NetWorks Sports Career Advice: How to Write an Effective Cover Letter

NetWorks Career Advice: How to Write an Effective Cover Letter

Preparing an effective cover letter is equally as important as writing your resume.  The cover letter is used to sell your resume by communicating to your potential employer how your skills and experiences are a match for the position for which you are applying.  However, preparing a poorly written cover letter is worse than not doing one at all. This post will give you a few pointers on how to make your first impression a lasting one.


Cover Letter Do’s

  • Tailor each cover letter to a specific employer.
  • Type the cover letter in the same font as your resume.
  • Use paper that matches your resume.
  • Keep it short and sweet!  Three to five paragraphs maximum.
  • Use the recruiter’s name and title.
  • Market yourself as a good solution to the employer’s needs.
  • Highlight the key points of your resume.
  • Conclude with a commitment to action…tell employer what you will do next.
  • Fit the letter on one page with one-inch margins on every side.
  • Sign the letter using black ink.


Cover Letter Dont’s

  • Mention personal weaknesses or perceived shortcomings.
  • Say that you will do “any” job.
  • Forget to include your telephone number and e-mail address.
  • Use abbreviations.
  • Use a type font smaller than an 11 point.
  • Send form letters.
  • Forget to spell-check.
  • Exaggerate, brag or lie.
  • Forget to read, edit and re-read your letter for typos, spelling mistakes, and grammatical errors.

If you have any additional advice for how to write an effective cover letter, please share with our readers by entering your thoughts in the comments section below.  We appreciate any additional advice for our readers.

To find out more career advice, follow us on Twitter @NetWorks_Sports

NetWorks Sports Future Leader: Chris Chaney, Founder of Ivy Sports Symposium

NetWorks is committed to supporting young professionals looking to get their foot in the door in the sports industry.  Our team has received an extraordinary amount of support throughout our careers and are truly impressed with the generation of young leaders who are ready to help take the sports industry to all new heights.  If you know of any individuals like this, please let us know about them.  If you are in a position to hire or recommend these NetWorks Future Leaders, please contact us and we will put you in touch with them.  They are our future!

Today’s NetWorks Sports Future Leader is Chris Chaney


Chris Chaney - President & CEO of Chaney Sportainment Group

“I was introduced to Chris Chaney nearly 8 years ago by Jamie Zaninovich (currently the Commissioner of the West Coast Conference) and have been impressed by Chris’ drive, vision, knowledge, and work ethic ever since.  Chris is the consummate entrepreneur, someone who is innovative & willing to see his vision through from start to finish.  Over the years, through his leadership, he has created a number of very successful initiatives and has demonstrated why he will be an invaluable addition to lead any team to accomplishing its objectives in an effective & efficient manner.  His future is very bright.  Ten years from now, I won’t be surprised to see his name listed among the leaders in the sports industry!”

~ Angela Taylor, President & CEO of NetWorks Sports Consulting


Name: Chris Chaney
College(s): Princeton University
Degree(s):Bachelor of Arts, Sociology
Resume Available: Yes, upon request (send email request)

Tell us a little about your background.
I am originally from Germany and decided to come to the USA after high school to follow my dreams. I have been extremely fortunate to meet some outstanding people, friends, mentors and colleagues, in college and over the years since.

What type of work experience have you had?

I really started my career in college through internships, many self-starter projects and ultimately launching the Ivy Sports Symposium (formerly Princeton Sports Symposium). My first job after college was with the NBA in Global Marketing Partnerships servicing clients such as Coca-Cola, Haier and Nike, and I have been an entrepreneur ever since.

What type of job(s) are you seeking?
I’m interested in leveraging my extensive global network as well as sports and entrepreneurial experience for an outstanding and cutting-edge organization within the sports and entertainment industry. After a few exciting years in the entrepreneurial world, I am ready for the next step in my career.

What is your greatest strength?
I’m a DOER as well as an excellent relationship builder and high-level strategic thinker.

