When is recruitment on your campus?

by Matt Mattson

When is recruitment on your campus?

…wait  …wait  …wait for it… [DRAMATIC PAUSE]

O.K., how did you answer that question? 

Did you give a list of dates?  Did you say “the fall” or “the spring”?  Did you start explaining your deferred/delayed recruitment process?  Did you say it starts with when “online sign-up” opens?  Did you explain the difference between formal recruitment and C.O.B./C.O.R.?  Did you start searching for your calendar?  Did you say, “Uh, I don’t know”?  Did you start explaining the rules set up by “the university” or your Greek Council?  Did you feel like you had to ask your chapter president or recruitment chair?

Did you say “Recruitment is 24/7/365″?

Did you say “Now”?

Did you realize that the question is sort of ridiculous to begin with?

If you agree with us that recruitment is NOT about convincing enough people to join your organization, but instead recruitment IS about giving the life-changing gift of your organizazition away to people who deserve it…  then you probably think that the question, “WHEN IS RECRUITMENT?” is pretty ridiculuous.

If recruitment is about changing someone’s life for the better by giving them the gift of your organization, then recruitment should happen whenever that opportunity arises.  Whenever you and your organization know someone well enough to know that a) they measurably, objectively, and demonstrably represent your organization’s values, and b) if you offer them membership, their life and your group will forever be changed for the better — whenever that happens, GIVE THE GIFT.

Don’t wait for the 1 week out of the year when you think it is allowed.  Do it.  Make it happen. Now.

The highest performing groups we work with are open to…

  • weekly votes on potential members,
  • multiple community “bid days” per semester,
  • open recruitment policies for all groups,
  • “rush week” or “formal recruitment” as a time to get a few extra members that the chapter hasn’t had the opportunity to meet yet,
  • 24/7/365 Social Excellence + Recruitment whenever the opportunity to GIVE THE GIFT of membership arises,
  • summer recruitment,
  • recruitment policies built in the interests of the potential members, not just the chapters,
  • standing up strongly against policies that prevent the “simple beauty of recruitment.”

What is the “simple beauty of recruitment”? 

It is simple: a person wants to join a values-based, cause-oriented group it believes in + a group wants a person to join them because they believe in him/her, and they believe that that person can help them make the world a better place through the power of the group. 

It is beautiful: a person’s life is changed forever + a group receives the gifts that a unique new member has to offer. 

Should anything stand in the way of that?  Ever?

So, when is recruitment on your campus?

“Research” Ugh. [And How It Relates to Recruitment]

by Colleen Coffey

Fraternity/sorority recruitment and research are not often mentioned in the same breath. To be honest, I’m not sure why that is. When completing my Master’s degree, my thesis was related to recruitment which is what originally connected me to Phired Up a long time ago. But then (and now) there weren’t many other solid research papers available on anything close to topics like these:

  • Why do students join fraternities/sororities, and why not?
  • What are the determining factors in a member joining a Greek organization?
  • How do we determine what members are the best “fit” for each individual organization?
  • How can councils and campuses best choose organizations for expansion/extension that are likely to be successful based on the campuses unique attributes and history?
  • Is there an optimum chapter size that exsists for fraternities and sororities that produces the highest quality experience?
  • Can we determine the best system for sorority recruitment based on campus size, number of chapters, etc.?

I’ve got a lot more too… As I work to launch Phired Up’s new Research and Assessment Board, these are the types of questions I’d like to work with other researchers in the field to answer.

Now, since I know not everyone who reads this blog is a researcher, let me provide some basic background on the way people like me think… This might also inspire you to think differently about research, recruitment, and the role of research in organizational growth.

research1“Research” Ugh, even the word sounds boring and scary. I first learned that I would have to do real research as a graduate student at Eastern Illinois University. I was already spending sleepless nights as an associate resident director and fraternity/sorority paraprofessional before I even set foot in the classroom. Dr. James Wallace, Associate Professor in the Counseling and Student Development Department, led my first class. He informed us that we would 1) Become “lifelong learners” and 2) Be required to do a thesis. I thought to myself “I am done learning after grad school and I’ll be darned if I complete that thesis, surely there is a way out of it.”

