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Foursquare.com: The Next Big Recruiting Tool for College Coaches?Sunday, July 25th, 2010

by Sean Devlin, Front Rush

Get ready, Coach.  There’s a new social networking website that has the tech world buzzing, and we think it might be something you’ll see college athletic directors using in the very near future.

Want to be ahead of the curve and start using these tools to attract more fans and recruits?  Read all about Foursquare.com in our analysis below…

Why do we care?
Foursquare.com is the next thing that you are going to be sick of hearing about. Its about to pass 3 million users, it has been valued at $115 million, its growing faster than Twitter did, and its only a year and some months old. Basically its the next big social networking tool.

What is it?
Foursquare is an app on the iPhone, or other web enabled phones, that let’s users ‘check-in’ to locations to let their friends know where they are at any given time. It has game mechanics associated with it which is why it is growing so quickly. For example, if a user ‘checks-in’ to their favorite pizza place the most times in a single month, then they can become the ‘mayor’ of that location. If they perform certain tasks like checking in more than 10 times in a day, they can earn badges (not unlike Boy Scout badges, or badges of recognition). As a user checks-in to various places, they get points which they use to compete against their friends from month to month.

How is it going to be used in sports?
We have our speculations, but a couple areas that seem really cool…

Connecting with Fans

1) Your University Badge
As briefly described above, there are “badges” in Foursquare. Users earn badges by completing certain tasks within Foursquare and then proudly show their Badges in their Foursquare profile. An example of a badge is the “I’m on a Boat” badge which is earned by ‘checking-in’ while on boats. Another example is the ‘man vs food’ badge which is earned by checking in to restaurants found on the food channel show ‘man vs food’. What we see as a really cool badge would be for Universities to have “University Badges”. The idea would be that fans, current students, recruits, etc. could earn your University’s badge by checking into various spots related to your school e.g. Football watch parties, on campus library, stadium, athletic facilities…you get the idea.

2) Promotions
Through Foursquare, a University could offer deals or promotions to the avid fans. For example, the University Bookstore could give 10% off to anyone who ‘checks-in’ to the bookstore. Or if a user is the ‘mayor’ of the on-campus restaurant, they can get a free sandwich or drink. Utilizing the above scenarios, there are creative ways to give away t-shirts or hats, and other fan items.

Recruiting

1) Learn more about your recruits
If you connect with your recruits on Foursquare you can instantly see the places that they are checking into. By monitoring these locations, you can learn more about their interests, their habits, their character. For example, if you see your recruit consistently checking into the library and the athletic facility, you may be able to gauge them as a hard working student athlete. However, if your recruit is consistently checking into ‘party like’ locations, you may question their work ethic. Or if your recruit is checking into concerts and music venues, you can learn that they have an interest in music which can give you the inside scoop.

2) Let your recruits learn more about you
If you join Foursquare and start checking in, you can give your recruits an inside view of what you are up to. This of course helps to build the personal bond between yourself and your athletes. What’s nice about this is you can choose the venues that you want to check into, so you won’t disclose anything that you prefer not to.

That’s a very brief overview of Foursquare, it’s benefits, and it’s potential. Its definitely a game changer in the consumer world, and we very much expect creative athletic departments, universities and coaches to find unique ways to leverage it for their benefit.

Oh, by the way…these ideas are just that: Ideas.  Please check with your department’s compliance officer before utilitzing the new Foursquare leap.

Front Rush is enveiling lots of new technology features for their list of users this year.  Is your web based recruiting software on top of the latest trends?  Or, is it time to take a look at what else is out there?  If it is, let Front Rush talk to you about what they could do for you and your program.

Click here to take the first step!

7 Things You Need in Your Recruiting PresentationSunday, July 25th, 2010

“Presentation” might be the wrong word, actually.

As a college recruiter, you don’t give recruting “presentations” in the same way that a business sales professional might give a sales presentation to a new prospective client.

But “presentation” is the best word that I could come up with, because it really wraps in all the elements of the process that you use to recruit a student-athlete:

  • The letters and emails that you write…that’s part of your presentation.
  • The phone calls that you make…that’s part of your presentation.
  • What is said about your school or you online…that’s part of your presentation.
  • When a prospect comes to visit your campus…that’s a part of your presentation.

You can’t overlook one area of your overall presentation and expect success.  Especially when it comes to the top athletes you really, really want for your program.

