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Twitter as a Media Tool for College CoachesTuesday, April 12th, 2011

by Mark Drosos, Lodestone Social Media

The media business has been turned on its ear.

With major newspapers failing, TV viewership is shrinking and the introduction of social media platforms every major media outlet, reporter, blogger, radio station and more have flocked to Twitter looking for content and an audience to help their current business downturn.

This has provided you with an opportunity to seize some quality media airtime and get your local news outlets talking about your athletic program.

So what should you do to take advantage this?  Here are three simple things you can do:

First, remember it is a relationship not a microphone

  • Twitter is all about personal relationships, sharing information and promoting others causes. So if you have a twitter account and all you do is broadcast news feeds and updates and don’t take the time to engage your followers you might as well not do it. You need to be engaging your followers.

Second, make sure to have a good mix of ‘followers’ to ‘following’

  • Too many teams have a twitter account with 100’s or 1,000’s of follows and they are only following 10 people or so. It is hard to engage people if you don’t follow them. So have a good ratio of followers to following. 1 to 1 or 2 to 1 is a good place to start.

Third, find the right people to follow in your local market

  • Go to every local newspaper, TV, radio station or business website and look for their Twitter feeds. They all list them on their website and most also list their reporters twitter accounts too. Follow everyone they list. If you really want to be picky you can check out their twitter account first and see if they actively follow users back and if they re-tweet their own follower’s information. If they engage their followers these are probably better sources to follow.
  • Use the “Who To Follow” feature on your Twitter.com profile. This feature will give you a list of people similar to the people you are following and with a few clicks of the “follow” button you can add multiple people to your account in a minute of your time. The more you refine your followers this tool become more helpful with finding great people to follow.

See you in the Twitterverse!  You can follow us at @lodestonesocial  or me, Mark Drosos, at @markdrosos on Twitter.

Mark Drosos is President of Lodestone Social Media, the official social media experts for Tudor Collegiate Strategies.  They have helped dozens of programs and athletic departments maximize their footprint in the sometimes confusing world of Facebook, Twitter and the rest of the social media world.  For more information on how they can help you and your program, click here.

6 Ways to Control the Consequences of Your Recruiting EffortsMonday, April 11th, 2011

by Laurel Hayes, Tudor Collegiate Strategies – Senior National Recruiting Coordinator

Many times in our day to day experiences, we can look at what someone else is telling us, than apply it to our day to day experiences. 

Much of the frustration in the recruiting process, centers around getting that “difference maker” recruit to look at you and your program as the answer to both of you have been looking for.  Brian Tracy, one of the best motivators and thinkers from the world of big business, addressed that topic in one of his best selling books.  As I read it again recently, I  couldn’t help think how it could be extremely helpful not only for you as a coach, but to that recruit that you are asking to take part in your program. 

Let’s take what Brian Tracy said in his article “Consider the Consequences”, and apply it to your day to day activities in the recruiting process as you begin to set your goals for this upcoming recruiting class:

Decide What You Want

Step number one:  Decide exactly what it is you want in each part of your life.  Become a “meaningful specific” rather than a “wandering generality.” Ask yourself the question, “Do I really know what my recruit is looking for to be successful in his or her athletic career and education?   Why are they considering my college and program?   

Write It Down

Second, write it down,.  Clearly and in detail.  Always think on paper.  A goal that is not in writing is not a goal at all. It is merely a wish and it has no energy behind it.  Once you neglect to write it down you lose your focus and forget what you are looking for.  Writing it down and having it available lets you know what you are “selling to”.  Yes, you are selling your university.  But it also gives you the focus that you will need with any one particular recruit.  In my career as a sales trainer and manager for one of the largest sales organizations in the U.S., I once had a sales representative who decided to put a post it note on the dashboard of their car with the quota that they had to make for that particular month.  When the month was over and the quota was made and they thought that they had done a great job.  It was so great that they decided that the following month they did not need it on the dashboard of their car.  The result?  A lost their focus and failed miserably the following month.  Don’t let the same thing happen to you as a college coach.

Set A Deadline

Third, set a deadline for your goal. A deadline acts as a “forcing system” in your subconscious mind.  It motivates you to do the things necessary to make your goal come true.  If it is a big enough goal, set sub-deadlines as well.  Don’t leave this to chance. How many times have you been frustrated because you can’t get a decision out of a recruit or for some reason have lost contact altogether with them?  Set a personal deadline date for the end of your recruiting process.  Most people by nature will put things off, if that sense of urgency is not present, we usually pull back.

Make A List

Fourth, make a list of everything that you can think of that you are going to have to do to achieve your goal.  When you think of new tasks and activities, write them on your list until your list is complete. In this case the list could work for you in allowing your recruit to see that your college can take care of both their academic and athletic needs.  It also gives you something to work off of.  You know exactly what each of your recruits are looking for and what you have to do to see that it happens for them.  It could also be a very important key to tell you what the on campus visit should look like for that recruit and their family.

