3 circles black recruitment

3 Steps To Turn Strangers Into Members

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.