This is a collection of results-driving summer recruitment resources from Phired Up Productions. The summer is an incredible opportunity to build meaningful relationships with incoming students. Those relationships, when properly managed, can result in a high quantity of high quality men joining your chapter (before school even starts on some campuses).
by Vince Fabra
When delivering a keynote to a fraternity audience, I tell the crowd, “Recruitment is a 365-day-a-year process.” This statement is met with agreeing head nods and guys saying things like, “True dat” and “That is what I am talking about!” We all can agree that we should never stop growing our network with the hopes of growing our fraternity, but there are certain times on the calendar when recruitment becomes and afterthought. Summer is one of those times.
Over the years, Phired Up has written several blogs and provided many resources on summer recruitment. Now, we have made a video – 3 Keys To Summer Fraternity Recruitment (Click to watch now)
1. Get informed on important dates – Summer Previews, Orientation, Welcome Week are all prime opportunities for you to meet incoming and returning students. Rather than racking your brain to come up with ways to bring potential joiners to campus, just be sure to have a presence at these important opportunities.
2. Have a reason to reach out – My number 1 recommendation is to reach out as an individual – NOT AS MEMBER OF YOUR FRATERNITY. Just make friends. If you are going to reach out as a member of your organization, give incoming and returning students something that is more exciting than just learning about your fraternity. A scholarship or a survey on Greek Life are perfect reasons to reach out to strangers who may be on campus. Also, a these tactics will help you acquire a ton of names to put on your names list.
3. Offer consistent follow up – “Consistent” does not mean “constant.” Rather than blasting these people with information, do your best to build relationships with the folks you have met over the summer. That way, when they arrive on campus for the fall, they know they have a friend in you.
Your goal this summer – Get names and contact information and turn as many of those into relationships by the fall. We have plenty of resources that will help you do so. Good luck.
Recruitment is a 365-day-a-year process. I know you are reading this, nodding your head, saying to yourself something like, “True dat.” “That is what I am talking about!”
Lesson 1: Do Summer Recruitment
The first lesson learned is simple: you should do SOMETHING in the summer to drive recruitment results if you want to truly recruit the highest quantity of the highest quality members. Many organizations simply do not do summer recruitment. Recruitment efforts over the summer are often found in the big Midwest schools, schools in some Southern areas, and toward the west coast. For whatever reason, the cultures of these fraternity (and rarely sorority) communities has evolved to not only partake in, but often depend upon summer recruitment to build their membership for the upcoming year. Typically the focus is on recruiting incoming freshmen before they even get to campus so that they can move directly into housed chapters, though we do know of some schools, like Gettysburg College, that uses the summer to build relationships with second year students because of a deferred recruitment process.
Whatever the situation, and wherever your school is located, we would recommend exploring summer recruitment as an opportunity to build some early relationships when many chapters on your campus might not be doing anything with regard to recruitment. Since “Quantity Drives Quality,” the more relationships you have over going into the school year, the better CHANCE you have to recruit the quality and quantity of members you desire.
Even if it seems impossible, impractical, or just plain weird to recruit people over the summer, whether you are a fraternity or sorority, BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS during the summer with non-Greek or incoming students can be greatly beneficial. Without the distractions of classes, other organizations, dorm life, etc., the summer offers a great opportunity to develop some friendships (a.k.a. leads) with fellow or future students in your town, neighboring communities, over social media , and through service, leadership, or athletic activities. Do something over the summer to keep your year-round values-based recruitment momentum going.
Lesson 2: Quantity Drives Quality (even in the summer)
“You can not recruit who you do not know,” and this is true even in summer recruitment. The first step to a successful summer recruitment is building a comprehensive plan for MEETING PROSPECTS. Some typical strategies for this include: 1) Prospecting Calls, 2) High School Visits, 3) Summer Fairs and Conferences, 4) Leadership Retreats, 5) Service Events, 6) Social Networking Media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), and 7) Partnering with the School to Position Your Members. You can learn more about all of these ideas by reading the “6 Cylinders “ handouts Phired Up uses in its Dynamic Recruitment Workshops (search through for the summer ideas).
