By Taylor Deer
In my experience, your chapter either loves summer recruitment or you have absolutely no idea what “summer recruitment” is.
Summer Recruitment is like air conditioning, once you’ve lived with it, you’ll never want to go another day without it. So in this blog I want to open your eyes to the benefits of meeting people and building relationships from right now, until school begins. By doing so, your chapter gets to be the first upperclassmen that new students meet, thus giving you a head start on building relationships with them. By the time school begins, you already will have a group of people that are interested in joining your organization before the recruitment process even starts.
If you do fall recruitment just like you did last year, you’re going to get the same results (depending on enrollment size). Add summer recruitment into the mix, and not only are you getting those same members, but you are also adding more people that you wouldn’t have met through that process.
Here are three different sources on your campus that your chapter can partner with in order to meet more people and build more relationships over the summer.
1) Admissions Office
2) High Schools
Just adding one or two of these ideas into your summer recruitment strategy should help you bring in even better results with recruitment this Fall! Interested in checking out even more summer recruitment ideas? Check out a recent blog by Vince Fabra, or read our Summer Recruitment Collection.
This spring, something extraordinary happened at Georgia College!
The average size of a college fraternity in the United States is approximately 45 members. On average, those members use 52 weeks to recruit and initiate fewer than 20 new members into their chapter.
In March 2016, two men — Bo Hunter and Zach Vasseur — were sent to GC by Alpha Tau Omega’s national fraternity on a mission: to recruit the school’s highest quality non-Greek men and start a new chapter of ATO. They were given one month!
Approximately 2500 undergraduate men represent 45% of the Georgia College student body. There were already six fraternities on campus (average size of 65 members). ATO wanted to become the 7th. ATO partnered with the Interfraternity Council (IFC) and Fraternity & Sorority Life to determine that there may be interest on campus from non-Greek men to start a new fraternity. On March 11th, just 25 days after arriving on campus, Bo & Zach announced that Alpha Tau Omega had 70 accepted bids!
I had an opportunity to interview Zach and his supervisor, RJ Taylor. (Transcript below) The recruitment results are exceptional, but I am most impressed with how they did it.
The professionalism of ATO’s team and deep partnership with the school provide a shining example of a new era of fraternity recruitment; an overhauled business model; a system and philosophy that may become the new normal. Stacey Milner, Assistant Director for Fraternity and Sorority Life, told me ATO executed the textbook example of how a fraternity should partner with a host institution. And, they were rewarded with 70 new members who she verified “are amazing guys, having an amazing experience.”
Warning: if you’re looking for “event ideas” or techniques to “get your name out there” then you’ll be wildly disappointed. You also won’t read about Rush Week calendars, off-campus parties, cool t-shirts, yard signs, frat castles, over-produced rush videos, giveaway swag, or booze. Just the opposite! ATO’s success is another example of the evolving professionalization of fraternity recruitment.
There is a fraternity-done-right story happening around the country that has gotten almost no press coverage even though it is happening on hundreds of college campuses every year. Select fraternity expansion teams and undergraduate chapters are choosing a relationship-focused, values-based, Dynamic Recruitment system that counters frat-star culture and public expectations of “going Greek.” The results are often exceptional in both quantity and quality – just like ATO at GC. Results that exceed what anyone thought might be possible. These groups represent the future of fraternity. They are the business model to replicate.
Here’s what Zach & RJ had to say about Alpha Tau Omega’s success at Georgia College.
Phired Up: Two men recruited 70 new members in less than 1 month. That’s impressive.
ATO: Thanks. We’re proud of Bo and Zach. They did a great job of executing ATO’s recruitment system.
Phired Up: Some people may read those numbers and question the quality of your new members or the selectivity of ATO.
ATO: We gave bids to 70 men and initiated all 70 of them. We interviewed and turned down 82 men who we didn’t think were ready for ATO. The new ATO group has a 3.29 GPA compared to the 3.05 all-fraternity GPA. We are proud of every single man in our group. They each exceeded our values-based selection criteria.
Phired Up: Good answer.
ATO: We got close to these guys. They’re friends – brothers. They really are some of the best men on campus. Our men represent leaders across all parts of campus. Student org officers, student government Chief of Staff, President of business fraternity, guys from Campus Outreach, Bible Study leaders, Intramural Reps….
