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How Facebook’s Timeline Can Impact YOUR RecruitingMonday, January 30th, 2012

by Sean Devlin, Front Rush

Recently, Facebook went live with their new Facebook Timeline.

This is a total redesign of your own personal page (the page that people see when they click your name). Timeline essentially gives you more control over what people see, and how they see it.

We want to go into a bit of detail so that you are aware of what your recruits will see, especially because Timeline has gone from an opt-in to a complete roll-out, which means it affects all users.

From a distance, Timeline is just a running history of your photos, posts, events, apps, songs, and anything else typically associated with Facebook. However, due to its granularity, the first thing you should do is go through and remove anything and everything that does not put you and your program in a good light. This is a common sense best practice but because Timeline goes back to the beginning of your Facebook existence, its worth making sure nothing exists that would make your face red.

Secondly, you should go through and highlight anything that does make you look good and makes your Timeline more compelling. For example, a great photo of the University or team is worth “starring” which will make it appear widescreen and larger. People love photos and starring good ones will enhance your Timeline visually and make it more engaging.

Another item you may want to star would be great events in your history. Teams hang banners when championships are won so use this opportunity to make your own “banners” standout while people scroll through your page. One other thing to take note is that Timeline is going to group things together. An example would be if you have “liked” a lot of things in a particular time frame…Facebook will keep those items in a close proximity.

Now that you have most of the content set-up, the next thing to do is choose a Timeline picture. To clarify, you have your profile pic, but Timeline starts off with a “header” picture that you can choose as well. This choice is really important because its the first thing a visitor sees when they come to your page. Its a good idea to play around with different images and test through your friends to see which one they like most. This image is a good opportunity to show off your personality or the character of your University or team.

Lastly, go through your Timeline from start to finish and get into the habit of checking it with some consistency. Remember, more third party apps will have access to it so you should just always be aware of whats being posted on your site.

Timeline is an opportunity for you to showcase your website to an entirely new audience, Coach.  Take advantage of it!

Sean Devlin is the technical brains behind the best selling web management tool for college coaches, and a trusted advisor for recruiters looking to use technology to become more effective recruiters.  We highly recommend Front Rush for any coaching staff who is looking for an organizational web tool to track their prospects and creatively brand their programs.

New NCAA Rules Mean New Potential Pitfalls for College RecruitersMonday, January 23rd, 2012

The dust has settled, and the new NCAA rules for 2012 are in place.

And with new rules come new opportunities:  In Division II, coaches now have more time to contact recruits and a variety of new ways to reach them – text messaging, social networks and even message boards.  In Division III, text messaging is now allowed (however, contact via social media websites like Facebook and Twitter is still prohibited).

But with new opportunities come new challenges for savvy recruiters.  In reading over the new rules, there are a few pitfalls I can see an unprepared college coach stumbling into as they begin to recruit new prospects using these new rules.  (And by the way, even though these new rules mainly affect Division II and Division III college coaches, Division I and NAIA coaches can learn from the potential mistakes we’ve outlined and apply them to their own recruiting strategies):

Division II coaches can now visit a prospect in person on an unlimited basis beginning June 15th prior to the prospect’s Junior year in high school. Here’s the problem:  Our research is showing that coaches who stage multiple visits without sharing new information or giving the prospect a sense that the recruiting process is moving forward risk alienating the prospect.  Current college athletes we interview as a part of our On-Campus Workshops tell us that they grow impatiently very quickly when coaches contact them, but don’t have anything new to say or don’t outline where the process stands.  I see this as a potential risk for coaches who begin regular visits to view a recruit:  The recruit sees a coach, talks to a coach, and nothing new is verbalized by the coach.  If you plan on increasing the frequency of your visits, make sure you are consistently outlining new information and new steps in the process to your prospect and their parents.

Division II coaches now have more time to personally recruit athletes, beginning June 15th prior to an athlete’s Junior year. The same potential pitfall exists here as it did in the previous item.  More face to face time, but not enough new information to keep the prospect engaged and feeling like the process is moving forward.  Additionally, if you are starting the recruiting process before your prospect begins their Junior year as the new rules allows, focus your questions on what they want out of the process and what they want to talk about…not what they want in a college or a coach.  That’s too big of a concept to grasp for most of them, so don’t introduce a conversation about the topic (yet).

Division II coaches can use text messaging and message boards, as well as private messaging through Facebook. This holds one of the biggest potential pitfalls for coaches.  We see college coaches wasting the opportunity to form a deeper relationship with their recruits by simply posting athletic department sports information releases and other bland communication via Facebook.  Don’t do that, Coach.  Facebook – and text messaging – is an extremely personal way of communicating for today’s teenagers.  If you supply them with a steady stream of adult news about your program, don’t be surprised when they tune you out.  Keep it real, honest and personal.  Use YouTube videos made by your team versus professionally edited videos from your sports information office, and write in a personal blog style instead of using “news reporting” language in your messaging.

