Saturday ended up being a quite different day than I figured. Due to a family obligation, I was alone in western Massachusetts running the Bridge of Flowers road race. Without my wife and son, it made no sense to stay out there for long after the race was done. With that, it was off to Boston for an event I previously said I would not make – an alumni event for the Northeastern men’s basketball program.

It’s a good thing I went.

The race went well, as it rained overnight but was fine when the race was ready to go. I ran better than last year’s time – heartening because I’ve done that in both road races I have run this year, and I don’t think I’m in the shape I was in a year ago – and felt great. I also saw a former co-worker as well.

Once I cleaned up, had breakfast and checked out, it was off to Boston. It was time well-spent catching up with a lot of players I knew but had not seen in years. Some I’m in touch with from time to time via another medium, but seeing people is always different.

The event was well-run, and doing it in the summer instead of the season made a lot of sense and proved to be a great move. It helps that the current Huskies practiced in advance of a trip to Canada, which attendees got to see if they were able to make it early enough. But most of all, re-connecting with players was important, as many have gone on to bigger and better things.

It helps that one of them is now in a position to potentially help me, and soon. This is the kind of business that often gets done in person, not merely via phone or e-mail; conversations tend to flow differently depending on the setting. While it is nice to have LinkedIn or Facebook, much of business is still done in person, and we shouldn’t forget that.

Relationships are often built from seeing people, especially in the world of sports. I always built relationships best from in-person time with coaches, whether it was watching their team practice or play, or seeing them out at a recruiting event where we watched high school players. The best, most wide-ranging conversations I have had with them have often come outside the context of a just-finished game, when their guard is down and so is mine. Likewise with players as well.

Even without an immediate impact, this event was valuable. There is a reason these types of events are put together, and they generally benefit anyone who goes. While I would rather have spent the entire day with my family enjoying the beauty of western Massachusetts, we’ll get that chance again, and I’m fortunate that I had a chance to improvise and make the most of the situation.

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