Tell us about a project that you completed successfully.

The project I have enjoyed working on the most and which has given me the personal satisfaction of helping others is the Ivy Sports Symposium.

It all started in 2006 when I was sitting in the office of one of the staff of the Princeton athletics department discussing the annual street basketball tournament I was organizing, and we somehow came across the topic of a sports business conference while in conversation. I immediately became fascinated with the idea of creating such an event on campus and decided to do it.

Five and a half years later, the Symposium is one of the global sports industry’s premier conferences. It has gained industry-wide recognition by featuring more than 180 unique speakers from around the world (literally as far as Dubai and China) representing all facets of the sports business, and welcoming student attendees from over 30 colleges and universities.

What experience (if any) do you have in the sports industry?

I’ve consulted for a variety of companies in the sports and entertainment industry on revenue enhancement and global expansion (e.g. lifestyle footwear company, mixed martial arts apparel company, Egyptian Premier League soccer club, worldwide obstacle racing series, postseason college basketball tournament, indoor American football league) as well as conceptualized a number of large-scale entertainment, basketball, golf and tennis event properties throughout the Middle East and the USA.

Why do you want to work in the sports industry?
The sports industry is a fascinating part of the business world that is an ubiquitous part of our daily lives. Sports has always been a passion but I am particularly intrigued by the competitiveness within the industry, the fact that it rubs shoulders with virtually all other industries as well as the unique and creative ideas and concepts that have come out of sports over the years.

Who has had the biggest influence on your life?
My mother.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Being a leader in the business world while also working towards positive change in our society. 

Anything else we should know about you?
Too many extracurricular leadership positions to list but I loved all of them. I was selected as young leader of the sports business by the industry think tank Partnership Activation in its inaugural Rising Stars class. I am inspired by Marcus Aurelius. 

For more information about Chris, read his bio.  To request a resume, please send an email to

Follow NetWorks Sports on Twitter at @NetWorks_Sports


NetWorks Sports Rising Stars – Shalynn Leonard (@Ballihoo_Sports)

NetWorks is committed to supporting young professionals looking to get their foot in the door in the sports industry.  Our team has received an extraordinary amount of support throughout our careers and are truly impressed with the generation of young leaders who are ready to help take the sports industry to all new heights.  If you know of any individuals like this, please let us know about them.  If you are in a position to hire or recommend these NetWorks Rising Stars, please contact us and we will put you in touch with them.  They are our future!

Today’s NetWorks Sports Rising Star is Shalynn Leonard

Shalynn Leonard

“Shalynn is a very talented individual with tremendous experience in marketing and player relations with the NBA.  She is someone who is willing to go the extra mile to make sure that all aspects of a project have been taken care of and is interested in continuing to learn & develop her leadership skills.  She is passionate about the sports industry and will be a tremendous asset to any organization.
–Angela Taylor, President & CEO – NetWorks Sports Consulting

Name: Shalynn Leonard

College(s): Norfolk State University (Undergraduate) and Los Angeles Fashion Institute of Design and Manufacturing

Degree(s): Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies.  A.A. Apparel Manufacturing Managment

Resume Available: Yes, upon request (send email request)

Tell us a little about your background.
I was born and raised in the rainy city of Seattle, WA. I’m a HBCU graduate who had the opportunity to play basketball at the D1 level.

What type of work experience have you had?
My work experience consists of many different fields outside the sports industry. Upon graduation, I had the opportunity to be in the Hertz Management Training Program, after 6 months was then promoted to an Insurance Liaison. I have many years in Sales at both Nike and the NBA specialty stores. As well as experience as an Administrative Assistant at Highline Community College.

What type of job(s) are you seeking?
I’m looking to capitalize on my sports marketing experience in a position where I have an opportunity for growth while adding value to the organization.

What is your greatest strength?
My greatest strength would be my strong interpersonal skills. I have an extraordinary ability to interact professionally and build a rapport with exclusive and global clientele.