Division II and Division III coaches have an expanded use of text messaging. What not to do?  Trying to “sell” your school and your program through text messaging.  There is no faster way to be rejected by your prospect than sending anything resembling a sales message via text message to a recruit.  We know this because of the testing and research we’ve done with our list of college coach clients we help as we formulate their recruiting strategy and actual messaging communication, and I can tell you as bluntly as possible that a coach who uses text messaging to overtly sell their program will ruin their chances of connecting with that athlete in a trusted way as the process moves forward.  Save text messaging for discussing the recruiting process, building a friendly relationship, and talking about specific points in the recruiting process as follow-up to other conversations via phone, mail and email.  Remember, texting is very personal and very informal.  Keep it that way and use it to build a relationship with the athlete…not to sell.

The new rules reflect the way we see communication with recruits heading, and I think they will provide coaches with some important new avenues for making strong connections with recruits.  However, there are also some real dangers in not approaching these new liberties correctly.  Make sure you’re one of the coaches that uses the new rules correctly right from the beginning.

We strongly recommend you make plans on attending this Summer’s National Collegiate Recruiting Conference.  It’s designed specifically for motivated college recruiters who want to be the best that they can be in the battle for their top prospects.  Click here for all the information and to reserve your seat at this year’s event!

Revised Rules Approved by NCAAMonday, January 23rd, 2012

The following article is courtesy of Allie Grasgreen, who writes for the excellent website InsideHigherEd.com.  It is an excellent overview of the changes approved by the NCAA in January 2012:

 

After weeks of buildup, the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s  Division I Board of Directors finally revisited its rule that — before it was  suspended because so many institutions opposed it — gave colleges permission to  award athletes on full scholarships up to $2,000 more in aid. The board of  Division I presidents didn’t give up on the legislation, but consented to modify  it, putting an altered version of the rule on the agenda for April’s board  meeting.

Also here on Saturday, the last day of the NCAA’s annual convention, the  board stood firm on the other especially controversial proposal that emerged  from an August retreat of university leaders called by the  association’s president, Mark Emmert, in response to criticisms of declining  integrity, academic standards and financial sustainability.

That proposal, approved by the board at its October meeting, permitted colleges to award  multiyear scholarships. The number of colleges opposing the multiyear rule (more  than 75) wasn’t high enough to trigger an automatic suspension (as was the case  with the $2,000 aid rule, which more than 125 institutions spoke out against).  But because the board opted Saturday not to modify the rule to appease the  colleges, it will go to a February vote of all 355 Division I members, where it  will be killed if at least five-eighths of colleges line up against it.

Also at Saturday’s meeting, the board voted down two proposals brought  forward by its Resource Allocation Working Group; one would have cut costs by  eliminating off-season travel to foreign competitions, and another aimed to  shrink the number of scholarships from 85 to 80 in top football programs and  from 15 to 13 in women’s basketball. The board did approve a decade-long  moratorium on increasing the number of games and length of seasons in all  sports.

In a news conference following Saturday’s board meeting, Emmert said it  “would be inaccurate to describe this as a setback” for the $2,000 scholarship  bump, as it’s really “an attempt to get it right.” If the board approves the  modified proposal in April, the rule will face another 60-day comment period  during which colleges could again shoot it down if they’re not satisfied.  (Athletes who signed while the rule was enacted will still be eligible for the  extra aid, the NCAA said.)

The “miscellaneous expenses” rule was intended to help cover the gap between  what an athletic scholarship provides and the full cost of attending college,  which averages a few thousand dollars but can reach $11,000, depending on the institution. But  colleges worried that the rule could violate gender equity laws under Title IX  of the Education Amendments of 1972, and that it could allow the wealthiest  programs — if they chose to meet the full cost of attendance, and others did  not — to stockpile athletes.

“We heard the voices, the concerns expressed,” Sidney McPhee, president of  Middle Tennessee State University, said in a Friday session here in which  presidents and NCAA administrators updated convention attendees on initiatives  from the August retreat.

However, McPhee, who chairs the Student-Athlete Well-Being working group that  developed the legislation and who read every college’s formal comments against  it, warned that the working group that submitted the proposal couldn’t please  everyone: “There were people who were just fundamentally opposed to providing  any additional aid,” mainly because of budget issues, he said. “We certainly  respect that view, but we do feel that it’s time that we take a serious look at  this adjustment.”

But even some who would have benefited from the rule were wary of it. The  cost-of-attendance rule could be helpful in offsetting educational expenses, but  questions remain about whether it would allocate the “proper funds” to the  athletes who need and deserve them, said Eugene Daniels, a Colorado State  University football player who represents the Mountain West Conference on the  Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. Daniels added that while the  multiyear scholarship would be advantageous for athletes in terms of the  security it would provide, it’s possible that some athletes, having been awarded  long-term aid, could become “complacent.”

