Today’s tip for new agents is to be open to anyone who might be able to help you. Listen and learn, always. Maybe a related lesson would be not to burn bridges. Here are a couple of war stories that illustrate these principles.

This time of year, I always cruise Twitter for folks slated to take the NFLPA exam later in the summer. Three years ago, I was looking around and came upon a young man who expressed excitement that he’d gotten his CBA from the NFLPA and was digging in, starting his studies. I sent him a cheery message congratulating him on his dive into the business, and asked if he’d be interested in receiving our free email newsletter that talks about the certification process, peoples’ experiences with the exam, etc. Many budding agents have found it a helpful tool for preparing for the test and all that surrounds it.

Now, many people ignore my Tweets, and some politely decline, but his response was something along the lines of, ‘What could you possibly tell me about the agent exam or the business?’

I guess that shouldn’t surprise me. Twitter is a platform tailor-made for people who want to express unsolicited vitriol from a safe distance. Looking back, it’s not his response that surprised me. I guess it was his attitude.

Look, I’m not famous and I know I don’t have all the answers. He probably looked at my Twitter following, which most likely was just over 1,000 back then, and thought I was some hack and shrugged me off. And hey, maybe I couldn’t have provided any insights or information that he could use. But I know this: He’s heading into Year 3 of his agent career, and he still hasn’t had anyone on an NFL contract. If he goes another year without one, he’s out, and he’ll have to start all over in the business.

I had a similar experience with another agent who was also unimpressed with me initially. He reacted to my first inquiry dismissively, but gave me another chance after we met at the 2014 Senior Bowl. This agent was open-minded enough to give me another shot, and I think he would say he’s benefited from it. Today, he’s one of my better friends among my clients, and we talk pretty regularly when the season is ‘hot.’ Unlike the other agent, my friend, Louis, has his first guy in an NFL camp this year. I’d like to think I played some tiny role in that. It’s a great feeling.

Here’s the point. You may have no regard for what ITL is or what I do, and if you don’t, that’s totally fair. But be careful not to go your own way in this business. It’s just too hard. Though these are definitely shark-filled waters, and it’s natural to have your guard up, but there are definitely people who can provide counsel, moral support, or even ears to listen when times are tough. I try not to ever burn bridges. I hope you don’t, either. This business is just so small, and it could come back to haunt you. Keep your eyes, ears and mind open to learning opportunities. You won’t be sorry.

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