A Bit About Bragging

Written by harriet on December 2nd, 2010. Filed in Articles

A young businessman had just started his own firm. He rented a beautiful office and had it furnished with antiques. Sitting there, he saw a man come into the outer office. Wishing to appear the hot shot, the businessman picked up the phone and started to pretend he had a big deal working.

He threw huge figures around and made giant commitments. Finally he hung up and asked the visitor, “Can I help you?”

The man said, “Yeah, I’ve come to activate your phone lines.”

“It ain’t braggin’ if you can do it.” —Babe Ruth

Spend a few afternoons at a coffee shop or local café and you’ll come out being more informed about your community than you might have ever imagined! For an entire week of (slight) eaves dropping and people watching, I discovered that people who confidently promoted themselves; bragged about their ideas, their businesses, or their organizations were all around me! I was stirred by the amount of business emerging…all…while stopping for a java. Who knew??

I pleasantly listened in as the lady on the one side of me described how she’d won a recent election for Chairperson at a local NFP Organization. (She spoke with such loud enthusiasm…everyone in the cafe benefited.) On the other side of me were two middle-aged men, confidently bragging about how they’d won over their fellow employees to agree to a four-day workweek (sharing their particular version of the benefits of working longer hours.) I encountered the immodest repertoire of three separate recruiters selling everything from cars to lipstick. By the end of the week, I had to ask myself, would I…could I brag about my business and myself? After seeing the results? Absolutely!

Dan Tudor, author of Top 5 Ways to Effectively Brag About You and Your Program tells us what bragging does…

“It’s a momentum changer. It’s the x-factor in recruiting. It separates coaches who have a passionate vision of where they want to take their program from those that are content with just “holding down the fort”. Guess which coach a teenage prospect and their parents are going to be drawn to more often? But in my work with college coaches, I know that the majority of you would bristle at the idea of “bragging” about yourself. ‘There seems to be something just not right about doing it…something unprofessional… something that is just plain wrong.’

I’d agree with you, to a point. There’s a right way, and a wrong way, to brag about you and your program. Because it’s so important that you do it for this next recruiting class, here are five of the right ways to effectively – and professionally – brag:

  1. Show unapologetic confidence. Recruits have a very short window with which to judge you and your program. Sometimes, it isn’t so much what you say but how you say it (both in the way you construct your messages to them, as well as your tone). Confidence is the professional form of bragging. It isn’t necessarily verbalizing “Look at me, I’m the best!”; rather, it is that look in your eyes, the confident tone in your voice, and the read-between-the-lines message that says, “If you come to my program, you’re going to have a GREAT athletic career.” Do you regularly show unapologetic confidence to your recruits? How?
  2. Define yourself, and make your program stand for something. With this generation of recruits, it doesn’t pay to be all things to all people. One of the things that we’ve outlined in our two recruiting guides for college coaches is the importance of speaking in a certain way to them, both with your voice and your written words, that define who you are as a coach and what they would be a part of should they decide to come to compete for your program. You and your program need to define what you want in an athlete, how you compete, where you are going, and what role that athlete is going to play in your program. Have you defined yourself and developed an identifiable “brand” for your program? How?
  3. Use strong, consistent language. When you present a message to your recruit, it needs to reach out and demand interaction from them. It needs to tell them exactly why you’re the best choice, and precisely why student-athletes like them excel under your leadership. When we’re building recruiting plans and messages for our clients, one of the things that we factor in is consistency…a weekly message that lays the foundation for future conversations, and the use of language that strongly demands a reaction from them. The results are usually outstanding, and the same kind of message architecture can work wonders for you as well. Do you use strong, demanding language in your letters and emails, and are you doing it on a consistent basis?
  4. Don’t blink. One of my clients “blinked” last week in the face of an apparent defection by a verbally committed recruit. What we perceived the prospect doing was “testing” the coach to see what the reaction would be if they didn’t follow-through with their commitment to the program. The coach in question berated the athlete for even thinking of switching commitments, and criticized the other school. That’s the wrong approach…don’t blink! Project the confidence that we were talking about earlier: Our client should have complimented the other program, said that they understood the last minute jitters, and then calmly laid-out all of the things about their program that originally attracted the athlete to the idea of verbally committing to them in the first place. That communicates to a recruit that you are confident in where your program is going, with or without them on board. In effect, you are non-verbally bragging to them! When pressure situations arise, do you “blink”? Are your actions telling an athlete that you are desperate for them?
  5. The MOST effective form of bragging? When other people do it for you. Your current players, your alumni, the parents of your past and present players, your athletic director, the strength and conditioning training staff, your team academic advisor, local TV and newspaper reporters, Internet bloggers…there’s a seemingly non-stop list of potential third party references at your disposal. And you know what? They are all better at bragging about you than you are! Why? Because it’s not you saying how great you are, it’s someone else talking about how great you are based on their personal experience with you. It’s powerful. That’s why according to our research, your recruits want to spend so much time with your team when they take campus visits: They want to be around a group of people who they can ask, “So what’s Coach really like?” Getting written testimonials, and ensuring that your team is happy with their life on your team, is absolutely the best form of bragging in the world of college recruiting because it’s the most believable in the eyes of your prospects.

So, don’t be afraid to brag. If you do it the right way, it will turbo-charge your recruiting message in ways that are going to really make you happy!”

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