Some athletics directors at that session, including Sandy Barbour of the  University of California at Berkeley, and Mike Alden of the University of  Missouri at Columbia, said they support the multiyear scholarship rule but,  because of financial and logistical concerns, would like more time before the  NCAA enacts the rule. Alden, who also chairs the division’s Leadership Council,  suggested a start date of July or August 2013. Under the current legislation,  athletes in the upcoming February and April signing periods would be eligible  for multiyear grants.

When discussion turned to the prospect of banning foreign exhibition tours,  some administrators spoke in favor of a rule that would have encouraged athletes  to study abroad in an academic setting, rather than one focused on competition.  But others, including an athlete who served on the working group that proposed  the rule, said that just wasn’t practical; many athletes don’t even have the  time to hold a job, much less to travel overseas.

Measures to reduce costs drew significant ire from some administrators,  including Harvey Perlman, chancellor of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.  “I do believe honestly that the task is not difficult — it is impossible. And  that what you see with these proposals is an effort to try and restrain spending  at the expense of student-athletes with no understanding of what the outcome  will be,” Perlman said. Regarding the proposal that would have eliminated some  scholarships to save money, he said, “I don’t know of an athletic department  that won’t spend every penny it has.”

“I just think this is bad publicity and it’s bad policy,” Perlman continued.  “This is a part of the old culture of the NCAA, of trying to regulate the  details of trying to get competitive equity when you can’t do it.” (Restrict the  number of scholarships a high-profile program can award, Perlman said, and  they’ll just spend the money on “temples” or “iPods in showers.”)

The board also tabled a recommendation to cut costs by limiting the number of  non-coaching employees such as videographers, administrative personnel and  strength and conditioning trainers, asking the Resource Allocation group to  bring back a new version in April. This version would have permitted only 12  such staff in football and six in men’s basketball; some officials seemed  confused or concerned Friday when they heard about the proposal’s details. At  Saturday’s press conference, Emmert said that the presidents have a strong  desire to address the issue, but that “the devil’s in the details.”

On Friday, Michael F. Adams, president of the University of Georgia and chair  of the Resource Allocation Working Group, acknowledged tensions over the  proposals he helped bring forward. “Of all the things I’ve done in the NCAA in  the last 30 years, this has been the least popular,” he said, noting surveys  that show men’s and women’s basketball on average use only 11 or 12  scholarships. “I do agree that these are difficult issues, but it was not based  on something pulled out of the air.”

And lastly, on Saturday, the board approved a one-year moratorium on new  legislation, excluding emergency legislation and anything from the presidential  reform agenda. The day before, Emmert’s contract was extended an additional two  years, pushing its end date to October 2017.

Division II

With little debate, Division II institutions approved legislation last week  that will ease recruiting restrictions on multiple fronts. To make better use of  new technology and to put athletes on a more level playing field with  non-athletic recruits, colleges supported a number of changes.

First, programs will be allowed to visit athletic prospects on an unlimited  basis beginning June 15 before the student’s junior year in high school. That  rule lifted a previous thrice-per-year limit to in-person, off-campus contact,  and gave coaches an extra year in which to do it.

Athletics programs will also have more time to contact recruits via e-mail  and fax, with the passage of legislation that moved the permissible start date  for such correspondence from Sept. 1 before an athlete’s junior year to June 15  of the same year. It also lifts the one-call-per-week limit on programs, and  allows unlimited phone calls beginning June 15 before the junior year, a year  earlier than the previous start date. Finally, the rule upholds the use of  instant messages, text messages and message boards, but now permits all three  beginning June 15 before the recruit’s junior year, rather than the calendar day  after the athlete makes a written commitment or financial deposit.

The proposals made sense not just to the coaches who wanted to reach students  more effectively, but also to presidents and athletics officials and to athletes  who are in college now, said Rick Cole Jr., athletics director at Dowling  College, in New York, and chair of the Division II Management Council. It’s  about “what makes sense for today and tomorrow,” Cole said in an interview the  day before the voting at Saturday’s business session. “If you’re not  communicating effectively, I think you limit your success potential.”

And that includes social media — as long as the correspondence is private.  So, for example, a coach could send a recruit a message on Facebook, but  couldn’t write on said recruit’s “wall.”

Division II also adopted legislation that: requires new conferences to  contain at least 10 active member institutions, effective Aug. 1, 2013; requires  conferences to have at least eight members effective Aug. 1, 2017, then at least  10 institutions effective Aug. 1, 2022; allows the Management Council to limit  the number of applicant conferences that could be invited to active membership;  and increases from two years to five the waiting period for a new conference to  be eligible for automatic qualification.