Tell us about a project that you completed successfully.
My most recent project that I’ve completed successfully would be the 2011 NBA All-Star weekend in Los Angeles, CA. I worked as a Marketing Associate for the Community & Player Program department. I supported the staff in planning player appearances leading up to and during the All Star weekend.

What experience (if any) do you have in the sports industry?

My experience in the sports industry consists of working for the NBA in the Community & Player Program Department. I supported the staff with marketing duties for up coming projects. I assisted in facilitating player appearances for current and former NBA players, worked with internal and external marketing partners and sponsors, as well as contract preparation and negotiation. I also coached girls basketball with my alma mater Rainier Beach High School and Highline Community College.

Why do you want to work in the sports industry?
Working in the sports industry has always been my endeavor. Not only is sports my passion, but having the experience as a student athlete gave me the work ethic and confidence to thrive in this industry.

Who has had the biggest influence on your life?
My biggest influence is God and my family. They believe in me and continue to push me to my purpose. My mother always told me to “Go after my passion and the money will follow,” that statement has always stuck with me to this day.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

In 10 years, I see myself as one of the leading women executives within a sports management organization. I will be a mover and a shaker who continues to strive for excellence.

Anything else we should know about you?

I will be pursuing an MBA in Sports Business in the Spring of 2012. In the Summer of 2012, I’ll be coordinating my first annual girls basketball camp in various cities. I also had the chance to attend high school with the NBA likes of Jamal Crawford, Nate Robinson, and Terrence Williams.

For more information about Shalynn or to request a resume, please send an email to

Follow NetWorks Sports on Twitter at @NetWorks_Sports

NetWorks Sports Small Business Profile: Black Sheep Consulting

The NetWorks Sports Small Business Profile is a brief vignette that provides a closer look at companies founded by individuals who have been involved in the sports industry at some point in their career.  These business owners will share their journey as an entrepreneur as well as insight for those of you interested in starting your own venture.

NetWorks Small Business Profile on Black Sheep Consulting and its Founder, Jay Mayes

Jay Mayes, President of Black Sheep Consulting

Name: Jay Mayes

Title: President

Company Name: Black Sheep Consulting

Company Website:




When did you start your company and what was your inspiration for starting it?
I started Black Sheep Consulting in late 2010 after what I like to explain as my “Jerry Maguire Monument”. After over 7 years working on the business side of professional sports and moving across the country 3 times to work my way from a part-time intern with an NFL team to a Corporate Executive with a NBA franchise I suddenly, became underwhelmed with the direction of the professional sports industry and specifically with my role in professional sports. Over my years working in the sports industry, I had become pretty good at creating programs that helped my clients sell their “stuff” to fans and consumers. Many of the programs I created focused on ways to generate more revenue for my clients.

I woke up one day and decided, “I wanted to invest my time and skills in people”. Instead of creating those programs to just generate revenue I wanted to create programs that would help to generate change.

So I went in search of a role that allowed me to use my skill sets and experience in Sports and Entertainment, but also would allow my to help others. I would probably still be looking for that job if it wasn’t for a friend who suggested that I write out the description of my perfect job that might help me narrow my search, so, I did. I sat down one day and wrote exactly what I wanted in a role… Sports Marketing + Cause Marketing.

But instead of continuing my search, I decided to start a firm that did just that.

What’s your Elevator Pitch?
As more organizations begin to focus on Cause Marketing, it is our mission to create programs and partnerships that bring together what we call the “Big Three” causes/non-profits, companies and athletes into integrated programs that achieve real results and the create real change in the lives of the people they touch.

What’s the company’s Mission Statement?
We Aim to be industry innovators; we will continually work to challenge the “status quo” by building partnerships based on innovation, trust, and common goals. We will create uniquely customized programs, ideas, and partnerships that work to do GOOD and yield measurable and meaningful results for our clients.

