When you read that title, you might say to yourself, "What does boosting my confidence have to do with getting the edge in recruiting?"
A lot, coach.
Self-confidence is the difference between being good and being great. Great coaches, and great recruiters, have a self-confidence that’s second to none. They exude self-confidence when they’re on the phone, and when they’re in front of the same prospect that you’re recruiting.
And you know what? The prospect picks-up on that self confidence, too. Self-confidence is contagious, and the coach that has it usually has a great team of recruits year after year after year. One coach that I often point to when conducting our SFC On-Campus Workshops for college coaches and athletic departments is Pete Carroll, the energetic football coach at USC. His energy rubs off on his players, and his prospects that he’s recruiting.
So for a moment, lets put our normal discussion of selling and communication skills aside and focus on your self-confidence. If you sometimes struggle with living up to competition…if you feel like you’re not measuring up to other coaches on your staff…if you’re feeling depressed about the direction your college coaching career is headed, then this is for you.
Here are five great ways to boost your recruiting confidence. These aren’t "tricks", they are time-tested strategies for improving your psychological outlook and improve your own mental self-image in the dog-eat-dog profession that you’ve chosen for yourself! Here we go…
1. Stop comparing yourself to others.
Your probably tend to evaluate yourself in relation to other coaches. Those in your athletic department, and those that you compete against. The problem is, you don’t really know what’s going on with another person. You can’t know why they do what they do or what motivates their behavior. In fact, someone who looks "confident" may just be another shy person covering up his own insecurities and doubts.
Believe me, I get the chance to talk and work with a lot of coaches that fit into this category. That’s one of the reasons I wrote "Selling for Coaches"…to help coaches get the skills they need to become better recruiters and feel more confident in their recruiting abilities.
Instead of focusing on other coaches, shift your attention back to yourself. The only reasonable comparison to make is between your past and your present performances. Bring your attention to your goals and to the actions you need to take to achieve them.
2. Set Self-Confidence Goals.
Choose one area of your self-confidence that needs work, and break it down into small, manageable, measurable steps or actions.
Let’s say your goal is to get over your shyness when it comes to picking up the phone and developing relationships with new prospects. The actions you could take might be something like: Devote one scheduled hour to do nothing but make new contacts… Call three high school coaches daily for tips on prospects and to build your recruiting network … Read one book a month on overcoming shyness until you’ve done it.
Write them down and post them on the bathroom mirror or next to your computer. Review them every morning. With persistence … a little here, a little there … you’ll be overcoming whatever your weakness is with ease.
3. Take time to prepare.
Don’t waste time trying to talk yourself into "feeling" confident. Instead, focus on preparation. The better you know your stuff, the more confident you will feel. The tools are out there for you, coach. Take this summer to improve your recruiting skills for the upcoming season.
4. Visualize another reality.
Before a stressful event (game situation, recruiting, new job interview), take a few minutes to create a positive mental picture for yourself. Instead of imagining yourself being singled out and interrogated by a crazy parent, imagine yourself among a circle of friends who are all there to work together towards the athlete’s best interest. Instead of picturing the in-home recruiting visit as an intimidating mob scene with nervous parents and an athlete that barely says anything, think of it as a series of one-on-one conversations with individuals who look to you as a valued expert on college recruiting. Picture yourself as their "guide" through this process. Creating a positive mental reality will help calm you and sharpen your focus on the task ahead: The successful recruitment of your prospect.
5. Think small.
You can’t expect to suddenly transform yourself into a recruiting superstar. But you can do little things that will gradually get you to your goal. For example, when talking on the phone, smile. The person on the other end will respond to the positive energy in your voice. And get in the habit of systematically stretching yourself and expanding your comfort zone, a bit further each time. For example, when you meet prospects, parents or even fellow coaches for the first time, greet them with a firm handshake, smile, and look directly into their eyes for a moment longer than may be comfortable for you. You’ll make a positive impression with them, and show your self-confidence in the process.
Not all five of these techniques might be best for you personally, but I’m sure at least one or two are. Try them. Even if you think you have all the self-confidence you need, it never hurts to reinforce those positive thoughts with a few more.