Many, if not most, successful summer-recruiting-chapters spend a lot of effort making “cold calls” during the summer by telephoning incoming freshman students from a list distributed to them by the university. There are some obvious inherent problems in cold calling as a recruitment tactic for fraternities and sororities – the most obvious of which is that you seem like a disreputable telemarketer trying to sell lifelong friendship and a commitment to values ‐ in other words, you seem like a cult leader trying to recruit people by interrupting their dinner with a badly scripted phone call. Plus every other chapter on campus might be calling the same kid at the same time and that probably turns more people off of Greek Life as a whole at these schools than anyone could possibly imagine.
However,prospecting calls is where most of the best results come from for many summer recruiting chapters — so, if you do choose to do “cold calls,” do them well. There are pages and pages to write on the subject of how to do a good fraternity/sorority recruitment cold call over the summer (and there are more related resources below) but for the sake of brevity, here are some quick tips.
1) Be friendly, genuine, and helpful. Practice with your members for a while first to work the “cheeziness” or “sales-y-ness” out of your approach. Remember, people can hear whether you are smiling or not, and they want to talk with happy people. Most importantly” call with something of value to offer them” a scholarship opportunity, a service event in their town, a leadership retreat you are hosting, or just help from a friendly upperclassman. Call for two simple reasons” to help them, and to build trust for a future call or meeting” do not cold call to recruit (recruitment comes later)!
2) Know your call objectives and talking points. Have a script/talking points that you have practiced. Know what you want to get out of the call (objectives ). Here are some sample objectives: A) Be a welcoming, helpful student from your school, B) Introduce the scholarship opportunity (or something of value to them), C)Learn more about the person, and be interested in him, D) Set up a time to meet soon, E) Leave with a positive, non-threatening perception of what people in your organization are like.
3) Fail your way to success. Look forward to having people hang up on you. Be excited when someone tells you to stop calling them. Celebrate when someone tells you to do things to yourself that are anatomically impossible! The more failed prospecting calls you make, the more chance you have of building a huge list of prospective members. Cold calling is a numbers game. You will find some success, but it will be buried beneath a lot of disappointing hang-ups, caller-ID blocks, and disinterested people on the other end of the line. The more bad calls you happen upon though, the better the chance the next call will be a huge success.
Lesson 3: Think Small Activities
If you got a call in the May following your senior year of high school from someone purporting to be a frat guy who said, “Hi, I am from Alpha Beta Gamma fraternity at the college you are coming to. Me and my brothers are doing this awesome camping trip this weekend deep in the woods. Would you like to come and learn more about our brotherhood?” How would you react? I would imagine that banjo music from the movie Deliverance along with a clear image of how these frat guys were going to show me their “brotherhood” utilizing some rituals and paddles deep in the woods, and then I would hang up on the guy. Your big summer recruitment events and outings are probably a blast for you and your brothers, but for the “best freshmen in the new class,” these are events to be avoided for personal safety reasons if nothing else!
Chapters we have worked with over the summer have used trial and error to learn that better relationships are built with potential members through (small activities ) dinner, coffee, lunch, etc. with just a few members than are built at big fraternity recruitment events. If you are going to have summer recruitment functions as a chapter, think about using them for “closing” opportunities as opposed to early relationship building. Focus on small activities – lots and lots of small activities with lots and lots of potential members so that you can really get to know these people in comfortable settings.
For other relationship building opportunities during the summer, consider: 1) Partnering with the university to offer house tours during orientation, 2) Offer to take parents and student out to breakfast before their day of summer orientation, or 3) Make home visits to the best prospects so that mom and dad can see how great members of your chapter are.
