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Frown, And You Frown Alone…Smile, And The Whole World Smiles With YouSunday, February 24th, 2013

by Sean Devlin, Front Rush

We are all adults here. We’ve been on this planet long enough to know that a sincere smile can go a long way. We know the qualities that a good smile can carry. It makes you happy, it relieves stress, it makes you feel good, happy etc. But it also induces these sensations and emotions on others…like when you are face to face with a recruit. Boom! Is your facial expression more often a smile or a frown? Are you embodying all that is positive? Are you showing the best that you’ve got? My assumption is that you are certainly trying to.

So what’s the technology spin? Well what about when you are on the phone? Is your smile coming through the phone or your cell? Are your emails smiling all the way to your recruit’s inbox? What about your text-messages (and I am not referring to smiley face emoticons*)?. *note on emoticons below.

Here’s the tech trick: put a mirror on your desk, yes a mirror. Before you send an email, before you pick up your phone, before anything else, look at yourself in the mirror and smile. That smile will carry through whatever technology you are conversing through. It’s weird, but smiles can defy physics and show up in your emails, and through your phone and every other medium. Face to face smiling is awesome but your mood shows up in so many other places. So give yourself every advantage. Invest in the low-tech and purchase a mirror. Smiling works. Smiling works everywhere!

*Emoticons (like smiley faces) are completely acceptable as a way to express emotion in text-messages. The counter argument is that they make the sender look “less intelligent” or “silly” or “informal”. Text-messages themselves are informal and if the person sending the message is intelligent and the content is not silly then the message will come across the way intended. The smiley face is a common form of expression that is understood and clarity is always good so I am down with it 🙂

 

NCSA Verified ID: A Recruiting Game ChangerSunday, February 24th, 2013

by Ellen Sawin, NCSA College Relations

The world of athletic recruiting is evolving faster than ever. With technology constantly growing, coaches from all across the country can recruit nationwide, whether they have a large recruiting budget or not. However, there are some new challenges that accompany digital recruiting, things that coaches did not have to worry about in the past.

Whether you’re a football coach looking at a player’s height and weight, a volleyball coach looking at height and reach, or a swimming coach looking at arm span, you need athletes that meet specific standards. But as you meet less recruits in person, and more via email and pictures, I’m sure you’ve crossed athletes that have exaggerated by 3 inches or 20 lbs. I’m sure you’ve also run into athletes whose stats fit your standards, and they’re telling the truth. But once you see them in person, they’re nothing like you had imagined. And as you run into this problem more and more often, you’re getting frustrated with digital recruiting – but don’t!

As the first digital recruiting network, NCSA Athletic Recruiting is working on solving this problem for you! Over the past couple months the football world has been introduced to Verified-ID. As one of the largest high school and collegiate sports, football coaches face athletes with stretched stats on a regular basis. However, with Verified-ID football coaches are gaining access to identical photos of football players across the nation, which make comparing the size and build of athletes much easier and more efficient. In these photos, the athletes are standing next to a flat screen, which displays their name, position, graduation year, and 3rd party verified height and weight.

With the buzz that Verified-ID has created in the football community, we’re getting ready to launch it into the volleyball world in the next month! With national qualifiers coming up, athletes from across the nation will be able to get their photo taken next to a flat screen with their name, position, graduation year, and 3rd party verified height and standing reach! Soon, volleyball coaches won’t have to worry about signing a lanky 6’3” player. And the muscular 5’9” libero will be seen for fit, instead of possibly overweight.

NCSA is taking the recruiting world by storm, and Verified-ID is just one of the many things that’s about to change the game of recruiting! They’re keeping the simplicity and ease of digital recruiting, but adding the accuracy and imagery that used to only exist in live recruiting.

 

The New On-Campus Workshop for College CoachesThursday, February 21st, 2013

We’ve updated our popular On-Campus Workshop for college athletic departments, and it’s better than ever.

We have custom-designed a fast paced, information-rich two or three day training session that will give your coaches the communication, marketing and sales education they’ll need to effectively compete for the best recruits.

