What Job Fairs Can Teach Us About Recruitment

by Jessica Gendron Williams

Have you ever been to a job fair, internship fair or career fair?  I was recently on a college campus, in the student union, when a job fair was going on and it made me think back to my own experience attending several of those in college.  When I think back to those days, visions of large crowds, loud conversations, and mass chaos cloud my head.  I remember feeling pretty overwhelmed, kind of intimidated, and exhausted after it was over – similar to how I felt after sorority recruitment was over.  As I thought more about the job fair environment, I realized that there are a lot of similarities between them and fraternity/sorority recruitment – and a lot we can learn from them.

Picture yourself walking into the student union, dressed to impress.  You’re a little nervous, anxious and excited.  You walk up to a table outside a big ballroom where you check in, get your nametag, and a couple instructions.  Then you walk into the room crowded with strangers and a lot of commotion.  For those of you that were wondering, I’m talking about a job fair, not sorority recruitment.  The similarities are shocking – I know.

What happens inside these job fairs, however, looks a little bit different from fraternity/sorority recruitment.  While the inside of the room is chaotic, there are lot of people moving around, info booths, tables, and recruiters, what is actually happening at those tables and booths is where the magic is. 

When a job seeker or “recruit” (read as “you”) walks up to a booth, the first thing that happens is the recruiter acknowledges your presence by greeting you with a warm smile and a handshake – which is really no different than fraternity/sorority recruitment.  Next the recruiter immediately starts asking questions about you in an effort to get to know you (the good recruiters anyway).  They don’t immediately burst out with a practiced speech about how awesome their company is or all of the amazing jobs and opportunities they have.  They invest in you, get to know you, talk to you about you.  When, and only when, you ask about the company or the available jobs, do they talk about it.

This looks a little different than what happens in fraternity/sorority recruitment.  We typically ask the three questions that every fraternity man or sorority woman knows how to ask (Where are you from?  What’s your major?  Where do you live?), then get a little awkward and don’t know what to say next.  Then as a way to fill the silence we start talking about our organization and how awesome it is because we love it and think other people should, too.  People actually don’t care.  They want to talk about what matters to them – themselves, not what matters to you – your fraternity or your sorority.  When they are ready to talk about your fraternity or sorority, they’ll ask. 

A good recruiter would then hand you their business card and potentially some information about the company or the available jobs.  They would then, in one fell swoop, without you even realizing what is happening, usher you to a table where you fill out a form that gives them your contact information and potentially a resume.  Within 48 hours, the recruiter will follow-up with you even if it’s just to say, “thank you” or “it was great meeting you”.  If they are interested in you as a candidate, they usually call you immediately and attempt to set up a time to chat with you before they leave campus. 

When they set up a time to meet with you, they don’t ask you to come back to the job fair or attend a reception.  They set up a private meeting with you, usually at a coffee shop, restaurant, or small meeting space.  Good recruiters understand that they need to be in an environment where they can give someone their undivided attention in order to really get to know them – and they know that those environments are not big, loud, events with tons of people around.

Last year, I spent a lot of time at an Ivy League institution.  I frequented a coffee shop near campus for several hours most mornings to start my day.  There were multiple times that I would find five or six recruiters from a company (big companies like Rubbermaid, Deloitte, or Google) who had set up shop there and had a constant stream of students, all day, coming in to meet with them.  The meetings we 20-30 minutes in length and one-on-one.  This is what top companies do for several days after job fairs – they sit down one-on-one with people that they met at the job fairs.

Typically when we (fraternity/sorority members) meet people outside of the formal process of recruitment, we don’t do these things.  Getting contact information is something we use Facebook for – we go on and stalk people, find them, and then friend them so we have a way to get a hold of them – if we even do that (that’s creepy by the way).  Occasionally if we do get their contact information (in a normal and appropriate way), it’s not common practice to follow-up right away.  We either wait until we need something from them or until we have a big recruitment event to invite them to.  We then use those “big events” as they way we get to know them and potentially build a friendship with them – and it just doesn’t work well.  We typically don’t get enough people or the right people to those big events.  We rarely use small activities like coffee or lunch to get to know potential members.

We can learn something from what corporate recruiters and human resources professionals do at job fairs.  They navigate these environments with ease.  They don’t need entertainment, videos, chanting, singing, matching t-shirts, or food to be successful.  They also know that while those environments are a great opportunity to meet people, that they are not a great opportunity for getting to know people.

