by Paul Nemetz-Carlson, Tudor Collegiate Strategies
Our research consistently tells us that recruits prefer to receive their information and ideas in small doses. They like to process one topic at a time because it helps them absorb it, see the value, and retain it better. I know busy coaches are the same.
Each weekday, on my Twitter feed (@PNC_777), I try to offer short takeaways labeled “Recruiting Tip of the Day” to reach those busy people. As you get back into the swing of things this fall with the return of college athletics, here are 20 new tips – in short form, organized by topic – from the past few months.
- Recruiting at its core is about decisions. On both sides, coaches and prospects need two things – enough information to feel good about it AND the incentive to make one. Open time to think about it, without action or movement, rarely helps.
- There are too many opinions influencing recruiting decisions. Keep it simple. Recruit people you like. Recruit athletes you like. You’re the coach. You get to choose.
- If you don’t provide answers to recruits’ difficult questions – including how they should think about them and how much that should matter – someone else will. Make sure it’s you defining your narrative, not a competitor.
- Recruits should know what makes you different, what makes you distinct. Identify it, tell them – and then tell them again. The strongest and most effective language includes the words “best,” “first,” and/or “only.”
THE MOST LIKED
- If your prospect is talented enough to recruit, they’ll have other options. They won’t take yours unless you make a compelling argument about why you’re better than those options for that specific individual. It’s more than info, it’s a plan.
- The pandemic, extra year of eligibility, and changing view of transfers will provide many coaches access to a new level of prospects. That group has dreams of playing in college and is waiting to hear the story of how your program matches them.
- When you’re building your program, self-evaluation is incredibly important. Looking at who you have and what you need honestly leads to better recruiting, better development, and better student-athlete experiences.
- The most successful recruiters don’t depend on their institutional offerings and reputation as the core of their recruiting story. They see those things as added bonuses to real lure – the unique experience offered as a member of their program.
WHEN THEY DON’T THINK YOU’RE GOOD ENOUGH
- People live in their own information bubble that continues to reinforce what they already believe. Happens all the time in recruiting. Sometimes you just need to shock them with a good Did You Know.
- Because most recruits don’t think you’re good enough for them at the start of the process, you need three things – patience, relatable stories that show your potential, and a plan to show up more consistently than other coaches.
- Even if your big picture measurements are not better than your recruits’ other options – rankings, reputation, performance – to win them, identify something specific and show how your program is better FOR THEM.
- Many coaches get frustrated when recruits say they’re not interested in playing at their Level or in their League. The best way to handle it is address it early and help them understand they aren’t committing to a level or league, but to YOUR PROGRAM.
STOP WAITING FOR THEM, TAKE ACTION
- There are a lot of good players out there – identify them, build trust with consistent communication, and actively direct them through the process. Waiting for them to contact you and know what to do on their own will NOT get you the ones you want.
- If your fall plan is to wait to have the hard conversations – $, other schools, admissions – until everything is settled/finalized, you’re going to lose a lot of recruits. Have them early because it shows you understand the process and can help.
- A lot of coaches sit around waiting for their prospects to magically choose them over their other options. Instead of magic, get them to make a decision on your program before the other ones. It’s a much less crowded space and tells them you’re worthy of their commitment.
- Don’t assume your recruit knows what comes next. It’s most likely their first time going through it. Be clear in your expectations and patient in sharing reminders around tasks that need to be completed.
GET BETTER BY BEING LIKABLE
- The most underrated skill in recruiting is likability. For many coaches, being able to relate, have a conversation, and make people feel comfortable wins more recruiting battles than anything else.
- Recruits are attracted to the energy and the potential of rising programs. But don’t HOPE they’ll find out about you, the buzz must be intentionally created by coaches, player accomplishments, and within your sports club/HS community.
- People like being told how smart they are. So after your recruits commit, keep sharing what makes your program special to reinforce what a great decision they’ve made. It makes them feel good and helps strengthen their bond with your program.
- Outsiders think of your program differently than you do. It’s often brand/performance-related and doesn’t include your upbeat view of the future. If you want others to think of your program like you do, you have to consistently share your story.
This was Volume 4 of my selected tips to make you a better recruiter. I appreciate your continued following and for allowing me to be part of your journey in college athletics. I know this past year-plus has been difficult for many of your in coaching, forcing you to find new ways to coach, recruit, and even connect with the athletes on your team. As you head back to the office and define a new normal this fall, I hope this quick read helps create some conversations and new ideas that will positively impact your recruiting results.
With all the great conversations I’ve had with coaches over the past school year, I’m reminded that the best recruiters do three things. They speak enthusiastically about who they are going to be. They show up more consistently than the other guys. And, they act as a trusted guide, providing their recruits with a clear direction on what they want them to do next.
Start with those and you’ll have a great year. Best of luck.
Be Distinct. Be Different.
Paul Nemetz-Carlson is a former college coach and Director of Operations who now works with coaching staffs around the east for Tudor Collegiate Strategies. To contact Paul, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.