Networking in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is one of the most underutilized benefits of training with such a diverse group.
The normal clientele of a Jiu Jitsu academy can consists of: doctors, lawyers, businessmen, etc. All willing to lend you a hand.
Looking for a new job? Hit up your Jiu Jitsu network to see if anyone is hiring.
Need a good accountant? Ask around the academy to see if someone has a great one on speed dial.
The same can be said about acquiring a sponsorship.
Often, your best bet will be your immediate circle of instructor(s) and training partners. If you’re lucky, someone that you know might be in contact with the owner of company looking to sponsor.
Having an “in” is a big advantage in getting sponsored.
Knowing someone who is already sponsored by a company that you are interested in can make a big difference.
Even if you haven’t quite made a name for yourself or you haven’t been picked up by major Jiu Jitsu news networks and streaming sites like flowgrappling.
Having someone vouch for you as a reference for your skill and ability. Can be a game changer.
Many of the sponsorships that I’ve landed have been through my relationship with a third party. Either an instructor that was already sponsored or a friend that put me in contact with someone of influence with a sponsoring company.
But what if you’re in a position where you don’t know anyone?
Then you’ll have to hustle.
But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
One lesson that Jiu Jitsu teaches us all is how to persevere through tough times and situations.
If you want something bad enough. You will find a way.
Step outside of your comfort zone
I know the average Jiu Jitsu athlete believes that winning on the mat is all they need to do In order to be successful. Sure there are some outliers that do exactly this.
However, you have to realize that they are the exception, and not the rule.
If you look at many of the top competitors and athletes in our sport.
Yes, their techniques are great, and they win big tournaments.
But they’re also more than that.
They are people that you look up to.
They are people you want to emulate.
They are people that you want to hangout with outside of the academy.
They have that “it” factor and that is exactly what sponsors, professional grappling events, and academies are looking for.
Even if you aren’t where you want to be now in your Jiu jitsu career. You should always be looking ahead and have an idea of what goals you want to achieve.
I’ve talked a lot about personality before but it’s so important that I have to keep bringing it up.
You need to have some personality if you want people to follow you and companies to sponsor you. Your personality is what keeps people interested in you and wanting more. As much as you want the support of a brand. You need to realize that you are your own brand.
Style of Jiu Jitsu
I hate to say this but your style is important.
No, not the way you dress off of the mats.
But the actual techniques that you use. Your style of Jiu Jitsu.
Winning is important. But also how you win is important.
If your game is to win on advantages or by stalling. There’s a good chance that most sponsors will overlook you and I’m sure most academies will pass on hosting you for a seminar.
I’m not saying that you should change your style to be more marketable.
But realize that a lot of success is based on how people perceive you and your style of Jiu Jitsu.
Is your style super reliant on physical attributes like power and conditioning or is it more based on technique and timing?
Do you have a style that others would like to emulate?
Networking in Jiu Jitsu is no different than networking in any other type of business or community.
It can mean forming new (business) relationships or strengthening old ones.
Sharing information on techniques, business opportunities.
And everything in between.
It’s what you make of it that counts.
If you want to stay ahead of the new cutting edge techniques.
Or if you want to learn about a new event looking for athletes.
Or you’re interested in academies looking for instructors.
You’re going to have to network and make those connections so that you can get access to that inside knowledge
Make an effort to network not only with the people and companies that you want to sponsor you but everyone else as well.
Tournaments Seminars Fundraisers Open mats Belt graduations
Are all great opportunities to expand your Jiu Jitsu network.
Network with other athletes.
Network with the tournament staff.
Network with academy owners
Network with fans.
Hell, even network with your haters.
The Jiu Jitsu community is so small and intimate that you never know when an opportunity will reveal itself. That’s why you have to continually keep putting yourself out there. Keep competing. Keep posting on social media. Keep networking and building relationships.