What is your favorite part of owning your own business?
Here are my 7 favorite aspects of running Black Sheep Consulting:

1) Creating my own work schedule…. there’s nothing like it!
2) Doing conference calls in my PJ’s
3) Being able to do what I love all the time!
4) Working with GREAT people (I love my team) #teamblksheep
5) Watching the morning edition of Sports Center twice as I do my morning calls and emails
6) Not having to wear a suit everyday
7) Knowing that what I am doing is going to make a difference in someone’s life!!

Tell us about your career before you became your own boss.
My career before becoming my own boss was great, I had the opportunity to work with some amazing people across various levels of sports. I have been able to work with and learn from some of the best in the industry. I have also had the opportunity to travel the county, learn, and sell for an eclectic group of sports properties, and sports agencies. I have learned the importance of teamwork, communication, honesty, dedication, and passion in your life’s work. And I have also learned that if you love what you do, it never feels like work!

Were you previously involved in the sports industry?  If so, what capacity?
My career has given me experience both on the agency side and team side of professional sports, which has provided a great foundation and vision for Black Sheep Consulting. My experience includes NFL, NBA, WNBA, NLL, MLL, WPGA, Motorsports and Professional Horse Racing. While Mayes’s agency work includes a stint with A. Bright Idea Sports Marketing, and consulting relationships with Clutch Media, Hands On Sports & Entertainment, Networks Sports and TOAW Modern Marketing. I have learned many lessons of the course of my career that I believe have prepared me for this next career challenge.

What was your goal when starting the company?  Has that changed?  What is your long-term vision for your company?
From the outset, I wanted to start a company that I was proud of. I wanted to be able to wake up and do something that I loved every day. My goal was to use my gifts and talents to do good in the community, build meaningful Cause Marketing partnerships and programs that linked companies, causes, and athletics in a way that accomplishes specific goals and objectives for each. Our long term goals included becoming leaders in the cause marketing industry. To create innovative cause marketing + sports marketing programs and partnerships that work to help make real change in the lives of others.

What is it like running your own company?  Give us a “day in the life.”
It’s the most fun I have ever had, but it’s also the biggest challenge that I have had professionally. Every day is different, but I have learned over the last 10 months that building a structured day and week is critical in staying on task and making sure that projects are completed on time. My day typically begins early with emails, research and catching up on the “biz”, this includes reading articles on causes, athletes, and trends within the sports marketing + cause marketing industry. Many of my weeks are set around pushing particular projects forward, Sunday nights are my time to lay out my weekly plan around each project. From there I prioritize need actions and place them in the appropriate order. After my morning emails and research, I dive into each day’s plan, which might include, meetings, phone calls, program generation, presentations, and business development for the company. My late afternoon is reserved as “ME” time, this is my time to relax, workout, reconnect with friends or run some personal errands. I think it’s important to do something for yourself every day. I think sometimes we get some caught up in taking care of everything and everybody else that we forget to do what makes us happy. After dinner, I typically do a few more hours of proposal work or research on the couch or outside on the deck (weather permitting) before bed.

What are the greatest challenges of owning your own business?
One of the biggest challenges in owning your own business is realizing that you may not be able to do it all. I have learned that we all are good at something, but no one is good at everything. So I decided that I was going to stick to doing what I do best and surround myself with great talent in those other areas and that is what I have done. This has truly allowed me to work to move projects forward while letting my team do what they do best.

What has been the biggest surprise you’ve had in being an entrepreneur/business owner?
How a small team of dedicated people can pull off a great program and change peoples lives!

What are the greatest rewards of entrepreneurship & business ownership?
Doing great work with great people!

Is there a mentor (or mentors) who has helped you along the way?
I have many mentors.

Please share any advice for readers who are considering starting their own business.
My advice for anyone who is considering starting their own business is DO IT!

Create a great plan and stick with it!

Surround yourself with great people!

Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

Learn from the mistakes of others.

