When it comes to the recruiting process, surrounding yourself with a good network of people can make a big difference. Not only can a quality network help you make sound decisions throughout the recruiting process, having ties with people who are well connected in the college game 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, current coach, or someone they know has a connection to open that door. While your talent, work ethic, character, and skills are ultimately what will get you to the next level, at times recruiting can feel like it’s more about who you know than what you can do. If you are worried that you don’t have a strong network behind you, don’t worry! In this article we will discuss how you can use your connections to strengthen your network and how you can use your network to help in the recruiting process.
Assessing Your Network
You don’t need to personally know a major leaguer or big time college coach to have a strong network. A strong network just means that you have 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 different groups of your primary network can help you in many ways, including introducing you to people in their own primary networks who may be able to help you. Think of these second degree connections as you extended or “secondary network”. With a few quality social interactions, these secondary connections can quickly turn into members or your primary network and the ripples of people continue to expand.
If you are still feeling like your network doesn’t have 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 team at least once, and if you play well in front of them, now you can see if your coach can connect you to use them as a reference or resource. So your network expands. The same thing can happen with your teammates, counselors, or family. You have an older teammate who goes to play in college. Now you 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 does is take some creativity and effort to strengthen it in a hurry. For more on that, keep reading!
Strengthening Your Network
In today’s day and age, strengthening your network is easier than ever. It starts with the interest or desire to do it and takes persistence and follow through. Like your baseball ability, your network has the ability to expand and grow with the right mindset. Every person you meet is a new opportunity and if you are creative and social, the sky is the limit. The worst thing that can happen to you by trying to make connections and build your network is that you will 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 it slow you down! With social media and the internet your network can constantly be expanding. Think about, if you are creative 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!
To strengthen your network, start by strengthening your relationships with your primary network. Make note of who in your network may be an asset in the recruiting process (Help comes in all different shapes and sizes—editing emails, filming videos, contacting coaches on your behalf, general advice, etc.) and communicate your interest in college baseball with that person and build that relationship. Once the relationships and communication in your primary network are strong, work on creating new connections through your secondary network, social media, or other creative ways of connecting with people. There are many people who are willing to help, and taking the initiative and steps to create those connections are skills that will stay with you, even if not everyone you contact is interested in helping you get to the next level.
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 (For example: Reach out to a college coach who you have contacted to reiterate your interest and give you a reference for the qualities that will make you a good fit for their program)
- Support you in any number of ways (Read over emails, give you access to resources (batting cages, radar guns, fields, workout equipment), provide general guidance and advice, be a source of information, etc.)
- 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 the whole thing 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!