Phired Up: People reading this will want to know how you did it. The details. Tactics. ATO has a strong expansion recruitment system, but what made this project so explosive in such a short amount of time?
ATO: (smiling) There was definitely some luck involved. The school was uncommonly supportive. We did lots of prep work and worked long days while we were on campus.
Phired Up: What does “uncommonly supportive” mean?
ATO: From the very first conversation we were in a real partnership with the school. We shared the same goal. Campus officials and even the IFC went out of their way to support us. The communication between our staff and the school was constant. Everyone was transparent. There was so much trust and mutual respect. I think we all [school, ATO, IFC, new members, alumni] worked together so well that we felt like we succeeded together as a team.
Phired Up: Will you share some of those tactics … the stuff you did different at GC that really worked?
Below are 10 recruitment tactics ATO did at GC that few recruitment teams are doing well – or not at all. They credit each of these with making a significant impact toward the results achieved:
1. INSTAGRAM – We planned on using Facebook and Twitter. At the last minute Zach threw together an Instagram account just to see what would happen. It blew up!
2. UNIVERSITY EMAIL – The campus administration was so supportive! Especially Stacey Hurt-Milner. The school emailed every incoming freshman with information about ATO. 34 guys showed up to our first interest meeting during the pre-site visit.
3. CHAPTERBUILDER – ATO uses recruitment technology called ChapterBuilder. However, this time we didn’t wait until the end of recruitment to invite all the new members into the system and train them. Instead, we invited about 15 of the guys who expressed early interest to use the technology with us. They went crazy with it and recruited 20+ of their friends using the tool.
4. SHAMROCK WEEK – The guys we recruited during the 1st week got involved right away and met a lot of sorority women. They won Kappa Delta sorority’s Shamrock Week before they were even a recognized group. That got people’s attention and built their confidence.
5. PRE-SITE VISIT – Our mantra is that ‘day one on campus is never day one of recruitment.’ We visited GC a few months before we started recruiting. That’s when we met the 34 guys from the campus generated email. We also built relationships with campus administrators, faculty, student leaders, sorority presidents, etc.
6. INTRAMURALS – We learned during the pre-site visit that up to 85% of GC students participate in IM’s. So we did, too. It paid off.
7. TAYLOR DEER – A recruitment specialist from Phired Up visited the project to coach the ATO team for a few days and help us refine our process. Taylor is the real deal.
8. CHUNKING – We never talked to a student without asking for referrals of quality Non-Greek men. Chunking is an art form. It takes practice. Our team got really good at it.
9. DEVOTIONAL – ATO is unique in that our top 3 officer positions are President, Vice-President, then Chaplain. ATO is the first fraternity founded on Christian values. The “ATO Devotional” is a book written by ATO’s for ATO’s talking about the bigger issues of life. We carried that book everywhere we went. Literally. It was a constant conversation piece.
10. SERVICE/OUTREACH – ATO is not a “frat.” One way we demonstrate that is putting service at the heart of our recruitment. We partnered with the GC Give Center to establish a partnership of giving between ATO and school to do community outreach.
Phired Up: You didn’t mention any rush events or a rush calendar.
ATO: Nah. If you mean traditional “big events,” we didn’t do that. We’ve found that large rush events send the wrong message, often attract the wrong guys, take too much time and money, and deliver too little return of quality members.
Phired Up: Alcohol?
ATO: If you’re asking us to have a beer with you after this interview, sure. If you’re asking if we used alcohol during recruitment, absolutely not! That would have undermined everything we were trying to build.
Phired Up: What did a typical day of recruitment look like?
ATO: There was no “typical” day. Hang on a sec. Here’s an example from Zach & Bo’s calendar.
7:30am wake up
9:00am arrive on campus (Einstein Bagel in Student Union)
9:30am – 4:30pm coffee meetings (typically 20+ meetings, 15-30 minutes each)
5:00pm dinner on campus
5:30pm be present on campus (slack line, IM sports, campus events, chill, etc)
7:00pm ATO information session
8:30pm arrive home, follow up calls, texts, & emails
10:00pm administrative work. Plan next day together.