Lesson 4: Mules Are on the Beach
I wish I could say that during the summer the apathetic members of your chapters get energized and are willing to make cold calls, help with recruitment activities, and actively build relationships with tons of incoming students. But they do not. And they probably will not no matter what you do. Get over it. Gather the “workhorses” of your chapter, and get to work. The “mules” of your chapter are on the beach, making excuses, taking vacation (all summer long), saying they “need a break,” or they just plain disappear entirely out of communication for the whole summer. Get over it. Get to work.
Overall, the most challenging part of running a successful summer recruitment effort is managing the chapter when many of your members are spread out around the region, state, country and sometimes world. There are not easy answers to figure this out, just questions for you to consider.
Who will call prospects? How will the chapter know who is doing what and what results they are getting? Who will be at recruitment functions? How will names get added to the master names list? How will multiple chapter members get to know prospects in far away places?
A vital conversation to have as you are planning for summer recruitment should be about membership selection. Who will give out bids? On what authority? What is the measurable values-based selection criteria on which we will determine who deserves an invitation for membership? How will the chapter know who is being considered for a bid, who is getting a bid, who has gotten a bid, who accepted a bid, and who did not accept a bid? Are we o.k. with only a few members determining who will be invited for membership in our organization? Should we wait until the Fall to actually give out bids, and only build relationships during the summer?
Summer recruitment can be a great way to increase the quantity of quality members in your chapter, but it takes a comprehensive plan, strong focus on everyday behaviors, and a lot of stick-to-it-ness.
The biggest mistake I see fraternities make during summer recruitment is failing to develop relationships appropriately. Most groups dive right into asking potential members about fraternity before they even get to know them at all. In fact, I will often ask fraternity men how they first contact a potential member over the summer… They often respond with this “cold call script.”
“Hi I am Bobby from Alpha Beta Gamma Fraternity. Have you thought about fraternity life?”
Bobby, you interrupted my dinner, I do not know who you are, I barely know what a fraternity is, and why should I tell you what I have or have not thought about?! Oh, and by the way… yes, I have thought about fraternity life. I have thought about how fraternities are _____, _______, and ______. (you do not want to know what words they use to fill in the blanks!).
Instead of diving headfirst into “recruitment talk” with the strangers you are calling, try to slowly move them throughout the summer from 1) stranger, to 2) acquaintance, to 3) friend, to 4) Potential New Member, to 5) Fraternity man. You can not jump from 1 to 5. Do not treat a 1 or a 2 like a 3 or a 4. Develop the relationship.
Many successful chapters think of the summer in three phases.
Phase 1: Prospecting (May 1-June 1)
Phase 1 is filled with prospecting cold calls, Facebook prospecting, and high school visits. The objective in Phase 1 is to get the opportunity to meet (face-to-face) as many incoming students as possible. Use the sample call scripts we provide to reach out to as many people as possible during this phase. Do high school visits to the top 20 feeder high schools for your college. Build Facebook groups for incoming students. Try every technique you can to simply get an opportunity to meet face-to-face with potential members. Your calls and presentations should not yet be about fraternity recruitment. Instead, offer the incoming students you are talking to something of value to them (i.e., scholarship, service opportunity, leadership program, advice for incoming students/parents, networking event, etc.). Use that “something of value” to open the door to a potential future relationship.
Phase 2: (June 1-July 1)
Phase 2 is about building friendships through small, normal, unintimidating activities. Your job here is just to hang out with potential members in really simple, really friendly, really easy activities. Think: dinner, coffee, lunch, pick-up-sports in their town, dinner, coffee, lunch, dinner, coffee, lunch (oh, did I say those already?!). The objective of Phase 2 is to honestly just get to know these people. Sure, everyone will probably know that you are doing fraternity recruitment, but there is no need to be high pressure during this phase. Some organizations will choose to take an aggressive approach and propose a life-changing opportunity (fraternity membership) during this phase — which is not a bad idea at all, but most high quality potential members will need a lot of information before they can make a commitment over the summer… after all, they probably have not even been on campus yet!
