By Jessica Gendron
People don't join organizations. People join people.
A lot of you are probably a little confused and may even be thinking, what does that phrase have to do with creating powerful conversations? A lot actually.
Think back to when you joined you chapter and try to remember the exact reason that you joined. For most you, you aren't thinking about a trophy or philanthropy event. You are thinking about a person, and not just any person, you know the exact name of the person that was the reason you joined. Right? For most of us, that is 100% true. We didn't join because of some trophy the chapter won, or the fraternity they hang out with, or even the service project they do. We joined because of someone we had an awesome conversation with or that made you feel completely comfortable in the uncomfortable environment that is sorority recruitment. We didn't join because it was Alpha Alpha Sorority (the organization), we joined because of Suzie the Alpha Alpha sorority woman (the person).
You might still be thinking, but what does that have to do with powerful conversations??? Well, everything.
Creating powerful conversations during formal sorority recruitment is the way that your members develop relationships with potential members. Conversations that keep them coming back to your chapter day after day and relationships that will eventually lead them to join your chapter. So, you might be thinking, ok, I buy it. But how do you do that in the short amount of time that you have during recruitment events? There are a couple of suggestions that we have for you based on what we know about recruitment.
1. Remember her favorite word. What is her favorite word you might ask? It's her name. Nametag or no nametag, remember her name. You should use it when asking a couple questions and always use it when you are saying goodbye or you see her again. Use your energy to remember her name. I know a lot of you probably meet a lot of women in one day and it's hard to remember everyone's name. Try to find some way to associate their name to something. For instance for a red-headed girl named Ruby, you could remember “Ruby-red”. You get the idea.
2. Control the Conversation. The best way to remain confident in a conversation is to control the conversation. You do that by minimizing the talking and maximizing the listening. The best way to maximize the listening is to ask lots of open-ended questions. Remember to keep the conversation focused on the other person. We already learned what a potential member's favorite word is. You can probably guess then, what her favorite topic is – that's right – herself! Keep the conversation focused on her and she will walk away thinking, Wow, she really wanted to get to know ME. Chances are she will be coming back to your next event.
3. Master the Five Fabulous Ways. The object of the Five Fabulous Ways to Master a Conversation is to provide you with open-ended question topics that build rapport, establish common interest or experiences and focus on them. Here they are:
Family/Friends – Tell me about your family. How do you know Lauren? How is your ResHall floor?
Favorites – What's you favorite book? movie? food? class?
Firsts – How is your first day? week? Are you the first to go to college? first class?
Fun – What do you do for fun? this summer? What groups are in interested in besides sororities?
From – Tell about your hometown? How was high school?
BONUS Way: Future – what are you doing for break? This weekend? what classes are you taking?
All of these things can help you to have more meaningful and powerful conversations during formal sorority recruitment. But like all things, in order to be really good at it and truly successful, you have to PRACTICE. Spend some time with your members practicing these things. Do some role-playing. Identify the BENEFITS of membership in your organization, not the features. Practice controlling the conversation by listening. Bring in outside members to practice your conversation skills on.
Cool decorations, fancy deserts, and awesome chants may wow the potential members. Being a large well-known national organization may make women want to join your group. But, creating powerful and meaningful conversations during formal recruitment is the one true way you will continue to get potential members to come back to your chapter day after day and eventually join.