by Josh Orendi
Thursday, 7:30AM, August 30, 2012. I had the honor of attending a membership meeting of Kiwanis International . Special thanks to my friend John Shertzer — who many know from his popular blog “Fraternal Thoughts” — for the invitation. It wasn’t until about 45 minutes into the meeting that I had a light bulb moment — I was being RECRUITED, and this was not the Kiwanis Club’s first recruitment rodeo. I was in a vortex of recruitment excellence. My light bulb moment became a fireworks show of Dynamic Recruitment lessons as I replayed all the little things that were creating my first Kiwanis experience. The moment I got home, I sat down to record the important lessons that I witnessed so that my fraternal friends could benefit from my remarkable experience I just had on the other side of a recruitment handshake.
Part One: How I Ended Up in an O’Charley’s Restaurant with 60 Strangers:
Two weeks earlier I was sitting at a Starbucks on 86th Street in Indianapolis after a meeting with some friends from Zeta Beta Tau’s headquarters. In walks a friend, Paul Lawson, with a guy I don’t recognize. Paul introduces me to Roy Hedeen. In less than 60 seconds Roy figures out that he and I share another mutual friend, John Shertzer. Roy is a member of Kiwanis International and he tells me I should join him and his Kiwanis club for a free breakfast in 2 weeks where John will be a featured speaker. Caught in the moment and the charisma of both Roy and Paul I say, “yeah, that’s a great idea.” We exchange business cards. Later that same day I receive an email from Roy thanking me for the meeting, asking about my business, sharing details about the upcoming meeting, and introducing me to another colleague of his who he thinks I would enjoy talking to (Rhonda). The next day I received a warm, funny email from John that he just heard from Roy that I was attending the upcoming meeting. The following day, Rhonda emails me saying she can’t wait to connect. WHOA-WHOA-WHOA I’ve spent nearly my entire professional life teaching recruitment. This felt so natural – so normal – that I didn’t even make the connection. I was being recruited!!!
Later, I literally had an internal conversation with myself: “Was Roy a sly recruitment master or a passionate gentleman eager to share the gift of his club’s membership with others?” Answer: BOTH! He was thoughtful and intentional. He believes in his organization and he believes that my life will be better through his organization. He cared enough to:
1. meet me by shaking my hand
2. treat me like a friend
3. introduce me to his friends
4. introduce me to his organization
5. ask me to join.
HOLY SH*T! Roy Hedeen just recruited me with the NIC 5 STEP MODEL !!!! I felt like that moment in Karate Kid (Part One) when Daniel-san’s arch rival Johnny Lawrence meets Mr. Miyagi and gets his ass kicked. The star pupil had just been schooled by the master. Roy Hedeen just crept from the shadows of northside Indianapolis and beat me with my own best recruitment moves.
Part Two: 20 Recruitment Lessons I Experienced at One Kiwanis Club Meeting:
- Personal Invitation. No blanket email or flier. I was personally invited.
- People in Common. Roy helped me feel comfortable by telling me my friend John was going to be there, reminding me that my buddy Paul was going, and encouraging me to meet his friend Rhonda. He told me this was a group of people like me and that I’d have a good time.
- Neutral ground. They invited me to a place I felt comfortable (O’Charleys), not their big scary headquarters house that was only a mile away.
- Greeting. I was greeted the moment I walked in the door with a smile and handshake.
- Welcome. John and Roy waved at me from the back of the room then walked to the front door to say hello.
- Preparation. My name was already on a sign-in sheet and a printed name tag was waiting for me with my name spelled correctly. (This blew me away. See pic.) I gladly gave them my personal cell phone and personal email address.
- Food. I was hungry and there was decent food. A member near the drink station helped me with my orange juice and thanked me for being at the meeting.
- Conversation. We didn’t talk about Kiwanis! We talked about my daughter, my business, my football team, my house projects, my travel schedule …. Wait, they helped me talk about ME NOT THEM, and they weren’t talking about the club until I brought it up! I told you they’re good.
- Introductions. John personally walked me to a table near the front and introduced me to a member who he recommended I sit next to. (I’d later find out he’s the past Dean at IUPUI)
- Group Welcome with Praise. Club president rang a bell and welcomed the group. He outlined what we could expect in the next hour then encouraged each member who brought new friends to publically introduce the guests in the room. There were 21 of us!! Each was given a caring introduction, acknowledged, and applauded by the group.
- Humor. There was laughter. A lot of laughter. Members took time to share public praise for each other while publically joking and razzing each other. The mood was light, fun, and full of fellowship.
- Personal Stories. John spoke. So did Roy. So did one of the original members of the club. Each gave a few minutes of their time speaking from the heart about their journey and why membership in Kiwanis was an important part of his life. It was authentic and powerful.
- Evidence of Excellence. They didn’t just talk about raising money, they did it in the meeting. They didn’t just say we have lifelong members, they had members of 30+ years in attendance speaking. They didn’t just say we have leaders, they introduced me to them. They didn’t just say we have 30 other clubs in the area, they had 6 women from the local Zionsville club in attendance. They did just say “family” they literally had fathers and sons in the room together. They didn’t just say we do service, they had a woman from Riley Children’s Hospital in attendance talking about the impact of the work the club does.
- Value Proposition. Roy summarized, “Members join for three reasons: Programs. Projects. People.” He talked in detail about the lives they change in the community, the groups they partner with, the caliber of speakers they host, the resume of key members, the meaningful personal relationships, and the vision of their club to evolve and do more.
- Expectations. The time commitment, annual cost, and general obligations were spelled out in a simple, straightforward manner then we moved on.
- Brochure. The marketing piece was professional but most importantly it reinforced the message I just heard and helped me take action toward membership. (They did not try to hand me a brochure to replace having to explain the organization or avoid asking me to join. They did the work, not the brochure.)
- Invitation to Return. Guests were invited to another meeting and a service project regardless of whether we decided we want to join or not.
- Proper Fairwell. Two of the oldest members went out of their way to find me before I left, thanked me for being at the meeting, reminded me it was one of the greatest joys of their life, and encouraged me to come back so they could get to know me better.
- Time Sensitive. We started exactly on time. We ended exactly on time. That was critical for me to demonstrate that the group valued my other commitments.
- Follow Up. You’re probably not surprised that I had a text and an email later in the day from my new friends. I even had a phone conversation with Rhonda during my lunch break.