Note on Parents: This phase of the summer recruitment process is a great time to focus on parents. They are an important decision maker/influence on whether or not your prospect chooses to join. Great chapters recognized that summer recruitment might be 30% about the potential members, and 70% about the parents. Talk their language. Connect them with your parents. Recognize that they are looking for you to demonstrate (not just talk about) responsible behavior that will help their child become successful. Your website, mailing materials, home visits, and phone calls should all be prepared with parents deeply in mind.
Phase 3: Pre-Closing/Closing (July 1-First Day of Fall Classes)
During Phase 3, there is no doubt that fraternity recruitment is happening. In fact, this is the time (and I might argue that not UNTIL now) to do summer fraternity recruitment events (lake house, barbecue, baseball game, float/rafting trip, paintball, etc.). These events offer an opportunity to introduce your now friends to the fraternity. Most of your members should probably know the potential members by now, and the events or outings will be natural, fun, and comfortable for everyone. During this phase, ASK! Either pre-close (If we were to ask you to join, what would you say? ), or after you have pre-closed, go ahead and try to close the deal!
Our friend Alex Carrick, a past consultant for Phi Delta Theta Fraternity wrote a four part series of blogs in 2012 for fraternities about SUMMER RECRUITMENT . He did a fantastic job (and there are lots of hints that he’s a Dynamic Recruitment fan spread throughout the blogs. We wanted to make sure we shared these great summer recruitment tips with all our readers. Thanks Alex for letting us share your great ideas!
Think about it. Summer is the perfect time to get a head start before the thought of recruitment crosses other chapter’s collective minds. If you have never done summer recruitment it may feel a little bit strange. The goal of this series of blog posts is to take out the guess work and give you a path to follow. Read more here .
After covering the basics, the next step is to set up the structure that will propel your chapter to success in summer recruitment. Remember that the key to recruitment is making friends. Therefore the foundation for your summer recruitment plan should be to create opportunities to build relationships. Crazy right? Read more here .
After creating a flawless Summer Recruitment foundation there’s only one question left: where do you find people? Here’s a couple strategies: Read more here.
Hopefully at this point you have executed a successful Summer Recruitment program and have numerous guys signed before they step on campus (assuming that it’s within the rules). The real magic happens once those men you recruited turn around and start recruiting for you. Read more here .
Phired Up has written a lot about the overwhelming success of the Recruitment Scholarship as a tactic to drive names onto an your Names List. We even have an example scholarship application in our free resources. Offer a $500-$2500 scholarship for men who represent what it means to be a gentlemen. Solicit applications through high school counselors, mailers, social media, direct campaigns to lists of incoming students, etc. Interview all the candidates in person (a great first recruitment conversation). Invite them to other small activities with you and your brothers.
Summer Calling Scripts: During summer recruitment for many fraternities, prospecting calls are an important component of their recruitment plan. Phired Up recruitment experts have written two sample scripts for use during those calls. These scripts can be downloaded here .
Prospecting calls (or “cold calls”) are really only acceptable in the summer when there is no other way to get access to incoming students. It is important to focus on the objectives of these calls. The call is NOT A RECRUITMENT CALL. It is a call to a) come across as a helpful student, and b) get an opportunity to meet the person face-to-face.
Here are some tips for prospecting calls (these were originally from an E-mail that we had written to a student who asked for advice on summer cold calls)
1. Be Friendly and Genuine — No surprise there, I know, but it is important to practice talking with a smile on your face and MUCH MORE IMPORTANTLY, actually call with the intention of helping someone. If you are calling with a generous, charitable attitude, that will come through on the call and they’ll be more receptive to you.
2. Know Your Talking Points and Call Objectives — Know why you are calling, and have a list of clear talking points that you have PRACTICED. I cannot emphasize this enough, practice makes perfect.3. Call with “Something of Value” to Offer — This is key. When you are making these calls you need a legitimate reason to be calling, and that reason should not be to benefit you. Offer a scholarship, service opportunity, tour of campus, invitation to a welcome lunch, etc. Have a reason to call, and offer the person you are calling something of value to them.
