by Taylor Deer
I have been spending much of this fall visiting dozens of colleges and universities asking fraternity men and sorority women questions. I want to learn as much as I can about what truly makes great recruiters GREAT.
One of my favorite questions to ask is: “What is the most effective way you recruit members in your fraternity?” Almost always, I hear one of three things.
1) It is all about getting your name out there!
2) The reputation of our chapter.
The most interesting part of this question is that it is answered the same way across a hugely diverse range of schools. From the largest to the smallest, the highest to the lowest percentage of Greek Life; members of Fraternities I have interviewed almost unanimously attribute their recruitment success to these three things.
Even though these members answer this question with confidence, the next question I always ask is “Why did you join?”. Again, across the board the answer to this question has three parts to it.
1) Within the first sentence they will say the name of a person.
2) A smile will creep up on their face.
3) They will tell you a story of how they still have a meaningful relationship with this person to this day.
Many of us came to college never wanting to join Greek Life, and through a personal connection with a member who introduced us to our current chapter, we decided to join.
So my question to you is: Did you join for the cookouts? Or the people you met at them?
Put people back at the center of your recruitment process.
It was one of those mid-afternoon slumps. You know the kind; where the clock strikes 3:30 and you can’t believe it is still only 3:30. So, I do what any normal adult would do at that point; grab my phone and open Candy Crush . If anything is going to wake me up, re-energize me for the rest of this day, or at least give me something else to think about for a moment, it’s Candy Crush.
I start at Level 38, where I’ve been stuck for a while (I know that’s embarrassing, don’t judge me). But this time, this time I’m sure to beat it. I feel good about it. Even though I’ve been stagnant on this level for an extended period of time, today is going to be the day. I’m determined to beat it (no, no that’s not the recruitment lesson).
I play the level, and I lose. Only 4 squares of jelly left to clear… so close! I could give up, get frustrated, close the game or even delete the app. But not me. I’m not going to let a little adversity bring me down. I’m going to beat this thing (nope, still not the recruitment lesson).
Onward I go. I play Level 38 again. Lose. Again. Lose. Not backing down, not giving up. I go again, and again. And then, just when I’m sure I’ve figured out the perfect strategy, ready to play one final time and defeat Level 38, it happens. Suddenly the dreaded, crying heart-shaped sad face is staring up at me, telling me I’ll need to wait 16 more minutes before I have a life to play. Noooooo!
And then I notice, right under that silly heart-shaped emoticon, a button. A button that tells me that I may have Facebook Friends willing to help me—all I have to do is ask. With a simple click of a button, with a simple Facebook request (and only $0.99!) I could carry on with my quest of beating Level 38 (still not the recruitment lesson you are waiting for).
Just as I’m about to hit that button, I look up at the time. It’s now 3:50, and I have spent 20 minutes trying to beat a level of Candy Crush. Persevering, planning, striving, strategizing, even almost reaching out via social media and paying money for help from others. All to beat a level of a game on my phone.
Here’s the lesson. Here’s what in that moment Candy Crush taught me about recruitment: Nothing. Because it’s a game on my cell phone.
Well, that’s probably not fair. Candy Crush did teach me one thing in that moment: Put down your phone, Tina. Put down your phone, and go make a new friend. Seriously, Tina. Candy Crush is a make believe world of candy… being crushed. You won’t find fulfillment here. Go. Put down your phone.
No one recruited anyone playing Candy Crush. No one made a new friend, a new connection, a new brother or sister, wired into their computer or cell phone. No one changed someone’s life by persevering, planning, striving, strategizing, or connecting with virtual friends via social media over a (albeit, addicting) game on our cell phones. No one changed the world without engaging it.
What if we could channel all that energy and determination we sometimes waste on mindless pursuits into recruitment? What if instead of creating a new strategy for clearing all the jelly, we created new strategies for meeting new people? What if instead of asking for lives via Facebook, we reached out to our friends face-to-face and asked them for names of great non-Greek students on campus? What if instead of playing Candy Crush, we literally put down our phones and made a new friend?
I’m clearly not a Candy Crush expert, but it’s safe to say any of those ideas would be more productive AND more fun than continuing to fail to complete Level 38. Put down your phone, and go make a new friend.
Also, if anyone wants to give me some lives… No, nevermind.
by KJ McNamara
Lately, I have been teaching the power of a good story. We cannot fully understand something we have not experienced. We cannot fully comprehend something we have not lived… but we can understand the feelings you express when you tell a story. So today I want to say: tell your story. Tell your truth. Be bold enough to be vulnerable and let them see what you are made of. Vulnerability is the key to connection. Connection is the key to recruitment.
As we close out August, the busiest month of our work… I have to thank all of the people who let me shamelessly tell stories about them without their permission. As a people who communicate for a living we have all learned that stories can be powerful in articulating a concept that is complicated.
So, thank you to my Father, John F. McNamara who I repeatedly exploit through pictures. For those of you who have heard me, you know that my love for my embarrassing father is genuine and powerful. I also want to thank one of my best friends, Stephanie Wollenberg from Sikeston, Missouri (now living in New York, New York). She does not know that I tell the whole world our story of a subway ride and a little boy who loves his turtle. She also does not know that I tell half of the world about the most vulnerable moment in her life when her 7 year relationship came crashing down around her and I was the one she chose to help pull it back together. Thanks girl! I’ve got your back.
I have spoken to men and women everywhere and I have learned that the true stories you tell are powerful. Your story is powerful. Your story will make a person join your organization, but you have to be bold enough to tell it unedited.
Your life is what your fraternity & Sorority is. Your chapter exists through you. It exists because of you. Your story is your values. Your story is what people join. People join People. People join your story. How do you find your story?
Answer these to start: When was the moment you wanted to join? How has your fraternity/sorority made you a better person? When was a time you needed your brothers/sisters the most?
Your story should speak so loudly about what your organization values that you don’t even need to tell them what you stand for.
For example, I am a Kappa Delta, we believe that confidence in women and girls can change the world. My belief in confidence persists in every story I tell.
Confidence is the main theme in every story of my life. This is not even on purpose! The biggest compliment I have ever received is from Vince Fabra who in passing said to me once, “Well of course you believe in confidence, you are a KD.” I didn’t even realize how loudly I speak about what matters to me.
Speak loudly about what matters to you. I am not saying stand on a soap box and scream at a city about your passion… but I am saying don’t be afraid to wear your story on your sleeve. Be bold enough to tell the real story. Be vulnerable enough to put your heart in a story. Your story is powerful, and when you are confident enough to talk about how your organization has shaped your life… people will sign up en mass to get them some of that. They will join for the right reasons.
How to tell a good story:
1) Describe Characters: Talk about the people in your story. Talk about what their hair is like, how tall they are, their weird laugh. When you describe your characters you are talking about your brothers & sisters. You help the people feel like they are already best friends with your chapter members.
2) Use details: What was the weather like? Where were you on campus? What time of day was it? When you use details, it helps the person feel like they are there. They picture themselves being right there with you.
3) Use Feelings: Talk about how frustrated you were, how the relief washed over you, the building excitement you felt all day. Talk about the emotions because people have felt happy, sad, upset, angry, and relieved. But they have never walked around in your skin. They can understand the emotion but they cannot understand your fraternity or sorority.
Your story is powerful, amazing and perfect. Don’t be afraid to tell it. Your story has the ability to change the lives of others… but only when you tell it. If you want to matter to this world, you have to be vulnerable enough to talk about what everyone does not see. People don’t see your story, they only see your surface, and your story is deeper than that. Trust me… I have heard some of your stories and they have changed my mind and my life.