas City. You can follow him on Twitter @FatMishman20 or you can email him at FishmanSolutions@gmail.com.
Amanda Brown Has Embraced The Bright Lights of Hollywood
“My whole goal was that I didn’t need people to like me; I needed people to respect me.”
The tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and eight others aboard a helicopter, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, sent shockwaves around the world of sports, entertainment, and culture. People traveled to Los Angeles following the devastating news and left flowers outside the then-named STAPLES Center, the arena which Bryant called home for much of his career, demonstrating the magnitude of the loss. Just across the street from the arena, Amanda Brown and the staff at ESPN Los Angeles 710 had embarked in ongoing breaking news coverage, lamentation, and reflection.
It included coverage of a sellout celebration of life for Kobe and his daughter and teams around the NBA opting to take 8-second and 24-second violations to honor Bryant, who wore both numbers throughout his 20-year NBA career. They currently hang in the rafters at Crypto.com Arena, making Bryant the only player in franchise history to have two numbers retired.
During this tumultuous time, Bryant’s philosophy served as a viable guiding force, something that Brown quickly ascertained in her first month as the station’s new program director.
“I had people that were in Northern California hopping on planes to get here,” Brown said. “You didn’t even have to ask people [to] go to the station; people were like, ‘I’m on my way.’ It was the way that everybody really came together to do really great radio, and we did it that day and we did it the next day and we did it for several days.”
The 2023 BSM Summit is quickly approaching, and Brown will be attending the event for the first time since 2020. During her first experience at the BSM Summit in New York, Brown had just become a program director and was trying to assimilate into her role. Because of this, she prioritized networking, building contacts, and expressing her ideas to others in the space. This year, she looks forward to connecting with other program directors and media professionals around the country while also seeking to learn more about the nuances of the industry.
“The Summit is kind of like a meeting of the minds,” Brown said. “It’s people throughout the country and the business…. More than anything, [the first time] wasn’t so much about the panels as it was about the people.”
Growing up in Orange County, Brown had an interest in the Los Angeles Lakers from a young age, being drawn to play-by-play broadcaster Chick Hearn. Brown refers to Hearn as inspiration to explore a career in broadcasting. After studying communications at California State University in Fullerton, she was afforded an opportunity to work as a producer at ESPN Radio Dallas 103.3 FM by program director Scott Masteller, who she still speaks to on a regular basis. It was through Masteller’s confidence in her, in addition to support from operations manager Dave Schorr, that helped make Brown feel more comfortable working in sports media.
“I never felt like I was a woman in a male-dominated industry,” Brown said. “I always just felt like I was a part of the industry. For me, I’ve kind of always made it my goal to be like, ‘I deserve to be here; I deserve a seat at the table.’”
Brown quickly rose up the ranks when she began working on ESPN Radio in Bristol, Conn., working as a producer for a national radio show hosted by Mike Tirico and Scott Van Pelt, along with The Sports Bash with Erik Kuselias. Following five-and-a-half years in Bristol, Brown requested a move back to California and has worked at ESPN Los Angeles 710 ever since. She began her tenure at the station serving as a producer for shows such as Max and Marcellus and Mason and Ireland.
Through her persistence, work ethic and congeniality, Brown was promoted to assistant program director in July 2016. In this role, she helped oversee the station’s content while helping the entity maintain live game broadcast rights and explore new opportunities to augment its foothold, including becoming the flagship radio home of the Los Angeles Rams.
“Don’t sit back and wait for your managers or your bosses to come to you and ask what you want to do,” Brown advised. “Go after what you want, and that’s what I’ve always done. I always went to my managers and was like, ‘Hey, I want to do this. Give me a chance; let me do that.’ For the most part, my managers have been receptive and given me those opportunities.”
When executive producer Dan Zampillo left the station to join Spotify to work as a sports producer, Brown was subsequently promoted to program director where she has helped shape the future direction of the entity. From helping lead the brand amid its sale to Good Karma Brands in the first quarter of 2022; to revamping the daily lineup with compelling local programs, Brown has gained invaluable experience and remains keenly aware of the challenges the industry faces down the road. For sports media outlets in Los Angeles, some of the challenge is merely by virtue of its geography.