4. Get a Time to Meet — You are not closing any deals over the phone. A cold call is meant to set up a time to meet again soon.
5. Get Permission for Further Contact — “Is it cool if I connect with you on facebook?” “Can I send you an E-mail with a link to the scholarship application?” You get the idea.
6. Failure is Like a Drug — People WILL HANG UP ON YOU. People WILL GET MAD AT YOU. Love it, need it, bathe in rejection. If you let a failed call get you jacked up for making the next call a success, the rest of this will be a lot easier
Alpha Gamma Rho Summer Recruitment Outline
Chi Psi Blog “7 Ways To Take Your Summer Recruitment To The Next Level ”
Tau Kappa Epsilon “Tips For S.U.M.M.E.R. Recruitment“
Announcement: Deferred Recruitment On Your Campus Starts Today!
Many fraternity and sorority communities have a “deferred” recruitment system that requires that they wait until the new calendar year to invite first-year students into their organization. Whether your recruitment system is deferred or not, RIGHT NOW is what will determine your recruitment success in January.
Dynamic Recruitment is AWESOME for deferred recruiting chapters, however there are a few extra tips we would like to share to truly maximize the opportunities that a deferred recruitment process provides.
Here are 4 strategies to implement immediately to build a great Winter new member class:
1. WEEKLY RECRUITMENT CALENDAR: Each week of your calendar during the fall term should include some basic, consistent, repeated activities. At least 1 phone call session, at least 10 small activities with prospects, at least 1 open activity (not at the house — e.g. pick-up sports), at least 1 actual chapter event to which you invite prospects (e.g. service event, brotherhood/sisterhood activity, chapter meeting) , and at least one discussion each week by the recruitment committee or chapter about which of the prospects are qualified for membership. Take these examples: The IFC community at Northwestern University (which has deferred recruitment) has weekly “Sunday Night Dinners” — each chapter hosts freshman prospects at their house every Sunday night in the fall to build long-term relationships prior to recruitment in the winter. Or take the Sigma Rho chapter at Northern Michigan Univeristy — these guys walk dogs at the local humane society every Saturday morning — this gives them a great activity to invite prospects to every week.
2. “JOIN IN” OPPORTUNITIES : This tip is admittedly related to #1, but it is just that important. What chapter events that you are planning for this fall can you include non-Greeks in? Can you host a major philanthropic event that involves lots of students across campus (and meet and build relationships with them during)? If you host social gatherings this fall, will you write down all the names, contact information, and conversation details you can after each event? Do you have 3-5 “open” chapter meetings throughout the semester that you can invite highly regarded prospects to attend? What is your chapter doing that you can ask others to “JOIN IN”? The more times you get prospects to JOIN IN during the fall, the more likely it will be that they will JOIN IN when you give them a bid in the spring.
3. HELP PROSPECTS HELP THEMSELVES: Be a role model for first-year students. Instead of approaching them to get them to join you (and help your chapter), spend the fall term HELPING THEM get prepared to be a great student and future member. Help your top freshmen prospects get involved in other student organizations, help them build great friendships, help them network with student leaders and university administrators. If you spend the fall helping prospects two amazing things will happen: 1) They’ll be thrilled to join a group full of generous people like you in the winter/spring, and 2) They’ll be set up to be fantastic members once they do join.
4. DO YOUR RESEARCH: You have entire term to get to know prospects! That’s great news! On too many campuses chapters feel RUSHed to determine which prospects are qualified for membership in the first week of the fall. You have the luxury of really researching the qualifications for membership of each of the prospects. Get written applications. Interview them. Check references. At least have a few deep zone conversations to make sure you understand the qualifications that each prospect brings to the table. You should know two things for sure come January about your entire prospect list: 1) If you ask them to join, will they (pre-close)? and 2) Are you 100% certain that they represent the values of your organization?
by Taylor Deer
I have been spending much of this fall visiting dozens of colleges and universities asking fraternity men and sorority women questions. I want to learn as much as I can about what truly makes great recruiters GREAT.
