Your Take: Expanding Your Coaching Networkby: Raymonn Adams
© June 2014
We all have a stack of business cards, or an inbox full of messages from other coaches throughout our network. When was the last time you reached out to one of those coaches to discuss a concept or to share a scheme? Have you applied or inquired about a job at a school where you did not know anyone on the current staff? Is there a chance that one of those contacts in your file has a connection to use?
The concept of increasing value and depth to your network is one that should not be lost on younger and older coaches alike. Advancement in the profession is often times directly related to your inner circle of contacts across the country. Coaches can implement proven strategies to get the most out of their contacts to allow them to increase their coaching portfolios and playbooks.
Here are five tips you can use to expand your network.
Build and Sustain Relationships
The coaching profession is a microcosm of society in that we are rarely more than four or five degrees separated from any single coach in the country, regardless of level. Successful coaches have a proven track record of building excellent relationships with their players. This is no different for coaches who have an excellent network of contacts. Those professionals who wish to cultivate a network of other successful coaches do so by building both professional and personal respect with their peers. If you do not realize the importance of using your existing contacts and connections as an avenue to reach out to other coaches that have knowledge you can use to advance your coaching career, you’re missing out on a great opportunity.
Leverage Professional Organizations
Football coaches have excellent resources at their fingertips to help increase their network of peers. Multiple professional organizations provide opportunities for coaches to connect and learn from each other in the form of clinics, conventions, and even online forums. There is not a successful coach who can take sole credit for every single detail of his program. Sharing ideas drives this profession across all levels.
One of the best ways to connect with thought leaders in coaching is to volunteer to serve on committees or member boards of organizations you belong to.. This allows you the opportunity to become better acquainted with organizational membership and instantly expands your network.
Make Yourself Available
Coaches will often comment on the importance of attending conventions and clinics, and they will find these valuable if they are able to pick up even one or two ideas that they can implement. While attending these clinics is crucial, it may be more important to make sure you are available for other coaches to reach out to. Whether that means taking a call from a new coach within your district, volunteering to participate in a clinic for youth coaches, or freely sharing a segment of your drills, plays, schemes with your peers, make sure you are available to connect with.
Become the Go-To Expert
This idea to increase your connectivity ties in very closely with the previous point of making yourself available. Coaches are always on the lookout for an opportunity to get together to share ideas, and hosting your own clinic is a great way to grow your network. Local low-cost clinics are often very well attended by area coaches that can stop by for a Saturday morning Xs and Os session. These are great ideas that do not take a lot of effort or planning other than organizing a few clinicians and a sponsor or two to fund the event.
The first convention I ever attended was a whirlwind of connecting, passing out business cards, and exchanging numbers. But what did I do with all of those when I got home? Unfortunately, I slipped them into my desk drawer and failed to utilize the opportunity to add them to my network. If I would have taken the time to drop those coaches a personal note or even an email, the opportunities to continue to connect with them throughout my career would have been immeasurable.
Make the most of those opportunities to reach out and connect on a personal level following an event such as a clinic or convention. Take ten minutes of your day and reserve that time for sending correspondence to connections that you read about or see on the ticker to compliment them on the article that they have written or on their successful season. Coaches who can set aside personal time to cultivate a network, will reap the rewards as their careers progress.
Coaches will often make comments such as, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”, and they are referring to career advancement by using your professional networks and contacts to get the next job in your career path. Knowing how to take advantage as well as how to expand this network will be valuable for you personally and professionally in the realm of coaching football.
About the Author: Raymonn Adams is the founder and CEO of Lockr [getlockr.com], a practice planning coaching software. Before that, he was a running back in the NFL, CFL and NFL Europe, as well as a running backs coach and special teams coordinator for 7 years.