11:00pm talk to friends/family, read news, etc
Phired Up: That’s intense.
ATO: It’s worth it.
Phired Up: Congratulations on your success at Georgia College & State University.
Bravo to Alpha Tau Omega for doing recruitment right. Thank you for sharing the Georgia College story.
While nearly every national fraternity in the country is enjoying unprecedented membership growth, some – like ATO – are using this moment in time to elevate the caliber of men they are recruiting and putting new, sustainable business systems in place that may make success stories like this the new normal. Now, that would be extraordinary.
Interview Date: May 12, 2016
Interviewer: Josh Orendi, Josh@PhiredUp.com / Josh@TechniPhi.com
Zach Vasseur, Senior Leadership Consultant, firstname.lastname@example.org
RJ Taylor, Director of Growth, email@example.com
Other Dynamic Recruitment Spotlight Articles:
By Taylor Deer
In Phired Up’s Recruitment Diagnostic Survey, we asked an important question: Does someone in your organization have a conversation to address concerns with all potential candidates prior to inviting them to join? Of the 1300 students who answered the question, 43.3% of students said “No” or “Somewhat”.
That’s pretty crazy. To me, that means that 43.3% of chapters are handing someone a bid, closing their eyes, crossing their fingers, and hoping that people accept their invitations to join. A week later we find out through the grapevine they joined another chapter, or decided they didn’t want to join at all. Why do we do this?
I tried looking at it from a student’s perspective. He’s thinking about joining a fraternity, he had a great time at a few events. He met a few brothers, and they seemed pretty cool. At the end of the week the brothers give him an invitation to join and say “give it a few days to think about it, give it back to a brother once you sign it”. He takes that invitation, heads back to his dorm room, sits down, and reality hits him about the decision he is about to make. Scenes creep in about all the hazing he’s heard about, he worries his parents might not be supportive, and he remembers this is his first year away from home, at a school that he has barely had even a semester at. He gets cold feet and ghosts you.
Little does he know that you felt the same way before you joined. You had the same reservations, and yet you found out that after joining your chapter, you had a great new member process. Your parents love how the fraternity gave you direction and helped you adapt to your new surroundings. In fact, joining the chapter is the only reason you stayed at the school.
That student might have missed the chance of a lifetime. You know that, but he never had a chance to talk it through with someone. You gambled by hoping he didn’t have concerns, and you lost.
Every time you don’t have an intentional conversation with a student about the concerns they have about joining your organization, you are rolling the dice and hoping that it lands on “no concerns”. You’re expecting that your future members are willing to dive head first into lifelong membership regardless of the real hesitations they have.
If you really cared about someone joining, would you really leave it up to chance whether they join or not? No? Then we need to get a bit more serious about the way we approach giving invitations to join.
Here are a few ways that you have intentional conversations with people who want to join your organization:
1) Sit them down, one on one
2) Ask them this question:
3) Come prepared
4) Be a problem finder, not a problem solver
5) Get to the true purpose
6) Train all of your members how to have these conversations
By Woody Woodcock
One year ago last month I got to meet leadership guru John Maxwell in Florence, AL. More importantly than just meeting John, I got to hear from him on leadership in a very intimate audience of less than a few hundred people.
The one thing that has stayed with me from John’s message that day is that “good leaders ask great questions.” The path to connection could be more about curiosity than it is about commonality.
In the coaching work that I get to do, we ask a lot of questions to help develop people personally and professionally. Many people have never experienced being asked questions in the intentional way we do. I believe that with every good question comes the journey toward the best answer. It is the internal search and discovery that happens in answering these questions that is empowering to people. Coaching is a process where questions get asked and the search for those answers becomes the greatest teacher.
Right now, many leaders in fraternity and sorority headquarters roles are wrapping up the spring semester. A new crop of staff members will arrive in June eager to learn and help in their new positions. For my headquarters colleagues, I ask you to consider putting these questions on your docket as you reflect on the coming months:
Good leaders ask great questions. Here are a few more go-to questions that can be used for many coaching scenarios, whether for undergraduate leaders, staff members, or volunteers:
Summer is a season of restoration and things happening that are new! Use this time to refresh, reframe, and refocus,
To find more more questions to help you build better teams, check out the blog that inspired this post. Questions two, four, eight, and nine are just a few of my favorites.
