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Social Media Helped Me Become The Woman I Am Today

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I have been using social media to professional network with leaders in the professional sports entertainment industry since 2011. Social media has helped me reach my goals in more ways than I could have ever imagined. The power of social media can be witnessed in unprecedented ways throughout global society and it can be used and utilized to achieve real results.

My goal is to become an influential and diplomatic icon in the world of professional sports entertainment. I use social media to market my personal brand; Leah Dyck and connect with people who I never would have met otherwise. I am well on my way to achieving this goal.

Find Resources, Connect With Interesting People, Get Inspired

On April 30, 2014, I met with Aaron Lafontaine, the Director of Business Development at Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment for an hour and a half, downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He reached out to me on LinkedIn after he read a post I wrote and published on RumorMeThis (a sports blog owned by Fox Sports). The post was about the social media marketing funnel: http://goo.gl/nDgBDk. He asked me if we could get together and chat about my perspective on social media and sports - but he said he was not sure about where it would lead. I agreed to meet and by the end of our meeting, I received a tentative job offer for September, 2014. Aaron told me that the fundamental key for me to move forward with MLSE is to continue doing exactly what I’m doing: which is launching my business and finding my voice.

How It All Started For Me

In 2012, I launched my first blog, which was about sports marketing. This is when I applied for my first, new business start-up grant through the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka. I received just over $2,500 in funding, which paid for office space for three months, a website, professional photo’s for my social media profiles and an editor, who taught me how to write for the web.

I started writing for RumorMeThis around that time. In one of my posts, I talked about how sports marketers need to start engaging with their sports fans on social media and offer sports fans more than what they were currently offering. I mentioned a company called SocialToaster, which offers a gamified mobile application to national, top-tier brands that allows users to collect points for sharing content and then redeem their points for memorabilia and other free swag. At the time, SocialToaster had about seven or eight professional sport franchises as clients, including the Chicago Blackhawks, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Pistons, Baltimore Ravens, etc. A few days later, I received a phone call from SocialToaster, asking me if I would like to have a partnership with them. The man on the phone told me that one of the biggest struggles for sports bloggers today is coming up with interesting content on the regular. He then told me that after reading several “excellent” posts, he just had to give me a call. I continued to learn more about the company, completed several training sessions by working through various decks online and over the phone with their lead sales guy, who is now the Vice President of Sales - I totally saw that coming.

At the end of the day, it was a commission-based position and I did not feel like it was the job for me. However, I learned quite a bit about mobile applications for sports fans, as well as international business development.

In June 2013, I got my first trip paid for by a client, who flew me to St. Louis, Missouri for four days to manage their digital presence at an international trade show. I got to watch the notorious last game of the 2013 Stanley Cup Play Offs, where Chicago literally took the Cup from Boston in 17 seconds, while sipping beer next to the Owner of the Columbus Blue Jackets at 360 Restaurant; one of the world’s top 10 rooftop patios located 400 feet above downtown St.Louis.

Online Empowerment Leads To Offline Empowerment

I am currently in the process of starting a weekly podcasting series about athlete marketability. My first podcast is featuring a guy in the UK who is a motivational speaker, licensed UEFA coach and has worked with many of the biggest European Football leagues including the English Premier League and pro Footballers. The discussion topic is about Messi being a statistically better Footballer than Ronaldo, yet Ronaldo reaches and engages with his online following significantly better. A journalist recently reached out to me on LinkedIn, asking me if I would write a review about a recently produced documentary called “Cristiano Ronaldo”. Now, Ronaldo has his very own, hour-and-a-half documentary and Lionel Messi doesn’t. So who is worth more? The athlete that performs better on the Football field? Or the athlete that performs better on the social media playing field?

Today, the answer is obviously Messi, but how much longer will his reign presume?

Digitally Empowering Women Is Important

Women bring a different kind of value to the table. They bring with them a unique understanding of relationships, business acumen and unparalleled passion to the digital sphere. I can see myself making significant change in third-world countries, implement positive impact and educate this entire, broken world about becoming better human beings in general; not just educating sports marketers about better sport business practices.

How will I do this?

I write in non-sponsored frameworks, which gives greater credibility to what I’m saying. I’m not afraid to voice my hefty opinions and I get-off on debates. During my in-person chat with Aaron Lafontaine, he told me that he works with Director’s, Producer’s and Creative’s everyday, but he has never met anyone who knows social media like I do. Wow, what a compliment. That day, Aaron pulled something out of me that I didn’t even know was there, let alone existed in anyone. Aaron has inspired me to become a leader in the global professional sports entertainment industry and I plan to take this small, grain of empowerment as far as I can. Through various social media marketing strategies, I will become the world’s first female professional sports entertainment leader and make some serious changes in the way that global sports governing bodies mandate, operate and run major sports leagues and events.

