by Erin Chatten
Let’s call out the obvious here. Recruitment is going to look different this year. It may be online, it may be the way it’s always been, and it may include social distancing. Whatever happens, there are steps we can be taking starting right now to set ourselves up for to successfully guarantee a better experience for our potential members and chapter members.
I’m talking about pre-recruitment rounds. Round 0, Round 0.5. Pre-voting. Whatever you want to call it. I’m talking about your entire chapter engaging in pre-recruitment PNM prep. A way to know our PNMs, identify what we are looking for, and engage members in recommending other chapter members they think those PNMs will have a great conversation with.
If your chapter does a pre-score round where you input scores for every PNM based on your national organization’s criteria, great job! Keep doing that! But there’s more you can be doing aside from adding in scores for if they meet your GPA minimum, or noting if they have a letter of recommendation.
Ask Better Questions
A successful pre-recruitment round starts with having better data to work with. That means our registration, intake form, or interest form has to ask better questions. We wrote an entire blog on that here. If you are recruiting informally or generating interest using a tool like ChapterBuilder or GoogleForms to collect your initial information, start infusing these better questions right now. If your campus or council manages recruitment registration, send them this blog and ask them to add additional questions to help you gather better information to know PNMs in advance.
Identify Who You Are Looking For
Every chapter offers a different experience and looks for different qualities and characteristics in a potential member. Let me repeat that. You are all different and unique. Start recruiting that way by identifying the type of PNM that contributes to the culture your chapter is striving for. These qualities and characteristics are different than your national organization’s values. Push yourself to think beyond the qualities like, “Friendly”, “Loyal”, and “Leader” and identify those unique points like “Go-Getter”, “Quirky”, or “Selfless”.
This can be done by identifying your chapter’s needs and your chapter’s unique culture. Start by asking your members to answer these questions…
Who is graduating from the chapter that has helped make this chapter what it is? Name the qualities of them that have been valuable to the chapter.
In what ways should the chapter be improving? What type of individuals helps us achieve these goals?
(Use the common characteristics and themes from these answers to create a list of the top 5 characteristics in a PNM your chapter needs)
Describe what makes this chapter different from the other organizations on campus (be specific!).
What is this chapter a boss at that makes us proud?
Fill in the blanks… We are a chapter for people who believe ______, we are for people who want ______ from their experience, by joining us we promise you will receive _______.
(Use the common themes you from these answers to create a list of the top 5 characteristics that describes the chapter’s culture)
Take these 10 themes you identified and turn them into Tags on MyVote (TechniPhi’s membership selection software) or ChapterBuilder by going to Settings > Tags > Add New Tag. These qualities or characteristics help your chapter members know what to look for in their conversations.
Read, Tag, Match
Involve the entire chapter in the Pre-Recruitment round. (If you don’t have a round set up in MyVote go to Settings > Rounds > Add Round and select the category type “Pre-Score”. On your home page open voting to the “pre” round.) Have every chapter member access or view the PNM list. The goal is to have multiple members read a PNM’s profile and use their information to:
Apply a Tag* if we identify any characteristics or qualities that align with our needs and culture.
Recommend a Match** to match the PNM to a chapter member that we think they would get along with
Write a Note*** about questions you would want to ask this PNM or chapter experiences that we should share with them based on their information.
If you have a large PNM pool, consider splitting your chapter up into small groups and giving them a group of PNMs to conduct the pre-recruitment round on. Split PNMs by ID number or the first letter of their last name. On ChapterBuilder, you can assign a “main contact” that is your small group’s leader and restrict the list by the main contact to view only those PNMs. Make sure each PNM’s profile has been reviewed by a minimum of three members.
*Tags can also be used to flag any PNM of concern. On MyVote, use the “Viewable By” feature to create a tag such as “Flag” that members can use but only admins can see to identify any PNMs of concern that an executive board member should talk to. It can be used in a similar way to tag PNMs who are of “High Interest” who seems like an especially good fit.
**If you are using MyVote’s advanced matching, recommending matches helps generate stronger recommendations.
*** On MyVote, you can make these notes public for all chapter members to view under Settings > Chapter > Notes > Turn ‘Hide Notes’ Off
Put Your Work to Work for You!