By Taylor Deer
Everyone remembers conversations they’ve had where time seemed to stand still. Where their attention is laser-focused on the other person. Even though we may have had a million things on our mind, we are solely focused on the present moment and what’s happening in the conversation. The types of conversations where at the end, one person looks at their watch and goes, “Woah! How is it midnight already?!”
Great conversations have this ability to warp time, capture our attention, and be completely engrossed in the present moment. How many other things within our lives can have that effect on us? Conversations are one of the most amazing things we forget about on a daily basis. They help us learn, and they stimulate us not only mentally, but physically as well. One of my favorite authors Alex Pentland Ph.D. reports in his book Honest Signals: How They Shape Our World, that “water cooler chatter” boosts productivity within organizations and businesses.
Most of us go through the motions more often than not within conversations. Either we think diving into an engaging conversation will take too much energy, or we just think that its rude to jump into a deep conversations too quickly with someone. So most of the time, we stick to topics that are safe to enter and safe to exit at anytime. Those topics are limited to things that are familiar to most people and don’t take much brainpower to generate a response. Therefore we can have these conversations on autopilot and gently exit anytime we need to. These conversations are totally fine for idle conversation within your life when you need to be more polite and mindful of someone else’s time.
Its also important to realize situations when we need to step up and engage someone in a great conversation that helps us begin to build a deeper relationship with them (meeting your partner’s family members or friends for the first time, meeting a client/co-worker, first dates, interviews, recruiting new members etc…). Unfortunately, when we only practice the “easy in easy out” conversations, switching gears to start digging into a deeper conversation can feel unnatural and awkward because we forgot the skills we need to do so. “Easy in, easy out” conversations aren’t socially excellent.
There is no science to having great relationship-building conversations, but here are a few tips that can help your conversations feel a bit more magical:
1) Ask thought provoking questions
2) Take a step into their mind.
3) Watch for cues
4) Have fun
By Brittany White
In some of my recruitment programs, I talk about dating. Sorority recruitment is kind of like dating, but instead of finding a significant other, we are in search of sisters. My experiences with online dating and “swiping” apps are admittedly pretty funny and embarrassing. I, like many people, have NO idea what I’m doing. Are my pictures flattering? Do they show me doing fun and cool stuff that makes me look super interesting? Does my profile read well? Do I come across as charming as I am in person in the limited number of characters I have to describe myself?
Online dating is exhausting. But, before the days of “swiping” apps, there was just plain old dating. This is where you thought someone was cute, fun, or interesting, and you had to muster up the confidence to strike up a conversation with them to ask them to join you for a meal, a movie, a cup of coffee, or a rousing game of chess. If dating wasn’t already fairly superficial, these apps have only intensified this for those of us who choose to utilize them.
Here’s where I am going with this:
I matched with this guy on a dating app. We chatted off and on for a few days. Then, one day, he asked me to send him a picture. So I kindly send a goofy-face selfie as a gesture of “I’m not a catfish.” Then about a week later, we have this conversation:
“There’s a lot more to me than what I look like,” said every woman. Ever.
Remember when I said sorority recruitment is a lot like dating, but for our sisters? As women, we loathe these moments when guys view us so superficially. But, we are no better when we focus on those same superficial aspects of our PNMs. Recruitment allows us to engage in conversation, to really get to know our future lifelong sisters. Are we always treating recruitment with that intentionality?
What if recruitment was one of these “swipe” apps? How often would we make decisions about PNMs that we swipe left or right without ever reading her profile? Would we actually engage her in a conversation? Once we meet her at a recruitment event, are we choosing to have a meaningful conversation with her and truly getting to know her? You get to know a whole lot more about a person by having an in-person conversation than you ever could from a profile, resume, or messages on an app.
Sometimes recruitment can be as superficial as these “swipe” apps. As sorority women and through recruitment, we have the power to show a woman what it’s like to value her on the inside rather than putting focus and attention on how cute she is or how great her outfit is.
I dream of a day when sorority recruitment focuses on women finding other empowering women to support them throughout the rollercoaster journey we like to call college. Our sororities can empower women who will celebrate our highs with us, support us through our lows, and be there for every twist and turn in between.