Organize Your List

Fifth, organize your list into a plan.  Decide what you will have to do first and what you will have to do second.  Decide what is more important and what is less important. And then write out your plan on paper, the same way you would develop a blueprint to build your dream house. What are your recruits “have to haves” as apposed to “that it would be nice if” on the list just in case you cannot comply with the entire list.  Some of their expectations might be a deal breaker for you and them.  It is better to know this up front than to find out after you have gone through the long recruiting process to find out they went someplace else.

Take Action

The sixth step is for you to take action on your plan.  Do something.  Do anything.  But get busy. Get going.  There have been many times that I have heard a coach who is frustrated because the recruit does not give them an answer.  Many times, “No” is an answer.  It seems that many of our recruits just fade away and you are left holding the bag wondering what happened or where you went wrong.  You my be asking yourself, “Where did I go wrong?” “What could I have done differently so that this won’t happen again?” or “How can I recruit without enough money for scholarships?”  The important thing to do is take action…that’s the energy behind every positive result in the recruiting process.

Do Something Every Day

Do something every single day that moves you in the direction of your most important goal at the moment.  Develop the discipline of doing something 365 days each year that is moving you forward. You will be absolutely astonished at how much you accomplish when you utilize this formula in your life every single day.  Many of you probably feel that you already are doing something every single day.  Your job as a college coach never stops.  Daily you are juggling multiple balls in the air trying to take care of all of your responsibilities. Working smarter can save you steps along the journey.  Building a good solid foundation with a recruit will help you understand their needs.  Understanding and focusing on those needs lets you know what you should focus on with that recruit. 

Laurel Hayes is a Senior National Recruiting Coordinator at Tudor Collegiate Strategies.  Her career as a sales trainer and communication expert helps coaches plan effective recruiting techniques.  For more information on how we work with college coaches, and how we can help put together an effective plan for you and your program, click here.

Why You Should Recruit Junior College Prospects DifferentlyMonday, April 11th, 2011

Sometimes, the best way to fill an immediate recruiting need is with a junior college prospect.

The thing is, J.C. prospects are a completely different animal than your regular, garden variety high school prospect.  Different needs, different motivations, and different objections.

However, when we work with our clients on putting together a plan to recruit these unique prospects, we find that college coaches tend to want to use the same methodologies and techniques to try and close those junior college prospects and get them to their campus.

So, what are some of the key differences in these two groups?  And, how do you use those differences to your advantage against your competition who is looking to sign the same J.C. recruits?  Here are three big things we think every coach should know:

  1. Unlike their high school counterparts, junior college prospects don’t rely on their parents’ opinion as they make their decision.  After two years playing their sport at a junior college, we find that these prospects are largely independent in their decision making as they are recruited.  In the sample testing we’ve done, 84% of junior college prospects tell us that their parent’s opinion of a particular program that is recruiting them ranks as either not very important or not important at all as they make their final decision.  Why?  They tell us that they feel like they are in charge of their educational and athletic careers now, where as in high school they looked to their parents for advice and direction.  What this means for you is that you won’t need to spend the same amount of time recruiting their parents as we recommend for a high school prospect.
  2. Unlike their high school counterparts, location and division level matters less to junior  college recruits…a LOT less.  Junior College prospects have a much deeper appreciation for the continuation of their athletic career compared to a high school athlete you are recruiting.  Because of that, they are much more open to consider any and all opportunities presented to them: 71% say that they’d be open to any opportunity at any division level, and 81% say that they’d be willing to continue their career outside of their home state.  Those are big differences compared to the typical high school athlete, and what we think it means for coaches is that they can radically expand their recruiting sphere to include areas that they might otherwise ignore due to distance.  With Junior College prospects, they are open to almost any opportunity if they view it as a good fit for their goals.
  3. Unlike their high school counterparts, junior college prospects are going to be really, really hard to get in touch with.  It’s harder for them to receive mail, coupled with the fact that it’s often hard for you to get their mailing address as they attend junior college.  A lot of J.C. prospects are difficult to reach by phone, forcing a college coach to go through their prospect’s junior college coach to pass information back and forth during the recruiting process.  Is all this sounding familiar?  For the vast majority of college coaches, the answer is undoubtedly “yes”.  What should you do?  We find that our clients find the best success when they establish set times to communicate with Junior College prospects, and develop standing appointments to talk - same day of the week, same time, a set day to exchange emails…some kind of regular, set communication.  Even that isn’t a perfect, fool-proof approach; however, it gives you a fighting chance to establish some important back-and-forth communication with those prospects.