Everyone knows you can’t recruit who you don’t know. Now you have the capability to move beyond preliminary basic Round 1 questions or the “Get to know you” phase. You are equipped with knowledge and knowledge is power to take your conversations deeper, quicker so you can make more informed decisions on whether or not a pnm meets the membership criteria of your chapter. Having completed a pre-recruitment round, you now have the tools to drive a better experience no matter what your recruitment looks like. You can:
Elevate your conversations by having members read the profile, notes, and tags on a PNMs profile before meeting them.
Build upon a strong foundation of information to get to know individuals faster and identify culture fit
Identify if pnms pre-qualify to meet your chapter’s values and membership criteria
Use the advanced matching feature in MyVote to generate official matches based on the recommendations chapter members entered.
Avoid asking the same question over and over again.
Ensure the right members are joining your chapters
CONTACT: Branden Stewart
Carmel, Ind. – Phired Up is excited to be expanding our team once again with the addition of three new Growth Consultants this summer. Each consultant will provide education and training to our clients, and will be available beginning this August to work with chapters and communities across North America. LaShatá Marie Grayson, Lindsay Ollis, and Karli Sherman will be joining the team in part-time capacities as they continue their full-time professional roles.
“We are strategizing with communities and national organizations daily. Now is the time to work together to create a new future for fraternities and sororities by transforming the way people join,” said Phired Up’s Assistant Vice President, RJ Taylor. “I am excited to welcome these talented, growth-minded professionals to our team as we continue to encourage and assist as many in our industry as possible.”
LaShatá Marie Grayson graduated from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) with a Master of Science in Education degree in College Student Personnel Administration, a degree in Management, a specialization in Event Management and Tourism planning and development. She is currently wrapping up her graduate assistantship in Fraternity and Sorority Life at SIUE. She specialized in teaching students in and out of the classroom and creating programs and events.
“I am excited to be part of a team that impacts students and truly pushes them to the next level,” said LaShatá Marie. “I love and believe in the work of Phired Up. It is truly so wrong for Phired Up to be so dope. Phired Up is one of the best out there for advancing fraternity and sorority, and to be able to be on a team of change agents is life-changing for me.”
LaShatá Marie is a former special education teacher and program coordinator for the charter school system. In her free time she volunteers for the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors and the Association of Fraternal Leadership & Values. She has served in a state leadership role for Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and delivered national leadership programs and facilitated discussions around identity development, recruitment, values-based programming, and leadership development for local, regional, and national entities. LaShatá Marie enjoys doing CrossFit, spending time with her family and sorority sisters, and writing on her fitness blog in her free time. She loves volunteering in her spare time to help her undergraduate chapter foster sisterhood and programmatic efforts. She also enjoys trying different vegan restaurants and running.
“I’m so excited for LaShatá Marie to join our team because I absolutely love how authentically passionate she is about the fraternity/sorority life experience and making a positive impact on students’ lives,” said Haley Cahill-Teubert, a Phired Up Organizational Growth Consultant. “She’s such a bright light and I’m looking forward to working alongside her!”
Lindsay Ollis joins the team as a graduate from Auburn University with a Master’s of Education in Higher Education Administration. Prior to graduate school, Lindsay attended the University of North Carolina – Wilmington and earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration – Accounting. She currently serves as the Coordinator for Greek Life and Panhellenic Advisor at Auburn University, where she previously worked as the Panhellenic Graduate Advisor during her time in graduate school.
“I am PUMPED to join the Phired Up team because who wouldn’t be?! This opportunity will allow me to continue my professional goals, while collaborating with key industry leaders, students, volunteers, etc.,” said Lindsay. “I am passionate about igniting innovative, bold, and courageous ideas in order to create the future of fraternity and sorority life, this opportunity will put me in the position to do this on a larger scale!”
