By Matt Mattson
The new year is a time of hope and promise. Many fraternity and sorority chapter leaders are returning from a long break to find a chapter in disarray and in need of some major work. Luckily, it is the new year and everything looks a little more promising in January.
My own chapter has recently declared that they must get ready for a HUGE recruitment class during the Spring of 2007 if they want to survive. It turns out that some of the guys are graduating, and others are inactive” after several semesters of not-so-great recruitment efforts, panic is setting in.
It is in the spirit of hope and panic that I offer these top 10 Tips for IMMEDIATE, SHORT-TERM RECRUITMENT RESULTS for those chapters that are in desperate need of a New Year’s Recruitment Revolution.
IMPORTANT NOTE: these tips are meant to generate short-term results. I
can’t promise long-term results with these tips, and for that matter, you might
risk sacrificing quality if you’re depending on a quick-fix to survive ‐ but
there occasionally comes a time when caution is thrown to the wind and
desperation rules the day. So, good luck.
Top 10 Tips for Immediate, Short-Term Recruitment Results
1. Don’t Sacrifice Your Values. Many chapters that are motivated by survival easily toss their values out the door in favor of numbers. Don’t do that. A chapter of 100 idiots is much worse than a chapter consisting of 8 decent men. Be sure you determine measurable values-based selection criteria to screen men. Hopefully by the time you follow the other 9 tips below, you’ll have more than 5 guys to choose from.
2. “Quality” is Not a Valid Excuse. It is a mediocre chapter that says, “We didn’t get enough guys because we put quality before quantity.” If you’re using that excuse, you just didn’t have enough people to choose from to begin with. Trust us, there are enough potential members on your campus of your caliber or better to quadruple the size of your chapter. You just have to meet more people from which to choose. So, start by meeting as many people as you can. No kidding. Meet thousands of people. Your recruitment goal shouldn’t be to recruit 20 guys this semester ‐ it should be to meet 5,000 men and choose the best from among them.
3. Be Unique. Inevitably your chapter will probably choose a theme or a catchy catch-phrase for marketing purposes (even if we advise against it you’ll do it anyway). If this is something you must do, think about how you can position your organization to actually be different from the others on campus. Not just a slight variation on the basic frat theme. Not just the funniest play-on-words that you can fit on a t-shirt. Actually position yourself with a simple, clear, easy-to-understand message that communicates that your organization is different from other fraternities on campus ‐ heck, I’ve even advised groups to not call themselves a fraternity and actually BE something different. But that might be a stretch for short-term results. Identify the UNIQUE value that your chapter offers to its membership (and here’s a hint ‐ you DON’T have the tightest brotherhood on campus because that’s what everyone says, DON’T use your national catch phrases like “To Better the Man,” or “We’re Balanced Men,” and leadership, scholarship and service are not unique.) Think hard on this one. Differentiate yourselves.
4. Do It Yourself. Guess what” if you want to quickly turnaround your chapter, you’re not going to have time to motivate the slugs with the spit-cups at the back of the meeting to do their part. It is up to you. Choose to start the revolution yourself. Revolutions don’t normally get passed by committees ‐ they’re started by wild, independent, brave do-ers and the people who are smart enough to come along for the ride. Leave everyone else in the dust. Do the work yourself, and engage anyone who is open to dramatic improvement and dream realization.
5. Names, Names, Names. As we mentioned, don’t set a goal for x many new members. Set a goal to see how many people you can meet in the shortest period of time. You can’t recruit who you don’t know, so you’ve got to start there. Do marketing efforts and events ONLY IF THEY GENERATE A LOT OF NAMES. Taking 4 guys to Hooters doesn’t get you more names ‐ it just gives your four names a boring stereotypical view of your chapter. Do things that generate names. Keep a simple spreadsheet of names (you could call it a “Names List,” and record which brother met them, their contact info, and anything else you know about the. Try these ideas for getting names:
A new club.
A petition for better
A political rally.
A big service event.
“15 Minutes on
the Quad” (between class periods, fan out across the quad on campus and just
introduce yourself to people ‐ see tip 6 for something to talk about)
“5 for 5″ (go out to meet 5 new people a day for 5 days straight ‐ and get others to
join you in the challenge)
Referrals from profs, sororities, friends, R.A.’s,
coaches, campus religious leaders, volunteer centers, other organizations and
organization leaders, your office of Greek life, etc.
(If you’ve read Good Guys, see the section on the 6 Cylinders)
6. Give Something Away. Often, if I’m making a cold-call when doing sales work, I like to open by saying, “One of the reasons I’m contacting you is to make sure you’re aware of this great resource”" It works every time. What can you give away that is of value to others so that you have something easy to talk with them about. Maybe the chapter is having an event that you want to make sure everyone’s aware of. Maybe the chapter is organizing a weekly study night / poker night / bean bag game / basketball tournament / memorial ceremony / philosophy discussion. Maybe the chapter is raising money for charity and giving away a prize. Maybe the chapter is looking for volunteers to serve on a focus group that is evaluating campus life (or fraternity life). Give something away. It makes it easier to talk with people.
7. Do what has ACTUALLY worked before. Often when given this simple piece of advice, chapters will plan to do some big event that they had fun with before. Just because it was fun or seemed cool doesn’t mean it actually drove results. And remember, the most important results are NAMES ‐ you can’t recruit who you don’t know. Think back to what you’ve done before and do the things that have actually driven potential members’ names to a list from which you could choose.
8. Do Something Other than a Rush Event. All frats do rush events. Are you just another frat? If not, do something different than what they do. Do brotherhood or service or social events that you can bring dozens or hundreds of prospective members to. Heck, I’d recommend not doing events at all ‐ they’re often a waste of time and really expensive, but if you’re going to do them anyway, don’t do RUSH events. If you are brave enough to avoid events, try doing normal people activities (lunch, work out, hang out, watch basketball, etc.). After all, it is important that you know that normal people (non-Greeks) are afraid of RUSH events.
9. Ask For Help. “Hi there volunteer club thanks for letting me talk to you for a few minutes, my name is Matt and I’m a member of XYZ fraternity. We realize that the fraternity system here is not great, and because of that many of you aren’t a part of it. We want to change that. In fact, we want to change everything about the fraternity system and to do that we need better men to lead that effort. We need men better than us. We need men like you who do” blah blah blah. All we’re asking is for a chance to talk with you or your friends about a pretty amazing opportunity ‐ to revolutionize the way fraternities are seen on this campus. We’ll even buy you lunch.” Imagine a scene like that at every major organization on campus and with every professor you know, and with every administrator you know” It will work.
10. Be Brave. How many people have never joined your chapter because you never asked them? How many people have never joined because you never even bothered to meet them? Be brave. Step outside of your comfort zone for 2 or 3 weeks and give people the chance to have the life-changing experience you’re having in the Greek World. You’re doing them a favor. Be brave enough to offer a great gift to others.
Bonus tip #11: Have Multiple New Member Classes. This is a no-brainer to me, but not to everyone else. Why try to do it all in a couple of weeks at the beginning of the semester. Have rolling new member classes that start and end whenever they need to.