Now, the ladies reading this article are getting caught up in “but we can’t do this sort of stuff during sorority recruitment”.  You’re right.  You can’t.  However, you can and should do this stuff outside of sorority recruitment even if you can’t take new members.  Corporate recruiters don’t always have jobs that they are hiring for, but they know that they should continually search for high quality candidates in the event that they do have a job to fill – then they have a pool ready to draw from.

If we as fraternity men and sorority women were constantly meeting people by shaking their hand, talking to them about them, giving them getting contact information, following-up, and getting to know them through a small activity, we would be able to build a funnel of highly qualified people into our organizations.  We would have a waiting list, a group of people that we know we want to join, we’re just waiting for the opportunity to bring them in.  We would be able to recruit in a normal, natural, and authentic way.

Lofty Recruitment Ideas?

by Matt Mattson

We are constantly seeking the best recruitment ideas from campuses across North America. If you have good ideas that fall in line with Phired Up’s Dynamic Recruitment philosophy, you can submit them here so that we can share them with the world.

Some of the best ideas we come across have to do with OFFERING A VALUABLE SERVICE TO OTHERS in order to open the door to a possible relationship.  Do something nice for someone, and watch how you suddenly have access to and influence over them (it only works if you’re genuinely kind first).  We’ve written about this simple concept a lot lately here and here.

Here’s a creative idea for fraternities (see here for more) from Josh Orendi…
FRATERNITY NAMES DRIVER:

We often say that recruitment is about making friends … meeting new people … building our names list … offering a sincere service … something that is truly valued by campus and our target audience.  Here’s a lofty idea:

The freshmen dorms of many campuses are full of loft beds.  They were constructed at the beginning of the year and now need to be taken down.  Some universities contract this service with an outside vendor, others allow the students to find their own solution.  Either way, you’ve got a fantastic opportunity to provide value, offer a real service, make lots of new friends, and probably pocket a little money in the process. 

How many potential new members could you meet during the final days of school?

What if you volunteered to do this for the women’s dorm?  How many high quality gentlemen could each woman recommend?

What if you had freshmen men sign up to help you do this for the freshmen women … being a gentleman and gathering leads, I like that.

What if you offered similar help in the first week of the fall for the incoming freshmen?

Values-Based Membership Selection

by Matt Mattson

Values-Based Membership Selection.  If you’ve seen our programs, you know that we have a lot to say when it comes to choosing members using a set of measurable, objective criteria that are based on your organization’s stated values.  If your criteria for determining whether or not to give someone an official invitation into your chapter is “He’s a Good Guy,” or “She’s a really great girl,” then it is hard to justify a claim that your chapter is a quality chapter.

If you’re looking for examples of what a Values-Based Selection Criteria might look like, see the fraternity example and sorority example in our free resources section.  Notice how these don’t just use ”values” words, they use measurable “standards” to make it an ubiased screen of “quality” as defined by your organization.

Yesterday during a conversation with a student at Northwestern University, I was reminded of an organization that has had a clear set of criteria for membership selection for a long time (126 years or so).  Sigma Chi fraternity uses something called the “Jordan Standard.”  Many of our organizations have sets of guiding principles by which the members are expected to behave, but not all of our groups have this clear set of criteria by which to evaluate potential members.  What a powerful set of guidelines to ensure that the organization is consistently growing in quantity and quality.  Here’s the Jordan Standard (from Wikipedia):

The Jordan Standard

The Jordan Standard is intended to be a guideline and minimum set of requirements for new members. Founder Isaac M. Jordan addressed the 15th Grand Chapter in 1884, and his speech provided the basis for the current Jordan Standard.

“The confidence of the Founders of Sigma Chi was based upon
a belief that the principles which they professed and the ideal
of the Fraternity which they sought were but imperfectly
realized in the organizations by which they were surrounded.

The standard with which the fraternity started was declared
by Isaac M. Jordan to be that of admitting no man to
membership in Sigma Chi who is not believed to be:~

A Man of Good Character…….
A Student of Fair Ability…….
With Ambitious Purposes…….
A Congenial Disposition…….
Possessed of Good Morals…….
Having a High Sense of Honor and
A Deep Sense of Personal Responsibility.”

The challenge for Sigma Chi members (and all of us with regard to our organization’s core values) is to figure out how to objectively measure whether or not a potential member has proven him/herself, through past performance, to have lived by this standard.  Chapters that do “values-based recruitment” and claim to be made of “quality members” must choose members by a criteria like this – and not by their gut feelings or hunches or if they “like” the person after a short period of “rushed” interaction. 

