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Improving Formal Recruitment

by Matt Mattson

We’ve had a lot of conversations lately with fraternity men that were very interested in creating or improving a formal recruitment process. For some reason, we’re seeing a trend that suggests some fraternity men want their recruitment processes to be more formal. This is, well… interesting.

While we don’t advocate making recruitment processes even more weird than they already seem to the average non-Greek man on campus (making them sign-up for a formal, fake-feeling process of house rotations, themed rounds, or rushed “events”), we are willing to offer some tips to help chapters that are stuck in a formal recruitment system.

Many campuses have some form of formal IFC rush. We don’t necessarily think this to be a bad idea, but if you look at our writings and our programs, you’ll note that it is a VERY small portion of our recommended strategies, and to that end, you should probably only expect a VERY small portion of the men on your campus to engage in formal rush. To be honest, it is an old way of doing business that just doesn’t work with today’s student on most campuses.

Now, many of you may say, “But I’ve seen campuses like Kansas or Indiana that get tons of guys through formal rush.” That’s true, but it is important to realize that those results probably aren’t because of a GREAT formal rush process. Instead, those results are based on some deep cultural norms and expectations that have built over many many years. On those campuses, students know about fraternities (and are interested in them) before they even show up — very much because of messages from alumni, social myths and a complex combination of expectations that are ingrained in the culture of the campus and the high schools from which those students come from. It is hard to explain, but the point is that I wouldn’t think you could just pick up the formal rush systems at those campuses, set them down on your campus, and get the same results. It goes much deeper than that.

So, without further ado, here are…

5 Practical Tips to Improve Formal Rush.

  1. First Understand, You Can’t Recruit Who You Don’t Know.  This isn’t a new concept if you’re a regular reader, but when it comes to formal rush, it is important to remember that FIRST YOU MUST GET A LOT OF PROSPECTS INVOLVED IN FORMAL RUSH, then you can recruit from them. Often, IFC’s, campuses, chapters and councils spend so much time making sure they have the coolest events or smoothest “house rotations” that they forget that if only 20 prospects show up, it doesn’t really matter how cool your events/processes are. Spend more time, energy and MONEY going out and meeting people to get them engaged in the rush process to begin with. You can use Phired Up’s “Six Cylinders” (from Good Guys and the Dynamic Recruitment Workshops) as ways to get prospects involved in the rush process.
  2. Timing Is Everything. Why is it that many campuses insist on having formal recruitment during the first week (sometimes even the week before) classes start? Remember, “Tip #1,” you have to get people involved in the process first. Give yourself time to do that. Consider moving your “rush week” back a couple of weeks at least. Give your community time to blitz the campus and get to know prospects so that they can know them and comfortably invite them into the rush process.
  3. Train Your Members. We know how bad your members are at… a) talking with strangers, b) asking good questions, c) explaining the fraternity’s benefits, d) not talking badly about other chapters, e) remembering the names of prospects, f) handling prospects’ excuses for not joining, and the list goes on. You have to prepare your members with the skills it takes to succeed during rush. These include conversations skills, sales skills, closing skills, etc. Use pieces of Phired Up’s skills training, and have your guys practice a LOT before rush time comes. Learn: “The Screw,” how to use ”FACE” to remember names, 5 F*n Ways to Master Conversation, Bridging, Quality Responses, the Pre-Closing Process, the chapter’s elevator pitch, how to discuss benefits, not just features, etc., etc., etc.
  4. Small Activities. Not Big Events. You know as well as we do that the “big events” that your council or chapter put on during rush week are really bad situations in which to get to know a prospective member. Many campuses give themselves only 4-8 days of rush to begin with, then they spend their time doing formal house rotations or big events at which nobody can really get to know anyone else. Set up activities… SMALL ACTIVITIES… that allow for quality interactions so that you and your chapter members can really get to know the prospects.
  5. Don’t Do These Things. The last tip is a quick set of “Don’ts” that we’d strongly recommend you avoid, if you can. a) Don’t charge a FEE for formal rush. b) Don’t put a banner on your house that says, “RUSH ATO.” (propsects don’t know what “Rush” or “ATO” means, so that is a waste of money). c) Don’t expect formal rush to get more than 10% of your members. d) Don’t expect the best and brightest men on your campus to show up at formal rush — they won’t. e) Don’t overcomplicate the process. Keep it as simple as possible. Remember, all you need to do is create situations in which men can get to know other men comfortably.

We could go on for hours about formal rush, but it is better if we leave it at this. We welcome your comments!

Go get ‘em!

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