We live in a “noisy” culture. These days everybody has something to say and everybody has a platform to say it from. There are many wonderful things about this social media age, but there is no denying it’s noisier than ever. When it’s noisy it’s hard to be heard and being heard is a critical component to being a successful coach.
In his book “Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World” Michael Hyatt (@MichaelHyatt) shares his wisdom on using social media and the internet to build a business platform. While some of his wisdom isn’t applicable to the coach, much of it is. In my previous post, “3 reasons football coaches must be salesmen“, post we learned why we, as coaches, are all in sales. This post we are going to discuss why we all must establish and build a platform for our programs.
What is a platform? A platform is any position of influence you use to state, defend, and build your vision for your team. It’s a place where you state why your program exists, what you’re all about, and establish expectations and norms.
Here are 5 keys to establishing and building your platform:
1. Know who you are…
…and act like who you are. We live in a teenage driven society. The internet age has transformed teenagers into power wielding influencers and consumers. This reality subconsciously places pressure on leaders of teenagers to be like the teenagers. As a result, there are a lot of coaches running around trying to be like teenagers. Essentially, one aspect of their platform is “I’m like you. Come join my team.”
While I think part of building your platform is engaging your players where they’re at I also think it’s a mistake to be like your players. This means using Twitter to communicate who you are and what you’re team is all about is probably good as long as you act like a professional and not a teenager while on Twitter (or any other social media network).
2. Create a “Wow experience”
This is straight out of Hyatt’s book. In an age when everyone is able to cast their ideas before thousands of people you had better make sure that whatever you are casting is of extremely high quality. For the football coach this means that being a player on your team and being a parent in your program must be a “wow experience.” This doesn’t necessarily mean winning championships. It means focusing on developing people as well as players. Whether you go 0-10 or 10-0 you need to be in the business of developing men and providing a wow experience for everyone involved.
3. Think beyond Facebook and Twitter
This isn’t a post about building a team Facebook page/group or Twitter account. This is a post about recognizing all of your potential resources and using them to build your brand. What’s your brand? It’s your way of conducting a football program.
I think our head coach does a great job of thinking beyond Facebook and Twitter every year at our preseason BBQ and our postseason banquet. He is always careful to explain how our team defines success, what we value, and why we value it. Both events are family events so the entire football community is in attendance. If you attend both events you know what our program is all about. Our “brand” is obvious. Our platform is clear.
4. Strive for quality over quantity
Back in college a friend and I spent two summers working for a concrete company. One day he looked over the enormous worksite we were at and asked “Whatever happened to quality?” I answered “Quantity.”
Over the years I’ve learned it’s not how much you communicate it’s how well you communicate. If you choose to blog or tweet or host annual events you need to maximize every interaction and make sure each one is a well crafted communication. I’ve learned that a really well done end of season banquet is far more powerful than weekly emails. Both may have a rightful spot in your platform, but you need to recognize the power of quality and reject the myth that quantity is the is the key to effective communication.
5. Peel back the curtain
Your players are highly relational. Way more so than you were at their age. They want to know you. They want to know about your hobbies, your favorite foods, what you like to do with your free time, etc. As Tim Elmore (@TimElmore) would say they don’t want a “sage on the stage” they want a “guide on the side.” Use your platform to show your players an aspect of your life and personality they may not see at practice or on game day. This could involve posting pictures with your family, telling stories about your experiences, or just being willing to actually get choked up in front of them every once in a while.
Remember, the key to having a great platform isn’t being the noisiest. The key is having something important to say. Being intentional and actually having something worthwhile to say is the topic of my next post. In the meantime, take a moment to share some ways you are already building or plan to start building your platform.