Division III

Coaches in Division III can now use text messaging to communicate with  recruits, with 418 of 467 institutions voting in favor of a rule designed to  ease communication with students who increasingly prefer texting to e-mail or  phone calls. Colleges will now be allowed to send unlimited texts, under the  same rules that regulate other forms of electronic recruitment media. (Unlike  Division II, Division III did not include social media, out of privacy  concerns.)

Legislation that would have limited strength and conditioning workouts during  the off-season and on in-season off-days was withdrawn over concerns about  ability to monitor off-season activities. The New England Collegiate Conference  and the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference, which sponsored the  proposal, had said earlier last week that they wanted to revise the legislation  to focus more on the in-season component.

Yet another withdrawal, this one of legislation that was opposed by most  governance groups because it would have applied only to a few athletes, was  probably disappointing to the sponsors of a proposal that they said would allow  injured students to better focus on their health. The rule would have charged an  athlete with a full season of eligibility for practicing with the team after  sustaining a season-ending injury.

 

Achieving Your Coaching and Recruiting Goals in the New YearMonday, January 23rd, 2012

by Mandy Green, University of South Dakota

The idea is a good one:

Set personal goals for the New Year, and then carry them out.  That’s a great idea for coaches, as well.

The problem I find is that coaches are so busy, going in so many directions, and pressed by “more important” matters that they don’t get around to serious goal setting.  But it’s important, and it can result in better performance for you as a college coach and recruiter.

Go back and take a look at the New Year’s Resolutions that you set just a few weeks ago for 2012.  Are you still working on them?  Or have you already gone back to your old ways of doing things and decided that you will try again next year?

Hopefully you are still working on accomplishing your goals for this year.  If not, I hate to say it but you are not the only coach out there who failed to keepyour resolutions.

A big reason so many New Year’s Resolutions fail within the first week is that the focus is on the “what” instead of the “why” and the “how.”

The first question to ask yourself when making New Year’s Resolutions is “why” am I making these goals in the first place?  The second question to ask yourself is “how” am I going to make this resolution a reality?

For example, if your resolution is to “mange my time better in the office so I can spend more time with my family,” maybe you should look to the root cause of the problem:

• I get into the office late
• I spend too much time emailing
• I get distracted easily
• I spend too much time gossiping with fellow coaches
• I’m not organized
• I have too many things to get done
• I get interrupted a lot during the day

Once you have identified the “why” for each resolution, create specific personal resolves for behavior change from there.
Here are a few specific resolves:

• I will get into the office 1 hour before the rest of the staff arrives
• I will only check my email twice a day
• I will create a personal, team, and recruiting plan
• I will make to-do lists to make sure the important things are getting done

Here’s a helpful exercise if you’re serious about achieving your goals for 2012:

1. For each goal you created for this upcoming season or year, make a list of the “why’s.”  What is the real reason you want to achieve this goal?

2. Come up with specific behavioral changes you are willing to make in order to make each resolution a reality.

3.  Commit an hour a day to spend on working on your goal and get to work.

When it comes to the goals you are trying to accomplish this year, I recommend keeping it simple.  Make sure your goals are attainable.  And, most of all, write them down.  Goals that are written down and placed where you can see them on a regular basis will get achieved.

Goal setting is the easy part. Committing to spending time each day working on your goals is tough for coaches because there are so many things to get done.

Goals are important for your personal and professional development.  Take them seriously as we head into the new year.

Mandy Green is the author of a soon to be released organizational book and calendar specifically designed for college recruiters.  She will also be speaking at the National Collegiate Recruiting Conference this Summer.  Click here for more information on being a part of this informative weekend of cutting-edge recruiting techniques!

Creative Topics to Get Your Prospects TalkingMonday, January 16th, 2012

So there I was, facing an audience of college students on the campus of one of our clients.  I was part of a panel that had been invited to talk about careers in the sports world, and it was a great opportunity to be reminded about how to talk to this generation of student-athlete.

After the panel gave their individual speeches, we broke-up into different parts of the hall we were gathered in so these college-age kids could come and ask individual questions.

What followed was a lesson in talking to individuals who haven’t grown-up withly some of the same communication skills that you and I did.  And finding that “sweet spot” in connecting with a prospect you’re recruiting could make all the difference in whether or not they serious consider you and your program.

