UnknownIt’s the most wonderful time of the year! March Madness. Bracket City. Nonstop hoops.

I love college basketball. It’s the only sport I can sit and watch two teams for whom I have no rooting interest and enjoy the game. Given the fact that I don’t even watch other sports so much anymore, including my hometown pro teams, that’s saying a lot.

College basketball gets me through my most hated season on the calendar – winter – and when March Madness is upon us, it’s like nirvana with the weather improving and more basketball than even I can consume on a daily basis.

But basketball has also taught me some important lessons that I can carry through to my 10-year-old public relations and writing practice.

Be In the Moment

Don’t’ be looking for the next big thing. Enjoy what you have now. When your team is having an up and down year, it’s tough to appreciate the positive moments and fans get down on the team, criticize the coach and make themselves miserable. Imagine that day when you lose a client just as you are starting a couple of new projects with another prospect. It’s easy to obsess about the one client you lost and not appreciate – or pay enough attention – to the exciting new opportunities in front of you. Don’t miss that moment to excel and shine.

Don’t Mail it in

Maybe your favorite team is facing an opponent it thinks it can handle easily because they are seeded 12th and you are seeded fifth. Know how many upsets there have been in NCAA history in that match up? It’s happened 44 times in 120 games. Play your best against any team. And if you have a project that you think is a slam-dunk and you can do in your sleep – don’t do it in your sleep. Have your eyes wide open and your brain firing on all cylinders to provide the best possible outcome for your client. Every. Single. Time.

Be a Cheerleader

Everyone who loves college basketball and March Madness loves the whole scene, the bands, the fans and yes, the cheerleaders. Every team needs a great fan base and someone to serve as cheerleader. In business, who else is going to cheer for you if you don’t do some of that yourself? So make sure that you toot your own horn when you have a great success and let people know so that they can pass the word on or bring you on themselves for that next big project.

Be a Good Team Player.

Many an NCAA game has had a guy go off for 36 points but his team loses because everyone else is standing around watching and not contributing. He may make the all-region team for his performance but if his team is going home on the first weekend, no one is happy. In business, make sure you have the right team assembled to serve every client the right way and that every part is working at full speed. If you have a huge collateral project and the writing is spot on but the design is so-so, your team isn’t going to win any new business from that client. Individuals win awards. Teams win championships.

The Other Guy Wants to Win Too.

Fans of basketball teams can’t understand why the other team made a big comeback to tie the game – or why their team can’t always catch up to an opponent. Silly, the other guy is trying to win as well. And the same is true of business. Whether you are pitching a new client or working with an editor on a great story placement, you better bring your “A” game or you might find yourself on the losing end of the proposition.

To all the entrepreneurs out there, make sure you keep your eye on the ball – and I don’t mean the orange round one that will be everywhere over the next few weeks. Let the madness begin!