I’ve heard many members speak in serious tones about how “one bad new member class can ruin the organization.”  Of course this is wrong. The reality is that ONE WRONG MEMBER is always responsible for the death of any of our Greek organizations.  One wrong member can destroy all that we work to build.

Membership organizations are made of members.  The quality of the organization, then, can be directly correlated to the quality of the members it selects.  A large part of “values-based recruitment” lies in using the values of your organization to make objective decisions on invitations for membership.  What is your organization’s “Jordan Standard”?  And how do you measure it in potential members.

[Special thanks to Zach Gray, Northwestern University Sigma Chi Recruitment Chair]

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Chapter Website or Blog?

by Jessica Gendron Williams

When we talk about recruitment at Phired Up, we tend to emphasize personal relationships, engaging with others, and sharing our personal stories as a way to make our experiences as fraternity men and sorority women more real, impactful, and memorable.  We also tout the mantra of “Be More Normal!” citing the weird, scary and unnecessary stuff we as Greeks do to “recruit” even though those things are typically highly ineffective at attracting the right type of potential member.

When it comes to websites, however, we remained pretty hands-off in the advice department.  Our website philosophy is simple – make it easy to use, pack it full of free resources, and let it be a fun place where people can learn.  We think we have done a pretty good job – especially since we launched our new site in January.  Let me rephrase – we thought we were doing a pretty good job – until last week.

Last week, I was forwarded a link to what I thought was just another sorority chapter website with some nice pictures, useless information, and amazing facts about all the stuff that chapter had won and the cool things they did.  I was wrong.  I got forwarded a link to a sorority chapter blog – a blog – not a website.  I was intrigued so I clicked the link.  When I got there, I didn’t find the usual suspects (awards, accolades, pictures), I found stories – personal stories.  Three of the first four entries were personal stories from individual members about why they joined their sorority – their personal stories of joining. 

At first, I thought, “What a novel concept!”  That was shortly replaced with, “DUH (and a subsequent light bulb illuminating above my head while a gospel chorus sung in perfect harmony a glorious rendition of “ah-ha!”).  You see, websites are nice, they give information to the people who visit, but that information is hardly impactful or unique.  Blogs, on the other hand, are personal.  They tell a story straight from the mouth of a person, an individual.

Imagine if fraternity and sorority websites were replaced by blogs.  Imagine if we shared fewer accolades and more stories – personal stories.  Imagine if our website/blogs were a public dialogue with our members about our fraternity/sorority experience.  That would be different.  That would be impactful, memorable, and more normal.  Potential members and visitors would learn more about us from visiting our websites or blogs – they would learn the stuff they really need and want to know to make a decision to join – who we truly are… or at least they’d learn about the important part of your membership organization — its MEMBERS.

Phired Up has taken a cue from these women.  We have learned something about our own website – we don’t tell our personal stories either.  We plan to fix that.  In the coming months you can expect to see the Phired Up Team sharing our personal stories of why we joined our fraternities or sororities, why we are a member of the Phired Up Team, and how fraternity or sorority has changed our lives.  We look forward to sharing our personal stories with you and encourage you to do the same – instead of lists of awards, accolades, and stuff that you do.

While you’re at it, check out the blog that prompted this one, here: http://asuagddeltaxi.blogspot.com/

Incoming Class Facebook Group/Fan Page

by Matt Mattson

This is probably old news to most readers, but it is a great time of year to remind you about a great recruitment resource. 

facebook-logo1This summer (and starting now), the [YOUR SCHOOL] CLASS OF 2014 FACEBOOK GROUP is a great way to gain access to, provide value to, and connect with incoming first-year potential members.  Here are some examples if you don’t know what I mean.

University of Illinois – 3,978 members to date

West Virginia University - 2,500 members to date

Tulane University – 1,051 members to date

Stanford University – 1,077 members to date

I added the Stanford group in particular because there is a message on the welcome page for this group that says, “If you post solicitations on this group, your solicitations will be deleted.”  That’s an important warning.  The way I see it, you can utilize these groups to build recruitment connections over the summer in one of three effective ways.

