One of the aspects that I love about college sports is that the best coaches are also the best recruiters.
There are a lot of different sides to this, from consistently portraying an image of success as a team, to assuring parents why it is in the best interest of their son or daughter’s future to sign with a certain team.
As we work with colleges, universities and landscape professionals engaged in Come Alive Outside programs and see the very real need that there is to attract more great people into the landscape profession, I believe there are some valuable lessons to take away from the kind of hands-on, inspired and personal approach to recruiting that so many great collegiate sports programs employ.
Lessons from Jimmy V.
When a recruit would visit North Carolina State, the coach, the late Jim Valvano, would take him to the court where the team plays its games. All of the lights in the arena would be out except for a spotlight on two folding chairs set up at center court, and the coach would walk out and sit down with the recruit.
Valvano would have the young athlete close his eyes, and then with all of the enthusiasm that Jimmy V is famous for, he would have them imagine what it would feel like to play on that floor as a contender for the ACC Championship.
They would pipe in crowd noise over the loudspeakers so that the player could hear what 12,000 screaming fans sound like. Then as Valvano finished painting the picture, the lights would come up. the noise of the fans would die down and the young athlete would be left at center court with a glimpse of what success as an NC State player would feel like.
Helping an individual realize how their personal dreams and success are connected with the vision and story of your company is a deep and powerful thing. Valvano understood this isn’t something that you can just explain to someone; it’s something that you have to help them feel and experience on an emotional level.
Beyond the booth.
In 2015, Michael Hatcher and Associates sponsored teams of Landscape Architecture, Horticulture and Landscape Management students from Auburn University, Hinds Community College, LSU and Mississippi State to travel to Memphis to participate in the Come Alive Outside Design Challenge.
Over the course of the three-day event, the college students teamed up with high school students and the professionals from Hatcher and Associates to design a new outdoor learning environment at Memphis Catholic Middle and High School.
Over the next month, the college teams finalized the initial concepts that were developed during the event, and a winning design was selected, which is currently under construction at the school.
For Michael Hatcher, this is not only a way to continue to do work that he is passionate about in the community, it is also a way to build relationships with the young people that have the potential to continue to make Hatcher and Associates a great company.
As opposed to being just another company with a booth at a job fair, Michael was able to create a scouting trip that came to him, as well as an experience the students would discuss with their friends.
Just like Valvano sharing the dream with a recruit at center court, it is worth putting yourself and your passion out there and creating a memorable experience that sticks in someone’s mind.