With 25+ deals under her belt, FAU graduating senior Cara Simpson is a NIL pro. A standout on the Women’s Track & Field team, she blazed a trail in year one of the NIL era and developed real-life experience that helped set up her professional career.
As a business management major, skills learned and honed navigating NIL – leadership, time management, and other hard skills – have directly correlated to her long-term career path.
Connecting with Brands
Simpson has always been one to jump on new opportunities when they come. NIL was no different. She dove in on July 1, 2021, and quickly began securing deals.
“If there’s an opportunity, I’m definitely going to hop on it and make the best of it,” she said. “In the beginning, when the NIL ruling was passed, I didn’t know where to start. I initially reached out to a lot of different companies I was interested in. I was like, ‘Hey, I know they just passed the new NIL rule and we’re allowed to partner companies. Are you interested in partnering with me?’ I just messaged a lot of people – and when I say a lot, it was over 100 companies because I was really interested – and I was so excited that it was allowed.”
Simpson had a response rate of about 50% early on. She started by receiving free product and merchandise from brands.
“I love free stuff. Then, the more I got into it and started to understand the process and how it all worked, I was able to be compensated with money,” she explained. “Opendorse definitely helped me on that route because a lot of the time I wasn’t really sure how to negotiate or how much a post was worth. Opendorse helped me to see my social media assessment and see my value for each post. This experience is great and Opendorse has done a great deal to help me with the majority of this.”
Completing multiple partnerships can lead to complexities, especially in terms of time management. Staying on top of compliance and taxes is important. Simpson explained that staying organized has been key.
“When I finally tapped into Opendorse, it made everything a lot easier to keep track of everything,” she said. “Then, it helped seeing if something was accepted or declined, or if I wanted to withdraw one of the deal offers that I put out.”
Simpson takes pride in being a good partner. She schedules out and plans time in her weekly schedule to pursue and focus on NIL opportunities. She always delivers.
“Typically, on Sunday I’ll plan out my whole week. I’m looking at the initial deals that are due: I look at the due dates, I’ll look at when they need to be posted, and I’ll make a schedule based on that. If I have several deals that are things that need to be posted on a weekly basis, I’ll set aside a Wednesday: I’ll get all that content done on Wednesday and then I’ll have it posted by Friday.
“If the deal isn’t due for another two weeks or something, I’ll just like get it done on a weekend when I’m not doing anything. But I definitely make time for it.”
Spreading the Wealth
As a leader in the locker room who is found success both on and off the track, Simpson is trusted by her teammates. She is often asked about how to get started on pursuing NIL opportunities.
“Literally everyone on my team has come to me at one point about the NIL experience or advice,” Simpson said. “I honestly tell them every time, tap into Opendrose. That’s where it’s going to be so easy. We all have Opendorse accounts already, so go ahead and sign in. Go to the Opportunities part. Scroll through there and see what opportunities you’re interested in. I would tell them read the instructions and directions – listed under each opportunity. It’s not a hard thing to do.”
Her teammates have also found success using Opendorse. She makes sure to encourage her teammates in the process. Don’t get discouraged if a brand says “no,” she said.
“There’s a million companies out there that are willing to sponsor you and put forth efforts to work with you. Be patient with the process and don’t just give up so easily.”
In November, Simpson connected with a company for a short-term NIL deal. The company appreciated her proactive and clear communication. They liked the work she put in regarding the partnership. From that connection, she is still creating content for the company, even helping them with graphic design work.
“I’ve been working with them on a consistent basis now and just really exciting,” she said. “For one, I was never really interested in graphic design, but I always thought it was fun. I would just do it for, for whatever. But after having to do it for that company, I started to like get more into it. Since then, there’s been other companies that I’ve branched off to and I’m working with them doing graphic design for them.
“It has really expanded my creative side. I love track, but there’s other parts of me I didn’t really ever tap into. This is opening the door for new opportunities. It’s, super fun.”