Prior to her time at Auburn, Lindsay served as an Educational Leadership Consultant for Alpha Xi Delta National Women’s Fraternity. She continues to volunteer for Alpha Xi Delta, in addition to volunteer roles with the North-American Interfraternity Conference as a UIFI Facilitator. When she’s not working or volunteering within the industry, Lindsay enjoys reading, socializing with friends, attending church, participating in her young professionals group, and watches the Real Housewives (Bravo Reality TV is her jam).
“Lindsay has experience, perspective, and a peaceful but strong presence that will connect incredibly well with so many of our clients, said Matt Mattson, Phired Up Co-Founder and President. “I’m so excited about the impact Lindsay is going to have as a Phired Up educator and strategist; our industry needs her voice!”
Karli Sherman is a native of south Louisiana and is a professional speaker, educator, and event manager. Karli believes in programming with a purpose and challenging the process to help groups, companies, and individuals grow, learn, and create robust experiences. Karli is an alumna of Florida State University (Master’s in Higher Education & Student Affairs, 2013), and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (Bachelors of General Studies in Arts and Humanities, 2008).
“I am thrilled to join the Phired Up team, and I’m ready to shake things up, challenge the process, and have some fun!” said Karli. “It’s time to level up and get more awesome, yall.”
Her areas of interest include unique event management, college student development, organizational membership recruitment/retention, diversity & inclusion, leadership coaching, musical theatre, and glitter. Karli is involved with the Junior League of Lafayette, travels internationally as a Recruitment Ambassador for Alpha Omicron Pi sorority, and represents the Kiwanis Club of St. Martinville, Louisiana as the reigning Ms. Pepper Festival Queen. She is quite involved with her local community through The 705 Young Professionals organization, the Lafayette Women’s Chamber of Commerce, and is a member of the Leadership Lafayette Class XXXIII. Karli is active in her Catholic faith, live theatre, and voice acting, and is a dog mom to her 3.5lb maltipoo named Pixie.
“Karli brings a new and exciting level of energy coupled with a level of understanding the Phired Up philosophy,” said Hailey Mangrum, a Phired Up Organizational Growth Consultant. “We are all so pumped to welcome her to the team!”
All three new members of the Phired Up team started their role officially on May 1, and will work to train throughout the summer to deliver education and training this Fall. You can reach out to LaShatá Marie by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, Lindsay by email at email@example.com, and Karli by email at Karli@phiredup.com.
by 25 Women From 17 Different Sororities
This project started after a member of the Phired Up staff had one of the many conversations we often have with Panhellenic leaders that included the young woman (who was trying incredibly hard to lead with strength and confidence) saying something like this…
“I want recruitment to be more authentic. I want our sororities to be more approachable. I want recruitment to be more real. I want us to not just call it ‘values-based recruitment,’ I want it to actually be more values-based. Probably 95% of the women in our community agree. But I feel stuck. We have this big process with big rules and we have pressure from lots of different places. Can you just tell me real things you think we should really do?”
So, we asked our whole team. And no surprise; within about 5 minutes there were 20+ specific ideas.
But then we wanted to go further.
So, we asked a bunch of sorority women who do sorority life professionally to chime in. You’ll see the whole list of collaborators below. This was written by 25 women representing 17 different sororities!
Amanda Fishman, Pi Beta Phi
Amanda Wood, Gamma Phi Beta
Catie Feagans, Phi Beta Chi
Christina Parle, Sigma Kappa
Destiny Savage, Alpha Gamma Delta
Dr. Colleen Coffey-Melchiorre, Alpha Sigma Tau
Ellen Chesnut, Kappa Kappa Gamma
Erin Chatten, Alpha Delta Pi
Greer Vinall, Gamma Phi Beta
Hailey Mangrum, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Haley Cahill-Teubert, Alpha Omicron Pi
Harriet Collins, Delta Gamma
Helen Lahrman, Pi Beta Phi
Jessica Ryan, Sigma Delta Tau
Julie Fletcher Mincey, Phi Mu
Kaitlyn Walker, Phi Mu
Karli Sherman, Alpha Omicron Pi
Kathryn Ionta, Alpha Omicron Pi
Lashata’ Marie, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Laura Dunn, Chi Omega
Lindsay Ollis, Alpha Xi Delta
Mandi Evans, Delta Zeta
Mel Lewis, Alpha Omicron Pi
Simonne Horman, Phi Sigma Sigma
Tori Strobel, Phi Mu
by Haley Cahill-Teubert
It’s not the right time for a lot of things.
