Wednesday, October 19, 2011

SO YOU WANT TO BE AN AGENT?

PART TWO:

Thank you for coming back. I hope Part 1 went into some detail about what it takes, and will take to start your career to becoming an agent. If you truly want to break into the business, here's my advice.

1)      Be realistic, in not only your goals, but your expectations. This includes the money you will spend, (a lot), and the money you will make (a little). The level of players you will sign, and the chance they have to make it to the NFL.

2)      Stay persistent. You will fail A LOT. You will get told NO, A LOT. And you will not get in touch with players, A LOT. But if you keep at it, eventually you may get a break.

3)      If you have a shot to get an internship take it. If you have a shot to actually work with an agent, that's even better. But keep trying; the main thing is to stand out. Bring something to the table that no other person will. Saying you are driven, is fine, but how many resumes have that statement on them?

4)      Be prepared for a lot of heartache and stress, stress, and more stress. Stress while recruiting. And even if you sign a guy, stress in keeping the guy. Not only happy with you, but out of the clutches of other agents. Stress with spending a ton of money, only to not have anything in return. The last one is especially big, especially if you are married. Ask any agent about their married life, and I guarantee they can tell you a lot of times they slept on the couch.

With that out of the way, I will move on.  Today I will answer some questions I received from some of my readers. (Thank you by the way)And also I will give you a couple of firsthand accounts from some agents that were nice enough to share their story with me.  Remember these are just answers/advice that I think will benefit you. And just like with my clients, I will keep it 100% real, so without further adieu, here goes part 2…

Greg , you speak a lot about unrealistic expectations. I hopefully will take my test this year. I plan on signing a couple of guys who may get drafted next year. With these guys, I don't plan on spending much money, am I being unrealistic?

To be honest with you. Yes. First off, refer to part one of the post. Remember, just to become certified as an agent you will come out of pocket at least $3000.00. That's the application test fee, NFLPA mandatory insurance, and hotel room for D.C. Add in the cost of travel to and from D.C., plus the state registration fee, depending on where you live, and you are actually looking closer to $4,000.00. If the guy is a borderline prospect like you said, then he may have expectations of going somewhere for training and the agent is expected to flip the bill. Almost all players get some form of pre draft training. So that could be another $5,000 to $12,000 per player. So in your plan and why you are recruiting these players, keep that in the back of mind. With the amount of money you spend in the first year on a prospect, versus the amount of money you stand to make, it's not really a wise business venture.

What advice would you give to those in their early twenties who want to break into this industry?

Being young is both an advantage and a disadvantage. It's an advantage because you are young, hungry, and have something to prove. Also, hopefully you are recruiting at a school where you graduated from and still know some players on the team that you may be close to. It's a disadvantage because you will have no experience, no contacts, and no way to show the guys that you will be able to handle the things they need. Also if you are in your early twenties, chances that you have $15,000 lying around are slim. I don't know your situation, yet the financial obligation is a major factor in getting started. Knowing which players to recruit is also a disadvantage. As I said before, you could use internet stories and sites, but when it comes down to it, knowing actual team scouts is an advantage.

What is the hardest part of recruiting?

This question can piggy back on the previous one. There is no one hard part of recruiting. The whole process is a constant headache and one that is not for the thin skinned.

1)      As stated before, you have to KNOW which players have a shot to play at the next level. The most experienced scouts and coaches don't get these right all the time, so imagine how hard it is for an agent outside the top 100.Yet almost every prospect thinks they are a high draft pick. It's up to the agent to give them their realistic chances.

2)      Other agents. This may be the hardest part of recruiting if I had to choose. Most agents; especially knew agents really have no idea just how many agents there actually are. You think you may have a bead on an under the radar guy, but if no other agents are on the player, then he is not an NFL prospect. If he is, you have to expect to be competing against at least 20 agents in an attempt to sign that player. And out of that group there's someone that has more notoriety, more clients, more experience, and more money. You are also recruiting against the player's friends, coaches, and parents who may already have an agent in mind.

3)      The player. Recruiting the player is an adventure within itself. You never know what he is thinking. And you believe really half of what he says. Last year I had 2 guys tell me on Monday they were signing with me. I tried to sign one that night, he asked me to wait until the morning. When I called in the morning, he informed me his mom advised him to go another direction. So I jumped in my car to start the 6 hour drive only to receive a text saying that he had also changed his mind. You can spend the whole year recruiting a guy and think you may have the best relationship, only to have him change his mind at the last minute.

4)      Travel. Deciding which players to target, then how much to speak with them without bugging them, yet enough to show you are interested. Then you have to plan on which games you need to attend, and how to mix meetings with their families into the mix. If you are only recruiting one or two guys, this isn't an issue, but you can see how if you were talking with a few, this could get time consuming.

5)      Finally, getting in touch with the player. How do you find their contact info, then contacting them without breaking any compliance rules the school, state, or NFLPA may have. Getting them to take your phone calls or emails, or agree to a face to face is another obstacle. Remember they are being called daily by agents, financial advisors, runners, marketing reps etc.

Greg, I understand how difficult it is to break into the business. And that most agents have most of the guys. I will take the test this summer hopefully, and my plan is to only recruited undrafted guys and guys who could get drafted. I think this Is this a solid plan because of less competition?

Yes, the reason is being a new agent these guys may be willing to speak with you and give you a meeting with them. However, you are a fool to think that you will have less competition. In some cases, you will have more competition. Only a handful of agents recruit first rounders because they have had the most success and a lot of agents don't have the name, resources, or confidence to compete. However, many agents think the same way that you do. They feel they have a chance with these guys as well. And there are more agents that don't have client and are trying to get one, and will be going after these guys just as hard as guys going after the first rounders.