Here are my six observations from my interactions, and lessons for you as a college recruiter needing to “connect” with these kids in order to put together your next great recruiting class:

  • They don’t want to start the conversation. Several of the students hovered around me like shy puppy dogs, to the point where I actually had to make eye contact and ask them a question to get the conversation started.  As a recruiter, you should expect to have to do the same thing.  One of the key pieces of data that we’ve uncovered from the athlete research focus groups as a part of our On-Campus Workshops is that most of today’s teenage recruits don’t know what they are supposed to ask you, or how they are supposed to ask it.  The result?  Without your help, they may never take the lead and talk to you about you and your program.
  • Ask them about themselves. What I find works the best is when you ask a very specific question about one segment of their lives.  Your initial questions can’t be too broad…they need to be easy enough for them to answer to get them comfortable talking to you.  And, we find the best kind of questions initially should not be about declaring who their top school is, or anything that pressures them to give you early information about what they’re thinking.  Instead, ask questions about their approach to the process, what kind of place they’d see as the perfect fit, and other questions that focus on them.
  • Try to make them laugh (or at least smile). If you can use humor to break the ice, great…do it.  But even if you don’t feel like you’re a natural born comedian, at least smile.  Smile big, and right at them.  If you can get them to smile back, you’re on your way to connecting with them.
  • Get their opinion about specific issues. In a recruiting situation, if you ask them, “So, what did you think of our campus when you visited?” you’re going to get a wishy-washy, vague answer.  For most kids of this generation, that is too big of a question…one that they may not have had time to form an opinion about.  However, if you ask them, “So, when you were inside the dorm room, did it seem like a place where you could see yourself enjoying?”  That’s a much better question because it gives your prospect a chance to zero in on a specific opinion.  In my conversations with the students I had just talked to, I quickly found that the smaller, more “specific” questions, got the best and most detailed responses.
  • Don’t linger when it seem like the conversation should end. There were several times when I had more advice to give them, but could tell from their body language that it was time to end the conversation.  So I did.  For the kids in this generation, when they are done talking they are not shy about wanting to call it quits.  You know how you sometimes drag out a recruiting phone call to half and hour or more, and you are doing all the talking?  My advice is to stop.  You’ve lost your prospect’s interest in that call, and it’s time to stop talking.
  • Follow-up quickly. After the event, I went back to my hotel room and emailed those attendees that gave me their email address.  I told them that I enjoyed their conversations, appreciated their interest in what they had to say, and told them to get back to me with any questions they had.  Lo and behold, they found their voices!  I was bombarded with contact from them, which was a good reminder about another aspect of this generation that you should keep in mind: They want to know that you are interested in hearing from them.  The best way to do that is to immediately reach out after you talk to them, and open the door for more communication.

On the surface, these are all pretty simple lessons.  However, what I find is that coaches develop a communication system with their prospects that is far more complicated than it needs to be.

When you reach the point of one-on-one communications, keep these simple rules handy.  They work, and will let you enjoy much more productive conversations with your prospects.

Communicating with this generation of prospects is the theme for this year’s National Collegiate Recruiting Conference, a one-of-a-kind gathering of coaches and athletic directors with one goal: Make every attendee a DOMINANT recruiter!  Want to be a part of it?  Find out all the details – and inside information on a great early registration discount – by clicking here.

Five Phone Call Strategies Working for Smart College RecruitersMonday, January 9th, 2012

In this age of prospects friending you on Facebook, or following you on Twitter, it’s good to know that most of what you’re going to be doing to solidify the relationships you’ve nurtured up to this point will be done over the phone.

The interesting irony of that fact, of course, is that it’s also one of the most difficult parts of the recruiting process for many college recruiters.

It’s a timely topic as we start the new year:  We’re at that point of year when coaches all over the country are starting to hear about decisions from their prospects (or wishing they were hearing from them, in many cases!).  For the majority of coaches reading this today, the jury is still out in terms of what next year’s recruiting class looks like.

So, what’s a nervous coach to do?  I know what you want to do.  You want to pick up the phone and make another follow-up call to that prospect who’s taking just a little too long to call you back with a decision.

Since many coaches seem to be facing the challenge of making effective follow-up phone calls, I wanted to give you several tips for making great follow-up calls to your recruits.  See how many of these proven strategies you are already doing as a part of your regular recruiting communication plan, and what  you may want to consider adding to make it more effective.

Get a Commitment from Your Prospect for the Follow-up
Perhaps the single biggest mistake I watch coaches make is not establishing a specific date and time for the follow-up call at the end of their previous visit. Vague commitments from prospects (“call me sometime next week if you want”) or recruiters (“I’ll send the paperwork you need and follow-up in a couple of days or so”) result in missed calls, voice mail messages and ultimately a longer recruiting cycle. All you need to do is ask for an exact follow-up date and time. Try something like this, Coach:

“John, I’m going to be sending you and your parents that overview of our program that we’ve been talking about.  You’ll have it by the end of the week, so how about I call back next Wednesday night around 7:30. How does that sound?”  Trust me on this one…ask “how does that sound?” instead of something like “what do you think?”

Back to your call…if this is not a good time, recommend another time. If that doesn’t work, get them to establish a set future time and date. Creating a deadline is a simple but extremely powerful tactic that gets a prospect’s attention. Use it.