Favorite Book: Rules of the Red Rubber Ball – By Kevin Carroll

Favorite Movie: Love Actually

Hobbies: Lacrosse, Fishing, People Watching

What’s playing on your iPod: Drake, Little Wayne, Kanya, Kid Cudi, Wiz

Android or iPhone: Android

Mac or PC: Mac

Favorite TV Show: Always Sunny

Favorite Restaurant: I prefer to grill at home!

Favorite Quote: “While everyone is trying to make a dollar, we are trying to make a difference”


For more information on Jay Mayes & Black Sheep Consulting, log on to

To find out about other small businesses, sign up for the NetWorks Sports “Changing the Game” Newsletter today!!

Follow NetWorks Sports Consulting on Twitter at @NetWorks_Sports

NetWorks Sports Spotlight Interview with Jason Mayden (Director of Innovation @Nike Digital Sport

NetWorks Spotlight Interview with….Jason Mayden, Director of Innovation – Nike Digital Sport
By Tracey Savell Reavis


Jason Mayden Director of Innovation, Nike Digital Sports

Jason Mayden could talk about carbon fiber arch plates and laser etched tongue details all day. His goal, from the young age of 12, was to design sneakers, specifically Air Jordans. He chased his Nike dream with a laser-like focus, and landed a summer internship at Brand Jordan, while in his third year of design school.

But it was six years later, when the impossible dream, at least for a kid growing up on the Southside of Chicago, came true: He was named the lead designer on the new Jordan shoe. Drawing inspiration from the sport of fencing, from the propulsion of a Paralympic athlete, and from the legendary ball player himself, Jason created the Air Jordan 2009 with a design described as both conforming to the brand’s storied history, and demonstrating a fresh and forward-thinking approach. Since then, he’s spearheaded the design of signature shoes for Derek Jeter and Chris Paul.

More than just a former athlete – he turned down football scholarships to pursue a career as a designer – and more than just a creator – he considers himself an illustrator and graphic artist – Jason is also an innovator who can see the big picture for business. He just completed his Masters of Science at Stanford Graduate School of Business as a Sloan Fellow, where students are chosen based on their past accomplishments and their potential as future senior leaders. When Jason starts his new position on August 15th, one that was created specifically for him, there’s no doubt this is yet another chance for him to make an impression and to leave his unique footprint on the world of sport innovation.

So first question, what exactly will you be doing as the Director of Innovation at Nike Digital Sports?
[Laughing] Well, at Nike our core strength is the ability to innovate. This position is a way to implement technology into the sports world and to give the consumer a brand new experience. It’s a really fun, creative role, part design, part product development, and part business development.

And how did you find yourself on the receiving end of a newly created position?
I knew digital sports was a hot topic. And it was being in the environment at Stanford. It was a collaborative process, based on my interest and the company’s needs. I would say the process took the whole year. I basically went to class, and then this is what I would do 2 or 3 hours at night. This was my pet project. Then [this past] January I put together a presentation, and it morphed into the role that I now have.

It’s really about where the company is going, and where your core competencies and talents can fit in with that strategic vision.

You seem pretty proactive when it comes to your career. Would you say that has been a key to your success?
Yeah, ten thousand percent. But not even proactive, I would say I was curious. I pursued Nike because I learned at an early age that no one is going to come to your doorstep and give you a magic ticket. So I took the initiative. I remember someone telling me, Somebody has to design shoes. Why can’t it be you? And that stuck in my mind. Why can’t it be me? Why can’t I be that kid?

I asked for help early. I exposed myself to different conversations, different concepts. I had books that gave me a different perspective. I escaped through books. Reading Lord of the Flies, and Peter Pan gave me a chance to dream of a world outside of Chicago. That helped build my vision and that helped give me the confidence to take that first step.