1. RUN THE GROUP:  One way to maximize the recruitment potential of a Facebook Group for incoming freshmen is to actually run the group yourself.  This might mean that you need to build a specialty group for students outside the basic “Class of” group.  Consider building a group or fan page for “Class of 2014 Beaver Fans,” “Class of 2014 U of A Student Leaders,” or “Class of 2014 MSU Community Service Opportunities.”  No matter the topic or specialization, if you have administrator priveleges in the group you have a greater level of access to the students.

2. ONLY PROVIDE VALUE TO MEMBERS:  Don’t recruit on the “wall” of these group/fan pages.  Seriously, don’t.  In fact, I’d recommend you don’t talk about your organization or even try to trick people into coming to your events or checking out your website.  Seriously, don’t.  If you’re going to communicate with people in these groups, offer something of value to them (think about this and this).  Be the connector in the group.  Tell the members about things they need to know as incoming first-year students.  Offer opportunities to connect them with current students.  Introduce them to people you know from their hometown.  Offer them scholarships (if appropriate), tell them about study groups, sports leagues, freshman move-in, etc.  Be nice to them, and remember Stanford’s warning: “If you post solicitations on this group, your solicitations will be deleted.”

3. FRIEND THEM:  Don’t stalk them.  Don’t be creepy.  But if you have a good reason to do so, and you can offer them something of value, then invite some of the members to be your friend (I’d also recommend categorizing these friends by putting them in a specific friend list so you know who they are).  Remember, if you friend them for good reasons — to make it easier for them to make the transition to college, to connect them with student life resources, to offer to talk with their parents about college life, etc. — they’ll be more likely to accept you as a friend and you’ll have good reasons to talk with them.  Please don’t do mass friend-adds so you can tell them all about how awesome your organization is.  That will turn them off immediately.  Also remember, you can only invite a handful of people per day to be your friend or to join a group… don’t abuse Facebook.

During the summer, gaining access to incoming students is often the most difficult task for student organizations that would like to do recruitment work.  Facebook, when used appropriately, can give you most of the access you need…

Brave Enough to Start The Spark

Special Guest Post By Rula Andriessen, Extension Consultant, Alpha Gamma Delta

[Phired Up worked with Alpha Gamma Delta on a highly successful extension project at Arizona State University this semester.  We asked Rula to share her thoughts on the experience.  She chose to inspire others to "Be Brave Enough to Start the Spark."  Thank you Rula!]

stsSomewhere, maybe acknowledged, and maybe not, there is a question in the hearts of fraternity/sorority undergraduates.  It could be a question of personal value – their worth to their organization.  It could be a question of their organization’s value and worth on campus.  Maybe it’s uncertainty about a new member program.  Maybe it’s doubt about proclamations of genuine friendship and the possibility for innovative thought. 

Maybe their questions will go unspoken and unanswered.  What would inspire them to reevaluate themselves and their organizations?  What would start the spark?

I began this semester fresh off the road from a tiny private college, where I talked and read “I Heart Recruitment” constantly.  I told the women I worked with to question their surroundings, and I believed in the power of a great question.  I used the programs in the great pink book to make the powerful point that people join people, and that women should make a friend to gain a member.

I moved to the Valley of the Sun, Arizona State University, where an amazing friend wrenched the pink book out of my grasp with one hand, and with another swift movement, pushed me toward a group of strangers.  “Go.  Make friends,” was my instruction.

My initial experiences were, in a word, awful.  I felt uncomfortable and horribly incompetent.  How could I, a professional relationship builder, be socially unintelligent?  I attended school out of state and made all new friends…I traveled abroad by myself…I lived out of my suitcase in a different stranger’s house every week for a year!  Perhaps most uncomfortable was the idea that I had been running around the country shouting “Phired Up Recruitment” from the rooftops,  only to find that my own capacity for it seemed pitiful.

What could I do to make this better?  I could only continue talking and inquiring and smiling – I could only continue stepping out of my apartment every day with the words of a great consultant “phiring” around in my head – “How many lives will you affect today?” 

The key word in this question is “you”.   I began to regain my self confidence.  I have something to offer.  The Greek community needs the change I offer with my organization.  Our organization needs the change we can make as a group at this university.  What I’m offering will be a great opportunity for amazing women on this campus.   What I’m offering may change their lives forever and will definitely bring them to friends they might never have met.

Maybe someone’s unspoken question will be answered.  Maybe this Greek community will get a real idea of their unity.  Maybe the extent of their true supportive fraternal spirit will be tested and revealed by this colonization.  Our group may redefine the meaning of positive traditions and innovative changes.  Maybe our group will help redefine fraternity and sorority organizations at the New American University, ASU.