I soon learned that there was no negotiating the thesis and, through that process, lifelong learning became inevitable. I soon came to deeply value curiosity and found that research was the answer to my mandatory pursuit of lifelong learning. The moment we stop learning, stop being curious, or start thinking we know everything is the moment we stop living our best lives. Research is the primary way we learn and grow. Research is routed in everything we do-we just don’t always know it.

Can you remember the moment that you decided to join your fraternity or sorority? What was the process you used to select the organization that you now call home? I bet it would be fair to say you did a little research:

You first defined the problem or objective- Should you join a fraternity or sorority?
1. You observed- you watched what groups were doing on campus and observed their roster of membership
2. You sought to learn from others- maybe you asked questions to an affiliated friend, relative, or parent
3. You practiced-you probably thought about things to talk about with members, what to wear, when you met them, and what questions to ask of them.
4. You selected the group(s) you wanted to join that also wanted you and stated the process of getting to know what it would be like to be a member
5. You collected data- maybe members answered questions for you, maybe you learned more about what it was like to live in the house, maybe your significant other offered their opinion to you.
6. You made your selection based on what you learned and, I hope, are now living happily ever after in fraternal bliss.

That’s research! Here are the steps and they are so simple:

1. Define the problem- get curious about something you want to explore
2. Review the Literature- find out what other researchers are doing on the topic
3. Select Methods- What is the best way you will get answers to quench your curiosity?
4. Select Participants- Who will you study and why did you choose that group over any other?
5. Collect Data and Analyze It- How will you analyze results? Do you need to ask more questions?
6. Apply Results- What changes do you need to make based on your new data?

Here is another way to look at it: You are a Chapter President and can not seem to get seniors to come to things anymore (Define Problem). You find out from other Presidents on campus that this is a wide spread problem (Review Literature) you decide to conduct a focus group with seniors about what is really going on and want to ask them why they are not engaged and how to engage them more (Select Methods.) You invite all of them to attend the focus group (Select Participants.) You have the focus group and learn that a major common theme is that seniors just do not feel wanted or needed anymore (Collect Data and Analyze It). You then choose to create a senior engagement committee that is responsible for celebrating and utilizing seniors (Apply Results.)

As I wrote a thesis and subsequent dissertation I learned that research was the primary way I could make an impact on situations, organizations, and my own pursuit of life long learning. Life long learning is about having the courage to be curious. Curiosity is a cornerstone of Social Excellence.  Are you smart enough and courageous enough to ask important questions? I guarantee that doing so will solve problems and influence people.

I am honored to be a part of Phired Up’s research initiatives and look forward to exploring important questions with each of you. I believe that research is THE way that we will validate the fraternal movement. I encourage each of you to take on this challenge: Email colleen@phiredup.com your answer to this question: In terms of fraternities and sororities- what are you curious about? In return, I will help you find a path to study that question and together we will get Phired Up about it, I promise. :-)

Yours in curiosity,
Colleen Coffey

Recruitment Lessons from P90X and Tony Horton

[Guest Post by Nick Gilly, Director of Extension for Chi Psi Fraternity]

p90x1I run a lot, but have not spent much time in the gym lately.  The other day my roommate was out for the evening so, instead of going for my usual run, I opted to test out the P90X workout system that he and a few other friends had been using.  I assumed it would be easy for me; I consider myself a pretty fit person.  I was sorely mistaken.  Half way through the first workout I wanted to quit; however, the man on screen, Tony Horton, would not allow it.  Without even being present, he and his team pushed me through the entire workout.  Three days later I’m still painfully sore, but am also excited to continue with the program.  Why? I can tell that it works.  I also noticed along the way a lot of similarities between exercise programs and recruitment programs.  Your skills as a recruitment leader are like muscles: to grow them, you must work them.  Dynamic Recruitment, then, represents to recruitment what P90X is to exercise regimens.

Tony Horton is a dynamic leader on the exercise floor.  He leads by example, always putting in the effort to lift more weight and do more repetitions than the people around him.  He does not, however, simply focus on his own routine and assume that everyone else behind him is following along and working as hard.  He challenges each team member to set individual goals for themselves for every workout.  He works with them to meet or exceed their goals.  Once each team member achieves those goals, he challenges them to set higher ones.  A great recruiter, or any other chapter leader, challenges the members around him the same way.  They have to take the first step to participate, but once they are in you, as a leader, can push them and help to hone their abilities.