This story was written for World Pulse’s Women Weave the Web Digital Action Campaign. Learn more »

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Comments

Tam's picture

Digital Empowerment

Dear Leah,

I enjoyed reading your story for a number of reasons. You write beautifully, and your description of your personal passion in writing on the professional sports industry was an exploration of a totally new area for me to be reading about. It was inspiring to get a mental picture of you, strong and self confident, making major inroads into an area that is still heavily dominated by men. Congratulations on your successes. Your determination to succeed and to do something unique with your life is empowering and inspiring to read. I am especially intrigued and curious about how you will in the future apply this ability to creating positive change, globally. I look forward to following what you do as you develop your plans. You have also reminded me of layers of this online world that I myself am only beginning to explore: twitter, blogging...and appreciate your opinion (which I share) that as women we have a particular and special perspective to offer.

You go, Sister!

Tam

Kristina M's picture

Thank you for sharing your story

Hello Leah,

Thank you for sharing how you are using social media to make inroads in the sports world. I am sure it has had it's challenges since it is such a male dominated terrain.

Your comment about wanting to educate this world about being better human beings in general struck a cord with me. I have been thinking lately about how even being a little nicer to people we run into during the day would improve people's attitudes about themselves and others greatly.

Kristina

Dani26's picture

Awesome work!

Hi Leah

Thanks so much for sharing your story. You write with so much passion and confidence, I can see that you will fulfil your dreams. I think raising the profile of women in sport, both on and off the field, is really important to empowering women overall. Could you share some of your thoughts about the challenges for women in sport perhaps from a social media perspective?

It's fantastic to see how much initiative you're taking with your work - keep going and you will achieve your dreams.

Best wishes
Dani

Leah Dyck's picture

Challenges For Women In Sport

Hi Dani,

Yes, I would love to share with you some of the challenges from women who work in sport, especially from a social media perspective.

NUMBER ONE: When working in pro sports entertainment, you're working with the world's fittest, most heterosexual men there is and they know it. Having the confidence and assertiveness to literally "weed" out the guys that just want to "hook up" with you verses the ones that actually see the value you bring to the table and will work with you is an uphill battle is very challenging.

This is what I'm dealing with right now. I don't have the time to talk to everyone all day long, but at the same time, that is what I love to do. I need to have a qualifying process that filters out these guys right from the beginning so I don't end up wasting my time in the end. Basically, I have to behave like a man but act like a woman. That in itself is a challenge.

What that means is, I cannot pretend to think I'm "one of the guys" because I'm not! I have to own who I am in every way possible and there is ample push back for me to literally "lie-down" and let the men take over because that's typically how men operate. I am very old school in the sense that I do think men should be the head of the household. I have a 6-year-old daughter and I am a single mom as well. I have witnessed the dynamics between the way she treats men and the way she treats women. She tries to boss women around (teachers, day care providers, grandma, mom, etc. lol), but when it comes to men, she listens on the first time she's told LOL! There is something about men that naturally places themselves "on top" - if that makes any sense.

Defying this, is like defying nature some could argue, but being able to quickly identify the intentions of those who mask "can you work for me/with me?" is an art. There is no other way to describe it. You have to be extremely talented at this. I'm going to make an educated guess and say that any woman who knows how to play professional poker can probably do a kick ass job in the business of sport because she knows how to read bullshit. There's no fooling that girl! She can see right through any poker face.

From a social media perspective, people DO SAY more of what they're feeling inside through the screen than they do in person. In a sense, social media is the filtering system. Identifying patterns over periods of time and experiencing where each conversation leads to.... or tried to be led to.... is what has helped me become good at what I do: I know the signs (which are words spoken to me) and I know what each word that guys say really means; there is no fooling me.... well, when I realize that I've wasted weeks of "negotiating" with someone only to find out he had no intention of working with me, but merely talked about it, it really pisses me off. So I am still learning how to quickly and efficiently qualify leads so I don't waste weeks of "negotiating".

Does that help at all?

Dani26's picture

Yep, they're some challenges!

Hi Leah

Yep, that definitely helps to paint a picture of the challenges faced by women who work in sport and social media. Sounds like quite a few challenges! But it also sounds like you've developed some really great ways and strategies of overcoming these challenges. When you say you have to behave like a man and act like a woman, that sounds familiar to me (coming from a non-sports, non-social media work background), e.g. in a work context I think male colleagues respond best to a more 'masculine' negotiating style, and in fact I often have to become more assertive and push myself out of my comfort zone to do this, but at the same time I feel pressure to balance this so as not to come across as aggressive (something that male colleagues would not have to balance!). I agree that people do tend to filter a little less in social media, so this may be of benefit if people are little more transparent if they're not serious about working with you?

Thanks for sharing your experiences and insights - look forward to reading your next post!

