Think about it:
If we can define anxiety as “experiencing failure in advance of it happening”, then the opposite definition must be true also, right?
I’m talking about anticipation. When you’re anticipating something, it’s usually because you just can’t wait for it to happen. Buying your first new home, moving in, re-decorating and having your first family gathering there all involves anticipation. You’re excited about seeing those things come to fruition.
On the other hand, for families that are experiencing financial difficulties and are in risk of losing their home to foreclosure, they are experiencing anxiety. Lots of anxiety. Why? Because they are experiencing that failure in advance of it happening.
So, how does this all apply to recruiting? More than you probably think it does, actually.
When you recruit with anticipation, you will highlight the highs. Chances are, you will automatically focus on the things that will excite your prospects and push you and your staff even harder in your pursuit of that next level recruit. And, you’ll probably put a lot of time and attention into how you do that.
If you recruit with anxiety, on the other hand, chances are you will hesitate. You’ll second guess yourself. You’ll talk yourself out of that recruit that (on paper, anyway) you don’t seem to have a chance at landing. If things are really desperate, you’ll be insuring yourself and your program against disaster and most of all, building deniability into everything that you’re doing on the recruiting front. When you work under the cloud of anxiety – whether it’s in recruiting or the general operation of your coaching staff – the best strategy is to probably play it safe, because if (when?) it fails, you’ll be blameless (or so you think).
Not only is it more upbeat to work with anticipation, it’s often a more self-fulfilling point of view, too. Especially when it comes to recruiting, Coach.
And by the way, your prospects notice when you recruit with anticipation compared to recruiting with an attitude of anxiety. True, sometimes introducing a small amount of anxiety at the right times is a smart strategy during certain stages of the recruiting process, building ongoing positive anticipation in your consistent recruiting message should be a priority for any savvy college recruiter.
Here are three easy concepts I feel you should make sure are a part of your recruiting strategy moving forward:
- Look at the tone of your messaging. There are two different tones that we see being used all the time which are not usually effective, according to our research: First, when you are too “sanitized” in the way you sell your program, you’re going to fall short of building anticipation. By “sanitized” I mean rattling-off statistics about your college, listing facts about your campus, outlining the recent history of your program…all of that is too detached, and too unemotional to make a connection with most prospects. Secondly, you don’t want a constant tone of pressure, negativity or anxiety. You don’t want to present a tone of pressure on an ongoing basis, for all the reasons we’ve just outlined. So as you review your recruiting materials, define how it builds anticipation (and if it doesn’t, work on changing it).
- Ask yourself, “What can I get them to anticipate next?” If you’re a client of ours, you know how important it is to have the flow of the recruiting process move as quickly and as efficiently as possible toward securing a campus visit. In that scenario, how would we want to have the prospect anticipate the campus visit? If possible, we’d want to focus on selling the idea of meeting the guys on the team…or sitting down face to face with the biology professor if the recruit was a strong pre-med candidate…or the opportunity to hear what kind of scholarship offer you’ll be outlining for she and her parents. It could be anything that is the logical next step in the process. The key question is, “what are you getting them to anticipate next?”
- Define what they should anticipate. Don’t wait for prospects and their parents to assign value to the next phase in the recruiting process, do it for them. That’s not manipulative, by the way…it’s intelligent. You know how important it is to get to campus for that early unofficial visit, but does the athlete? Do her parents? Does his coach? Smart coaches will focus on defining the importance on building anticipation for the next phase of the recruiting cycle. So, are you defining exactly what your prospect should anticipate next from you?
Setting the tone, outlining the tone, and defining the tone. Those three aspects of your recruiting message can result in exciting positive changes for your recruiting efforts moving forward!
There’s a live event coming up this Summer that will help you gain cutting edge recruiting skills from a gathering of the best experts, authors, coaches and communication gurus: The National Collegiate Recruiting Conference. Make sure your staff is represented at this one-of-a-kind event! CLICK HERE for the details.