No matter how your organization attracts, selects, and secures its newest members, fraternities and sororities that effectively put the right amount of the right people into their chapters understand that there is a fine art of organizational growth.
When Phired Up first started, we only taught about the “science” of growing Greek Life. We talked about the systems, the processes, the measurables, and the tactics. But soon we learned that it was just as important to teach the finer points… the social skills, the mindset, the philosophy, the belief system, and the intention. This is how Social Excellence was born…
Social Excellence [n]: A state of perpetual generosity, curiosity, positivity, and openness to limitless possibility.
A desire to intentionally connect with others. The ability to engage in deep, meaningful conversation.
Acting in a responsible and respectable manner, with high expectations of others. Being authentic and living everyday with integrity as the best version of oneself.
Being confident and vulnerable. Being fun and compassionate. Being open, kind and bold.
The deepest level of societal participation and contribution.
Fraternities and sororities are in the relationship business. We deal in human connection. These things we call “Brotherhood” and “Sisterhood” are code words for meaningful, love-filled, purpose-driven, sincere human connection. Organizations that are great at growing their membership understand that their number one goal should be to build a system or authentic relationships. Organizations that are great at growth start by giving away the feeling of “Brotherhood” and “Sisterhood” generously to potential members.
Social Excellence challenges fraternity and sorority members to engage prospective members with intention – always seeking real human connection. Social Excellence reminds fraternity and sorority members that every person we encounter is full of a lifetime of stories and lessons that we can connect with if we choose to be curious. Social Excellence pushes fraternity and sorority members to be real, authentic, not-fake, sincere in all our interactions with potential members (because then they’ll be that way with us). Social Excellence gently encourages fraternity and sorority members to choose to be vulnerable in our interactions with prospective members because they aren’t seeking a club to join, or a t-shirt to wear, or a house to live in – they’re seeking belonging and purpose, and those things can only be shared with a healthy dose of vulnerability.
Every moment is a choice. We can choose to engage with the people around us or not. We can choose to care about every person and every conversation or not. We can choose to open ourselves up to others or not. We can choose to be average or not (but our founders didn’t create our organizations so that we could be average together). You’re a member of a social fraternity or sorority (or at least that’s part of what your organization is about). Don’t be socially average. Be Socially Excellent and watch how that transforms the way you grow.
Social Excellence In Marketing
Great marketing is personal. Great marketing puts the “buyer” at the center of the strategy. Great marketing is not a shout (like “GO GREEK!”), it is like a whisper in a person’s ear that tickles their heart and inspires them to act because they know that action will make their life better. The way fraternities and sororities do marketing should be oozing with Social Excellence. Make your Greek Life marketing personal. All your marketing efforts should make it easier for human connection to happen between your best members and the prospects you’re marketing to. Great fraternity/sorority marketing should start with Social Excellence at its core.
Social Excellence In Recruitment
Getting your members to make the choice to engage, the choice to be curious, the choice to be generous, the choice to be authentic and vulnerable will make all the difference in recruitment. Social Excellence is the core operating philosophy of great recruiting chapters. Phired Up teaches a lot about what to do in recruitment… and Social Excellence provides guidance on how to be in recruitment.
Social Excellence teaches members to make recruitment experiences comfortable for the prospect, overflowing with kindness and thoughtful touches, celebratory of the uniqueness of each individual, and respectful of the insecurities and hidden realities of each human in the process. We are all just humans recruiting other humans to an organization that tries to make us better humans after all. Don’t take the humanity out of it.
The goal of fraternity/sorority recruitment events, interactions, processes, informational sessions, or “rounds,” should always be one thing: meaningful, authentic, real human connection. Remember, we’re in the relationship business. We’re most successful when instead of trying to impress others, we try to connect with others.
Social Excellence in New Member Onboarding
A member’s first semester is always the greatest and hardest (for a million reasons). Preparing your newest members to be Socially Excellent can be one of the most powerful gifts you can offer. Teaching new members the art of human connection, the power of their momentary choices, and the little things they can do to put relationships at the center of their college experience is a powerful gift. We also know that when chapters create an atmosphere of Social Excellence, there is far less chance that new members will be taken advantage of because there is a trusting environment built from a culture of care that naturally flows from the philosophy of Social Excellence.
Social Excellence in Retention
One of the primary reasons people quit fraternities and sororities is because of a “lack of connection.” Far too often new members join an organization, but never find themselves in a “friend group” or with a very close friend in the chapter. When that happens, they very often choose to quit or disengage. Too often fraternities and sororities don’t deliver on the promise of sisterhood or brotherhood to new members, because we forget that being brothers and sisters doesn’t happen all by itself. We have to create that sense of connection, that sense of belonging, and that sense of shared purpose.