The focus for the workshop is preparing and training college coaches for recruiting under the most recent NCAA contact rules, which have been greatly expanded to include earlier contacts with prospects, as well as new allowances for increased social media, text messaging and phone call contacts.

You can download the .pdf overview below:

On-Campus Workshop Overview 2017-2018

This is a multi-day process of making sure coaches understand why they need to recruit differently based on internal focus group research that we produce for them, and how to best incorporate those strategies without sacrificing their personality and individual approach.

If you have further questions, or are interested in scheduling a workshop on your campus for your staff, email Dan Tudor at dan@dantudor.com.

15 Effective Ways to Recruit the Coaches of Your ProspectsMonday, February 18th, 2013

It’s no secret that the current high school and club coaches are holding more and more power over the recruiting process, especially since so many college coaches are being forced to keep up with their competition by going through those prep and club coaches to arrange conversations with younger and younger athletes.

The result?  Saavy college coaches are realizing they need to systematically recruit the coaches of their prospects.

Of course, that’s a much more difficult challenge: Recruiting a prospect and his or her parents has a pay-off for them, in that they will receive scholarship money or at least the opportunity to have sports be a part of their college experience.  Their coaches, on the other hand, are (at their best) feeling a sense of needing to protect and shield their young athletes from college recruiters, or (at their worst) bent on guiding their young athletes towards the program that will bring the most notoriety and prestige to the high school or club program that they play for currently.

No matter their motives, they are now a major player in the battle for the best recruits.  And, how you “sell” them on your program is going to be an increasingly important piece in the overall recruiting puzzle – and how successful you are at it.

With that in mind, we compiled data from our On-Campus Workshop focus groups and our other research and came up with a list of the most successful ways to effectively recruit the coaches of your current high school and club prospects.  I don’t see it as being critical that you are doing each one of these things as a normal part of your recruiting process, necessarily, but a mixture of several of these proven strategies would be recommended as you approach coaches moving forward.  (Note: If you are a client, make sure to contact us for specific strategies based on your program’s specific focus group research before you contact high school or club coaches)

  1. According to our polling, 65% of club coaches have a negative view of college coaches during the recruiting process.  Why?  Primarily because the college coaches are only in contact with them while recruiting their athletes.  Develop an ongoing plan for contact with those coaches, even if you aren’t seriously recruiting those athletes.
  2. Just as it is important to prospects and parents, consistent contact (once every few weeks) that takes time to sell them on your program and college is key.  They want to be convinced why you are the best option for their athletes, and will respect you for putting forth the effort.  Few college coaches do it.
  3. They want to be treated as peers in the sport that you and they coach.  How are you proving to them that you respect them and view them as a coaching equal?
  4. I know you’re asking them for where you and your program stand with a recruit in their program, but how much are you asking them what kind of program they as their coach feel is the right fit?  If you can get an answer to that second question, you’ll probably also get your answer to the first question.
  5. Do you ask them for their coaching advice?  You should.  Do you ask them about practice or training ideas?  You should.  Those let them know that you see them as equals.  (Plus you will probably come away with some great new ideas!)
  6. I hear college coaches complain a lot about high school and club coaches that will offer up prospects from their team who are not quite the caliber of athlete you need to be successful at your level.  They would love it if you gave them a detailed list of exactly what you look for and the athletic standards by position that you have established, along with an explanation of why.  If you don’t, they will default to evaluating their talent for you based on their pre-defined view of your division level or college.
  7. Send them holiday cards throughout the year.  Obvious?  Yes.  Do you do it?
  8. Ask them for their evaluation of the prospect, and what specifically they would recommend doing once they got to your campus.  Make them a partner in this transition from high school to college.
  9. Ask them about the next two classes below the one that you are recruiting.  With the increased contact periods now allowed by the NCAA, you need to start earlier than ever before if you want to keep up with your competition.
  10. High school and club coaches value your presence.  I wish it wasn’t so, but you need to be at their facility viewing their talent on a regular basis (your prospects want that also, by the way)
  11. High school and club coaches want to be updated on where you are at in the recruiting process in the same way you want an update on where your prospect is at in the recruiting process.  That can be part of your regular communication with them.  According to them, it show professionalism and honesty on your part.
  12. Compliment those coaches in front of your prospects and (especially) their parents.
  13. Invite the high school or club coach to visit campus with the prospect when they come.  They’ll probably decline, but it will win points.
  14. Offer to speak with their team or give a short talk about playing in college while you are there watching them.  Make sure you link your talk and the reason you are there scouting with the fact that they have a great coach who you have a lot of respect for.
  15. If distance isn’t a factor, invite the team to watch you compete.  If possible, take them behind the scenes into your program and make it a truly personal game day experience for not only the specific kids you are recruiting, but the entire group and the coach.  Again, tie the invitation to the fact that they have a great coach.

