Babe Ruth said it best: “It ain’t braggin’ if you can do it.”
So, should you want to brag about your yourself and your program?
As a society, we’re surrounded by people who confidently promote their ideas. And for the most part, we’re drawn to those individuals. They inspire us, challenge us, and make it impossible to ignore their message.
Nearly every politician ever elected as President of the United States has a certain swagger and confidence that gives voters a feeling that they’ll be able to handle the world’s toughest job effectively.
Going into an important surgery gets a little easier when you are working with a doctor who exudes a lot of confidence and can brag about his experience treating your disease, and the history of success she has had in knowing what to do.
And as a college coach, who isn’t thrilled when they recruit an athlete who thrives in a pressure situation and wants to be the one to take the last shot with the game on the line?
That’s the thing about bragging:
It’s a momentum changer. It’s the x-factor in recruiting that seldom gets talked about. It separates coaches who have a passionate vision of where they want to take their program from those that are content with just “holding down the fort”. Guess which coach a teenage prospect and their parents are going to be drawn to more often?
But in our work with college coaches, I know that the majority of you would bristle at the idea of “bragging” about yourself. There seems to be something just not right about doing it…something unprofessional…something that is just plain wrong.
I’d agree with you, to a point. There’s a right way, and a wrong way, to brag about you and your program. You don’t want to cross the line and appear cocky, but you also don’t want to be so humble that you lose a recruit because of a lack of something to believe in about you.
Because it’s so important that you do it for this next recruiting class, here are five of the right ways to effectively – and professionally – brag to the next prospect you talk to:
- Show unapologetic confidence. Recruits have a very short window with which to judge you and your program. Sometimes, it isn’t so much what you say but how you say it (both in the way you construct your messages to them, as well as your tone). Confidence is the professional form of bragging. It isn’t necessarily verbalizing “Look at me, I’m the best!”; rather, it is that look in your eyes, the confident tone in your voice, and the read-between-the-lines message that says, “If you come to my program, you’re going to have a GREAT athletic career.” Do you regularly show unapologetic confidence to your recruits? How?
- Define yourself, and make your program stand for something. With this generation of recruits, it doesn’t pay to be all things to all people. One of the things that we’ve outlined in our recruiting guides for college coaches is the importance of speaking in a certain way to them, both with your voice, written words, and your face to face time with them on campus that define who you are as a coach and what they would be a part of should they decide to come to compete for your program. You and your program need to define what you want in an athlete, how you compete, where you are going, and what role that athlete is going to play in your program. Have you defined yourself and developed an identifiable “brand” for your program? How?
- Use strong, consistent language. When you present a message to your recruit, it needs to reach out and demand interaction from them. It needs to tell them exactly why you’re the best choice, and precisely why student-athletes like them excel under your leadership. When we’re building recruiting plans and messages for our clients, one of the things that we factor in is consistency…a weekly message that lays the foundation for future conversations, and the use of language that strongly demands a reaction from them. The results are usually outstanding, and the same kind of message architecture can work wonders for you as well. Do you use strong, demanding language in your letters and emails, and are you doing it on a consistent basis? And, do you duplicate a consistent message across platforms – written, electronic, social media, campus visit and your personal conversations?
- Don’t blink. One of my clients “blinked” last week in the face of an apparent defection by a verbally committed recruit. What we perceived the prospect doing was “testing” the coach to see what the reaction would be if they didn’t follow-through with their commitment to the program. The coach in question berated the athlete for even thinking of switching commitments, and criticized the other school. That’s the wrong approach…don’t blink! Project the confidence that we were talking about earlier: Our client should have complimented the other program, said that they understood the last minute jitters, and then calmly laid-out all of the things about their program that originallly attracted the athlete to the idea of verbally committing to them in the first place. That communicates to a recruit that you are confident in where your program is going, with or without them on board. In effect, you are non-verbally bragging to them! When pressure situations arise, do you “blink”? Are your actions telling an athlete that you are desperate for them?
- The MOST effective form of bragging? When other people do it for you. Your current players, your alumni, the parents of your past and present players, your athletic director, the strength and conditioning training staff, your team academic advisor, local TV and newspaper reporters, Internet bloggers…there’s a seemingly non-stop list of potential third party references at your disposal. And you know what? They are all better at bragging about you than you are! Why? Because it’s not you saying how great you are, it’s someone else talking about how great you are based on their personal experience with you. It’s powerful. That’s why according to our research, your recruits want to spend so much time with your team when they take campus visits: They want to be around a group of people who they can ask, “So what’s Coach really like?” Getting written testimonials, and ensuring that your team is happy with their life on your team, is absolutely the best form of bragging in the world of college recruiting because it’s the most believable in the eyes of your prospects.
So, you have permission to brag, Coach! If you do it the right way, it will turbo-charge your recruiting message in ways that are going to really make you happy!
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