Make the choice to continually, consistently, and intentionally do personal relationship-building work with your members. Not just big events where everyone comes together or group text chains… we mean coffees, lunches, long dinners, quiet conversations, small group fun, road trips, and as many real, meaningful, joy-or-pain-filled conversations as possible.
Social Excellence Was Born From Fraternities and Sororities
This message that we teach to thousands of people every year, Social Excellence, was born from the way we’ve seen great fraternities and sororities grow.
The story of almost every fraternity or sorority is similar. It started with a handshake between a couple of people. They had a conversation about what could be. They built a trust filled relationship and decided to collaborate together to build something new. Then they turned around and shook more hands, had more conversations, built more relationships, and gathered more people together in an organization.
Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens could change the world. Indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Handshakes lead to conversations. Conversations lead to relationships. Relationships often lead to collaboration. Collaboration very often results in organizations. And organizations like fraternities and sororities change lives and change the world.
by Erin Chatten
What if we knew more about the potential members requesting to gain entry to our organizations? What if we prepared them to think about their intentions and desires before stepping foot into the recruitment or intake process? What if we could make an impression that our organizations are here to be more than just social? What if we could prepare our members for more meaningful and tailored conversations suited for that individual PNM?
I believe that we can accomplish all of this by just changing the questions we ask in recruitment registration or interest forms.
Now I know you may think I’ve gone a little crazy… It’s JUST registration, right? What if it could be more?
For some potential members, the registration step is the first big step an individual takes to joining. They go from that “maybe joiner” to someone who is seriously considering what lifelong membership in a fraternity or sorority will look like. This may even be their very first interaction with fraternity/sorority on your campus. Yet we make registering for a lifelong commitment mundane as if it was just another form you fill out in a doctor’s office. We can do better.
Asking better (and more) questions allows us to understand more about the potential member to figure out where that individual fits best. It also allows us to get beyond the generic questions to find those deep conversations we are seeking. There are five areas that I believe help us truly understand an individual and also reflects upon aspects of the fraternity/sorority experience:
1. Academics- High academic achievement is a goal of most organizations and is something we seek in potential members. Don’t just ask someone their GPA or their major, this rarely helps us understand where their academic priority is. Instead, ask them about how they plan to utilize their time in college to understand where the priority on academics falls. Here is an example you can use in your registration:
2. Identity- If you have read up on anything that has to do with Gen Z, you will know that it is important for incoming students to feel like they can maintain their personal identity. As members, we know that fraternity and sorority supports this. Instead of only asking about involvements and activities, we should learn more about how these potential members see themselves. For example, we have utilized superlatives to allow potential members to show us in a creative way who they are:
Feel free to get creative with these, but make sure your options teach you something about that person.
3. Responsibility- Membership in our organizations is a responsibility on its own. We are responsible for the safety of each other on a regular basis and for guarding this experience so that more individuals can benefit from the gift of fraternity and sorority. I think it’s key we ask about their attitude toward safety and responsibility. This could look like a scenario question of what they would do in a risky situation like taking care of a member who drank too much. When our team was thinking of this, we wanted to find ways to identify early behaviors or acceptance of hazing.
4. Social Excellence- At the end of the day, fraternities and sororities are social organizations. That doesn’t mean you must be high on the extroversion scale to be successful, but I do believe it is helpful to know where a potential member’s social comforts are. They may hate large groups and flourish in smaller social environments, and we would have written them off as being disinterested. Social Excellence looks different for everyone, and our organizations are accepting of that. However, we rarely give PNMs a place to tell us about their social preferences to create a better environment for them.
5. Drive- One of the best things we can learn about a person to understand who they truly are is to learn about the things that drive them and what they are passionate about. This also shows the PNMs that we care about what is important for them and that it has a place in their membership. This could simply be asking the question, “Tell us what you are passionate about.” Or, using this as an opportunity to understand what is driving them to sign up for membership and what they hope to receive from membership.
These questions and themes are only scratching the surface of the information we can collect to create a better recruitment or intake experience. If you utilize one of our technologies, integrating these questions can easily be done on your CampusDirector registration form, your chapter’s individual ChapterBuilder account, or your council’s ChapterBuilder Dashboard (see below for directions). I can’t wait to see and hear how you integrate better questions to receive better data and find better members.
If you are a council utilizing CampusDirector for your recruitment registration, an admin can go to Site Setup > PNM Extra Fields. Scroll to the bottom of the page where it says “Add New Field” and type in “Create” to select the “Create New Field” option. Select if you want the question to be text based, or select from a list provided*. Make sure you select “Chapter Can Access” so that the information is provided to each chapter.
