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Should Sports Agents Network With Their Competition?

Love your Enemies

“If you’re an agent, don’t be friends with other agents.”

 

It should not come as a surprise that the agent who wrote the statement above is one of only a very few in my industry that I do not get along with.  He attempts to steal clients from other companies, talks down on his competition instead of listing his positive qualities to potential clients, and will be dealt with by his players’ association, and hopefully weeded out of the industry.  But is he correct in his statement?  If you are an agent, should you treat all other agents as your enemies and never speak to them, only about them?

 

I have taken the exact opposite stance and since founding SportsAgentBlog.com on December 31, 2005, attempted to befriend as many agents as possible.  Those agents know that I have my own practice and that they have or will be competing with me over clients, but 9 times out of 10, are happy to network.

I have found many benefits from networking with others in my industry:

 

 1. Advice. 

No matter how many years of experience you have in your practice, you have not encountered every possible scenario.  It is nice to have a group of connections that you can ask a question to without wondering if they will use it against you.  If you think that the players’ associations will answer all of your questions (in a timely fashion), think again.

2. Recommendations.  

You might be interested in only representing professional basketball players.  If you network with an agent who only represents professional football players and that agent gets a call from a basketball player looking for solid representation, you may get a referral at my favorite price (free).

3. Credibility 

I am only 24-years-old.  I still have another 6 months before I become 25.  So age is often a concern for players and their families when I approach them about representation.  I can show off my body of work and current client base, but it also helps to have others in my own industry with much more experience as friends.  I can name drop BJ Armstrong, Matt Sosnick, Glenn Toby, etc, and they would all be more than happy to say something positive about me (at least I hope that is the case!).

4. Additional Connections 

Today’s agent does not only negotiate professional contracts.  He helps an athlete with retirement planning, financial planning, setting up charities, finding endorsement opportunities, social media strategy…need I go on?  Undoubtedly, you are not an expert in every area mentioned, and you may not be connected to some of the best in those professions.  Your agent buddies may be able to help connect you with others, who in turn, will give you a better chance at retaining the clients you fought so hard for in the first place.

Through SportsAgentBlog.com, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and the Blackberry that never leaves my side, I have created a huge network of agents that I consider friends.  I routinely get emails from agents who appreciate my work with the blog and what I have done with Dynasty at such a young age.  Should I respond to their emails and calls by telling them to F off?  That sounds silly to me.  And I actually enjoy being friends with my colleagues (yes, competition can be colleagues).

Jerry Maguire

Agents get a bad enough reputation from the media as is.  Overall, sports fans don’t like us (holdouts/high salaries), our wives/girlfriends don’t

like us (always traveling/at the computer/on the phone)…hell, everyone calls us Jerry Maguire, individually.  At least we can like each other.  We have to deal with each other at recruiting events, annual meetings, and professional games.  Let’s at least pretend to get along.

And don’t get mad at me if I write something semi-damaging about you on my blog.  I’m just reporting the facts, and the site helps pay the bills.

 

Photo Credits: Enemies; Jerry Maguire

 




 


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17 Responses to Should Sports Agents Network With Their Competition?

  1. Jimmy Kibble August 17, 2009 at 11:14 am #

    Darren,
    I think you have made some great points. Networking among companies does not have to be conflict of interest and very few companies actually do or produce the same or exact services, products and so on… and referrals are worth so much these days.
    Personally, if I must call someone an ‘enemy’ in this business, then they probably did something to hurt my business or my company. I think in the world of social media and online networking, there is ‘enough to go around’.

    Again, Great Article!

  2. Darren Heitner August 17, 2009 at 4:57 pm #

    The guy who told me, “If you’re an agent, don’t be friends with other agents,” is unsurprisingly the only agent who has “stolen” a client away from me. Unbeknown to him, the player still talks to me regularly and told me that he is just using the agent to fund his equipment.

    People with that type of attitude end up suffering in the end. There’s just no point in acting that way.

  3. Michael Hilliard August 19, 2009 at 9:55 am #

    Hi Darren –

    I agree 100% with what you are saying. Being a jerk is not a long-term success strategy. This short-sighted behavior results in eventually been outed and ostracized by your colleagues, clients, and industry.

    I am not a Sports Agent but I work with them and their athletes (I am President of a company – Inbounds Athletics – those main focus is to provide athletes access to sports nutritional products that have been specifically lot tested for banned-substances) and it is easy to see someone’s true motives by how they treat people. Bottom line; jerks care only about what is in it for them, whereas professionals who “get it” by treating all members of the C4 (Competitors, Clients, Colleagues, Customers) with respect understand that ultimately their actions will come back to benefit themselves in some form.

    Let me know if I can be of any assistance to you and your athletes. It sounds like you are exactly the type of person we seek to align our ourselves with.

  4. Ryan Sammut March 30, 2010 at 7:50 am #

    To whom it may concern,
    I am Ryan Sammut from MT. Pleasant, Michigan, a 22 year old aspiring sports agent. In my case i am currently not attending a college or university. the truth is, i went to college freshmen year and did not know what i wanted from school. now with some considerable time i have my goals set. I am writing in hopes to possibly attain an internship opportunity, any internship information or any helpful information to proceed in the sports management field. I know that this is probably a long shot, but i would not know if i did not try. My life revolves a lot around sports and i would love to have a career in sports management. I hope with this email i can either receive more important information about pursuing my degree in this field or ultimately having the chance to pursue hands on experience in this field. any and all information you can send to me at this point would be greatly appreciated and immense help.
    Thank you for your time,
    Ryan M. Sammut

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