So in looking at programs we work with, and see what they do right on a consistent basis, here’s my list of the 7 things YOU need in your recruiting presentation if you’re looking for an added degree of success with your next recruiting class:

  1. Develop a belief in your school and your program. It pains me when I hear a coach tell me privately that he or she doesn’t think their school can compete with others in their conference.  What you absolutely need as a part of your overall recruiting presentation is a heart-felt belief that your school, your program – and you as a coach – are the best option for your recruit.  Assume that you are going to sign the athlete when you first start talking to them.  Today’s prospects want to compete for coaches who are confident (not cocky, confident).  If you don’t display passion about you and your program, don’t expect them to be passionate about the idea of coming to compete for you.
  2. Focus on helping them reach their objectives. Not sell your school.  Not brag about your program.  Not show off your new building.  Help connect the dots and show them how you (and your school, and your program, and maybe even the new building) will help them reach their athletic and academic objectives.  An easy way to make sure you’re doing this is by taking a look at each facet of your recruiting process and explain how whatever you do helps your recruit reach their objective.  “But Dan, what if I don’t know what their objective in college is?”  Ask.
  3. Tell them you have some ideas on how to help them. Do you know how original you’d be if you would just come to them with tangible ideas for them instead of bullet-pointed athletic department brochures?  Kids will always stay engaged if you give yourself away and get them to connect with you through ideas about them.  Not you, them.
  4. Try to ask one amazing question at the beginning of each new type of contact. One for your first letter, your first email, your first phone call, and when you first meet.  I’m talking about a question that makes them stop and really think about the answer before they give it to you.  Whenever you ask a question they haven’t been presented with before, that’s a sign of a great presentation.
  5. Don’t “need” the recruit. Prospects and their parents have become increasingly adept at sniffing out desparation, and it’s not something that they view favorably.  If you find yourself “pressing” for prospects – especially at the end of your recruiting cycle – then you need more prospects.  We have a client who is heading into these upcoming months with nine prospects that are “A” rated recruits.  They only need to sign two this year.  Two years ago, their list was 1/3 the size it is now.  Do like they did and assess your needs and make adjustments in the numbers so that you aren’t begging at the end.
  6. Ask for the sale. If you’ve taken part in one of our famous On-Campus Workshops at your school, you know this is a familiar mantra we preach to college recruiters.  You’re recruiting them for a reason: You want them to play for you.  So, once you know in your heart that they’d be perfect for you – and you’re ready to hear a “yes” from them and follow-up with all the commitments that come along with possibly hearing that answer – ask them to commit.  Even if they say “no, not yet,” they’ll remember you as a coach that is passionate about them and that wants them for their team.  You might even be surprised when you get that immediate “yes!” from a prospect you really want….if you consistently ask.
  7. Be 100% focused 100% of the time. Are you smiling and confident?  Your prospect is watching. Are you and your staff wearing school polo shirts?  Your prospect is watching. Are you prepared for their visit and engaged with them individually, or are you thinking about what went wrong at practice yesterday?  Your prospect is watching. They are judging you as much as they are judging your school and your program.  Every part of your interaction with them matters, Coach.  Pay attention to the details and stay focused.

Now that you have my list, here’s a quick mental homework assignment I’d love for you to invest the next five minutes in doing: What three or four things can you do right away to improve your overall recruiting presentation?  Write down those changes on a card or piece of paper, and put it up on your wall in your office.  Don’t take it down until you’ve followed your own advice and made those changes to your presentation.

Those seven guiding principles can help you form the basis for a really effective recruiting presentaiton, which will help you make a big impact on this next recruiting class you’re starting to contact.

Making an impact on your prospect while they are visiting campus - from what you say and do, to your body language – was one of the big topics at this year’s National Collegiate Recruiting Conference.

You can get the entire conference on DVD, which includes the notes workbook and every speaker at the event.  And, we’re still offering the package at the pre-conference rate!  Click here to order your copy.

Organizing Your Coaching Staff for Dominant RecruitingMonday, July 19th, 2010

There are a few precious times during each year as a coaching staff that you actually have a chance to sit down, take a deep breath, and figure out what you want to do differently the next season.

I’m not talking about plays you should have called, or strategies you failed to execute during competition.  And, I’m not talking about the way you coach together as a staff.

I’m talking about the way you organize what you do as a staff.

It was one of the sessions we dedicated time to at this past weekend’s National Collegiate Recruiting Conference in Chicago.  Summer is one of those times of the year that is usually ideal for organizational planning for your staff.

That kind of planning is especially important when it comes to recruiting.

Because “organizing” and “planning” were big topics among the attendees, I wanted to share one key concept we discussed at the Conference.  It’s a concept originally outlined by business author Michael Gerber in his best-selling book, The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What To Do About It.

The concept is that a small business – similarly to your operation as a college coaching staff – won’t grow and prosper unless it is organized in a very specific way.  Gerber contends that every small business needs a Visionary, Managers and Technicians.  Tudor contends that the same would hold true for college coaches when it comes to recruiting.