Build “Call Equity” and Be Remembered
After every first call to a prospect, send a thank-you card. Handwrite a message that simply says, “John, thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. I look forward to catching-up with you further on the 16th! Keep up the good work.” No more, no less.

In today’s fast paced world, a short, handwritten card tells your prospect (and his or her parents) that you took the time and the effort to do something a little differently than most other coaches. We’ve seen this register in your recruit’s mind and creates a degree of “equity” in you. When we suggest this as a strategy for our coaches who are clients, we notice that it differentiates them immediately and is remembered for a long time afterwards. And, it gives your teenage prospect a reason to be there when you make your follow-up call.  If you want the details behind this line of thinking, you should read “Inside the Mind of Your High School Prospect”, our special report that goes inside the mind of your college prospect…it’s fascinating, and will tell you all about what your prospects think about handwritten notes and letters.

If you don’t think a card will get there in time, send an email with the same note. Just be aware that an email does not have nearly the same impact as a handwritten note.

Email a Reminder and an Agenda
The day before your follow-up phone call, email your prospect to remind him or her of your appointment and something else that you can attach that might interest them like an article about your or your program. In the subject line, enter the words: “You and I talking on March 19th – and something extra for you.” Note that the subject line acts as a reminder but it is vague enough that the prospect will probably open it. There is a hint that maybe the date and time has changed since you last talked.

Your email should confirm the date and time of the appointment and then briefly list your agenda:

“John, the call should only take about 10 or 15 minutes. We’ll review what we talked about last time and I’ll answer any questions. And then we’ll determine what you see as the next steps, if any.”

Notice how the words echo those used when the follow-up was initially set. In particular, notice the trigger phrase “. . .the next steps, if any.” The “if any” helps reduce some of the stress or concern your prospects or their parents might have. Often they skip the follow-up call because they are worried that they’ll be pressured to make a commitment. This is natural. If prospects sense an easy, informal, “no pressure” type of phone call, they are more likely to show up and be on time for that call.

Add Value in a P.S.
Notice the reference to an article in your email’s subject line. At the end of your email, add a P.S. that says, “John, before our call, I wanted to show this to you…check it out.”

As I referenced earlier, the article may be about your your team, a big win, an interesting story about a recruiting issue of interest, or something completely non-sports related that might show a little bit of your fun side. This creates tremendous value even if your recruit does not open it. Why? Because you took the time to do something extra. This helps you be remembered and gives the prospect yet another reason to take your follow-up call.

Of course, this means you have to do some homework, Coach. Keep an eye out on the web for articles of interest and value relative to your sport or the topic of recruiting. You might even keep a file of these articles because they can be used over and over again with future recruits.

(By the way, if you want some extra research on why a P.S. works so well, click here)

Call On Time!
Don’t start your relationship on the wrong foot. Call on time. Never, ever be late with your follow-up call. Not even by a minute. The promptness and respect you show on a follow-up call reflects on you, your program and your college.

By the way, you know who notices late calls the most?  The parents.  And you don’t want to get your relationship with them off on the wrong foot, do you?

Here’s the bottom line, Coach: New information gets attention and keeps your prospects engaged.  Old information, or no information at all, results in a non-productive phone call every single time.

Got prospects to follow-up with now that we’ve started the new year?  Try some new tactics and use some of these tips to get a better response.

If you need more tips on how to successfully recruit this generation of recruits, you really need to attend our upcoming National Collegiate Recruiting Conference.  It’s a three day, one-of-a-kind recruiting weekend dedicated to making you the dominant recruiter in your conference .  Click here to learn more.

Top 5 Things To Do Now That It’s 2012Monday, January 2nd, 2012

by Sean Devlin, Front Rush

Looking for a technology wish list for the new year?

In case you are, we’ve put together a list of things to do (budget permitting of course) that we recommend now that is 2012.

Dump Internet Explorer
Its time to get rid of the blue ‘e’ that you click when you access the internet. This ‘e’ is Internet Explorer, Microsoft’s browser and we recommend that you move on to a more formidable, speedier way of browsing the web. IE has dramatically fallen behind its competition and its only still used because it is the default browser on most computers as well as the incumbent from years past. Instead, the alternatives are Google Chrome (http://google.com/chrome) and firefox (http://firefox.com)

Trade in your Blackberry for an iPhone or Android
This past year was a bad year for the Blackberry devices. RIM (the company itself) has laid of thousands of people, its market share has taken a huge hit, its revenue and profit are struggling, its tablet was a bust and they are delaying the release of their next generation devices until the end of 2012. There are rumors circulating that they will be bought out and overall the shareholders are really unhappy. This trend is going to continue deep into 2012 and devices like the iPhone and Android (and even the Windows Phones) are going to widen the gap. Blackberry had its time but now it is a casualty of innovation and developers are not interested in building apps for it as its users are leaving them in large numbers for its iPhone and Android counterparts.