It’s hardly rocket science, but these fifteen specific actions are what we have seen to be the best at creating powerful connections with a growing influential group of gate-keepers in the recruiting process.  Failing to actively and strategically approach them in the right manner will make the already difficult task of recruiting even more challenging.

Two great ways to gain more creative ideas for your next recruiting campaign:  Make sure you send someone from your staff to the National Collegiate Recruiting Conference this June (click here) or enroll in our comprehensive online recruiting training program, Tudor University (click here).  Each is affordable and effective, and ensures that you keep on the cutting edge of the latest recruiting research and methodologies!

Got Lagniappe?Monday, February 18th, 2013

By John Brubaker, Author and Performance Consultant

The Super Bowl just witnessed by millions took place in New Orleans, Louisiana. While the game and its pageantry were the main attraction, the experience of New Orleans itself is a close second. Why? Quite simply because lagniappe is part of their culture. The word lagniappe (pronounced Lan-Yap) is a Creole word, that originated in Louisiana which means something extra or a little more. It’s that little something extra someone gives you as their way of saying thank you or expressing appreciation. I can assure you there was a lot of lagniappe going around New Orleans during Super Bowl week; everyone from store owners to street vendors make it a best practice. It isn’t just during Super Bowl week though, “a little more” is the norm in Louisiana and the exception most other places.

From a retail standpoint, the baker’s dozen (a form of lagniappe) is a dying breed; gifts included in a purchase tend to be as well. It’s a scarcity mindset in business and with time and resources at a premium many recruiters have also reverted to a scarcity mindset as opposed to over delivering, surprising and delighting prospects with “a little more”. They take the stance that they don’t need to do this and it’s just “over-the-top” treatment of the prospect which cuts into the bottom-line. Recruiting is big business and in every business there is a line where exceptional service and profitability meet but I would argue losing prospects because you don’t over-deliver is what cuts into the bottom line. To get ahead in today’s competitive recruiting landscape we must eliminate the word satisfaction from our vocabulary. Just meeting a prospect’s expectations isn’t expected by the recruit and his/her family anymore, it is demanded. Meeting expectations is ordinary; exceeding expectations in all areas of the experience is extraordinary. It’s not enough to have a good product (athletically and educationally speaking), you need to have a great product AND a great service experience to gain and retain your top prospects.

The country music singer Loretta Lynn is famously quoted as saying “To make it in this business you either have to be first, best or different.” I would argue that holds true in the recruiting business as well as show business, but the latter is most realistic for people. Since not everyone can be a prospect’s first visit and not everyone can arrive at best status, different is the key to success. After all, there’s only one first and only one best at anything. So different is the path and lagniappe can go a long way to differentiating you and your program.

I recently worked with a client in the hospitality industry on improving their process while bringing a little lagniappe to the customer experience. They wanted the concept of a little more to manifest itself in all areas of the customer experience. The list is too numerous for this article but it included things like giving crayons, coloring books and hand wipes to “guests in training” (kids), adding flowers to the tables of the dining area and giving guests complimentary mints at the end of the meal and chocolates in their rooms. In my mind, this is part of exceeding expectations, the key word being part. For example: if you’ve ever stayed at a Hampton Inn or Doubletree hotel you’ve probably received a warm cookie at check-in. That is their lagniappe; however if after you check in you find your room isn’t spotless or the bed is uncomfortable they’ve negated any equity built. Everything matters for you as well and the entire campus visit experience must exceed expectations, flawlessly. Comfortable furniture and a clean room are expected (demanded) and the lagniappe is the act of doing the unexpected, a little more. The key is to not deliberately bring attention to this practice; trust me the very act will call attention to itself. Why?  Because “a little more” is the exception, not the rule.

