Not only do I know the secret, but also I am willing to share the secret with you. You don’t even know what the secret is or even what it regards, but you want to know the secret. Bear with me.
Last year, I freely admit, I was the worst recruiter. If I called some kid to see if they wanted to come to Whitewater, they probably ended up at Stevens Point (and that actually did happen once). Then, I listened to Dan Tudor speak at the WBCA Convention in New Orleans. I started paying more attention to how people get other people to do what they want. I took a trip to Missouri State and got some recruiting advice from Coach Harper and her staff. Everyone says it is a skill that takes time to develop. They say there’s no script. You just have to talk to them. Ask them about school, movies, music, basketball, or another interest they have.
Let me tell you, there is a secret to recruiting. Hang on. Let’s back track. There is a secret to making people listen to you and like you and want to be where you are. I found it. It’s early in the year and I have only begun to make recruiting calls. I’ve made about 20 so far. I have had 12 great initial contacts, left 4 messages, and spoke to 4 kids who had already committed (Tennessee, Northwestern, UNI, and I already forgot the last school). And maybe none of those 12 great initial contacts will result in commitments. But there are no more awkward pauses, no more hang-ups, no more of me rambling on.
My conversations have been engaged, personal, and made a positive impression. I can tell. And we’re talking about me, Erin McKinney.
Here’s my secret to recruiting: I do have a script. I suppose that it’s more of a flowchart actually. I haven’t put it on paper yet, but it’s in my head and I think it’s there to stay. Basically, it starts like this…
Ask a question. Listen for key words in their answer. It goes on and on for figurative miles, but that’s enough for you to get the premise of the script.
You have to LISTEN to what they say. Analyze their words. I tend to over analyze things, so this seems to have worked out well. If they talk about their parents a lot, then you know that their parents play a huge role in their decision. Ask about distance from home, availability of major, what they want to do as a career, what their parents do, siblings, all of that stuff I don’t really want to know about but stuff that they want to talk about. It kind of goes back to my previous post on my proposed corollary to the golden rule (read it here). It’s not about what I want to talk about, or the fact that I don’t really want to talk to them. It’s about listening to them and letting them talk about what is important to them. And I want them to come to Whitewater. So, it kind of is about what I want. It’s about us wanting to get them on campus and us wanting to do what it takes to win a national championship. I want a national championship. Therefore, in some sort of way, I do want to talk to these kids. Wait. No, I don’t. I want to listen to them.
Like I said in the beginning, maybe this isn’t revolutionary to people who are good at recruiting or to people who like to talk to people and engage with people. But I am not one of those people. Most days, I just hope I can eventually get the words out of my mouth. I process words a lot slower than other people. I may not respond as quickly or I may not look at you while you talk so that I can listen better. But my flowchart, my secret, gives me a workaround. If I know what I am listening for, and know what words to pay special attention to, I can decrease my processing time. It’s a mask, and maybe it’s cheating, but I think it works. It is so much more effective for me. Recruiting doesn’t stress me out. I almost look forward to going to make my calls. I look forward to the challenge when a senior names off a list of 5 great schools, or maybe even a couple D1s. I don’t lose sleep at night because I hung up on a kid or because I put off my recruiting calls. So maybe I don’t get anyone to come to Whitewater this year. My goal shouldn’t be to get a certain number of commits or visits. My goal should be to continue to improve my craft. It will take time to develop my script and it will take time to become more effective. I am already more comfortable and I can tell it makes the PSA’s more comfortable as well. (Apparently, people normally like to talk about themselves.)
To summarize my secret to recruiting: Stick to the script, listen, listen, and listen. If you’re willing, I’d love to know what your secret strategy is when it comes to recruiting or having great conversations. Leave a comment below.