Who you are, what you do, and why you do it.
Your Brand is how you appear to the world. This is your character, your mission and purpose that identifies and differentiates you from other prospective student athletes. Having a Personal Brand can give you a major advantage in the athletic recruiting playing field. Your brand is your personal commitment to coaches telling them what to expect from you. If you think of Apple….do you think of junk products that never work, or do you think of the best, innovative, top shelf technological products? Does Apple disappoint? Not really! That’s their brand. It’s who they are, who they want to be and who people perceive them to be.
Defining Your Brand
Defining your Brand can be difficult. I’m not asking your sole purpose in life, just you would like to be perceived by others, especially Coaches. You are looking for the unique features of yourself that sets you apart from all other athletes that are trying to be recruited for that spot on the roster.
Here are a few questions to get you started:
- What is your college goal?
- What describes you as an athlete?
- What describes you as a student?
- What do you do well as an athlete?
- What do you need to improve on as an athlete?
- What do you do well as a student?
- What do you need to improve on as a student?
- As a student, what do I do well or what areas do I need improvement on?
- How do teachers, coaches, teammates perceive me?
- What personal qualities do you have that are unique or outstanding?
Keep in mind that college coaches are looking for three standout qualities in prospects: impact athletes, top students and men and woman who will being a unique component to their program – whether it is positive role model to younger athletes, a unique personality or a particular skill you will bring to the team.
Make a Statement
Research the college programs you are considering. Learn the strengths and weaknesses. Learn about the Coach. Talk to former players. Ask them a few questions:
- What type of player does the coach like?
- Is the coach an advocate of strength and conditioning?
- Is the coach looking for top academic students?
- Is the coach more of an offensive or defensive coach?
- Do assistant coaches have authority on decisions? If so, what do they look for?
- What other information is valuable that will help you target your message to what’s important to the coach?
Watch games, videos, look at rosters, records, opponents. What did a major opponent have that they didn’t? Try to identify their future needs in an effort to offer your unique “fit” into their program. Listen to the media clips from the coaches after games. Typically they may give you an insight as to what areas can be improved upon. Use this information to formulate your personal mission statement and identify how you can offer your unique skills or ability that will be the perfect complement to the team.
You want to be able to differentiate yourself as an athlete.
Coaches are looking for assets not anchors.
You should be able to demonstrate the following skills:
- Mental Toughness
- Time management
- Networking and relationship building
DO NOT wait for college coaches to initiate contact with you. You need to take control of your recruiting plan by providing coaches with regular updates that will raise their awareness of you. Coaches have strict NCAA regulations in regards to contacting student –athletes, so if you want to be seen, you will need to provide them with updates and expect to not receive a reply or acknowledgement before September 1 of your Junior Year.
Make a deliberate effort to identify your unique qualities that separate you from the rest of the prospects and you will be on your way to developing your personal brand. Take time to reflect on who you are and what unique trait you could offer as a potential student-athlete.
Managing Your Brand
Who you are, and the qualities of your personal brand should carry through every aspect of your life. These days, just about every stage of recruiting takes place online. How your personal brand is communicated on the internet should be of primary importance to you. Lets be honest, the first thing coaches, admissions officers, and future employers do is Google your name. What are they going to find?
Take some time to make sure that the positive qualities you have identified about yourself as a student and an athlete are shining through on each of your personal media profiles.
Your online presence should show you:
- Playing multiple sports
- Being active
- Being a Leader
- Helping others
- Demonstrating your work ethic
What do you do when you are not at school, playing lacrosse or training? How is that demonstrated online?
Your online presence should NOT show:
- Inappropriate pictures
- Partying, drinking, alcohol or drugs – even if you are not participating, who you surround yourself with reflects on you.
- Bullying, including judging others, teasing or making fun of others
- Vanity or self-obsession (too many selfies, look how hot I look without a shirt on, or in this short skirt)
- Likes, shares or comments on any inappropriate posts by others
Consistency is key here. You need to proactively engage and reflect your unique qualities across different platforms – from social media to email to in-person meetings and introductions. A mismatched perception confuses your brand, and doesn’t allow your unique attributes and qualities to stand out. Stay Consistent!