It’s not the right time to try out that new restaurant in your town.
It’s not the right time for graduation parties.
It’s not the right time to visit grandparents.
It’s not the right time to go see that new movie at the theater.
So what is it the right time for?
Could this be the right time for us to truly transform Panhellenic recruitment?
We’re in a really weird time. Everything that’s non-essential has shut down. Anything and everything is moving to a virtual format. And nearly every aspect of our daily lives have taken on a totally new identity.
There’s a lot of panic and frustration about that.
Amid all the chaos though, there’s also some really beautiful discussions happening right now about this being an opportunity for us to slow down, assess what matters, and redefine what “normal” life should really be when all this is said and done.
It’s time for sorority to do the same thing.
Many of us feel that we are in a weird, chaotic, unknown time. We’ve had to move off campus unexpectedly. Classes have moved online. Graduations have been cancelled or postponed.
But like nearly everything else in our lives, we have the opportunity right now to have a really beautiful conversation about what matters.
We already know the answer: relationships.
Relationships are the essential business that needs to remain open. And it is truly beautiful to see so many chapters rally into action to move sisterhood to a virtual setting. Is it ideal? No. Is it worth it? 100%
As we identify what’s essential, we also start to realize, what’s non-essential, which brings me back to my initial question: Could this be the right time for us to truly transform Panhellenic recruitment?
I truly believe this could be the right time to transform our recruitment process. I truly believe that these circumstances are our opportunity to realize all the frills and fluff don’t matter, but our relationships–our sisterhood–does. I truly believe this is the right time to rethink our priorities and our “work week” schedules, and make that week together in August before recruitment a time for fun, bonding, and celebration. That is our time to strengthen the foundation of our current chapter membership before we open the doors of our houses to new members.
I know how you’re feeling. You’re stressed because the spring semester was your time to get ahead. It was your time to start teaching songs and chants. It was your time to start doing outfit checks. It was your time to assign door stack positions. And now, you’re trying to figure out how to squeeze all of that into one week (or how to do chant practice on Zoom). Let’s just take a lot of unnecessary stress off our plates and just dump it. Seriously.
In your respective communities, let’s decide this year will be different. This year we are going to be bold and do something that’s never been done before.
Can you imagine how your members would feel about sorority if instead of a week of hellacious prep work for 10 hours a day, we had a week of non-stop fun? “Fun week” sounds way more appealing than “work week” or “polish week”, right?
Let’s re-imagine work week and recruitment to be a time for some important prep work–yes–but some important relationship work too.
A week of sisterhood (with some prep work too) is going to give me something to talk about to PNMs during recruitment. It will energize your members before recruitment, not make them exhausted and resentful. It will remind members just how much they love sorority after a semester apart from sisters. It will remind them of the value of sorority.
We have to be intentional with our time, now more than ever. Does that mean we still do some necessary prep work? Yes. But here are a few practical tips to help you work more efficiently.
This semester has been a good reminder of just how many of those “essential” meetings could have just been an email. Keep meetings as short and efficient as possible. And if a meeting doesn’t require the whole chapter to be in attendance, don’t make them. Think smart.
Prioritize sisterhood. When our members come back in August, they’ve likely not seen each other for four or more months. They need concentrated time together. They need fun time together. We can’t just move into organized song practices like nothing ever happened. Those sisterhood events during recruitment practice are some things they can talk about to PNMs in recruitment. If you’re worried about being pressed for time, find something that’s fun but also teaches a skill. Speaking of songs…
Decide as a community to remove the songs, chants, and door stacks. We’re in a position when we have to choose how our time is best used. And given the choice between hours of practicing chants or hours of strengthening relationships, I surely hope you’d choose the latter. Make a community decision to just play some music through some speakers when PNMs enter your home and not overthink it. The world won’t fall apart. Sorority is amazing and worth joining without door stacks–I promise. Use your work time to prepare for meaningful, authentic conversations and relationship-building.
