by Matt Farrell
Congrats on stepping up to oversee recruitment! Wouldn’t it be nice to hear an honest, unfiltered take from someone who’s learned the hard way?
Enter Will Elkins, who just finished up almost three years as a recruitment leader for his fraternity that had ZERO members when he started school.
Will is a member of Phi Gamma Delta at William & Mary. His school is public with a private feel, and his story involves both growing a smaller chapter and maintaining a larger one.
Let’s cut to the chase and hear straight from Will!
It all starts with remembering your own recruitment story
I came to school trying to figure out a lot of things. What I believed, who my close relationships would be, and just looking for something to sink my teeth into. I think we tend to forget about what it was like before we joined but looking back I was in a vulnerable place. The experience gave me a lot of insight into what it would be like starting my own company. It’s a reminder you yourself that you have the capacity to dive in fully, immerse yourself, and find that creative energy. But it’s important to be cognizant of that going forward so it doesn’t overwhelm you.
When your goal is to grow, and you’re facing the pressure of numbers
I’m gonna go very business-like here. You need to understand your value proposition. Where in the marketplace of ideas does your organization stand? What would make somebody join your organization over another one, whether a fraternity or not? You can’t BS your way around that and you have to be honest about both your strengths and weaknesses. When we found better ways to be honest about our weaknesses, potential members started getting intrigued about how they could be a part of the solution. They felt the mission of our organization before they decided to join.
You’re managing a system
One of the issues you’ll run into is bombarding potential members with info. If you’re over-communicative, that’s a turnoff for people. But some people use that as an excuse because being under-communicative obviously means settling. ChapterBuilder was extremely helpful in being our central hub where we could organize how much we talked to people and how the conversation went. Everyone knew where to go to follow up on conversations and bump people to the next step. It made it much easier to get people involved, so the second or third conversation with a potential member never started from scratch.
If you don’t face pressure about your numbers
After growing, my brother Alex Lopez noticed an increasing lack of structure that kept more brothers getting involved. We recognized one-on-one meetings were the best recruiting tool for us, but as our number of brothers and people we were looking at both grew, these were becoming harder to schedule.
We designed a recruitment team system to add more structure. It started with getting 5 or 6 team captains, and putting the rest of the brothers on their teams. The goal was for each brother in the team to meet with each PNM at least once, and the team leader would ensure it all happened. The system kept the focus on the one-on-one meetups. Once it was organized, everyone bought in because one-on-one meetups where the main reason most of us joined in the first place.
This also helped a ton with voting. We had our most seamless vote ever this semester. The system helps you trust your brothers since you all realize you won’t get to meet everyone, but you know everyone is having better conversations to go off.
What I Wish I Knew At the Beginning
The need for resiliency. You have to be persistent with communicating with people to get them on board. Sending that one text and not getting a text back just really doesn’t do the trick. You really have to always be going after it. People want to know you really care about them. You gotta have stamina.
A peripheral role can still be a contributing role. This organization has brought me so much and all I want to do is share that with other people. I know I was struggling hard my freshman year. Regardless of how put together these younger guys seem, everyone is seeking something.
I know the trend is for people to leave fraternities early now, especially after going alum. All I can say is, there’s something special about those guys who stick around. The unique opportunity for us is to act as a mentor for younger leaders. There are very few opportunities in college where you can grow this fast as a leader and give it back to someone else this quickly.