Junior college athletes don’t usually make-up a big portion of a coaches’ roster.  However, when there is a need for an immediate impact-athlete for your team, sometimes a Junior College athlete is a perfect fit. 

Just remember that you need to approach them differently than your high school prospects.  They are very, very different.

New recruiting data and research findings are going to be unveiled exclusively at the 2011 National Collegiate Recruiting Conference in Nashville, Tennessee this June 3-5.  Plan on being there to get the latest training from recruiting experts from around the country.  Click here for all the details!  

The Difficult Art of DelegationMonday, April 4th, 2011

by Mandy Green, Head Soccer Coach – University of South Dakota

I am working with some coaches on managing their time better in the office.   When I am on campus working with a coach, it is fun to see their eyes light up as we set recruiting, team, administrative, and personal goals and then come up with a plan on how accomplishing these goals to make it reality.  Never fails, we always hit a snag when I mention the “D” word. 

That word that seems to hang up a lot of coaches is delegation.  It’s hard to hand off the baton to someone else and let them run with it, especially if you are a coach who tends to live by the adage, “If you want something done right, do it yourself!” 

“If it’s to be, it’s up to me.” This seems to be another favorite saying of a lot of the coaches that I am working with. To me, it says a great deal about their willingness to delegate. These coaches work non-stop morning to night, and still do (although they are getting better), because they somehow can’t embrace the notion that it’s possible to get things done any other way.

Beneath the many excuses for not delegating lays the reason why many of us coaches avoid delegating things:  True delegation means giving up a little of what we would like to hold onto (some measure of control) while keeping what we might prefer to give up (accountability).

Delegation is an area of personal and professional management that many coaches struggle with. The difficulty stems from our need to control outcomes and a strongly rooted belief that we know how to do things best.

It’s often a scary prospect even to think about letting someone else take over a task or duty we’ve been doing for a while:

  • What if they don’t do it correctly?
  • What if the outcome is not up to my standards?
  • What if they don’t do it the way I’ve been doing it?
  • What if I become less essential to my program?
  • What if (gasp) they do it better than me?

Think about it coach:

By nature, we love to keep control. We also fear the repercussions when our support staff fails to complete something correctly or in a timely manner. The failure might reflect badly on us so we take the path of least resistance. Rather than working on improving our delegation skills to the other coaches we work with, sometimes we simply keep hold of more tasks. That way we can make sure things are done completely the way we want them done. Being overworked somehow seems less risky than having things done that might not meet our exact requirements.

Delegation means taking true responsibility and inevitably means giving up some control. If that sounds a bit scary, how can you overcome your mindset and become a better delegator? Here are some tips:

Realize that you just can’t do it all. Everyone has limits. If you fail to acknowledge yours, you will burn out. Maybe not tomorrow and maybe not even next year, but the stress and pressure of trying to do it all will get you eventually.

Start small. Delegation is a skill and learning it needs patience, persistence, and practice. Start by giving away small, uncomplicated tasks. As your confidence grows so will your willingness to delegate more.

Realize that “Your Way” is not always the “Only Way.” A big part of letting go is the fear that the task will not be done “right.” Consider that there are other ways to achieve the same result.

Work on giving others the tools to do what you do. Delegation will only work if you help your support staff succeed. So make sure he or she has the right resources and then keep communicating, participating and supporting your staff. Remember, delegation means NOT abdicating your responsibility, so you need to make sure you have done everything you can to influence a successful outcome.

Appreciate others’ accomplishments. You might be bored with organizing on-campus visits, but if one of your coaches has never done it, the challenge can be exciting, invigorating, and motivating. The successful outcome is not just a well-organized visit. It’s the opportunity for someone else to shine and get recognized for their achievements.

Seize the opportunity to work on more stimulating projects. The less time you spend on lower level tasks, the more time you have to concentrate on your main objectives. (You know the ones, the really important issues that keep getting shoved to the bottom of the pile because you’re so overloaded…)

Use the leverage. Delegation can put the right people on the right tasks. And the better allocated your coaches and staff are, the greater the productivity, effectiveness and the opportunity for organizational growth.

Delegation, when done well, benefits everyone. You have more time to concentrate on the main responsibilities of your position. Your support staff will have more opportunities to expand and enrich their jobs. An added bonus is the fact that because delegation relieves your own time pressures, the job gets done better in the long run.

So, cast off your preconceptions about delegation! You were doing a good job before: You can do even better when you delegate more. With a fresh perspective and little courage to “let go”, you’ll be amazed by what you can achieve!

In addition to her head coaching duties as a Division I soccer coach, Mandy Green is a regular contributer to the weekly newsletter.  She is also a featured speaker at the 2011 National Collegiate Recruiting Conference this June.  She will be speaking on organization and effective planning, and sharing how she has recruited her best class ever using sound organizational and recruiting strategies.  Click here to find out more information on this year’s NCRC!