I continue to be amazed by companies who do not make lagniappe a best practice across all levels of the organization. In 2002, I bought a new car and was choosing between Honda and Toyota. When I walked in the local Honda dealership no one greeted me and I had to go find a salesperson. The Honda salesman wanted to sell me a vehicle I already told him I wasn’t interested in, brought me to a cubicle to haggle over price and made me wait while he pulled the “For a price that low, I have to check with my manager” tactic. I was “gone in 60 seconds” as the saying goes. When I went down the street, the general manager at the Toyota dealership held the front door open and greeted me when I walked in. Then as I explained what I was looking for he told me “My goal is to make this the easiest, most pleasant purchasing experience you’ve ever had.” And they did, Starbucks coffee was even delivered to me as I met with my sales person, Albert, in a private office with plush furniture. To top it off at contract time (after I got my price without a hassle) I was offered free tires for the life of my vehicle. Talk about Lagniappe!  Since that time, it’s no wonder I’ve bought my last three cars from Albert.

More recently, when I told him I wanted to trade my vehicle in, much to my surprise he offered me a loaner vehicle so he could borrow my car for the afternoon before his manager assessed the value of it. When I asked why, he explained that he wanted to wash and wax it during his break so I would get a better trade in price from his manager when he assessed it. Fast forward several years and the dealership became a client of mine, I made sure to return the gesture and show them lagniappe in my work with them as well.

That story really isn’t just about cars. You’re in that story, picture yourself as Albert and picture me as either a high school coach, AAU coach or maybe even your top prospect. And your competition, let’s hope they’re the Honda salesman.

Regardless of what sport you coach, your prospects have a lot of choices. The goodwill and loyalty your institution can create by over delivering, creates incredible satisfaction and the kind of word of mouth advertising money can’t buy. Who do you think  I recommend people contact when they’re in the market for a new car? I didn’t just tell them about Albert; I actually kept a stack of his business cards to hand out to friends, clients and colleagues.

I always seek to incorporate Lagniappe in my business too and I hope my readers and clients have a real appreciation for it. When customers order my online products I like to throw in a little something extra with the order. My lagniappe for you today is a free copy of my eBook: The Goal Getting Guide. It is available for download at: http://bit.ly/BruEnews

Please share any examples of lagniappe you are practicing in your recruiting.

Tip: Gather your team and generate a list of 5-10 ways you could provide lagniappe to your prospects. Then use some of these over the next several months and see which get the best response. Make them a best practice, then generate and execute another list of 5-10 for the following recruiting cycle.

About the author:

John Brubaker is a nationally renowned performance consultant, speaker and author. Using a multidisciplinary approach, Brubaker helps organizations and individuals develop their competitive edge. Brubaker is the author of The Coach Approach: Success Strategies Out Of The Locker Room Into The Board Room and co-author of Leadership: Helping Others To Succeed.  John is also the host of Maximum Success: The Coach Bru Show on 1510 NBC Sports Radio Boston.

He is a graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and he also earned a master’s degree in personnel psychology from FDU. Brubaker has completed his doctoral coursework in Sport Psychology at Temple University.  www.coachbru.com

 

Branding: What Message Is Your Program Sending?Sunday, February 10th, 2013

by Alison Vincent, NCSA Recruiting

Companies spend millions of dollars creating and cultivating their image and developing their brand.  What do you do to shape the image of your program and develop your brand?  Branding may not be on the agenda of your weekly staff meetings, but it certainly should be.

Let’s try an experiment:  go to each of the other coaches on your staff and ask them what your team’s brand is.  See if anyone can clearly articulate it and if you have several people on the same page.  Chances are, most of you have never thought about creating your brand.