Best wishes
Dani

gracest's picture

Hi Leah, I think it is no

Hi Leah,

I think it is no coincidence that I read your post just after having a conversation with my boyfriend's sister, who is a social media marketing manager for Columbia. She discussed at length the pitfalls (and advantages) of being a woman in the sports industry environment, and the necessity to be persistent, tough, and for lack of a better word, badass. It is very inspiring to see women such as her and yourself making things happen. I hope that your story inspires readers to do just that.
I'm also a huge Messi fan, just sayin'. I have definitely noticed that he is the more "quiet hero" in comparison with Ronaldo. But perhaps that is part of his appeal? At least it is to me.
What a sad end to the World Cup for him. He could use some good social media campaigns right now!
On a more serious note, thank you for such a detailed story and for taking the time to tell it.

Your sister,
Grace

Leah Dyck's picture

Hey Grace, Thank you for your

Hey Grace,

Thank you for your time and energy placed in your response to my comment.

However, when it comes to Messi I feel compelled to respond LOL.

Messi showed his true colours in the last game of the World Cup. He showed his character - which is flawed, hands down. He quit because they already lost before the game was over. Someone with character doesn't do that. I have no respect for him.

However, you clearly are a fan and a fan's love outweighs all things. I admire you for that. I cannot argue with your love for Messi.

Ronaldo happens to be the opposite of Messi. I don't have fan love for him because he's not Messi. I have fan love for him because he has character.

Leah

Marah Mbine Ngole Epie's picture

Congratulations!

Hi Leah!
I read your piece with alot of interest, visited your piece on RumorMe.
Interesting to see how you're promoting digital connect through Sports. Today on world media there is continued interest to fight against violence on women and girls. Anything you're doing about that you can share with us?
You are a woman with a strong commitment, your motto is ... I will...
Keep climbing!

Marah
Vocal Contributor/Community Listener

Leah Dyck's picture

Violence Against Women

Hi Marah,

Thank you for your comment and question. In fact, my greatest interest is to fight the violence against women [and children] abuse believe it or not. Although it is not apparent at the moment, my heart yearns to help trafficked children and women.

In 2013, I started doing some volunteer work for a woman named Amy Corbin, who was in the process of starting her first company. Amy was 32 at the time and has an impressive amount of experience in the multimedia industry and has worked with many high-profile clients including Martha Stewart. In fact, amy was the one who came up with the name, "From The Ground Up". The story behind how that name came about is really quite interesting, but that is a story for another time.

The company Amy has now launched is called Armura, you can check out her website here if you wish: http://www.armura.org/.

Like me, Amy has a DEEP passion to save the lives of trafficked children. She started this company so she find away to generate revenues to pump into the fight against trafficked children, not just here in Canada, but around the world.

Eventually, the volunteer work I was doing for her turned into paid work and she actually flew me to St. Louis, MO for four days last summer to manage her digital presence at a three-day trade show. She paid for the flight, my hotel room, which was at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, all my meals and she even took me shopping before we left to make sure I had nice clothes! (which I already did by the way! I'm a fashion diva - or so I think haha) But who could turn down that?! lol

The trip was amazing, I happened to have gone during the last game of the Stanley Cup finals when Boston played Chicago and literally lost in 17 seconds - which was on June 23, 2013 last summer. Before I arrived in St. Louis though, I reached out to an account executive at the St. Louis Blues and asked if he could take me out for an evening in St. Louis while I was there. He said yes of course lol, but his recommendations on where to go were poor to say the least. So I researched nice restaurants in St. Louis and we ended up meeting at 360, which is one of the world's top 10 rooftop patio's and is located 400ft above downtown St. Louis and tower's over the Cardinal's Busch Stadium. Even to this day, it's the nicest place I've ever been. Lucky for me, I met tons of great people from all over the States that evening, including a few Canadians and the owner of the Columbus Blue Jackets (NHL team)! It was an experience of a life time!

During my second year of College (I was 21 years old), I also hosted a fundraiser at the College, which I did completely on my own. I split the funds up between a few charities:

1) Ratanak International, a non-profit in British Columbia, Canada who rescues trafficked children in Cambodia
2) The Women & Children's Shelter here in Barrie, Ontario, Canada
3) Season's Centre for Grieving Children also here in Barrie, Ontario (this is a non-profit for children to go when they've lost a parent or sibling and they can find support to help them through the grieving process). What they do is amazing but to be honest, I can't go in there unless I have to because I cry every single time. They put pics on the wall of all the children who died, and I have a young daughter and I just can't handle looking at the photos. But I 100% support what they do.

My love for the suppressed started out with trafficked children. Women are more often abused than men for obvious reasons, but in my opinion, trafficking human beings is the worlds biggest crime. In fact, within the past decade, the profits generated from human trafficking has surpassed the profits of selling drugs and now human trafficking is the world's second biggest crime, trailing behind the illegal sales of weapons.

Thank you for asking me to share. I hope my words provide some sort of hope to someone who reads this because I promise to never give up my fight to place myself in a position of influence somewhere that WILL make a difference for the lives of thousands, if not millions of suppressed and imprisoned people, especially women and children all over the world.

Leah

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