Here’s the concept and the role of each individual coach:

VISIONARY

The Visionary’s role is fairly obvious: He or she needs to set the direction of the program, develop the core recruiting philosophy, determine the goals that need to be met, and help pin-point who in their organization is right for the other two roles of Managers and Visionaries.

When we work with our clients, this is one of the areas that we try to determine early on in our work with them.  Here are some quick observations after seeing different staffs change their organizational philosophy and adapt this format:

  • Sometimes, the head coach is not the best person to be the Visionary.  Most of the time, yes.  Not all the time, though.
  • Visionaries need to be able to make the tough calls, put their name on a plan, and be confident in their vision for the program.
  • Can there be more than one Visionary?  No.  However, the Visionary can get input from other people on their staff.  But there needs to be one person that is in the role of the Visionary.
  • If at all possible, the Visionary should not also be a Manager.  And, they should almost never be a Technician.

Visionaries on a college coaching staff should constantly be assessing where they are with regards to their recruiting class, and figuring out if the vision that has been outlined is being realized.  It’s ongoing, active work.  Visionaries are accountable to the whole organization for the overall success of the year’s recruiting.

MANAGER

The next role(s) that need to be assigned would be that of Manager.

The Manager’s role is singular in focus: To make sure that the vision your staff has established is realized through daily management and measurement.  The Manager needs to make sure that the individual assignments tied to the vision are being completed exactly as planned.

Good Managers need to:

  • fully buy-in to the vision that’s been established when it comes to the staff’s recruiting goals.
  • be loyal to the Visionary.
  • be looking for more efficient and better ways to achieve the vision sooner and more effectively.
  • be able to keep the Technicians on task and accountable.
  • be able to measure what is being done on a regular basis to achieve the vision.

Can there be more than one Manager?  Sure.  But each Manager needs to have their own separate areas of responsiblities whenever possible.  Don’t bog down this emerging organizational system with double coverage.

And last, but absolutely NOT least…

TECHNICIAN

Just because I’m listing this last, don’t think that it is the least important.  Especially when it comes to recruiting.

The Technician(s) is responsible for making sure the Vision happens.  Without great Technicians, its all just a bunch of good ideas that never actually happen.

It’s natural to assume that assistant coaches and grad assistants, who perform the role of technicians when it comes to game planning and scouting, would be the likely choice of the Visionary to carry-out Technician duties when it comes to recruiting.  Here are the hallmarks of really good Technicians:

  • They’re able to focus in on the assignments established by the Manager.
  • They’re able to provide great communication on the progress or hurdles that transpire along the way.
  • They understand that they have an equally important role in the organization.  In other words, not Manager or Visionary envy (in many ways, Technicians have the best role of the three).

Why is recruiting organization like this so important?  Because without it you feel burned-out.  A coach that is the Visionary, but also takes on the role of Manager and Technician is going to be the coach that starts feeling trapped.  Bitter.  Frustrated.  They won’t quite reach their goals, and they’ll always feel three steps behind every one of their competitors.

Even if you have a small staff, try to farm out roles to those in the athletic department when possible.

What if you’re the only coach on a staff?  You already know you have it tough, so you don’t need me to tell you that.  In that case, you’ll want to try to organize your week into Visionary, Manager and Technician time blocks.  Separate your duties, and try not to mix roles in the same day.  You’ll feel a lot less exhausted and frustrated if you can do it.

That’s an overview of the concept, and it’s going to look different from college to college, and staff to staff.  However, it’s important: Think about how much time you put in to determining how to split up scouting and recruiting area coverage, but don’t put much time into detailing organizational assignments once those scouting details are back in the office.

Once you separate and organize roles in your recruiting plan, you’ll probably want to do the same thing with the rest of your duties as a coaching staff.  And why not…it works!

There were lots of great techniques and strategies shared at the 2010 National Collegiate Recruiting Conference in Chicago.  The entire conference has been captured on DVD, and is available beginning September 1, 2010.  Order your copy, along with the notes and workbook, by clicking here.

Why Your Confidence is Key in RecruitingMonday, July 5th, 2010

Ever been to a restaurant where you’ve asked your waiter or waitress for a recommendation?

Think about why you’re doing that: Is it because you just absolutely have no idea what to order?  Or, is it because you see that the restaurant is a great place for a meal, and you want to know what they think is good because they’ve had a chance to experience the place on a long term basis?

If you’re like me, it’s the second example.

Full disclosure: As the dad of three – the youngest of whom is just turning seven next week – most of my restaurant theme choices involve something with a clown, a mouse, or a small Roman pizza take-out character named Caesar).

Why do we seek out a recommendation at a restaurant?  We’re looking for reassurance that we’ve chosen the right place to get a great meal, and we’re looking for someone else to help us make our decision.

