In working with pro athletes both current and retired, I’ve made a few discoveries along the way from my clients. Basically, working with pro athletes, specifically NFL athletes, requires the same principles and ethics as needed for any other client. If you are currently working with, or have aspirations to work with, pro athletes in any sport, here are a few industry secrets I’ve learned and regularly practice in my own business:
1. Quote Fairly
Just because an athlete made it to the pro level doesn’t mean they have unlimited resources. More often than not, as a retired athlete, they’re struggling to make their business work like everyone else. Don’t quote in the stratosphere because you think he’s Mr. Money Bags.
2. Be Professional
Don’t act like a silly fan with over-the-top flattery. If you gain a pro athlete as a client, even if they’re your very favorite player of all time, tell them professionally and politely that you admire their work and move on.
3. Communicate Openly and Honestly
Show honor and respect to your pro athlete client by honestly communicating throughout their project. Recently, one of my LinkedIn connections, a retired NFL athlete, contacted me to talk about several projects he has on his plate. I assured him that I could complete the projects and we’re moving forward.
I also told him I had just started a part-time job the past week to supplement my current efforts – a means to an end job – and that I might need a few extra days to complete the projects. What if I had not revealed that fact and then had trouble keeping up with the deadlines? Not only would my business reputation suffer but he would consider me flaky and not a woman of my word. Not a chance I want to take. Don’t let fear cause you to cover up important lifestyle facts. Just be honest about your current situation and let your client know what’s happening at various stages throughout the project.
4. Be True To Your Word
If you say you’re going to call them back, call them back. If you say you’ll get a quote to them within a day, get the quote to them. Pro athletes are just like any other client – they’ll appreciate your diligence, your discipline, and your dedication.
Pro athletes are best friends with excellence. They didn’t get to pro athlete status by giving less than their best. They understand how hard work brings you closer to realizing your goals. They understand that service brings rewards. You will not be referred or given more work if you produce shoddy service or provide unresponsive customer service.
6. Confidentiality Rules
Sure, you’re excited about securing your first pro athlete as a client. I know I was when it happened last year. In the midst of your enthusiasm, show ethical respect for your clients’ projects by abiding by common confidentiality standards. Put them on your website client list but ask them before you use one of their completed projects as a work sample.
7. Ask For Referrals
If you regularly practice the tips above, you’ll have the confidence to ask for referrals. You might want to create an online, emailable referral sheet and, at the end of every project, request one to three names of other current or retired pro athletes they might know who could benefit from your expertise. If you’ve given stellar service, and have under-promised and over-delivered, it will be an easy task for your client to refer others to you.
Even if pro athletes aren’t your target market, you can still implement these tips to provide a win-win experience for you and your clients. Practice these regularly and you’ll find yourself moving up the field to a winning business.