Social interactions occur because people inherently need each other.  Maybe we can’t know how wide open our world can be, or how beautifully needy we really are, until we’re brave enough to stand up, step out, speak up, and bring someone into our lives.

Real bravery can be as simple a pleasant one-liner:  “Could I ask you a question?”  And can lead something more amazing than you can imagine.

So, are you brave enough to start the spark?

Delta Xi Colony at Arizona State University used Values-Based Membership Recruitment to gather a group of thoughtful, interesting, innovative women as colony members of Alpha Gamma Delta.  Intelligent question-asking and genuine human interest became the basis of the Leadership Consultant-led recruitment.  The group looks forward to a May 1 installation and a dynamic future at the New American University, ASU.

Wear Your Social Excellence Pants

by Matt Geik

Recently, as I jettisoned from point A on the map to point B, I took some time to do some reading that probably falls more under the title of leisure than anything else.  As I flipped through the first couple pages of one of my favorite magazines I came across a two-page advertisement for Dockers and their “Wear The Pants” campaign.  I’ll be honest with you and say since the first job I had out of college, where I was required to wear khakis everyday, I’ve taken a hard line and prohibited khakis from entering my wardrobe.  Don’t hit the send button on that rules of fashion e-mail just yet!  I know they have their place in a well groomed man’s closet; I just haven’t gotten over the trauma of that brown cotton twill experience yet.

With that said, I naturally would have flipped to the next page but the ad caught my eye with its typewriter font wording that made up the torso of a man on top of a pair of Docker’s Khaki’s.  In case you haven’t seen it…

Here’s what the those well-tailored words say:

“Once upon a time, men wore the pants and wore them well.  Women rarely had to open doors and little old ladies never crossed the street alone.  Men took charge because that’s what they did.  But somewhere along the way, the world decided it no longer needed men.  Disco by disco, latte by foamy non-fat latte, men were stripped of their khakis and left stranded on the road between boyhood and androgyny.  But today, ther are questions our genderless society has no answers for.  The world sits idly by as cities crumble, children misbehave and those little old ladies remain on one side of the street.  For the first time since bad guys, we need heroes.  We need grown-ups.  We need men to put down the plastic fork, step away from the sald bar and untie the world from the tracks of complacency.  It’s time to get your hands dirty.  It’s time to answer the call of manhood.  It’s time to WEAR THE PANTS.”

Now, before anybody starts talking about gender rolls and asks Destiny’s Child to get back together to perform Independent Women, lets talk about why this is the perfect example of why social excellence is such an important and hot topic with everyone that we work with.

You see the ad plays on the old adage about who wears the pants in a relationship and the ideas of what it means to be a man in days long gone.  However, the underlying spirit of those days (sans the overmasculinocentricity)  might not be as long gone as people might think.  Campus after campus, interview after interview I continue to hear students, both men and women alike, talk to me about what is essentially the lack of social excellence on their campus and in their communities.  It comes in the form of the women who are too caddy with their group of three friends, and their Venti Iced Frappuccino’s and matching Coach purses who wouldn’t notice if another person existed with in the same time zone that they’re in.  It’s the guy who is walking across campus right now in sweat pants, socks and sandals, texting while listening to his iPod with his hoody up.  Or the woman talking on her cell phone to her friend she just walked away from as she attempts to simultaneously place her order in the food court.  Its the guy who speeds up to walk in the door and pretends not to see the other person walking out of it with their hands full only to leave them struggling to manage their goods and the door in frustration.  It is everywhere and I’m sure you can share some more great examples with me.

For those of you nodding your head right now don’t get ahead of the story, that ruins the fun.  For those of you wondering why any of this matters hang in there and read on.

You see when I read that Docker’s ad, I thought of college campuses… students.  I thought of Greeks.  And in my head that ad should read like this:

“Once upon a time Greeks were our campus leaders.  And they led others with class.  Students rarely needed to look far for opportunities to be exceptional and little old ladies still never crossed the street alone.  Greeks set the example because that’s what they did.  But somewhere along the way, our campuses decided it no longer needed men and women of values.  Keg by keg, toga by beer stained toga, Greeks were stripped of their integrity and character and left stranded in the quad somewhere between drunk and social deviant.  But today, there are questions for our campuses that no one has answers for.  Our campuses sit idly by as organizations crumble and students misbehave and those little old ladies remain on one side of the street.  For the first time since Dr. Evil, we need heroes.  We need Greeks.  We need men and women to put down the red Solo cup, step away from the iPod and untie our campuses from the tracks of mediocrity.  It’s time to get your hands dirty.  It’s time to answer the call of being Greek.  It’s time to BE SOCIALLY EXCELLENT.”

