We’ve done a lot of talking about the NFLPA exam which is slated for next week, and, of course, we’ve touted our test materials. However, the exam is just step one in any agent’s career, with many important steps to follow.

While the exam is tough, actually being an agent is tougher. There’s a reason why, by my estimates, only about 10-15 percent of any agent class last five years or more. It’s because so many contract advisors don’t understand what they face entering the league and never adapt to what they should do to make it in the business.

Here’s my advice.

  • Know what success looks like: So, so many agents are rightly excited when they sign their first client. I get it. But honestly, that’s not so hard to do. If you look hard enough, and answer all the calls and emails from desperate draft-eligible players, you’ll sign someone. What most agents don’t realize is that signing the wrong person becomes a real albatross. Just signing someone, at the end of the day, means nothing.
  • Know when to spend money: I’d say spending money poorly is the No. 1 reason why agents fail. So many agents stumble through the fall in Year 1, then, in December or January, spend thousands on training for a player who didn’t get an all-star invite, isn’t going to the combine, and really isn’t a prospect at all.
  • Know when to be an agent, and when to be a human being: One of the classic mistakes many new agents make is that they unwisely think their most important quality is their ability to negotiate, which often pushes them to be skeptical and negative. This is especially true of the young agents who come out of the bigger sport management programs; for four years, they’re given misconceptions about the business. But I digress. The bottom line is, if you’re a first-year, independent agent, you’re going to a gunfight with a pillow. You have no horsepower. Rather than trying to bluff your way to success, or bully people, or whatever, try being fair, professional and friendly. I promise no one will take this as weakness, or at least, more people won’t than will. Plus, you don’t really have any other options. I’ve seen ’em come and I’ve seen ’em go in this business, and more often than not, the know-it-all guys have the least success.

Those are a few quick thoughts. In the meantime, in my humble opinion, spending $29.95/mo to become an ITL subscriber is the best investment a new agent can make, because we can steer new agents through the first-year maze. But first things first. If you’re a new agent, and you’ve been trying to decide whether it’s worth it to pay for study aids, I highly recommend you take a look at what we offer.

Here’s a full explanation of our study guide and both practice exams. If you’re still not sold, at least sign up for our free Friday Wrap, which will give you a much better idea of what we do, and at no cost. Here’s a look at last week’s edition.