Your first step is to define what your brand should be, identify what your brand currently is and how to bring those two together.  Ask questions of your current staff, student-athletes and alumni about what they would think of as the image of your program, what your brand looks like.  Make sure the focus is on the image of the team as a whole or the program as a historical entity.

The second step is to develop messaging about your brand.  From building language into your own team homepage on your website to changing the way you find your voice in social media, everything should reflect your brand and reinforce your image.

Finally, you need to tighten up your image on the general web.  Prospects have more options to research college programs now than ever before.  Research shows they are using information from specific recruiting research tools such as NCSA to garner information on a program prior to checking out the college’s own site.  What do these profiles say about you?  Are they complete?  Information updated?  Links all working?

If these sites are the front door to your program, you need to make sure your message is clear and your information is accurate.  If your team website is designed to build your brand, you need to get prospects to make it there.  Make it easy and inviting for them to click-through to your home page.

1.   Make sure information on your page is accurate and current.

2.  Give full descriptions whenever possible.

3.  Have links to your home page, coach bios, camp brochure, and recruiting questionnaire in as many places as you can.

Once you get an athlete on the home page for your team, your message can really come through.  You just have to make sure your brand is evident in every corner of your site.

Recruits in this generation are brand-savvy individuals who have had branding in every realm in their life since infancy.  They are sensitive to brand-identities and will judge you on your image and your brand long before they take a step on your campus.

After graduating with a class of less than 40 in a small town in Wisconsin, Alison went onto the hallowed halls of learning at Indiana University. Although it was quite a change, Alison excelled in the classroom and on the Track and Field team. Recognized as Big Ten Freshmen of the Year in 1994 and going on to compete at numerous NCAA Championships, Big Ten Championships, Junior World Championships and USA Championships, Alison completed her career in track with the 1997 NCAA Championships on her home track. Alison has long been committed to helping students achieve excellence in athletics and academics. She now works as the head track and field/cross country recruiting coach at NCSA Athletic Recruiting.

 

We Want YOU to Speak at the 2013 National Collegiate Recruiting ConferenceTuesday, February 5th, 2013

The nation’s premier college coach recruiting conference is approaching soon, and we would like to invite you to be one of our keynote presenters.

The 2013 National Collegiate Recruiting Conference will be held June 7-9, 2013, at the Charlotte Hilton Downtown in beautiful Charlotte, North Carolina.  It brings together coaches, recruiters, marketing and sales experts and others from the world of college athletics for one specific purpose:  Gain the knowledge and skills necessary to dominate their competition in the most important part of their job…recruiting.

That’s where you come in:

We would like to invite you to be a part of this event as a speaker and presenter.  We are looking for you to contribute high value content live to our attendees, as well as to an extended audience of coaches and athletic directors that will view the three day conference via streaming and recorded video.

Why should you be a presenter at the 2013 NCRC?

  • Showcase yourself as an expert in your field to your peers and future employers.
  • Enjoy a free forum to showcase books, materials and products that you are offering.
  • Take advantage of a highly personalized networking opportunity, where you will have direct access to the attendees at the NCRC
  • Enhance your resume and professional biography by being listed as a keynote presenter at the nation’s premier recruiting symposium.
  • Attend the entire conference at no cost (not including travel and hotel costs, which are the individual speaker’s responsibility)

We produce the NCRC every year as a way of giving back to the college coaching community, so in the interest of keeping conference registration fees as low as possible for our attendees, we can not offer speaking fees or honorariums to our valued speakers.  However, we will accommodate any and all requests for space to showcase

your products or services at no additional charge to you.  Our speakers at past events have commented that the cost of traveling to the conference, food and lodging are quickly recouped through additional sales and networking opportunities that the event provides.

Will you accept our invitation to be a part of this one-of-a-kind event?  If you are interested, please contact Dan Tudor directly at dan@dantudor.com.  We would like to know what your topic would be (recruiting, sales, motivation, coaching or career development), and what additional needs you have as one of our featured guest speakers.

Thank you for considering our invitation to present at this summer’s National Collegiate Recruiting Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina!