There is a constant stream of new products and infomercials in the media offering a quick solution to physical fitness that “will give you the body you’ve always dreamed of in only 3 minutes a day!”  These products come and go, however, but P90X has been a top 10 bestselling infomercial product for over 4 years.  Why?  Because it delivers results!  P90X doesn’t offer a cheap fix; Tony acknowledges up front that this is a particularly difficult workout system.  Like a great recruiting chapter makes clear the obligations and commitments associated with membership up front, P90X recognizes that it is not for everyone.  In fact, the makers even provide a fitness test that prospective users should be able to pass before beginning the program.  (Values-Based Selection, anyone?)

There is no cheap and easy fix to consistently excellent recruitment results year after year.  It takes work.  You cannot expect that sitting on the couch eating potato chips will help you achieve the level of fitness that you desire.  Neither will sitting on that same couch waiting for recruits to walk in the door help your organization recruit high quality members into your organization.  While sometimes uncomfortable and difficult at first (the first workout is always the hardest), time will make you and you’re your team more comfortable, stronger, and more effective relationship builders and recruiters.  Take a lesson from Tony Horton and P90X.  Be a leader, take the challenge, and put some sweat into it.  Time to bring it.

Request Online Referrals

by Matt Mattson

This is just a quick Dynamic Recruitment tip to help you grow your Names List over the summer.  Be sure you’re providing clear opportunities online (and making clear requests) for people you know to refer potential members your way. 

Here’s what I mean. 

Inter/National Fraternities and Sororities are pretty good at offering easy opportunities to capture recommendations.  Here are some examples from Beta Theta Pi, Triangle, FIJI, Alpha Chi Omega, Pi Beta Phi, and Alpha Phi.  Interestingly, I searched at least a dozen other organizations (including NPHC and other culturally-oriented groups) and didn’t find a recommendation option on most of the websites I found.  This seems like an easy, no-brainer, front-page addition to me. 

If you use the GoogleDocs Names List from our Free Resources you can easily build a form to embed on into your website to collect this information.  You can also embed that form into E-mails or just send E-mail/Facebook requests with a link directly to the form.  Just make it as easy as possible for people to refer potential members your way.  This form is easy to build and easy to use.  Leverage your network to build your Names List. 

Here are five recommendations for requesting online referrals.

  1. Add a form to your website (or utilize a form already on your inter/national org’s site).  Make it easy for anyone (alumni, members, friends, lovers, pals, teachers, counselors, pen pals, parents, etc.) to refer people to your organization for consideration.
  2. Send an E-mail (with the form or link embedded into it) to your high school teachers, counselors, administrators, janitors, and lunchladies requesting that they complete the form for at least three students who will be attending your school next year.
  3. After a face-to-face lunch meeting (or at least a phone conversation) with your 5 favorite college professors, send a follow-up message with a link to the form  requesting that they complete the form with information about their top 5 students from the past year.
  4. Request referrals, submitted through your form/website, from anyone who joins any Facebook group or Fanpage you have.  Ask members, potential members, girl/boyfriends, friends-of-the-fraternity/sorority, etc.
  5. Request that your chapter’s “Horses” complete the referral form with all of their non-Greek friends over the summer.  It is an easy task to complete no matter where they are this time of year.

Art & Science of Organizational Growth

by Matt Mattson

Art vs. Science.  Both are necessary when it comes to growing your organization.


We had a great conversation with a trusted colleague this weekend.  He suggested that because we have two big lessons we teach  (Dynamic Recruitment & Social Excellence) there might be some confusion about our message.  So, here’s a fun way to think about it.

The ART of Organizational Growth: Social Excellence.  The art side of what we teach is less about what you do, and more about who you have to become.  Become an artist in the social realm.  Connect with people’s emotions and who they really are through authenticity, curiosity, vulnerability, and generosity.  Create a work of art through genuine connections with real people.  Social Excellence is about being a great recruiter.  It is about who you are.  It is about choosing to live a lifestyle and being the best version of yourself.  This is not science, it is art. 

