If you’re here, you may feel the same way we do: the sports recruiting world is overwhelming and confusing. It feels like recruits are viewed as just another number all too often.
Unfortunately, not everybody is given the same opportunity in high school sports recruiting. For some, developing your “brand” as an athlete is the only way to get noticed. Now, what does this mean exactly and how can you develop your brand?
In the context of sports recruiting, personal branding refers to the process of showcasing an athlete’s skills, personality, and values to college coaches and recruiters in such a way that can set them apart from other recruits.
Today, The Wire will dive deeper into “personal branding” and show our readers how to build their own, things to avoid in the process, and what the end result can be from doing so properly.
What is your “Recruiting brand,” and why does it matter?
If you were asked, right now, what makes you “different,” what would you say? It’s a loaded question and it can be hard to answer in a way that doesn’t sound cliche.
“I’m a hard-worker” probably won’t get you any brownie points with college coaching staff.
Your recruiting brand should be noticeable and palpable in everything you do on the field, off the field, and even digitally. How does this look exactly?
- Showcase your unique skill and personality
- As much as you can feel like another cog in the machine, each athlete brings something different than anybody else. You are uniquely you. And coaches want you. Not a repeat of what you think coaches want. By highlighting your differences, you stand out in the eyes of coaches.
- Building an online presence
- By curating your social media presence or creating a recruiting profile, athletes are able to make a strong first impression on coaches and recruiters. As simple as it may seem, it speaks to an athlete’s motivation and preparedness. Not everybody goes to these lengths.
- Network with college coaches and recruiters
- Building relationships with coaches and recruiters is an important part of personal branding. By attending camps, showcases, or combines, athletes can begin developing these relationships. If done so properly, you’ll get yourself on the shortlist for a spot on the team.
Your brand is created through purposeful and accidental means. At all times, it’s important to remember how you want to present yourself to a potential college. Put time and effort into creating a brand that showcases your best attributes however you can.
What to avoid?
Unsurprisingly, there are common mistakes associated with athletes building their personal brands. There are two main things we see as mistakes with young athletes building their brands.
The first thing to avoid is being overly self-promotional. And yes, it can seem a bit contradictory. There’s a fine line to walk when it comes to promoting yourself. Basically, you can’t do it too much, but you can’t not do it at all either.
Going overboard in self-promotion can come across as arrogant and turn off coaches and recruiters. Obviously, they want to see your athletic skill demonstrated, but they also are looking for positive character attributes and leadership qualities. Too much self-indulgence suggests otherwise.
If athletes spend too much time promoting themselves or talking about their individual accomplishments, it can come across as if they are not focused on their team’s success. That much should go without saying.
This leads us to our second thing to avoid. Inauthenticity. If you’re trying to be someone you’re not, it can be very difficult for coaches to get a sense of who you are. More often than not, this will just scare them away all together.
Inauthenticity can manifest in a number of ways, such as pretending to have certain interests or values, trying to act like someone else, or misrepresenting abilities or achievements. This can lead to negative consequences regarding team dynamics. Inauthentic teammates may have a difficult time building trust and rapport with their teammates, which can impact overall performance and trust.
How will a “Recruiting brand” actually help me?
We’ve talked about what to do and what not to do. Now, to answer the most important question. How can this help you in your recruiting journey?
Let’s boil it down to bullet points. Refer back to these throughout the process of building your recruiting brand to ensure that the things you do are purposeful and constructive.
- Stand out in a crowded field
- Everyone should know the story by now. There’s a whole lot of athletes vying for a small pool of roster spots. Differentiate yourself by making a positive, lasting impression.
- Establish your credibility and professionalism
- By presenting yourself in a positive light and sharing your achievements and experiences, athletes can demonstrate their commitment to their sport and their potential as collegiate athletes.
- Connect with college coaches/recruiters
- By sharing their journey and story in sports, athletes can build trust and relationships with people who may be interested in recruiting them.
- Increase exposure
- Coaches and recruiters often search for recruits online, so having a strong brand online can help athletes get notices and open new doors for opportunities.