This week, my team and I presented our thoughts on how to get a job as an NFL scout at the second annual Personnel Symposium at the J.W. Marriott in Nashville. Jason Montanez of Catapult Leadership and Blake Beddingfield, former Director of College Scouting for the Titans, joined me as we took turns during ITL’s 30-minute segment.

Of course, though we were happy to share our knowledge at the request of CAA’s Ed Marynowitz, the founder of the event, I came away with new information of my own. Here are three of my personal takeaways from the two-day seminar in the Music City.

  • Don’t forget about the power of media, and specifically, social media: The NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah told the story of his introduction to social media shortly after being let go by the Browns. It was a lot of fun to hear in person, but here it is from a story in The Athletic:(ESPN’s Chris) Mortensen had told him to sign up for Twitter so he did. Jeremiah remembers being on an Alaskan cruise with his family and stopping by the internet cafe to check his email. He had 1,100 new messages.“I go, ‘What the heck?’ It was because I got a new email every time I got a new follower,” he remembers. “I could not figure this out. So I kept scrolling down, finally saw an email from Mort. ‘Hey, I just encouraged people to follow you on Twitter … you might want to tweet something.’ Because I hadn’t even tweeted anything.”
  • Persistence, done right, can be effective: Blake told the story of how he landed with Tennessee, but there’s a twist: it came due to his efforts trying to get a job with a different team. Shortly after graduating from Alabama, he was told by a friend of a vacancy with an NFL team, as well as who would be hiring to fill that vacancy. Blake decided to call that official once weekly, on a Thursday, at precisely 9 a.m., speaking for only one minute. After a time, the official began picking up with the greeting, “Hey, Blake.” Though he didn’t get the job, when the Titans were looking to hire, the official called and strongly endorsed Blake, who was subsequently hired.
  • Network or die: Michigan State Executive Director of Player Personnel and Recruiting Sheldon White was part of an excellent panel Tuesday that focused on hiring and getting a job. Sheldon, who has been in football for more than 30 years as a player, coach and executive on the NFL and college level, said he never interviewed for a job before taking his present position. That’s because he always focused on meeting people and building relationships that he could draw on when it became time to turn the page. He applauded the Inside the League presentation Monday night in which I encouraged everyone in attendance to leave with no fewer than five business cards from new friends/colleagues before returning home. If you went to Nashville, and you didn’t make several new associates in the business, you weren’t trying.

I asked a couple friends what they got out of the conference. Here’s what they told me:

  • “I think Ed Marynowitz and his staff did a very nice job of considering everyone’s feedback from last year’s event.  They listened intently and used the information to produce an even better version of the symposium this go-around. Obviously the panels are a main feature.  I particularly enjoyed hearing some of the more introspective answers from certain speakers – responses that emphasized the need to be adaptive and ever-evolving in this line of work.  We can all bring different talents and skills and ideas to our jobs, but above all, we are stewards of the Head Coach’s vision.  I thought it was great to hear some of those guys really hammer on the need to stay flexible and adapt to the changing landscape.” — Matt Doherty, former Director of Player Personnel at Miami (Fla.)
  • “My biggest takeaway from the speakers at the symposium: having one strong champion is better than having multiple people who know your name but don’t know you. If you can learn, you’ll be fine. People want to know about your character. And the same thing applies to recruiting. The character/off the field traits tend to play a bigger role in determining if you will be successful. Another thing as it relates to recruiting, while ranking guys 1-5 might be good, don’t pass up the number 2 or 3 guy if the top guy is slightly better. Lastly, the biggest thing that was reinforced to me was to trust my eyes when scouting.” — Andrew Liacopoulos, player personnel specialist at Boston College
If you were there this week, you probably have thoughts of your own on what you gained from this event. If you weren’t, and you work in college football (or care about scouting, evaluation and recruiting), we’ll be rounding up and reviewing the event in today’s Friday Wrap, which comes out this evening. It’s free, and you can read last week’s issue here. Sign up for it here.