“We’re in sunny Southern California where there’s a lot of things happening,” Brown said. “We’re in the middle of Hollywood. People have a lot of opportunities – you can go to the mountains; you can go to the beach. I think [our market] is more about entertainment than it is about actual hard-core sports. Yes, obviously you have hard-core Lakers fans; you have hard-core Dodgers fans, but a majority of the fans are pretty average sports fans.”
Because of favorable weather conditions and an endless supply of distractions, Brown knows that the way to attract people to sports talk radio is through its entertainment value. With this principle in mind, she has advised her hosts not to worry so much about the specific topics they are discussing, but rather to ensure they are entertaining listeners throughout the process.
“People know the four letters E-S-P-N mean sports, but really our focus is more on entertainment more than anything,” Brown said. “I think the [talent] that stick out the most are the ones that are the most entertaining.”
Entertaining listeners, however, comes through determining what they are discussing and thinking about and providing relevant coverage about those topics. Even though it has not yet been legalized in the state of California, sports gambling content has been steadily on the rise since the Supreme Court made a decision that overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act established in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association (2018). Nonetheless, Brown and ESPN Los Angeles 710 have remained proactive, launching a sports gambling show on Thursday nights to try to adjust to the growing niche of the industry.
Even though she has worked in producing and programming for most of her career, Brown is eager to learn about the effect sports gambling has on audio sales departments. At the same time, she hopes to be able to more clearly determine how the station can effectuate its coverage if and when it becomes legal in their locale.
“I know that a lot of other markets have that,” Brown said regarding the legalization of sports gambling. “For me, I’m interested to hear from people who have that in their markets and how they’ve monetized that and the opportunity.”
No matter the content, though, dedicated sports radio listeners are genuinely consuming shows largely to hear certain talent. Brown recalls receiving a compliment on Twitter earlier this quarter where a listener commented that he listens to ESPN Los Angeles 710 specifically for Sedano and Kap. Evidently, it acted as a tangible sign that her philosophy centered around keeping people engrossed in the content is working, and that providing the audience what it wants to hear is conducive to success.
At this year’s BSM Summit, Brown will be participating on The Wheel of Content panel, presented by Core Image Studio, featuring ESPN analyst Mina Kimes and FOX Sports host Joy Taylor. Through their discussion, she intends to showcase a different perspective of what goes into content creation and the interaction that takes place between involved parties.
“A lot of times in the past, all the talent were on one panel; all the programmers were on one panel,” Brown said. “To put talent and a programmer together, I think it’s an opportunity for people to hear both sides on certain issues.”
According to the most recent Nielsen Total Audience Report, AM/FM (terrestrial) radio among persons 18-34 has a greater average audience than television. The statistical anomaly, which was forecast several years earlier, came to fruition most likely due to emerging technologies and concomitant shifts in usage patterns.
Simultaneously, good content is required to captivate consumers, and radio, through quantifiable and qualifiable metrics, has been able to tailor its content to the listening audience and integrate it across multiple platforms of dissemination. The panel will give Brown a chance to speak in front of her peers and other industry professionals about changes in audio consumption, effectuated by emerging technologies and concomitant shifts in usage patterns.
Yet when it comes to radio as a whole, the patterns clearly point towards the proliferation of digital content – whether those be traditional radio programs or modernized podcasts. Moreover, utilizing various elements of presentation provides consumers a greater opportunity of finding and potentially engaging with the content.
“We do YouTube streaming; obviously, we stream on our app,” Brown said. “We’ve even created, at times, stream-only shows whether it’s stream-only video or stream-only on our app. We all know that people want content on-demand when they want it. I think it’s about giving them what they want.”
As a woman in sports media, Brown is cognizant about having to combat misogyny from those inside and outside of the industry, and is grateful to have had the support of many colleagues. In holding a management position in the second-largest media market in the United States, she strives to set a positive example to aspiring broadcasters. Additionally, she aims to be a trusted and accessible voice to help empower and give other women chances to work in the industry – even if she is not universally lauded.
“I’ve kind of always made it my goal to be like, ‘I’m no different than anyone else – yes, I’m a female – but I’m no different than anyone else,’” Brown expressed. “My whole goal was that I didn’t need people to like me; I needed people to respect me.”
Through attending events such as the BSM Summit and remaining immersed in sports media and the conversation at large about the future of sports media, Brown can roughly delineate how she can perform her job at a high level.