“A few of the chapters on our campus have already been playing songs instead of chants–maybe 2 or 3 chapters of 13–but it seems like once they make the change to songs and dancing and they have a good time, they don’t go back to songs and chants,” said Karen Buynak, the vice president of Panhellenic recruitment at Virginia Tech. “With songs everyone loves, you can dance and have genuine fun and save time. We’d probably practice for at least 30 minutes every day and that’s time you could use for something else that is really important.”
Move funds around. Thinking about your decor and recruitment video budgets… There are a lot of ways to better use that money right now. Consider the businesses in your college community that you love. They’ve taken a major financial blow this semester with students being gone. Use some of that decor budget to give back to the town that’s given you so much and made your college experience what it is. Or maybe use those funds to plan better sisterhood activities over the summer to keep people engaged. The worth of sorority is questioned all the time, and it is definitely being questioned right now by members wanting to know why they should continue paying dues when they’re not on campus. Use some of the “fluffy stuff” budget to provide some real value to members and to your college community at this weird time in life when people need that most.
“This is something we’ve been talking about a lot in our community,” said Greer Vinall, coordinator of fraternity and sorority life at Texas State University. “What can go from your recruitment budget to help support your sisters? Because you’re going to have sisters who call their membership into question because they lost a job or their parents lost a job–some financial hardship. Sorority is going to be the first thing that gets cut from their budget and lives. How can you finesse your budget to keep those members and support them? Our chapters need to be thinking about that now.”
Be united as a community. There’s strength in numbers. This is a bold plan I’m suggesting, but it’s one worth implementing. It will be harder to execute, though, as an individual chapter because it’s just hard to go against the status quo–I get it. Be united as a community in your decision to re-invent work week and recruitment, which means gathering your leaders now (virtually) and making some important decisions about the future of sorority on your campus.
Everyone keeps talking about adjusting to a “new normal.” And it’s not all bad. This weird time in life is really shedding light on the things that matter… And the things that don’t.
Like everything else, sorority will have to adjust to a “new normal.” And that will provide genuine clarity about the things that really matter.
Member health? Essential.
Providing value to members? Essential.
Transforming Panhellenic recruitment? Essential.
Last week (May 11th, 2020) the NPC released a report providing guidance to Panhellenic sorority leaders across North America. (Download report here). This report is exciting. It offers hope and possibility to Panhellenic women in the wake of COVID-19 and its impact on sorority recruitment. Phired Up and TechniPhi strongly support the spirit of the report. We’ve been advocating for guidance like this throughout the entirety of this challenging pandemic (see our joint statement with AFLV from early April 2020, our initial Guide To Digital Recruitment, and our recommendation for The Top Ten Things Your Chapter Should Do Right Now To Respond to COVID-19). We celebrate the work of the task force and want to raise our hand to help in any way possible.
The challenge right now is this: How can Panhellenic sorority student leaders adjust very quickly to these new recruitment realities?
Before you read any further: EVERY PANHELLENIC LEADER SHOULD READ THIS ARTICLE AND THE LINKS FOUND WITHIN AS A HELPFUL GUIDE FOR “WHAT TO DO RIGHT NOW.” Will you please send this blog to those women?
(Listen… We know this is long. But it’s SUPER important. If you want to know our final recommendations, they are as follows: 1) Remove barriers, 2) Cultivate connection with PNMs 3) Actively promote sorority life, 4) Listen to the guidance of your advisors and professionals. But the details are what matter right now. This is long but meant to be practical and specifically helpful for this moment).
In this article, we will try to build upon 4 of the key points from the NPC report and help Panhellenic student leaders with actionable recommendations that will drive results.
COB Is Your New Friend (Even In The Summer For Some Chapters)
Continuous Open Bidding (COB) as a recruitment method, might be happening for chapters around North America more often and at different times of the year than we’re used to. THAT’S GREAT! However, many chapter members are unfamiliar with and uncomfortable with COB-style recruitment efforts.