Greg, you've mentioned on your tweets that not all guys are NFL guys. As an agent how do you decide who to target?

I have found the best resources are scouts from NFL teams. They have the knowledge of a guys strengths and weaknesses, and can give you a firsthand account of what their team thinks of a player. Being new, this may not be an option. Most scouts are over worked, under paid, and get a lot of calls and emails daily. They usually just disregard some agents attempts to speak to them. You meet these guys, by having a player they want. Then they seek you out, again with no players, this may be kind of difficult. You can also read up on mock drafts, and some of the numerous draft sites on the web. But if you take a look at these, you can see outside the top 100 or so, they differ greatly. My advice is talk to them, research them, and find one you trust. The most reliable resource though are your own two eyes. But even those can deceive you if you don't know what to look for. Again not all good college players, are NFL caliber.

Greg, I am marketing major, and would love to work with a sports agency. I don't see agents advertise much. Why and wouldn't this be a great idea?

Believe it or not, agents market themselves all the time. You may not see it. They are not going to take an ad out in the phone book, but its ever present. You don't see traditional marketing for one, because it may be a compliance violation. And two, if you advertise, and a player calls you, chances are that player is not an NFL prospect. All prospects get contacted by numerous agents. Rarely do the players contact the agent. Keep that in mind.  

If you had to tell one thing to a guy looking to become a sports agent, what would it be?

 I would say read both these posts and you will have your answer. But graduating college and becoming a sports agent just isn't a feasible path. The main thing is the money. If you are relying on income from your first year to sustain you, you may want to rethink your career choice because odds say you are being very unrealistic and na├»ve. So I guess I would say, get a job, save money, then have a great plan of action.

Greg, I know you say experience and an internship, and the basics are important. But you say they are hard to get. What is your advice for someone to gain these?

As I stated before just stay persistent. No one has ever achieved anything by giving up. So keep pushing, and hit up every agent you can. It may be beneficial to approach smaller agents that also have another career, like being a lawyer. They tend to offer the most internship opportunities because their practices take up a lot of their time. Yet there is a program out there that offers a class on sports management. The course is offered by Sports Management Worldwide, SMWW. It is an 8 week course that offers you the basics of contracts, and the fundamentals of a sports agent. The director is Dr. Lynn Lashbrook, and he brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the course. Marcus Williams is the director of Football, and a NFLPA certified agent. During the course, they are available almost anytime, to offer advice, or just to answer questions. They also offer plenty of internships throughout the year.

So that does it for the question part of the blog post. If you have any other questions, please be free to email me at gllinton@gmail.com or tweet me @agentlinton… next up is a testimony from a few agent friends of mine on their start.

AGENT #1

I thought it would be about relationships. Year 1 we wanted to get our feet wet in our backyard and just talk to Gators we knew. I've only been at it one year but I sat down with or had at least 9 different Florida Gators on the phone who were shopping agents. 4 of them went with an agent who told them they would get drafted or get a team to sign them. EPIC FAIL on their parts. I still have never heard of the agents they chose but have their names. None remain in NFL and none were smart enough to prepare for UFL or CFL, all jobless. 4 of them went with agents like Segal, Rosenhaus, Bus Cook. Those kids are all off teams except for Marcus Gilbert. None remain in NFL and none were smart enough to prepare for UFL or CFL. The ninth told me he would sign with me but stuck with Bus Cook. He got signed by Saints but failed his physical and remains jobless, Carl Johnson. I have spent over $10k and and 3 and a half years preparation, 60 page business plan outlining every step and move we've ever made, countless hours budgeting. I have ZERO revenue to show for it (I dont charge my guys for arena because it's chump change). I do however have 5 extremely satisfied clients I have fought to find jobs and all 5 earned spots on arena teams that I set up workouts for and all 5 are in yr 2 and are lined up to get looks from bigger leagues if they continue to play at the same level as last year. I thought it would be easy since I know my CBA stuff better than most and have negotiated contracts.
I would recommend no law grad ever become an agent without going out into real world first unless they have negotiated millions in business transactions/deals. There is no glamour in the job.
All this being said I still expect yr 2, 2012, to be the first year I get my first NFL client.

AGENT #2

I have been an agent for 2 years without a guy on an NFL roster. In my third year I was able to sign two players. On these 2 players alone I spent over $12,000.00. One guy I was for sure would be drafted, the other I had hope he would be. The draft came and went, and neither guy heard their name called. After the lockout they did sign as UDFA. However neither made the final roster, or the practice squad. I am looking into other leagues, but I will not get the money back I spent this year. And I am now starting to recruit for next year. Hopefully, I have a little more experience this year this year in knowing what guys will actually be drafted, and I met some scouts so I should be able to get some good information from them as well.

AGENT #3

I've been an agent for some years, and I think each year that next year will be my year. I have had some success in the past, but I have yet to make a legitimate profit. I have had some low round draft picks and to some that would signal success. I had 2 players come up on their second contracts, but they both fired me before hand because another agent promised them he could get them more money. So not only did I lose them as clients, I also lost the money I would have received from their contracts. Which was what I was really counting on to further my business.

I do not want you to take these accounts as a deterrent, rather a real life account of some of the things you will encounter while you make the transition into the world of athlete management.

Thank you… until next time… Stay Classy America…

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