Although the genuine future of this business is always subject to change, she and her team at ESPN Los Angeles 710 are trying to come up with new ideas to keep the content timely, accurate, informative, and entertaining. She is content in her role as program director with no aspirations to become a general manager; however, remaining in her current role requires consistent effort and a penchant for learning.
“Relationships are very important overall in this business whether you’re a programmer or not,” Brown said. “Relationships with your talent; relationships with your staff. If you invest in your people, then they’re going to be willing to work hard for you and do what you ask them to do.”
The 2023 BSM Summit is mere days away, and those from Los Angeles and numerous other marketplaces will make the trip to The Founder’s Club at the Galen Center at the University of Southern California (USC).
Aside from Brown, Kimes and Taylor, there will be other voices from across the industry sharing their thoughts on aspects of the industry and how to best shape it going forward, including Colin Cowherd, Rachel Nichols, Al Michaels and Eric Shanks. More details about the industry’s premiere media conference can be found at bsmsummit.com.
“I’m excited to be a female program director amongst male program directors for the first time and get a seat at the table and represent that there can be diversity in this position,” Brown said. “We don’t see a lot of it, but… there is an opportunity, and I hope I can be an example for other people out there [to show] that it’s possible.”
Derek Futterman is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. In addition, he interns in video production with the New York Islanders and formerly worked as production manager for the team’s radio broadcasts. He previously interned for Paramount within Showtime Networks, wrote for the Long Island Herald and served as lead sports producer at NY2C. To get in touch, find him on Twitter @derekfutterman.
Pat McAfee Has Thrown Our Business Into a Tailspin
Yet even with all the accomplishments he’s been able to achieve, McAfee is still anxious and unsatisfied with the state of his show and his career.
When you have one of the hottest talk shows in America, you’re always up to something. That’s the case for the most popular sports talk show host in America – Pat McAfee.
The former Pro Bowl punter was on top of the world on Wednesday. With over 496,000 concurrent viewers watching at one point, McAfee was able to garner an exclusive interview with frequent guest Aaron Rodgers who announced his intention to play for the Jets.
Yet even with all the accomplishments he’s been able to achieve — a new studio, consistent high viewership, a syndication deal with SportsGrid TV, a four-year, $120 million deal with FanDuel — McAfee is still anxious and unsatisfied with the state of his show and his career.
At the end of the day, he is human and he’s admitted that balancing his show, his ESPN gig with “College Gameday,” and his WWE obligations has taken a toll on him.
McAfee and his wife are expecting their first child soon and he recently told The New York Post he might step away from his deal with FanDuel. Operating his own company has come with the responsibility of making sure his studio is up and running, finding people to operate the technology that puts his show on the air, negotiating with huge behemoths like the NFL for game footage rights, booking guests, booking hotels, implementing marketing plans and other tasks that most on-air personalities rarely have to worry about.
McAfee says he’s looking for a network that would be able to take control of those duties while getting more rest and space to spend time with family while focusing strictly on hosting duties. FanDuel has its own network and has the money to fund such endeavors but is just getting started in the content game. McAfee needs a well-known entity to work with who can take his show to the next level while also honoring his wishes of keeping the show free on YouTube.
The question of how he’s going to be able to do it is something everyone in sports media will be watching. As The Post pointed out in their story, McAfee hasn’t frequently stayed with networks he’s been associated with in the past for too long. He’s worked with Westwood One, DAZN, and Barstool but hasn’t stayed for more than a year or two.
There’s an argument to be made that the latter two companies weren’t as experienced as a network when McAfee signed on with them compared to where they are today which could’ve pushed the host to leave. But at the end of the day, networks want to put money into long-term investments and it’s easy to see a network passing on working with McAfee for fear that he’ll leave them astray when he’s bored.
It’ll also be difficult for McAfee to find a network that doesn’t put him behind a paywall. Amazon and Google are rumored to be potential new homes. But both are trying to increase subscribers for their respective streaming services.
It will be difficult to sell Amazon on investing money to build a channel on YouTube – a rival platform. For Google, they may have the tech infrastructure to create television-like programming but they aren’t an experienced producer, they’ve never produced its own live, daily talk show, and investing in McAfee’s show doesn’t necessarily help increase the number of subscribers watching YouTube TV.
Networks like ESPN, CBS, NBC, and Fox might make sense to partner with. But McAfee faces the possibility of being censored due to corporate interests. Each of these networks also operates its networks or streaming channels that air talk programming of their own. Investing in McAfee could cannibalize the programming they already own.