Review Of Windows 8: What You Need To KnowMonday, February 4th, 2013

By Justin Chud, Front Rush

With the release of Windows 8 last month, many consumers’ curiosity has piqued as to whether we can expect another Vista blunder by Microsoft or something spectacular. Microsoft’s new advertising campaign seems to suggest the latter, however, the reality falls somewhere in-between. All comparisons to previous versions of Windows will be made against the Windows 7 OS. I will attempt to break down the ins and outs of this new operating system as your average consumer would use it.

Disclaimer: I have been using Windows 8 for about 2 months now. This review is based on all updates released by Microsoft as of 1/20/2013. It is very possible that any function, performance, or usability that I discuss in the review will be altered, even drastically, in the future by Microsoft.

Installation/Update

Updating from Windows 7 did take quite some time. From the moment the update button was pushed until the system was fully functional again lasted about 3 hours. Beware however, as many applications you have may not be supported in Windows 8, so they will have to be reinstalled once the update is complete. To Window’s credit though, it did a very nice job of clearly and appropriately laying out which programs would need to be reinstalled and how to reinstall them once Windows 8 is live.

First Impression, Functionality, and Performance

Windows 8 does a great job with one of the first things any computer user will take note of: startup time. The startup time generally does not take more than a minute, which includes the standard “lag” time. Computers usually take a while to boot up, display the desktop, and get the system loaded and functional.

The amazing start up time gives the user a flavor of greatness, only to leave a sour taste when you really begin to use the operating system. The biggest gripe I have with Windows 8 is that many programs, including Microsoft’s in-house programs (Office), have a noticeable lag time when using them for even routine tasks. Many programs seem to run more smoothly and efficiently in Windows 7. At times Windows will freeze when doing the most basic tasks (i.e. opening the notepad) and will manually quit the program. These issues, however, should (and I can’t stress “should” enough) be addressed with updates in the future when Microsoft analyzes system reports from their users.

Another issue with Windows 8 is accessibility to the hard drive. Deciding to remove the start button, Microsoft has created an entire start screen with the purpose of taking over all functions previously accessed through the start button. The screen is set up “grid style” with different sized (and colored) boxes representing apps, programs, and folders. All the way to the right (and when you hover your mouse in the upper right hand corner of the screen) you can find the search and settings features. The search function is clunky and has a difficult time running searches across multiple areas of the computer. The settings section is set up very “idiot proof” with highly visible menus that have basic English names. This is an attempt to create a balance between ease of use and in-depth functionality.

Microsoft has swayed too far towards ease of use with the menus in this section only covering basic functionality and features. This may be ok for someone with very basic knowledge of computers but for anyone looking to customize or alter meaningful settings in Windows 8 you must take the back end route. This entails going to the desktop where you can right-click in the bottom left of the screen to bring up a menu with selections very similar to the Window’s 7 start menu (including the classic control panel and file explorer). One annoying morsel of this feature is that your mouse must be located in just the right spot when right-clicking to bring up the menu (as there is no longer a button there), otherwise you will get quickly switched over the start screen. This is a trivial issue, but nonetheless annoying when it happens (which can be quite often).

The Verdict

Overall it is obvious that Microsoft is trying to slow down consumers who are jumping ship from PC’s and joining the legions of Mac users. With Windows 8, Microsoft has tried to create an OS that maintains the strengths of PCs while mimicking the highly aesthetic features of OS X. This causes two issues right off the bat. First, this leads Microsoft to stray from their strengths in order to accommodate the characteristics of OS X. Second, both OSs are written mainly in different programming languages, with each one having inherent advantages and differences. Windows has always been very structured with a highly linear feel. This is great for things like word processing, working with spreadsheets and databases (which can be very beneficial to enterprises), and being more customized at the hardware level. OS X has always been far superior when dealing with tasks that require creativity, such as photo/video/music editing, having a very aesthetically pleasing layout, and greater customization at the consumer/software level. In order to keep up with Apple OS X, Microsoft needs to focus on their strengths and build wonderful features on top of them. Instead, they are trying to incorporate features and strengths from an OS that is built upon foundations inherently different from their own.

Grade (1-10): 6.0, not as good as Windows 7, but exponentially better than Windows Vista.

 

 

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