Buy a Tablet
Tablets were enormous in 2011, and they will continue to be so in 2012. The ability to have access to your data directly on the field/court and not have to lug your laptop around with you is a big development for you as a coach. Applications/Recruiting Apps are going to improve and more will be built in the next twelve months. There will be a focus on these devices from all developers. Right now, we recommend getting an iPad however the Kindle Fire is selling like Crazy and 2012 hopefully will be the year that a few solid Android tables are built. Regardless, a new version of the iPad is expected and that alone will stir things up. Tablet usage is definitely going north, and you need to keep up with this growing trend.

Join Facebook
Most coaches (and most people in this world) are on Facebook but because of NCAA rules in Div III, some are coaches hesitant. Its very possible that the rules toward social networks are going to change this year and even if for some wild reason they don’t, its important to be a part of Facebook even if you can’t use it to communicate with recruits. Why? Well recruits are there now, and they are going to be there for awhile and to understand their conversation, you need to be in the mix. So even if rules don’t permit you to contact recruits via Facebook, then create an account and just bop around. Understanding the language of Facebook is a stepping stone toward understanding the language or your ideal recruiting demographic.

Get a Second Monitor
Are you using a laptop at the office? Then buy a second monitor. You can get one for around a 100 bucks and attach it to your laptop in under 30 seconds. Having 2 screens is technologically life changing. Whenever we add a second monitor for a new employee here, they are overwhelmed with the productivity increases simply because of more screen real estate. Its a cheap investment for a huge performance upside.

Front Rush are the people that thousands of coaches look to for cutting-edge recruiting contact management.  Have questions about what they can do for you?  Or, do you have a technology related question you want to ask?  Email Sean Devlin at sdevlin@frontrush.com anytime…they’re here to help!

 

 

Learning to Take Charge of Your DecisionsMonday, January 2nd, 2012

by Mandy Green, University of South Dakota

“I just don’t have time to do it all.”

I hear that a lot from the coaches I work with.  It also seems to have become the mantra of this generation of coaches.  Most feel overwhelmed.  There’s just so much to do!  Over and over again comes the same frustrated question: “How do I fit it all in?”

For all college coaches, fitting it all in is a function of priority management.  If you think about it, priority management is less about managing your calendar than it is about managing your decisions.  By learning to prioritize and manage your decisions well, you will have a leg up on most of your competitors because you’ll be putting onto your calendar what is truly most important to you.

Unfortunately, while most coaches have thoughts, hunches, and ideas about what is important, they rarely transfer those ideas to their calendars.  And that is why it so quickly fills up with reactive stuff:

“Oh, I need to have that meeting with the captains?”
“Oh, there’s this crisis with the team?”
“Oh, I haven’t got that recruiting letter out yet?”
“Oh, I have to take this call from admissions?”

Coaches who talk like this get to what they label as “important” only after reacting to the crisis stuff.   Many coaches everyday give the controls of their day—and with it their success and sanity—to anyone and everyone who asks.

How does this happen?  It happens when you don’t make and stick to a daily plan.  I see it quite often with the coaches that I am working with, they feel unproductive and stressed out at the end of most days and the reason is that they don’t get into the drivers seat and control the route and outcome of their day.

When starting the process of managing your decisions, first ask yourself these 3 important questions.

1.  What is important to you? You will not be able to manage your daily routine until you first figure out what is most important to you.   Whatever that may be, you know that getting it done will enable you to be more focused, productive, successful, and happier.
2. What is your vision? Running a program without a vision of where you want to be is much like building a puzzle without having the picture on the box.
3. What is your roadmap to success look like? What will it take to win at your program?  What are the things your staff and team needs to do everyday to be successful?

The answers to the three questions above are the non-negotiables.  These things have to be scheduled into your calendar and worked on everyday.

Coach, if you don’t schedule your priorities, everyone and everything else around you will.  If you don’t take charge of your schedule, your team, assistants, recruits, parents, administrators, and whoever or whatever else will fill your days for you.  If you don’t identify your top priorities and schedule your day around them, at the end of the day you’ll always find yourself using leftover space to cram in what you consider important.   The worst thing?  The end of the day is usually family time or exhaustion time.

If you find yourself in that regrettable situation, there’s only one thing to do: Step up and take charge of your schedule.

Mandy Green is the head women’s soccer coach at the University of South Dakota, and the author of a new time management system for college coaches.  She will also be a featured speaker at the upcoming National Collegiate Recruiting Conference.

Why We All Pay Attention to Oregon’s Cool, New Football HelmetsMonday, January 2nd, 2012

“Dang, this is really their face mask?” said an admiring Wisconsin center Peter Konz this past weekend, as his team was preparing to face the Oregon Ducks in the Rose Bowl played yesterday.