There are even new guidelines within the NPC’s recent task force report that help sorority women understand how to execute summer recruitment (when appropriate based on local policies). Summer recruitment is an exciting possibility, especially when it isn’t abused by chapters to pressure incoming students into their sorority. Summer recruitment is a time to build relationships, build trust, learn about PNMs, and share the benefits of sorority membership through personal stories.
Any Panhellenic chapter engaging in COB (during the summer or the school year) should be using ChapterBuilder. It is a year-round recruitment management technology that is being adopted rapidly by hundreds of sorority chapters right now.
Let’s celebrate and encourage COB like never before! Let’s find new and virtual ways to do it. We have recommendations. See the resources below.
Recruitment Counselors as Ambassadors (or “The Street Team”)
Recruitment Counselors are such an important part of the Panhellenic sorority recruitment process. They typically guide, mentor, and counsel PNMs during what can be an intense primary recruitment experience.
But Recruitment Counselors can be (and should be) more! These women are often some of our best members, and they’re often rising leaders of the community. Phired Up has been teaching the concept of a “Fraternity/Sorority Street Team” that caught on with several communities around the country. READ THIS RESOURCE and consider how your Recruitment Counselors can be active ambassadors for the Panhellenic community starting immediately!
Marketing The Panhellenic Sorority Experience
It’s time to take control of the story of sorority life. It is especially important in this new post COVID-19 world. Telling a positive, powerful, compelling story about sorority membership requires smart strategy and thoughtful tactics.
This is one of the top 3 key priorities listed in the task force report from the NPC. We have to actively and collectively market the sorority experience.
In this resource there are 4 videos that Panhellenic sororities can use right now to start to promote sorority life.
The Phired Up team works with communities around North America to build specific marketing plans and write narratives to help sorority women tell their story. Read our manifesto on sorority/fraternity marketing. Read these 4 Marketing Insights For Fraternity/Sorority Marketing. And let’s enlist the thousands of women who are serving as a “PR Chair” (or something similar) for their chapters or for their Panhellenic Council and prepare them to do their job at an even higher level (here’s a guide for PR chairs).
Positive Panhellenic Contact
The NPC task force report reinforces and seems to strongly push for a whole new understanding of the idea of “Positive Panhellenic Contact.” No longer does disaffiliation, deactivated social media accounts, “no talking to first years,” or no summer recruitment make sense (these were likely never the true intentions of this concept to begin with). You have been given permission to be fully normal. Make friends. Actively engage incoming and current students.
IT IS VITAL THAT PANHELLENIC LEADERS EDUCATE NOT JUST CHAPTER LEADERS, BUT ALL CHAPTER MEMBERS ON WHAT POSITIVE PANHELLENIC CONTACT REALLY MEANS.
We recommend having a simple statement that you reinforce over and over and over, such as:
“Our sorority women should actively build relationships and promote the overall idea of sorority to potential members in any and every way they can. But please don’t promote only your chapter. Build relationships (friendships). Learn about PNMs. Actively become a part of their life. Just don’t promote your organization over the others on campus. Honor each PNM by allowing them to find the sorority that’s for them when the time is right.”
Here’s one of our favorite lines from The Manual of Information. “Are your silence rules outdated? Strict silence is intended for the short period of time, not more than 24 hours, from the signing of the membership recruitment acceptance binding agreement (MRABA) until bid distribution. Additional silence rules are not desirable because they can suppress participation in recruitment and stunt growth in Panhellenic communities. Panhellenics are encouraged to eliminate all silence and “no contact” statements from their recruitment rules except for the strict silence required during the short time between preference and bid distribution.” (Page 118)
It’s time to teach members to be more normal. Here are just a handful of resources you can use to do exactly that.
Admittedly, there’s a lot to read. A 19-page NPC report. This long article that you’re reading right now. Tons of links and resources. 188 pages of The Green Book to top it off.
So, let’s try to simplify: 1) Remove barriers, 2) Cultivate connection with PNMs, 3) Actively promote sorority life, 4) Listen to the guidance of your advisors and professionals.
We’re here for you! Stay Phired Up!