If you are a chapter utilizing ChapterBuilder, you can ask these questions in a leads generating form by going to Leads Generator > Create New Form and building a form. You can create the questions by going to Setting > Fields > Create Field**.
If you are a council utilizing a ChapterBuilder Dashboard you can ask these questions in a feeder form by going to Feeders > Manage Group Fields > Create Field. Select if you want the question to be text based or select from a list provided*.
* You can only select one option from a list. If you are asking a question that allows multiple responses, you will want to create a second question that says “Option 2” with the same answer responses to allow for multiple responses.
**Note: You will only be able to have text response questions
by Hailey Mangrum [To bring Hailey or other Phired Up trainers to your campus or conference, visit www.phiredup.com/now]
If they don’t know you exist, their lives can’t be changed. If they don’t know you exist, they can’t help transform the future of your organization. If they don’t know you exist, your group can’t survive, much less thrive the way it deserves to. They = students. Students who aren’t members of your organization, but could be.
College student enrollment trends suggest that today’s (and tomorrow’s) incoming students will continue to value the experience that our organizations offer more than ever. We are more relevant than ever, more important than ever, but unfortunately we’re about as hidden as we’ve ever been. We’re buried in the back of the brochure, if we are even in it.
I mean think about it, how many times have people said, “If only I had know about XYZ fraternity/sorority on my campus”?
Let’s fix that. Let’s make sure every student know about us. Let’s take control of our reputation by intentionally implanting it in the minds of the people that matter most to us.
There’s a big lesson to understand before we start giving specific advice.
“Reputation is earned through relationships.”
That’s right. Most of what the world knows about us comes from their actual interactions with us. If they never meet us, they’ll be far less likely to know anything about us. “What about social media and mass marketing?” you might ask. Be honest. Most of your followers are already interested in your organization or are already members of the community. It’s time to focus on building our brand outside of that reach.
1. Know the players. Connect with the leaders within admissions, orientation, and programmatic areas on your campus that control messaging as students are welcomed to campus, including the person who leads greek life. Ask how your organization is discussed within marketing materials, information sessions, or other programmatic efforts targeted towards new and current students. Collaborate on strategies with the players on your campus to authentically increase visibility for your members. We are worth more than a plug for diversity or multicultural programming on campus. Know you are value added to the student experience in its entirety. Truly, you and your organization deserve to be represented in these efforts.
2. Serve first. We’re not just talking community service here (but keep doing that). We mean serve other students. Do things that put you in a direct position to make the days, weeks, and lives of non-members a little better because you’re in them.
3. Show up and engage. Not just to your normal haunts. Be in places that your audience is. Find the organizations or groups on campus that share similar values of your organization – this includes service based groups, affinity organizations, etc. Collaborate and build connections with groups who have a strong and positive impact on campus. Continue to have a presence on campus through organization involvement or by supporting programs and events. But speak when you’re there, mingle and get to know some folks. Like really speak to folks. Let go of the “they have to come to us” standoffish mindset that our organizations have adopted for years.
4. Connect with the influencers. Identify the top 10-20 student leaders on campus. Make that list right now. Please stop reading, and make that list. Personally invite them to a program or go to one of theirs. Ask them what influenced their involvement and what they hope to accomplish in their leadership. Share your story, ask for referrals of who else you should be connecting with.
5. Get the good lighting. No, but seriously. Capture the moments you are doing the things. Highlight your members, assist in promoting other programmatic efforts, initiatives, and events on campus. Mention your social platforms during programs, tabling, etc.
Here’s the reality – It’s not your fault that people don’t always know about our existence. We cannot discuss gaining visibility without acknowledging the systems that are ever present on college campuses (and the world) that can sometimes attribute to the lack of awareness of our organizations.
When I first heard of greek life my organization was not represented. I’m certain it’s not because they just didn’t want to be, because frankly, they ran the yard. I mean they truly were for the culture and about their business. I’m talking about student government, athletes, orientation leaders, RAs, artists, starting their own student organizations.. I mean truly, my prophytes ran the yard.
So I can assure you it wasn’t because of a lack of engagement. Instead, they weren’t invited to the table. They weren’t thought about in the overarching messaging. They weren’t considered to fit the description. Probably because the folks planning had a lack of knowledge and understanding of the community – that’s the real tea.
So I am here with you, as I’m sure visibility isn’t always based upon whether or not your organization is hosting programs and ding the great work you’re already doing. It also doesn’t mean we just sit back and accept the reality.
It’s time to take control of the narrative to increase our presence on campus and within the local community. When we host programs, who are we inviting to the events? I always say if the audience at your programs are only interests, then was that a successful and impactful program?! We don’t exist to program for our interests. We exist to engage others to care about a cause and work to change the world.
Let’s scale up. Let’s make sure our campus, prospective students, and families, know we exist.