The SCIENCE of Organizational Growth: Dynamic RecruitmentThis is the system, the business model, the framework, the flowchart, the engineering of organizational growth.  The Dynamic Recruitment System is the proven repeatable scientific process that is measurable, manageable, and proven through results.

Phired Up will continue to develop educational products and services to teach both the Art and Science of Organizational Growth.  We teach what you have to DO and who you have to BE.  Sometimes it makes sense to deliver these separately.  Sometimes they need to be combined.  But to understand the big picture of how to build a membership organization that is world class, first understand that there is an art and a science to it, and both are required.

Gather The Horses

by Matt Mattson

At Phired Up we teach organizational leaders to Gather Your Horses and Get to Work.  And right now horses are gathering.

horses-gallopSomewhere in Ohio this week about 25 fraternity/sorority professionals (some serious workhorses) are gathering together at something called The Gathering.  These professionals (including Phired Up’s own Josh Orendi and Jessica Gendron Williams), according to the host organization, AFLV, “intend to bring about compelling questions, powerful thinking, and revolutionary action to transform and bring relevance to the fraternal movement. We plan to lead and chart an intentional course that inspires all of us to act entrepreneurial in thought, word, and deed.  We call upon fraternities and sororities to become the most trusted organizations.”

That’s pretty inspiring stuff.

Later this week Phired Up is gathering its own horses for the company’s annual staff meeting.  We will enjoy each other’s company, network with our friends and colleagues, and determine how best to achieve our Reason for Being and Values.  We will gather our horses and determine how best to change the world together.

Our good friends over at Campuspeak are having their annual meeting they call The Huddle this week with all of their professional speakers.  Another group of workhorses dedicated to the cause of making the world a better place.

That’s a lot of horses gathering this week.

Do you have horses to gather?  Should you be getting in on this big round up?

The summer provides a great time for many organizations to gather their best talent, bring together the dedicated few, summon the revolutionary brigade, call in the cavalry and plan for the upcoming year. 

But if you do gather, don’t just talk.  The thing about horses — real horses — is that they don’t talk (Mr. Ed notwithstanding).  They are powerful, graceful, active performers.  They do.  Talk doesn’t get you much.  Action does.  Be a horse.

So, gather your horses.  Get to work.  We are.

Social Excellence & Student Engagement

[Guest post by Tracy Lungrin.  Phired Up asked Tracy to share her unique perspective on the relationship between STUDENT ENGAGEMENT and SOCIAL EXCELLENCE.  Thank you for your great insight, Tracy!]

tracy-pro_editedAllow me to introduce myself, my name is Tracy Lungrin and I serve as the Greek Advisor and Leadership Coordinator for the University of Nebraska at Kearney.    When Matt asked me if I would serve as a guest blogger regarding the exciting topic of student engagement and how it relates to Social Excellence, I had to take him up on his offer!

Alexander Astin was the first to determine the following:  college students learn more the more they are involved in both the academic and social aspects of the collegiate experience.  An involved student is one who devotes considerable energy to academics, spends much time on campus, participates actively in student organizations and activities, and interacts often with faculty (Astin, 1984, p.292).

My student affairs colleagues and I at UNK have been working on a new initiative our institution called STUDENT ENGAGEMENT.    When I go speak to faculty, staff and students regarding this initiative the first thing we usually have to do is to DEFINE it.    In fact, when I ask student leaders to describe the concept (of student engagement) — they think it involves a proposal and a sparkly ring — however, that is NOT the case!    :-)

Dictionary.com defines the word “engage” as the following: 

• to occupy the attention or efforts of (a person or persons)
• to attract and hold fast,
• to involve (my personal favorite synonym)

You see, engage is an action verb.  In order to engage someone, you have to be intentional, interesting, and most importantly, purposeful in your pursuit.   Engage also requires mutuality.  It is a two way street – it seems like the engager and the engaged both need to participate willingly.

This initiative on our campus has become even more important with our incoming millennial students; because research shows that millennial students have a great desire to be involved ~ but many need to be “engaged” by faculty, staff and (especially) by their fellow students.    However, much like Greek recruitment, student leaders often lack the skill set and/or the confidence to engage their fellow students (much less engage faculty/staff).     As we pondered this problem, I contacted Matt at Phired Up to see if they could help us out.