So you see, those times aren’t that long gone and certainly not forgotten.  Both women and men alike across this country are voicing their disdain for the lack of social excellence that surrounds them.  They are searching for it, asking where did it go? They are looking for you to once again set the example.  To lead with class.  And therein lies an opportunity, wherever you are, to be the one that steps up and helps that old lady cross the street.  As a Greek man or woman, you have the ad space and captive audience to make others take note of what it means to be socially excellent and why that matters.  The only question that remains is, “What will you do with your opportunity?”

….and can I get Docker’s to send me some of those K-1 Khaki’s?  Turns out there’s a place for them right next to my shelf of Social Excellence.

Sorority Recruitment, Eating Disorders, and Lots of Questions

by Jessica Gendron Williams

barbieA recent research paper released in Sex Roles entitled “Here’s looking at you: self-objectification, body image disturbance, and sorority rush” (here is an article about the paper) examined the damaging effects that joining a sorority can have on body image and eating behaviors.  As part of a company that focuses solely on recruitment it is needless to say that the article caught my attention.

I will paraphrase significantly, but this research showed that at one institution (where the research was performed) that self-objectification and disordered eating behaviors was occurring at higher levels for women who participated in sorority recruitment than for those who did not.  The research also discovered that women who joined sororities were experiencing higher levels of body shame one month after joining .  Additionally, women with higher body weights were also more likely to drop out of the recruitment process at this institution.

While there are certainly some limitations to the study, it poses some interesting questions worthy of discussion.

What I gained from this study was that formal sorority recruitment is causing women to have body image, self esteem, and disordered eating issues at this institution.  While some might argue that, “It’s just one school, one community.”  It is reasonable to question… is it?  This study only looks at one school, one community, but what if we looked closely at others?  Would we see similar results?  Is this a first signal of a much larger problem?  What if sorority recruitment was causing body image dissatisfaction and disordered eating in potential, new, and current members?  What do we do about it? Isn’t one school – just one school - too many for this to be occurring?

The bigger picture question is, what about our recruitment processes and practices are creating an environment for negative and dangerous behavior to be amplified or developed?  Might it be the fact that most schools provide potential members with a recommended attire list – sometimes with pictures?  Is it because we create this idea of what a sorority woman should look like before they even walk into a chapter house?  Might it be that we put so much emphasis on what we wear and how our members look during recruitment?  Might it be that we put pictures up of all our best looking members and highlight our cutest or skinniest girls in the slide shows during recruitment?  Might it be that some chapters “hide” their less desirable looking members in an attempt to create an ideal?  Could it be that the masquerade that we put on during recruitment provides an inflated and unrealistic view of sorority life?  Is it really that unrealistic?

While I recognize that there were about 50 questions in that last paragraph, this article does just that for me – raises more questions.  What if we put the emphasis of sorority recruitment back on the relationships?  What if we started focusing on authenticity instead of putting on a show?  What if we allowed our members to be who they are, have the conversations the best version of themselves would have, get to know the potential members for who they are, and makee membership decisions based on character and connection instead of clothes and cuteness? 

For us at Phired Up, it just validates the work that we do and the message that we share.  People join people.  Make a connection.  Be more normal.  We don’t need fancy outfits, matching shoes, waxed eyebrows, perfectly polished nails and snappy t-shirt slogans to get the right women to join sorority.  We need to invest in people by having enough curiosity in others to have truly meaningful and authentic dialogue during recruitment – and you don’t need balloons for that.

The link for the full text of this research can be found here: http://springerlink.com/content/p102r857n13r7000/fulltext.html

Reference:
Rolnik AM, Engeln-Maddox R, Miller SA (2010). Here’s looking at you: self-objectification, body image disturbance, and sorority rush. Sex Roles DOI 10.1007/s11199-010-9745-y

Alpha Gamma Delta 100 Women at ASU – “A glimpse of Greek Life done right.”

by Jessica Gendron Williams, with Hilary Zimmerman
Phired Up Productions recently partnered with Alpha Gamma Delta International Sorority to do an extension project at Arizona State University.  We (Phired Up) went on the ground to “do” recruitment and worked with two very talented consultants to recruit a new colony for Alpha Gamma Delta in January of this year. 