Why Showing Your Cracks is a Great Recruiting StrategyMonday, April 4th, 2011

Several years ago, my wife and I excitedly watched the cement being poured for the foundation of our new home.  You don’t really realize just how much cement it takes to pour a foundation, not to mention a patio and a driveway, until you watch them do it over a full day.

After that task was completed, we came back the following morning after the cement had hardened to check on the finished work. 

And that’s when we noticed something that peaked our curiosity:

The same men that had been carefully pouring and smoothing the cement for our new home were now etching deep lines at various points in the foundation, and even cracking it in certain places!

“What are they doing!?!?” I thought to myself.  I wanted our foundation to be perfect.  I was looking for smooth and beautiful, not cracked and etched.  The control freak in me couldn’t resist pointing out this apparant problem to one of the men overseeing the operation.  The answer he gave me was enlightening.

“We do that because we want to be the ones to determine where the cracks are in the foundation”, he explained.  “It’s going to crack over time anyway.  But if we establish the main crack lines now, and etching those deep lines in the driveway as we’re laying the concrete, we can make sure that no cracks show up later in places we don’t want them.”

All of a sudden, the cracks weren’t a bad thing.  I understood their purpose, and the benefit to the overall structure.

And that’s where the lesson for you, as acollege coach and recruiter, comes in…

You need to show the cracks in your program early on for your prospects.

To achieve that, you have to understand what many coaches want to do first.  I have found, as we go to campuses to work personally with coaches and athletic departments, that many recruiters want to paint to “smooth” of a picture to their prospects.

“If you come to my program, we’re going to build everything around you.  You’re going to be the star for the next four years.”

“Here at our school, they you’ll get all the extra academic help that you need.  We make sure that you won’t struggle with academics at all.”

“The weather here is amazing all year long.  Yes, it gets a little cold during the winter, but our kids love it.”

You get the point, right?  Do some of these sound familiar, Coach?  If you worry too much about presenting the “perfect” college situation for your prospect in everything you show them and tell them, you probably run the risk of making the prospect question whether they are getting the real story from you.  Kids today are smart, and they know that nothing is perfect at any college they visit.

So, its best to show them your cracks before they show up in unexpected places, at unexpected times.  In other words, it’s going to benefit you if you control where the cracks show up.

As we outline in great detail in our two recruiting workbooks for college coaches, most prospects are actively searching for the seedy underbelly of your college and program:  They’re looking for what’s wrong with your program, why they wouldn’t like the other players, and other reasons to cross you off the list.  Choosing a college program is a process of elimination for most prospects. 

The point I’m trying to make?  They’re looking for your cracks.

Here are two big benefits to exposing and strategically defining the cracks in your program, and one idea on how to do it:

  •  Benefit #1: You become believable.  Presenting a picture of perfection to your recruit runs the risk of leaving them wondering what they’re missing.  Whether large or small, there are always problems or imperfections at a college or in a coach’s program.  By taking the initiative and exposing your own faults, you becoming more trustworthy: After all, if you’re open and honest in what’s wrong with your program or college, why shouldn’t the prospect assume that you’re telling the truth with regards to what you’re presenting as the selling points of your program?  Of course.  And that’s why its smart to reveal your own cracks before your competitors do it for you.
  • Benefit #2:  You can turn your negatives into positives.  Presented correctly, your negatives can actually become selling points for you.  For example, you could present a negative about your campus’ remote location by saying, “We’re glad we aren’t located in the middle of a big city because it really helps build a community feeling on campus, and our players develop some great long term friendships because of it.”  When you define that negative yourself, you can build in the corresponding benefits of it as well (something, it’s safe to say, your competition probably won’t do for you!)
  • How to do it:  What we do when we sit down with a new Total Recruiting Solution college client is the same thing you should do, which is make a list of the objections that you will most likely hear from one of your prospects.  Then, list the biggest ways the disadvantages of that objection would help highlight the benefits of the objection…or, the “upside” of the negative.  Using the example of the college with the remote, rural location, there are definite benefits to being an isolated campus.  Are there negatives?  Sure, potentially…especially if you have a prospect who loves city life and a more metropolitan setting.  However, they could probably be persuaded to see the upside to a more close-knit, isolated college community if that ”crack” was presented in a positive way.

Coaches who highlight and reveal their negatives don’t risk losing the interest of a prospect.  On the contrary, those that do it creatively and sincerely will stand-out among those colleges that are recruiting them.

So get busy this week, coach, and start figuring out where you can start “cracking”!

Just 60 short days until coaches from around the country will come to Nashville, Tennessee for the 2011 National Collegiate Recruiting Conference on June 3rd through 5th.  Want to come learn some of the best recruiting strategies and techniques for this upcoming recruiting class?  There’s still time to register…click here for all the information.