I have seen Phired Up’s fraternity/sorority recruitment work, and really believed that there was a broader application for their messages about the power of relationships and the skill-sets necessary to do that.  It turns out, they were thinking the same thing and had been working on Social Excellence curriculum for Greek and non-Greek students alike.

On August 12th, we are excited to bring Matt Mattson from Phired Up to our campus to talk to over 130+ of our top student leaders from Residential Life, Greek Life, Activities and Programming Council, and Student Government to learn about their new Social Excellence platform which is needed to help us put this initiative in motion!

It seems to me that Social Excellence is a VITAL factor in successful student engagement.  After all, if students lack the skills and attitude necessary to engage, they simply can’t do it.  It sounds silly to say, but students must be prepared to engage if we expect student engagement to happen.  Of course this is true, but most students aren’t prepared.  We have to prepare them.

The Social Excellence platform will help our student leaders with the following:

• Define and understand student engagement, and their role in the process
• Learn that student organizations and overall student involvement is an important factor in college student engagement and overall student retention
• Learn relationship building and conversational skills which are crucial engaging fellow students
• Understand that currently engaged students must reach out and bring other students in…

We are so excited about bringing this program to campus ~ and we know it’s exactly what our student leaders need in order to understand that they are the most important part of the student engagement equation.    More importantly, I’m excited to know that I have colleagues in the field (at Phired Up) that want to lift up the concept of student engagement and prepare students to do it effectively.  It will help students have a better, more successful college experience, it will likely improve student retention, and I believe it will create a community of excellence.

Exercise Your Social Muscle

by Matt Mattson

The Talent CodeA number of us on the Phired Up team have been reading THE TALENT CODE by Daniel Coyle this month (I had mentioned this back in the summer reading list).  Honestly, this book has invaded my mind and I can’t get it out.  The applications of the principles in this book to what we do at Phired Up are innumerable, and it has really been a fun read.  I’m sure we’ll have more to say about the principles in this book and how they apply to Dynamic Recruitment education and Social Excellence Training, but let me start with this…

Think of your current level of Social Excellence (your social aptitude).  Your social aptitude can be strengthened just like a muscle. All it needs is the right kind of exercise. 

Coyle goes into significant detail about the brain chemistry surrounding building “skills.” Particularly he focuses on a sort of brain circuit insulation called “myelin” which essentially wraps the wiring for certain skills/behaviors/thoughts in protective layers.  These layers get thicker the more times you practice those skills/behaviors/thoughts in the right way.  Early in the book he describes the “myelination process,”

“(1) Every human movement, thought, or feeling is a precisely timed electrical signal traveling through a chain of neurons – a circuit of nerve fibers. (2) Myelin is the insulation that wraps these nerve fibers and increases signal strength, speed, and accuracy. (3) The more we fire a particular circuit, the more myelin optimizes that circuit, an the stronger, faster, and more fluent our movements and thoughts become.”

I’m guessing I’ve lost some readers at this point, and I can understand that.  This content is a bit outside of this blog’s normal range, however, this concept is a huge breakthrough of knowledge for me personally.  It tells me that ANY skill/behavior/thought can be learned (and taught), and there are examples in the book of elements of Social Excellence being mastered over time! So for even the most timid, shy, scared people we work with, if they have the right stimulation and the right kind of practice, they can become Socially Excellent!

I already knew that, but the fact that fancy brain scientists agree with me… well, that’s cool.

When exercised in the right way, your social muscle (or brain circuitry) can truly be strengthened (or myelinated) so that you can be Socially Excellent all the time.

This is why we’re building more and more curriculum that challenges people to learn through experiences that sometimes cause them to (1) fail, (2) learn from their mistake, and (3) keep trying until they get it right.  Sounds simple, we know, but this basic process, is something that has been shied away from in many educational settings — especially with regard to social skills. 

As Josh said in a recent post, “For many, becoming Socially Excellent depends very much on your willingness to first feel the pain of social discomfort.  You’ll feel awkward, clumsy, and scared the first few times you try to adopt an attitude of Social Excellence.  But that’s just the feeling of growing as a person.  Think of the person you want to become, think of the organization you want to create — the only difference between right now and that vision is a small amount of growing pains.”