On January 21st, we plopped down on campus with Rula and Hilary from AGD and started an extension project using Phired Up’s Dynamic Recruitment system by building a network of relationships with people all over campus.  We worked with fraternity men, faculty, staff, administrators, and complete strangers (yes random people we walked up to on campus and made our friends) at Arizona State University in an attempt to find the highest quality non-Greek women on campus.  By the end of a two-week period, myself (Jessica Gendron Williams), Rula and Hilary had cultivated a list of over 650 non-Greek women at ASU. 

We built relationships through small group and one-on-one meetings with as many women as possible in the short time we had.  By the second week in February, AGD was ready to launch into the more formalized portion of their recruitment.  Alpha Gamma Delta brought in Headquarters staff and alumnae and collegiate volunteers for the effort.  Phired Up joined the efforts to train the alumnae for the Open Houses and Information Interviews that were to take place during that week.  Phired Up helped AGD develop a Values-Based Selection Criteria to use in conjunction with their current membership selection process to ensure that they were not only taking women for the colony, but were taking the highest quality non-Greek women on campus. 

AGD interviewed close to 200 women for the colony for roughly 100 spots and extended bids to 87.  Through continued recruitment efforts throughout the semester, the group now proudly includes close to 100 of the highest quality women at Arizona State University who are charged with redefining the sorority experience at ASU.  As we look at the final group, not only did we end with the number of women we wanted, but with the caliber of women we were looking for.  These women are the top leaders on their campus, the academically high performers.  They are actively involved in organizations and activities on campus and in service and philanthropy.  They are different.  But what makes this group different?

I asked Rula and Hillary to put into words how this extension was different, what made it successful by more than a number on a page.  Here is their response:

“It’s something that I’ve been trying to put my finger on since they started just a couple of months ago. From the beginning we knew that they weren’t like everyone else. As soon as we started meeting these women, we knew that they were going to be something good for the Greek community here.

Last night I was at the colony meeting. It was the first time they led the meeting entirely on their own.  It was my chance to sit back and empower the officers and advisors to lead their experience. It was also my chance to observe the rest of the group. On the surface they look like any other group that I have worked with over the past year. They were all sitting in rows, talking animatedly about their day to each other before meeting. They all came with their new member magazines, a pen, and paper. They were all wearing badge attire. A fairly standard sight for a group meeting. They all silenced their phones and put them in the bags as the Colony President and New Member advisor pulled up the agenda onto projector screen. Meeting began the same way it beings with all chapters – Ritual is performed to remind us of the tie that binds to each other and our common purpose. Then we moved into the business of the day. I sat there watching as the group broke up into committees to discuss their current projects. I listened as they gave committee updates and heard the advisors asking great questions to get our women thinking even further. I watched as our women articulated goals for themselves for the rest of the semester and into next year.  A pretty standard meeting by most accounts.

 What makes them different however, is what happens outside of the chapter meetings. They are an empowered group of women who aren’t afraid to be congruent to their values. They are who they say they are. Imagine what the world with look like if every chapter lived up to our “ideal standard.” Sometimes in the planning of things, I feel like we get caught in setting the stage for what the ideal looks like, but when we get to the execution, it ends up looking like a lesser version of our ideal. It’s almost like we, as leaders in our organizations, are afraid to be idealistic. We set boring, low expectation goals with the hopes that at least our group will meet those.

Our colony at ASU is an example to me of what happens when you set high expectations and you challenge them to meet those expectations. I still can’t quite put my finger on everything that these women represent. They are a group of motivated, values-based women. They aren’t afraid to stand out in a crowd. They are excited to collaborate with other groups. They question the process. They aren’t mystified by the veil of secrecy that surrounds the Greek world at times. They ask questions and when things don’t make sense to them, they find a way to do it that does make sense to them. They have a view of Greek Life that looks more normal from the outside and I hope that they never loose that sense of normalcy. They are excited to be involved. The committee chairs are asking to plan events and collaborate with other Greek and non-Greek groups on campus. There are women asking if they can be on more than one committee because they would really like to contribute. They stand up for what they believe in. They allow their actions to be guided by their values. But really nothing I could ever write would do them justice. They are so much more than words on paper – they are every thing we hope for in fraternity and sorority.

