Monday, November 25, 2013

Minnesota Wild Networking Event, College Connection, and TWINS :)

             Hey everyone! I can't even believe how fast this semester has flown by. I feel like it's still  September! I have some updates as to what I've been doing and different events I've gone to! :)

             I went to a networking event with the Minnesota Wild on November 5th, which was my first real  experience meeting with people that are Vice Presidents and COOs. There were many people there that  were much older than me, so I was really intimidated standing there. I even designed my own business cards  with a QR code to my LinkedIn. They seemed very average compared to everyone else. Because there  were so many people, I didn't have an opportunity to talk to everyone. There were about 10 or so  professionals in the Wild, Timberwolves, Vikings and various other teams that attended the event. There  were groups of people surrounding each professional trying to listen to them speak as well as trying to ask  their own questions. It was one of the few times in my life that I felt really out of place, but I still managed to  ask questions and make sure people knew that I was there.

            The person that had the largest impact on me was Mitch Helgerson, who is the Vice President of  Marketing Intelligence for the Minnesota Wild. I usually just think of the creative side of marketing, but I  never stop and think about all of the research that goes into making creative marketing campaigns  successful. Mitch went into depth about what he does and then explained how his part of marketing  integrates with the creative area of marketing. It was great to hear about how he uses social media analytics  to make successful advertisements.

            One of the other people I met was Carin Anderson. She is the Vice President of Corporate  Sponsorships and Retail Management. She went into depth about how they manage their store at the Xcel  Energy Center and how they plan on expanding. She talked about the idea of expanding the Hockey  Lodges up to Duluth, but the concern is dealing with a store that is 2+ hours away. Personally, I think a  store here would do very well regardless of season.


            Of course, after the event was over, I stayed for the game. We originally had bleeder seats, but  managed to sneak down to the 6th row, and got to see 3 goals. It was a great game, and the energy in that  building is unreal. People that deal with fan relations, scoreboard, and everything for the Wild do such a  great job. I always know at a Wild game that I will be entertained, besides just the game.

            The next big event that I got to participate in was the College Connection Speed Networking Event. I work for Twin Ports Connex, who put this event on, and it was a great success. Not only did the event help me meet a lot of new people, but I also got to connect with people that connected me with other people. A perfect example of this was when I met a woman at this event who knows a woman who works for the Detroit Red Wings. She handed my information off to Danielle (Marketing Manager and Corporate Sponsorships for the Detroit Red Wings). Danielle and I talked for about an hour on the phone, and I learned quickly that we were extremely similar. We both are very driven women that are never moving fast enough. I loved talking to her, and I hope that she will be somewhat of a mentor to me.

SO, moral of this post:
  • Even if you're feeling uncomfortable, throw yourself out there anyway. People are going to be impressed.
  • Networking is EXTREMELY valuable. You never know who you will meet, and who will introduce you to other people. It's a very important skill.
  • Always show passion for what you do. Not only will your job performance improve, but potential employers love to see someone who genuinely cares.
            My best news out of all of this was that I got a call for a second interview with the Minnesota  Twins! I interviewed last Monday and it went great! I won't know until the second week in December, so it  will be a little stressful, but I'm hoping for the best. Keep me in your thoughts! Thanks for reading! :)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Meeting with the Minnesota Twins, Vikings, and Wild :)

Target Field
            Last Thursday (October 24th) I got the opportunity to visit with marketing and sales professionals from the Minnesota Twins, Vikings and Wild with my Sports Marketing class. This was probably one of the most valuable and important opportunities that I have experience. Dr. Stephen Castleberry, our professor, set the whole day up for us to really get an idea of what working in professional sports is like. He's been so helpful with me and has been my favorite professor at UMD. If you have the chance to take Sports Marketing or any class with him, I HIGHLY suggest you take it!

