by Matt Mattson
There are hundreds – probably thousands – of strangers on your campus. They’re just walking around. You don’t know them. They don’t know you. How are you supposed to magically “recruit” them? I mean, really. How overwhelming!
I get it. I’ve been thinking about recruitment for years, and I often forget how simple it really is. The title of this blog isn’t clickbait. It’s real. There are three simple steps you can follow to recruit the RIGHT people for your organization. And they work whether you do recruitment over a few days or year round.
These three steps aren’t difficult, but they do require you and your chapter members to make three important CHOICES.
STEP ONE: Choose to Engage.
Once you engage a stranger with a handshake or a kind greeting (or connect with them through a “names driver”), and introduce yourself… YOU HAVE A CHANCE. There are far too many people on your campus who you don’t have a chance to recruit. Your choice to engage — socially — in polite conversation, in witty banter, in idle complaining about the weather, in whatever… that choice to engage gives you a CHANCE to recruit them. Until you do that, you don’t have a chance.
STEP TWO: Choose to Care.
Engaging in chit chat if fine, but great recruiters understand that “people join people,” and “recruitment is entirely a relationship business.” So knowing a potential member’s name, hometown, and major probably isn’t enough. And contrary to popular belief, the secret isn’t to “impress” the potential member with how awesome your organization is. Truthfully, they probably don’t really care. They care about finding a safe, welcoming, comfortable group of friends that will make them feel great about themselves and will help them have a fulfilling college experience. In other words, they want to be listened to, they want to be loved, and they want to be CARED ABOUT.
Choose to care. Choose to ask great questions about the things that matter to them. Choose to lean into your conversations — don’t fill them with stories about you and your chapter members. Let the potential members fill your conversations with the things that are important about their life. Be curious with your approach and be generous with your attention.
STEP THREE: Choose Vulnerability.
Making the choice to join one of our organizations is not a logical decision. People don’t normally weigh out the pros and cons rationally. Joining a fraternity or a sorority is a HEART decision, not a HEAD decision. TRUST is the true currency of recruitment success. When you trust the potential member and they trust you, that’s when recruitment has worked. Trust is built through opening little windows of truth up between you and the prospect. In other words, connecting your authentic self with their authentic self by choosing to be a little vulnerable.
This choice to be vulnerable is really a choice to be generous with your brotherhood/sisterhood. Great recruiters understand that the more generous they are with sharing the feeling of brotherhood or sisterhood with potential members before they become members, the more successful they’ll be.
Each of these three steps brings a potential member closer to you. Use the three circles in the picture that goes along with this blog to visualize your recruitment process. Most people on your campus are strangers — they’re far away from you. Bring as many of them closer to you and your chapter by choosing to engage, choosing to care, and choosing to be vulnerable.
by Matt Mattson
Hi there, fraternity recruitment chairs! You’re about to start another semester and you’re wondering what is the one thing you can do to make an impact on your chapter’s recruitment success. I got you.
First of all, I’ll warn you. This might be a sensitive subject with some of your brothers, so don’t just go sharing this post with them. Be gentle.
Here’s one big thing you can do to make an impact on your recruitment success this semester. Your guys need reassurance. Not about the recruitment process, or that you planned the right events, or that you have the best social media plan. They need reassurance about themselves.
Your brothers, like most guys, get a little nervous (secretly) about making new guy friends. It’s normal. They don’t talk about it, but it’s happening. And when they get nervous, they start acting weird. They start behaving in ways that are more about impressing each other than they are about connecting with potential members. Their goal becomes “making their brothers laugh”, not “making prospects comfortable.” They try too hard or too little. They do anything they can to not look “uncool.”
And this is all at its worst DURING RECRUITMENT.
You know the goal of recruitment is real, meaningful, connection with the best potential members. But your brothers will forget that. They’ll feel insecure, inauthentic, and will act inappropriately.
They need reassurance. They need the pressure to be taken off. If they think their job is to “recruit,” they’ll act like either shady used car salesmen or crappy frat dudes, and nowhere close to who they really are. If they think they have to be “impressive,” they’ll try to do that with the dumbest ideas they can come up with, not because they’re dumb guys, but because they’re desperately flailing for ways to not screw up.
Tell your guys, over and over, that their whole job is to be CURIOUS, GENEROUS, and AUTHENTIC. Tell them they don’t have to recruit, they just have to demonstrate brotherhood toward the potential members. Tell them that high quality people are attracted to high quality people, so just be “the best version of you” during recruitment. Tell your guys that their job is not to impress the potential members, but to connect with them — in real ways, about real stuff.
Reassure your men. They act like “they got this,” but they don’t. They’re normal guys who get as uncomfortable during recruitment as anyone else. Prepare confident, caring, relaxed brothers who show who they really are during recruitment, and the results will speak for themselves.