And if McAfee works with a traditional network that isn’t ESPN, it could jeopardize his ability to host game casts for Omaha or analyze games on Gameday. It’s not impossible but would definitely be awkward on days that McAfee does his show remotely from locations of ESPN games with ESPN banners and signage that is visible in the background.
If SportsGrid has the money to invest in McAfee, they might be his best bet. They have all the attributes McAfee needs and they already have a relationship with him. It is probably unlikely that he’ll be censored and he would even be able to maintain a relationship with FanDuel – a company SportsGrid also works alongside.
Roku is another option — they already work with Rich Eisen — but they would move his show away from YouTube, something McAfee should resist since the majority of smart TV users use YT more than any other app.
If the NFL gave McAfee editorial independence, they would make the perfect partner but the likelihood of that happening is slim to none. NFL Media has independence but it was clear during the night of the Damar Hamlin incident that they will do whatever is necessary to stay away from serious topics that make the league look bad until it’s totally unavoidable.
It’s hard to think of a partner that matches up perfectly with McAfee’s aspirations. But once again, at the moment, he’s on top of the world so anything is possible. The talk show host’s next move will be even more interesting to watch than the other fascinating moves he’s already made that have put the sports media industry in a swivel.
Jessie Karangu is a columnist for BSM and graduate of the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland but comes from Kenyan roots. Jessie has had a passion for sports media and the world of television since he was a child. His career has included stints with USA Today, Tegna, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Sightline Media. He can be found on Twitter @JMKTVShow.
5 Tips For Networking At the BSM Summit
“Have a plan and don’t leave home without it.”
Bring your game plan if you attend the BSM Summit in LA next Tuesday and Wednesday. No matter your purpose for attending: to learn, get a job, speak, or sell an idea, you must be able to read the room. To do that, it helps to know who will be there and how you can cure their pain.
Have a plan and don’t leave home without it. If you have time, buy How to Work a Room by Susan Roane. If you don’t, just follow these five tips:
- INTRODUCE YOURSELF: Before you arrive at The Summit, figure out what you want, who you want to meet, and what you will say. Once you get there, scout out the room and see if anyone of those people are available. Talk to speakers after they have spoken- don’t worry if you miss what the next speaker says. You are there to meet new people! Most speakers do not stick around for the entire schedule, and you don’t know if they will attend any after-parties, so don’t risk it. Refine your elevator pitch and break the ice with something you have in common. Make sure you introduce yourself to Stephanie, Demetri and Jason from BSM. They know everybody and will help you if they can.
- GET A NAME TAG: Don’t assume that name tags will be provided. Bring your own if you and make your name clear to read. If you are looking to move to LA or want to sell a system to book better guests, put it briefly under your name. Study this to get better at remembering names.
- LOSE THE NOTEBOOK: When you meet folks, ensure your hands are free. Have a business card handy and ask for one of theirs. Remember to look people in the eye and notice what they are doing. If they are scanning the room, pause until they realize they are blowing you off. Do whatever it takes to sound upbeat and open. Don’t let their clothes, hair, or piercings distract from your message. You don’t need to wear a suit and tie but do bring your best business casual wear. A blazer isn’t a bad idea either.
- SHUT UP FIRST! The art of knowing when to end the convo is something you will have to practice. You can tell when the other person’s eye starts darting or they are not using body language that tells you the convo will continue. You end it by telling them you appreciate meeting them and want to connect via email. Ask for a business card. Email is more challenging to ignore than a LinkedIn request, and you can be more detailed in what you want via email.
- WORK THE SCHEDULE: Know who speaks when. That is when you will find the speakers hanging around. Plan your lunch outing to include a few fellow attendees. Be open and conversational with those around you. I am a huge USC fan, so I would walk to McKays– a good spot with plenty of USC football memorabilia on the walls. Sometimes you can find the next day’s speakers at the Day 1 after party. Need a bar? Hit the 901 Club for cheap beer, drinks, and food.
Jeff Caves is a sales columnist for BSM working in radio, digital, hyper-local magazine, and sports sponsorship sales in DFW. He is credited with helping launch, build, and develop SPORTS RADIO The Ticket in Boise, Idaho, into the market’s top sports radio station. During his 26 year stay at KTIK, Caves hosted drive time, programmed the station, and excelled as a top seller. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter @jeffcaves.
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