            It was an early morning for us, starting at 10 am at Target Field for a tour and panel. First, we got our tour of the stadium which was about an hour long. We got to see the Champions Club, Visitor's Clubhouse, the Budweiser Deck, and many other behind-the-scenes areas of the stadium. Being a huge Twins fan, this was the highlight of my day. Target Field is an amazing example of an environmentally conscious stadium. The stadium saves millions of gallons a year of water that is drained, purified, and recycled all within the stadium. It's won many awards for its sustainability efforts. Architecturally, it is absolutely gorgeous. Every time I get a chance to be in the building, I am constantly reminded of how much I want to work there.

          After the tour, we got to speak with some of the people that work for the Minnesota Twins in marketing and sales. The panel consisted of Will Delaney (Ad Manager), Chris Iles (Corporate Communication), Keith Beise (Social Media), and Rick Olson (Tour Leader). They each described what they do. They are also preparing a lot for the All Star Game, coming to Target Field in July 2014. They talked a lot about how they plan on expanding their social media to other platforms, and how much revenue that their social media creates. I also won a game used ball for asking the best question. :)

          After our visit with the Twins, we rushed to the Metrodome to begin visiting with the Minnesota Vikings. We got a tour of Mall of America Field, and we were told that we would be one of the last groups to tour it, since it will be torn down after this season. It's really amazing to look at the stadium from a marketing point of you. I noticed how outdated and old the stadium was. It is hard to market not only an old stadium, but a team that can't figure out their QB situation and can't win. They did very well with what they could do, and obviously, people are still going to the games no matter how bad the Vikings have been lately.

Mall of America Field
         We had a very long discussion with their panel of professionals which included Brett Tabor (Marketing Coordinator), Travis Hamre (Group Sales), CJ Rugh (Events), and Dannon Hulskotter (Marketing Director). These guys were probably the most knowledgeable. They had so many experiences to share, and it was fascinating to hear how they operate day to day. They talked a lot about how they plan on adjusting to not only the new Vikings stadium, but TCF Stadium, which will be their home for 2 years while the stadium is being built. They also discussed how hard it is to market a losing team.

          Our final visit was with the Minnesota Wild. By the time we got there, we were all starving and pretty exhausted. We all actively listened to the marketing professionals for the Wild, though, who were Will Schultz (Ticket Sales), Natalie Kaess (Fan Services), and Mark Fasching (Suite Sales). We had a brief tour of the stadium and got to go down to the ice level. It was right before their game, though, so we didn't get to see much more than that. During the tour, I saw a player just sitting in the stands taping his hockey stick, so that was pretty exciting for me! We also learned a lot about the suites, which work very differently compared to the Dome and Target Field. They had suites that could be purchased for quarter, half, and full seasons. There were also suites that could be purchased for single games only. On top of all of that, the Xcel has "Loges," which are 4 person suites. These included 4 tickets to every event that occurs at the Xcel, including concerts, tournaments and Wild games. They also had all you can eat food and drink. Even though it was pretty expensive, I thought it was a great idea. It's clear that it has been successful, due to the waiting list they have to purchase a suite.

Wild warming up vs. Carolina
               Natalie and Will were our panel for the Wild. Nicole's job was the most interesting part of me. She described her job as being the "day maker." She was the one that called people to skate with the flag at the beginning of the game and helped get people together for all of the fun stuff at the games. This was really interesting for me, because that's what I love doing when I intern. They also talked a lot about how they dealt with the lockout last year and years prior. They talked about how for a week they were at the Xcel around the clock once they found out a deal had been signed and there would be hockey. It was extremely interesting to me how they handled all of that. Will talked a lot about his ticket sale background, explaining that that is entry level in most marketing areas of sports. He also gave us the tour of the stadium and introduced us to Mark, who showed us how the suites work for the Wild.

               This trip was so much fun. I got to meet people in the field I want to go into and it was extremely interesting. The basic networking of the trip was so valuable to me, and I hope to have the opportunity to work with these professionals when I graduate from UMD. My next post is going to be about going to the Minnesota Wild Networking Event, and I will be networking with professionals that actually run the Wild, Timberwolves and Vikings organizations. I am so excited! Thanks for reading!