What is it about sneakers that has captured your attention? What made you want to design shoes?
I’ve always loved shoes. When I was a kid, I had shoes that were literally un-wearable. I used to put duct tape on my shoes. So every time I design a shoe, regardless of how much it’s being sold for, I try to really pour my heart and soul  into it and give the kid more than just a piece of leather, but a story and value. Because I know there’s a kid out there, who was just like me who saved up their money, and this is their first pair of shoes, that really will make them feel confident and good about themselves, and I want them to take my shoes out of the box and put them on their feet and feel like they can do anything.

You consider yourself a designer, and yet you were interested in attending Stanford and pursuing an MBA?
I’m the type of person to turn my weakness into a strength. I applied, took my GMATs, and interviewed. But I don’t have an economics or finance background, and never worked as an analyst. And a lot of people said you’ll never get into business school being an artist. But I said, you know, creativity has purpose and a place in corporate America. I played it up as my strength. I said, “this is why I should be here”, because I’m completely different.  I knew this would be a chance for me to understand the conversations that were going on in [meeting] rooms and for me to contribute in my own unique way.

Michael Jordan at Press Event for 2009 Air Jordan Release

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
The best piece of advice I got was from my former big boss Michael Jordan. And he told me early on, when I was an intern, always under promise and over deliver.  And I live by that. I never over promise. I never try to sell someone on more than what I can do. I think being understated, being humble and being honest about your capabilities upfront then people start to build a trust and respect for your work and your work ethic. I live by that advice and I pass it on.

What advice would you give to people starting out about reaching their goals and achieving a seemingly impossible dream?
First thing, don’t tell yourself that it’s impossible. [Laughing] Tell yourself that it is going to take a lot of hard work and that it will be difficult. But with faith and the right team around you, nothing is impossible.

Dreaming is a free ticket to your final destination of where you want to be. I’m constantly daydreaming, about where I want to go in my life. I encourage myself; I’m constantly pouring positivity into my life.

And do everything you can to arm yourself with knowledge.  If you remove the notion of impossibility, be prayerful, and surround yourself with a positive group of people, the sky’s the limit.

What kind of career advice would you offer to anyone wanting to get into the sports industry, especially about the amount of work?
People look at hard work as if it is degrading or that it will take too long. I look at it from the framework of there’s heart work, h-e-a-r-t, where you have a passion and you’re going to do it anyway, and hard work, h-a-r-d, manual labor, where you’re doing it because you have to, because you need to take care of your family. I grew up watching my parents do hard work. They did what they needed to do to give us opportunities.  Now I’m in a position to do heart work, something that I love, a passion. And when it’s something you love, it shouldn’t matter how long it takes. You should be doing it because it makes you feel complete.

What does giving back mean to you and how do you support young people?
Giving back to me means giving time. I try to make myself available to as many people as possible. You can give money and resources, and that’s all necessary. But for me, in the type of world that I’m in, I try to spend time talking with people. And it means the world, because I had key people talk to me, and I never forgot it. Because everybody has gifts, whether developed or not. Sometime it takes just one person to let you know that they see it in you. So I try to be that one person for a lot of people.

If you weren’t designing shoes, what do you think you would be doing?
My other dream job besides designing the Jordan while working at Nike was to be in the movie industry, in special effects. And if that didn’t work out, probably an art professor, or coach. I just really love any way to interact with the young generation. At some point in my career, I want to go back and teach.

Get to Know Jason
Favorite Artists: Czech illustrator Alphonse Mucha and American concept artist Syd Mead

Favorite Clothing Designers: Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs

Favorite Shoe Designers: Manolo Blahnik, Tinker Hatfield

On his nightstand: Warrior of the Light, by Paulo Coelho

Most influential book: Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison


In his music library: Anything from Bjork, Joe Henderson, Miles Davis

Follow Jason on Twitter @JayMay_ChiCity and find out more about what he’s doing on his website

Follow NetWorks Sports Consulting on Twitter @NetWorks_Sports and sign up to receive the “Changing the Game” Newsletter today!


Let us know what you think of this NetWorks Sports Spotlight Interview with Jason Mayden in the Comment section below!