Using sports to generate clout in your social network (and beyond) – Matej Hočevar

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Guest blog post by Matej Hočevar (entrepreneur, athlete & more)

Matej is an entrepreneur, athlete, ex-football player (also competed in the English FA Cup), interpreter, but above all, a global nomad. Having travelled across all 6 continents, he speaks 6 languages and is the founder and owner of translation company Trans Linguis and fitness & performance brand Vigor Ground. Follow him on Twitter or read his blog Entrepreneurial Nomad.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Sometimes, it’s worth even more. In today’s saturated media environment, with in-your-face pop-up messages and ads, it takes something striking to draw your attention online, as we usually flash through social media sites. I’ve found that my affiliation with sports brands and organisations has helped me generate the sort of clout in my social network that I would otherwise have to pay handsomely to attain.

The field of sports is somewhat unique in harnessing credibility, as it arouses emotions: remember, deep down, there’s a hardcore fan in each and every one of us. This means that when we see our favourite player, club, or team, we create a certain affiliation to that image.

I’ve been lucky to have remained in the world of sports even after my active sports career ended. In fact, I’ve found that my previous sporting endeavours have helped me on my path as an entrepreneur. I’ve created a successful athletic performance brand and a strong translation business. You’d think that the former would be associated with the business of sport, but translation?

Well, I’ve spent the last five years working sporadically as a press interpreter at various football matches in the Champions League, UEFA Cup (now Europa League) and the European Championships. This has given me access to some of the world’s top athletes and clubs, i.e. brands. One of my latest assignments saw me work as an interpreter at the Chelsea-Benfica match in the quarter finals of the Champions League. Being multilingual, I take every opportunity to go to these high-profile games in part to challenge my language skills and in part to get some good (social) media exposure, which I can use to good effect, particularly in my social network. After posting a photo with Roberto Di Matteo (below) on a social networking site, I was immediately contacted by at least three businesses, who were interested in how I got to work at such a high profile event, and was also called by a top financial daily newspaper, which asked me in for an interview and wanted to run a story on me.

Roberto Di Matteo (Chelsea) & Matej Hočevar

We have lately seen how the balance sheets of major football clubs are actually not as attractive as we sometimes make them out to be, but there’s an item in there called goodwill that is often overlooked, as it’s one of the most intangible elements in the financial statements. Harnessing this goodwill, generally the power of the brand, is the key to marketing your product or service. I feel I’ve been able to achieve just that through my affiliation with some of the world’s top sporting (football) brands.

While my company’s unique selling proposition may not be translating at football matches, it will be the image of me sitting next to one of the world’s most successful coaches that my business partners and potential clients will remember when deciding on who to give their contracts to.

These days, a picture may be worth more than a thousand »likes«.

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