“I’m going to have like metallic stains on my jersey. Wow. That’s pretty cool, though.”

Yes, the Oregon Ducks have broken new ground with their metallic, reflective football helmets.  And as you can see, even their opponents were awed by the next evolution in equipment creativity, courtesy of the Ducks.

But it’s not just their opponents.  It’s virtually everyone.  I follow lots of college coaches on Twitter, and it seems everyone was talking about the Oregon helmets.  Coaches, fans, recruits, the media…everyone.

Which would seem to make the case for a coach who contends that “the stuff” – facilities, uniforms, locker rooms, strength and conditioning centers – is what a recruit bases their school choice decision upon, right?

Wrong.

This is where I find most coaches failing to connect the dots.  Many programs in many different sports at the college level introduce new logos, new uniforms and new facilities every year.  Few get the kind of press that Oregon’s seemingly bi-monthly football uniform adaptations get.

Why is that?

In my opinion, and based on our ongoing research with recruits and how they make their final decisions, it’s more about the fact that the constant uniform evolution at Oregon has become the main story, making the individual styles almost secondary.  A mirror-like, reflective metallic helmet?  “That’s Oregon”, said one Wisconsin player this week.  The fact that Oregon does it with regularity?  That’s the main story here.

Here are a few thing all this means for you, no matter what sport or division level you coach:

  1. The story matters. And as Oregon football has proven over the past few years, telling it with regularity pays big dividends.  As you start the new year, what is the big story you’re telling your recruits?
  2. Telling it regularly is important. Oregon has taken uniform changes to a new level with the frequency of their new combinations.  Think about it…the frequency is what makes it unusual and unique.  The fact that football players at Oregon get to expect a new uniform combination on a week by week basis is the story.  As you start the new year, how can you take something good and make it great by talking about it more?
  3. Embrace who you are.  Don’t “invent” your story. Wisconsin changed their uniforms for the game, too.  Compared to what Oregon did, it didn’t make as much news.  But they branched out by working with Adidas on its Rose Bowl uniform, which incorporates figures of the rose petal into its red numbers and lettering.  “Subtle, but classic to what Wisconsin is,” said the uniform designer.  “We’re not as wild as Oregon, but it’s different. It’s nice.”  The Badger players are proud to wear traditional uniforms and helmets.  “These uniforms have been worn for many years by many great players,” he says. “We try to embrace what we have here. Not many other schools can stick to what they’re doing. That’s what makes us: We stick to what we’re doing.”  As you start your new year, what can you do emphasize your traditions and your history…and the fact that you aren’t changing anytime soon?
  4. Be on the edge. Reflective helmets?  That’s edgy.  But then again, that’s Oregon.  The Wisconsin football team did it their own way, emphasizing stability and their long tradition.  Whatever route you choose, go all the way.  Be extraordinary.  That’s another thing that gets a lot of attention for the Ducks: They raise the bar for being creative and breaking new ground.  As you start your new year, make a promise to yourself that you’ll do everything at 100% when it comes to telling your story to your recruits, your team and your fans.
  5. Always look for new ways to tell your story. Make this the year you not only use social media to tell your story, but really understand what your athletes want as you communicate with them.  Letters and emails?  Look for new ways to tell your story and build your foundation with your recruits.

Yes, the helmets were cool.  But the story about the helmets is what we’ve all bought.  We expect it now from Oregon.  That’s the story that they’ve created, and most of us listen to it.

And that’s why we all pay attention to Oregon’s new helmets.

The premier recruiting conference in the country will give you and your staff new, creative ideas on how to tell your recruiting story more effectively.  Clients attend for free, but the conference is open to any college coach or athletic director.  For all the information on attending the National Collegiate Recruiting Conference, click here!

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  • Tudor University

    LEVEL 1 - Recruiting Foundations
    Through Level 1, you will learn some of the foundational skills and knowledge necessary to become a successful college athletic recruiter. At the end of each module there will be a quiz that must be passed with 85% or higher. In addition to the quiz, you must complete the Module Competency outlined at the end of each module. Both the quiz and module must be completed in order to move on to the next module.
    Module 1 Recruiting Letter Format-
    Unit 1 Recruiting Letter Format
    Module 2 How To Find Out What Your Prospect Isn't Telling You-
    Unit 1 How To Find Out What Your Prospect Isn't Telling You
    Module 3 Utilizing Social Media-
    Unit 1 Utilizing Social Media
    Module 4 Involving A Prospect's Parents-
    Unit 1 Involving A Prospect's Parents
    Module 5 Setting Fair And Firm Deadlines-
    Unit 1 Setting Fair And Firm Deadlines
    Module 6 Revising Your On-Campus Visits-
    Unit 1 Revising Your On-Campus Visits
    Module 7 Your First Contact-
    Unit 1 Your First Contact

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