Brady Grayvold Highlights the Importance of Networking [AFCA Virtual Clinic]

Brady Grayvold Highlights the Importance of Networking [AFCA Virtual Clinic]

In this virtual clinic session, Brady Grayvold, the defensive line coach at the University of St. Thomas, shares his philosophy on networking within the coaching profession. Coach Grayvold highlights what networking is, the reasons it is essential, and how it will impact your brand and career.


What Is Networking?

Networking, by definition, is the action or process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts. As Coach Grayvold points out, there is a wealth of information in today’s coaching world. There are ideas for schemes, culture, equipment, film, etc. There has never been a time period in the history of the world like there is now, where you can access other people and other information at the click of a button. Coach Grayvold says Twitter and direct messages (on any platform) are powerful tools that coaches can use to connect with one another to share professional and social content. This is important because the larger your network the more value you have in the coaching world.

“Your network is your net worth,” said Coach Grayvold.

This indicates that the larger your network, the more valuable and trustworthy you can be. It is worth noting that coaches like James Franklin, Willie Fritz, and Glenn Caruso have commented on the importance of networking. Coach Franklin has said that he does not waste time calling references for an applicant, but instead calls the coaches he knows and trusts. He does not hire a coach that either himself or someone he directly trusts is not familiar with. Coach Fritz also wants to know the person applying or be certain that someone he already knows is familiar with them. Coach Caruso also reaches out to the guys that he trusts and says that the guys who follow up quickly are more likely to get the position. This proves that connections are vital. It is likely that most coaches got their start in the profession with some sort of a personal connection.

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“The attention to getting to know people that are in positions that you potentially want one day is incredibly important,” said Grayvold. “I mean you can go through all three [coaches] and they are all three saying the same thing, ‘we are not going to hire people outside of our network.’”

Six Degrees of Separation

Coach Grayvold shares that the higher the desired position is, the more the hiring person or group needs to trust you. This trust is created by establishing goals and genuine connections with other people. One rule of thumb that Coach Grayvold has a passion for is the six degrees of separation. This rule states that you are only six connections away from some random person halfway across the world. Between your friend knowing someone, who knows someone else, who has a boss who knows someone else, it only takes six connections to link people together. This can also be applied to the coaching community.

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“Take this down to the coaching community, right, I don’t know Nick Saban as a person, but I know my head coach is now the head coach at Buffalo, who I’m sure knows someone in the SEC, who probably coached against Nick Saban, who knows a staff member and there is Nick Saban,” said Grayvold.

People get jobs and careers by getting out of their comfort zone and getting to know other people. It is vital to always continue expanding your network. One challenging part of networking, however, is getting started. In the football world, this can be done by attending clinics, conventions, or workshops. It can also be done through social media and podcasts. By engaging in different events, you are taking advantage of opportunities to meet other people and make connections, oftentimes outside of football. Every conversation does not need to be about the X’s and O’s of a program. Coach Grayvold emphasizes the importance of being genuine and real. Knowing where you are in your career is crucial. Oftentimes coaches want to land the next best job and want to shake hands with a head coach at the Division I level. Coach Grayvold suggests that you do not need to shake the hand of a famous Division I head coach, but you could get to know some Division I assistants and analysts who could potentially vouch for you down the road. Another tip for coaches who want to make real connections is to utilize handwritten letters or notes rather than emails. Tangible notes are memorable and meaningful because they communicate that you took time out of your day to write and address that note.

How To Build YOUR Brand

One of the best things you can do to grow your network is maintaining a social media presence. Coach Grayvold believes that if you do not have a Twitter presence then you are doing yourself a disservice. If you aren’t posting and creating the messages that you want out there, then others will create the message for you. Your brand will no longer be your brand because you will be overshadowed and absent on social media platforms. Posting videos, writing articles, and participating in chats are all good ways to provide others with your content. Coach Grayvold shares that his Twitter account consists of approximately 40% football content, 40% social content, and 20% random things that are appropriately humorous.

“I think that’s a good mix of presenting who you are as a person, overall, and really promoting your brand,” said Grayvold.

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Another way to promote your brand is to speak at smaller clinics. This provides an opportunity to prove that you can get the job done and you know what you are talking about. If you are willing, find a mentor who has done it before. Allowing them to speak into your life about their experiences will help you grow. Many times, guys do not want to replicate those who have been successful. However, it is okay to model yourself after someone who has already “been there and done that.” This doesn’t mean copy their ways necessarily but find what worked and make it your own.

Sustaining The Climb

The continuously evolving nature of coaching football is certainly a grind. Coach Grayvold shared some ways that coaches can continue to grow and climb the ranks without burning out. One recommendation he has is for coaches to not get complacent. Continue to read books and listen to other coaches. It is crucial for coaches to always be in a state of learning. It is also important to become innovative. Coaches who can find a way to progress the game and add value are more likely to succeed at the next level. This can be accomplished by challenging your own thinking. Seek out those who have different ideas and creative thoughts to grow your own knowledge of the game. Though you may not agree with everything, there can still be an appreciation and understanding of the different methods of coaching.

At the end of the day, Coach Grayvold shared that most coaches are in the profession to build young men through the game of football. It is vital to not lose sight of that purpose and that mission. With that being said, it is also crucial that you do the work necessary to reach your personal goals. A great portion of this work is developing your brand and making connections with others.

Ask Coach Grayvold

Q: What are some good ways to break the ice with coaches you do not know at the conventions or clinics?

A: You have to be opportunistic. The best way is to get to know a guy who knows a lot of people. Understand who you know and get to know people who are in your wheelhouse, and can ultimately lead to a bigger network down the road.

Q: How do you seek some of these opportunities, like 35 Under 35, that generate networking?

A: Just find a local avenue to begin getting involved in. Get in groups and begin diversifying your portfolio of who you know.

Q: Do you suggest that all coaches share their information as far as concepts and schemes, etc.?

A: I think Twitter is a powerful tool where you can’t see who views your stuff, but you can find a niche market for something that coaches could use and implement.

Q: Who are some of the other Twitter accounts that do a good job of networking and have a strong presence?

A: There are multiple. Guys like Dan Casey and Adam Harvey both do a great job, but there are so many out there.

Q: How did you become associated with the AFCA?

A: I built my network and got selected into the 35 Under 35 program. Make sure you know the right people because at the end of the day you need to know people in positions that you want to get into because if you don’t know them then you will never land that position. It is important to build real relationships and show people you are genuine.

Q: How important is patience in networking?

A: Patience is huge, but it only takes one person to say yes and you are in. You have to be calculated in how you approach networking and jobs. Attack it if you really want it.

Q: When trying to build a relationship how do you know when to back off prior to seeming desperate?

A: It is important to be thoughtful. Be thoughtful and precise in your conversations and questions. Do your research to be precise.

Q: Are you doing anything differently at the collegiate level as far as networking goes?

A: The scope changes, but not necessarily how you network. Being a college coach in a sense means you should really grow and maintain your networking. We’re all coaching the same game no matter what level we’re at.

To watch Coach Grayvold’s Virtual Clinic, along with numerous other videos, please log in to your AFCA membership account and search through the AFCA Educational Library.

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