Our colony is the woman who was so moved by ResponseAbility and the message of bystander behavior that it compelled her to contact the creator of the program, Mike Dilbeck, and the Orientation Office at ASU to start a conversation to see if it could be shown at all new students at orientation.

It’s the woman who was so moved by her negative experiences with alcohol and fraternities that she was empowered to lead a group discussion on dry social events.

It’s the group of women who want to bring a social justice leadership retreat to the Greek community because they don’t want their experiences to solely benefit Alpha Gamma Delta.

It’s another group of women who ask to have weekly “idea” lunches with their Leadership Consultants to discuss different projects and creative ideas.

It’s a group of women who are so empowered to recruit new members in a normal way that they continue to bring new women to and into the organization.

It’s the colony president who wants to get to know her advisors and Leadership Consultants as people because she values relationships.

It’s a lot of things. I think what’s extraordinary about this group is, at the end of the day, it’s about people and purpose. They have a clear, communicated, understanding of their values and what those look like in action. They have unity through those shared values and a vision and goals for what they want to do as a result of those values. They are who they say they are.

I’m excited to get to start more of these groups in this way – through relationships, curiosity in others, and authenticity.  By setting extremely high standards and not compromising those standards to put a number on the board. If the rest of the Greek community looked like this group, I can only imagine the way the world would look. We got this result by recruiting with our values. We didn’t worry about singing songs or rambling on and on and on and on about Alpha Gamma Delta. In fact, when I first met most of these women, I don’t even think I talked about Alpha Gam until they were getting ready to leave – and it was only to invite them to an open house so that we could get to know them more.  We recruited them by asking questions because we can have great things going for us but it doesn’t matter if we don’t have people who align with those things.

Phired Up helped us realize our potential.  They gave us a strategy, a system that allowed us to be highly selective, to be driven by quality and quantity, and as a result we recruited the women who are the ideal.  Our Arizona State University Alpha Gamma Delta Colony is a glimpse into what Greek Life can be when it’s done right, when we put people and relationships first and set high expectations with equivalent accountability.”

We at Phired Up are so proud of the work that Alpha Gamma Delta did.  They put the blood, sweat, and tears into this group to make them successful.  What really amazes about this whole project is not the numerical success they had.  We are truly amazed by the caliber of women they were able to recruit by letting the quantity of relationships they made, drive the quality of women the selected. 

Imagine if THIS was the way we recruited all the time.  Imagine if we were able to be this successful without balloons, songs, and t-shirts – without silence periods, recruitment rules, or release figures – by just investing in people, building meaningful relationships, and asking the highest quality women on campus to join us in the mission to be relevant once again.

“We serve the community, not ourselves.”

by Matt Mattson

I’ve had this conversation lately with a number of Greek leaders who are planning their fall recruitment strategies.  I thought it might be worth sharing with others.

Twice in the last week, the idea of an All-Greek Barbecue has come up as a means of a) “Showing a strong Greek presence,” b) “Getting our name out there,” and c) “Getting some potentials to hang out with all of the chapters.”  In itself, this isn’t a terrible idea.  I just have a better one, and it comes with a whole new philosophy your organization can adopt this fall for recruitment.

[Side note: Read this blog post from our good friend John Shertzer about the overall "Myth of the All-Greek Barbecue".]

What if, instead of the All-Greek Barbecue during the first week of school, you hosted a Freshman Field Day.  Imagine doing THE EXACT SAME STUFF you were going to do at the All-Greek Barbecue, but this time it isn’t for you, it is for the freshmen students… you just happen to be hosting it.

Here’s my challenge to you as you think about your recruitment strategy for this fall.  Adopt this slogan with regard to all recruitment plans: “We serve the community, not ourselves.”

I’ve written about this before here, but just thought the subtle difference between an All-Greek Barbecue and a Freshman Field Day really illustrated my point.

Think just about the names of these two events.  Which one would likely attract more non-Greek students so you could recruit them?

Think also about the purpose of the events… the All-Greek Barbecue is for your organization. It is selfish.  It is like yelling, “SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY, COME ON DOWN TO THE BIG BROTHERHOOD/SISTERHOOD SALE!.”  The only people likely to show up at that are either desperate for friends or expecting free drinks.  While the Freshman Field Day is purely social, fun, and for freshmen.  It is actually meant to make their day, their week, their life a little better.

Look at every event you have planned for next semester, and ask yourself if it obeys this mantra: “We serve the community, not ourselves.” The more you serve your community, the more you serve others… the more people will wan to serve with you.