In short, we’re seeking some confidence from someone we deem as credible as we attempt to make a smart choice.

The same driving forces behind that scenario are at play with your prospect.  And, how you as a coach react to their requests can play a major role in what they think of you and your program, and whether or not they choose to view you as a serious candidate.

At the core, your prospects are looking for this from you: Confidence.

They don’t have it yet as someone who is just getting to know you and your program.  And, just like a patron entering a new restaurant, they are looking for a “recommendation”.  They are looking for confidence.  They need your confidence.  For many recruits, we find that it is one of the key links in the recruiting process - especially if your program isn’t starting-out as one of their early favorites.

The reason they need confidence from you is fairly simple.  At the start of a recruiting relationship, your confidence may be the thing that helps separate you from the competition.  Or, it may be the thing that keeps you in the running.  Your prospect needs a reason to move to the next step of the relationship.  Time and time again, we’ve seen our clients be able to keep prospects engaged by showing confidence and enthusiasm in their emails, letters and in-person interactions.

Confidence can come in several different forms:

  • With recruiting letters and emails, recruits may see confidence in your consistency and long-term commitment to keeping in touch with them. Seriously, we’ve talked to lots of athletes on college campuses during our workshops that tell us they ended up choosing a university based on the fact that a coach didn’t give up on them, and was the most consistent in terms of keeping in touch with them.  They saw confidence in that coach who didn’t give up on them, and equated their commitment to a confidence in their program and school.
  • With your recruiting phone calls, confidence is largely a tone in your voice. We’re finding that your recruits aren’t paying as much attention to the content of your early recruiting calls as much as they are your approach, your tone, and your pace.  Are you stumbling around, not really sure of what you want to talk about and where the conversation is going?  Or, are you to the point, engaged, and smiling while you talk (did you know that researchers have found that we are subconsciously drawn to people who are smiling, even when we only hear their voice and can’t see them smile?).  All of these seeminly small thing underscore your confidence on the phone.
  • With their visits to your campus, the need for demonstrated confidence is greatest. Your prospect is most likely nervous and searching for things that make you different from the other schools that they have already visited.  You need to demonstrate confidence, as their coach, by speaking positively and being excited about your campus - even the parts that you’ve seen and talked about 257 times before.  You and your current athletes need to talk about when the athlete plays for you, not if they play for you.  It’s those repeated little moments of confident assurance that adds up in the mind of your recruit.

The examples I’ve given are just the tip of the iceberg.  There are so many unique examples of perfect confidence-boosting acts and statements based on your circumstance and your personality, they are too numerous to mention.

What you need to do as a college recruiter is make sure that you identify as many instances when you can have the chance to demonstrate the fact that you are confident in yourself and your program, and that your prospect should share that confidence too.

This is the ideal time of year to look into becoming a client of Tudor Collegiate Strategies through the Total Recruiting Solution program.  For an overview of what the program does and how it works, click here.   Or, contact Dan Tudor directly for a one-on-one assessment of how it would work for your program by emailing him at dan@dantudor.com.

How Coaches Can Get the Internet Anywhere They Want, When They WantMonday, July 5th, 2010

by Sean Devlin, Technology Expert – Front Rush

With all of the devices college coaches are carrying around – iPhones, iPads, laptops - and the requirement to always be connected online, I decided to talk a about the personal MiFi.  If you aren’t using this yet, it won’t be long before you do.

Verizon offers a slick device that gives you the Internet from your pocket and allows you to connect any of your devices to it. This way, regardless of where you are, you will still have Internet connectivity at all times. In addition, because it is wireless, you don’t need to worry about compatibility as this device will work with your iPad, your iPod Touch, your PC laptop, or anything else.

Because the MiFi device is connected using 3g on Verizon’s network, the Internet speed will not be what you’d call “amazing”. That being said, there are two big advantages to using it:  First, at the very least, you are still connected and can still navigate the web.  Secondly, Verizon is just months away from releasing their new LTE network (slated for end of 2010). They are stating that they are getting download speeds closed to 6Mbps which is 6 – 10 times faster than the existing network. If this is true, your personal MiFi will become a lot more valuable from a productivity perspective as a college recruiting using numerous web-based applications like Front Rush.

The cost of the device is about $250 for existing Verizon customers, and $50 bucks for new customers. The monthly plan is between $40 and $60 depending on how much you will be using it.

So, if you want to be able to access the web from any device while you’re on the road as a college coach, Verizon’s personal MiFi is a great solution. Sprint offers a personal MiFi, as well, for those of you using their network.

There’s something to be said for a device that delivers what it promises, and makes your life easier as an on-the-road college coach.  It’s one of the options we often recommend to our Front Rush users.

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