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Social Excellence: The “Art” of Fraternity and Sorority Growth

No matter how your organization attracts, selects, and secures its newest members, fraternities and sororities that effectively put the right amount of the right people into their chapters understand that there is a fine art of organizational growth.

When Phired Up first started, we only taught about the “science” of growing Greek Life. We talked about the systems, the processes, the measurables, and the tactics. But soon we learned that it was just as important to teach the finer points… the social skills, the mindset, the philosophy, the belief system, and the intention. This is how Social Excellence was born…

Social Excellence [n]: A state of perpetual generosity, curiosity, positivity, and openness to limitless possibility.

A desire to intentionally connect with others. The ability to engage in deep, meaningful conversation.  

Acting in a responsible and respectable manner, with high expectations of others. Being authentic and living everyday with integrity as the best version of oneself.

Being confident and vulnerable. Being fun and compassionate. Being open, kind and bold. 

The deepest level of societal participation and contribution.

Fraternities and sororities are in the relationship business. We deal in human connection. These things we call “Brotherhood” and “Sisterhood” are code words for meaningful, love-filled, purpose-driven, sincere human connection. Organizations that are great at growing their membership understand that their number one goal should be to build a system or authentic relationships. Organizations that are great at growth start by giving away the feeling of “Brotherhood” and “Sisterhood” generously to potential members.

Social Excellence challenges fraternity and sorority members to engage prospective members with intention – always seeking real human connection. Social Excellence reminds fraternity and sorority members that every person we encounter is full of a lifetime of stories and lessons that we can connect with if we choose to be curious. Social Excellence pushes fraternity and sorority members to be real, authentic, not-fake, sincere in all our interactions with potential members (because then they’ll be that way with us). Social Excellence gently encourages fraternity and sorority members to choose to be vulnerable in our interactions with prospective members because they aren’t seeking a club to join, or a t-shirt to wear, or a house to live in – they’re seeking belonging and purpose, and those things can only be shared with a healthy dose of vulnerability.

Every moment is a choice. We can choose to engage with the people around us or not. We can choose to care about every person and every conversation or not. We can choose to open ourselves up to others or not. We can choose to be average or not (but our founders didn’t create our organizations so that we could be average together). You’re a member of a social fraternity or sorority (or at least that’s part of what your organization is about). Don’t be socially average. Be Socially Excellent and watch how that transforms the way you grow.

Social Excellence In Marketing
Great marketing is personal. Great marketing puts the “buyer” at the center of the strategy. Great marketing is not a shout (like “GO GREEK!”), it is like a whisper in a person’s ear that tickles their heart and inspires them to act because they know that action will make their life better. The way fraternities and sororities do marketing should be oozing with Social Excellence. Make your Greek Life marketing personal. All your marketing efforts should make it easier for human connection to happen between your best members and the prospects you’re marketing to. Great fraternity/sorority marketing should start with Social Excellence at its core.

Social Excellence In Recruitment
Getting your members to make the choice to engage, the choice to be curious, the choice to be generous, the choice to be authentic and vulnerable will make all the difference in recruitment. Social Excellence is the core operating philosophy of great recruiting chapters. Phired Up teaches a lot about what to do in recruitment… and Social Excellence provides guidance on how to be in recruitment.

Social Excellence teaches members to make recruitment experiences comfortable for the prospect, overflowing with kindness and thoughtful touches, celebratory of the uniqueness of each individual, and respectful of the insecurities and hidden realities of each human in the process. We are all just humans recruiting other humans to an organization that tries to make us better humans after all. Don’t take the humanity out of it.

The goal of fraternity/sorority recruitment events, interactions, processes, informational sessions, or “rounds,” should always be one thing: meaningful, authentic, real human connection. Remember, we’re in the relationship business. We’re most successful when instead of trying to impress others, we try to connect with others.

Social Excellence in New Member Onboarding
A member’s first semester is always the greatest and hardest (for a million reasons). Preparing your newest members to be Socially Excellent can be one of the most powerful gifts you can offer. Teaching new members the art of human connection, the power of their momentary choices, and the little things they can do to put relationships at the center of their college experience is a powerful gift. We also know that when chapters create an atmosphere of Social Excellence, there is far less chance that new members will be taken advantage of because there is a trusting environment built from a culture of care that naturally flows from the philosophy of Social Excellence.

Social Excellence in Retention
One of the primary reasons people quit fraternities and sororities is because of a “lack of connection.” Far too often new members join an organization, but never find themselves in a “friend group” or with a very close friend in the chapter. When that happens, they very often choose to quit or disengage. Too often fraternities and sororities don’t deliver on the promise of sisterhood or brotherhood to new members, because we forget that being brothers and sisters doesn’t happen all by itself. We have to create that sense of connection, that sense of belonging, and that sense of shared purpose.

Make the choice to continually, consistently, and intentionally do personal relationship-building work with your members. Not just big events where everyone comes together or group text chains… we mean coffees, lunches, long dinners, quiet conversations, small group fun, road trips, and as many real, meaningful, joy-or-pain-filled conversations as possible.

Social Excellence Was Born From Fraternities and Sororities
This message that we teach to thousands of people every year, Social Excellence, was born from the way we’ve seen great fraternities and sororities grow.

The story of almost every fraternity or sorority is similar. It started with a handshake between a couple of people. They had a conversation about what could be. They built a trust filled relationship and decided to collaborate together to build something new. Then they turned around and shook more hands, had more conversations, built more relationships, and gathered more people together in an organization.
Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens could change the world. Indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Handshakes lead to conversations. Conversations lead to relationships. Relationships often lead to collaboration. Collaboration very often results in organizations. And organizations like fraternities and sororities change lives and change the world.