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Benefits of Networking
When it comes to the recruiting process, surrounding yourself with a network of people can be a powerful tool for success. A quality network can help you make sound decisions throughout the recruiting process. Also, a group of people who are well connected can go a long way to opening doors and providing opportunities. There are many stories of players getting a foot in the door with a college coach because a former teammate, or current coach, had a connection to open that door. While your talent, work ethic, character, and skills are ultimately what will get you to the next level, there are times when recruiting can feel like it’s more about who you know than what you can do. Don’t worry if you don’t have a strong network yet! In this article you’ll learn how to build your network and how to use it to help in the recruiting process.
Assessing Your Network
You don’t need to know a major leaguer or big time college coach personally to have a strong network. You just need people with a diverse range of skills and social circles who are willing to help you. Think about people you know personally in the following groups: scouts, coaches, teammates (past and present), teachers and counselors, family members, and friends. People from these groups make up your “primary network”. People in your primary network can help you in many ways including introducing your to people in their own networks who may be able to help you. Think of these second degree connections as your extended or “secondary network”. Eventually, these secondary connections can turn into members of your own primary network!
Adding to Your Network
If you don’t think your network has many people who can help you with the recruiting process, take this example. If you play high school baseball, you have a high school coach. He watches you play every day and is an authority on your daily work ethic, baseball skills, and how you are with your teammates. These are all things college coaches want to know about. In his primary network, he has connections with every head coach in your conference. So, now you have them in your secondary network. You will play against their teams at least once. If you play well in front of them, you can ask your coach to connect you to the other coaches and use them as references or resources.
Your network expands as you add new connections. The same thing can happen with your teammates, counselors, or family. If you have an older teammate who goes to play in college, you’ll have a secondary connection to the coach at that school. So the good news is, even if you think your network is weak, all it takes is some creativity and effort to strengthen it in a hurry. For more on that, keep reading!
Strengthening Your Network
These days, strengthening your network is easier than ever. It just takes the desire to do it, persistence, and follow through. Like your baseball ability, your network can expand and grow when you have the right mindset. Every person you meet is a potential member of your network. If you are creative and social, the sky is the limit. Once in awhile, you might run into someone who isn’t interested in helping you. Well, guess what? They weren’t helping you in the first place, so don’t let that person slow you down!
To build your network, start by strengthening the relationships in your primary network. Look for someone in your network who may be an asset in the recruiting process. Communicate your interest in college baseball with that person. Ask if they are willing to help you. Help may come in different ways —editing emails, filming videos, contacting coaches on your behalf, general advice, etc. Once the relationships in your primary network are strong, work on creating new connections for your secondary network. You may be surprised how many people who are willing to help. Taking the initiative to create those connections will build skills that will stay with you, even if not everyone you contact is interested in helping you.
Using the Internet
With social media and the internet, you can quickly expand your network to people who know the college game well. Feedback on your recruiting video or a suggestion for what to do next is just an email or DM away. How do we know? Because we have people reach out to us with questions and asking for feedback all the time! But don’t take it from us, just look at the way the @FlatgroundApp and @FlatgroundBats accounts on Twitter are revolutionizing free exposure and feedback. We discuss it in an article here.
Another easy way to expand your network is to make Keep Playing Baseball a part of it! We are always happy to answer questions and connect you with the right resources!
Using Your Network to Help Get Recruited
Your network can help you in countless ways. You just need to think broadly and get creative. Here are 5 common ways that your network can help you in the recruiting process:
- Act as a point of contact (introduce you to coaches or other helpful people)
- Act as a reference (vouch for your skills, character, academics, etc.)
- Follow up for you (ask a coach in your network to reiterate your interest in a program and give you a reference for the qualities that will make you a good fit)
- Support you in any number of ways (read over emails, give you access to resources like batting cages, radar guns, fields, workout equipment or provide general guidance and advice)
- Be honest with you and challenge you (keep you grounded and realistic, let you know where you need to improve, challenge you to be better, etc.)
The recruiting process is difficult enough as it is. There’s no reason to try to go through it by yourself. Spend some time evaluating your network, thinking about ways that people in your network may be able to help you, and coming up with strategies to strengthen and grow your network. You likely have more people in your corner than you realize. Use them and count us in as a resource you can turn to for help! Good luck!