One of my favorite questions to ask is: “What is the most effective way you recruit members in your fraternity?” Almost always, I hear one of three things.
1) It is all about getting your name out there!
2) The reputation of our chapter.
The most interesting part of this question is that it is answered the same way across a hugely diverse range of schools. From the largest to the smallest, the highest to the lowest percentage of Greek Life; members of Fraternities I have interviewed almost unanimously attribute their recruitment success to these three things.
Even though these members answer this question with confidence, the next question I always ask is “Why did you join?”. Again, across the board the answer to this question has three parts to it.
1) Within the first sentence they will say the name of a person.
2) A smile will creep up on their face.
3) They will tell you a story of how they still have a meaningful relationship with this person to this day.
Many of us came to college never wanting to join Greek Life, and through a personal connection with a member who introduced us to our current chapter, we decided to join.
So my question to you is: Did you join for the cookouts? Or the people you met at them?
Put people back at the center of your recruitment process.
by KJ McNamara
Lately, I have been teaching the power of a good story. We cannot fully understand something we have not experienced. We cannot fully comprehend something we have not lived… but we can understand the feelings you express when you tell a story. So today I want to say: tell your story. Tell your truth. Be bold enough to be vulnerable and let them see what you are made of. Vulnerability is the key to connection. Connection is the key to recruitment.
As we close out August, the busiest month of our work… I have to thank all of the people who let me shamelessly tell stories about them without their permission. As a people who communicate for a living we have all learned that stories can be powerful in articulating a concept that is complicated.
So, thank you to my Father, John F. McNamara who I repeatedly exploit through pictures. For those of you who have heard me, you know that my love for my embarrassing father is genuine and powerful. I also want to thank one of my best friends, Stephanie Wollenberg from Sikeston, Missouri (now living in New York, New York). She does not know that I tell the whole world our story of a subway ride and a little boy who loves his turtle. She also does not know that I tell half of the world about the most vulnerable moment in her life when her 7 year relationship came crashing down around her and I was the one she chose to help pull it back together. Thanks girl! I’ve got your back.
I have spoken to men and women everywhere and I have learned that the true stories you tell are powerful. Your story is powerful. Your story will make a person join your organization, but you have to be bold enough to tell it unedited.
Your life is what your fraternity & Sorority is. Your chapter exists through you. It exists because of you. Your story is your values. Your story is what people join. People join People. People join your story. How do you find your story?
Answer these to start: When was the moment you wanted to join? How has your fraternity/sorority made you a better person? When was a time you needed your brothers/sisters the most?
Your story should speak so loudly about what your organization values that you don’t even need to tell them what you stand for.
For example, I am a Kappa Delta, we believe that confidence in women and girls can change the world. My belief in confidence persists in every story I tell.
Confidence is the main theme in every story of my life. This is not even on purpose! The biggest compliment I have ever received is from Vince Fabra who in passing said to me once, “Well of course you believe in confidence, you are a KD.” I didn’t even realize how loudly I speak about what matters to me.
Speak loudly about what matters to you. I am not saying stand on a soap box and scream at a city about your passion… but I am saying don’t be afraid to wear your story on your sleeve. Be bold enough to tell the real story. Be vulnerable enough to put your heart in a story. Your story is powerful, and when you are confident enough to talk about how your organization has shaped your life… people will sign up en mass to get them some of that. They will join for the right reasons.
How to tell a good story:
1) Describe Characters: Talk about the people in your story. Talk about what their hair is like, how tall they are, their weird laugh. When you describe your characters you are talking about your brothers & sisters. You help the people feel like they are already best friends with your chapter members.
2) Use details: What was the weather like? Where were you on campus? What time of day was it? When you use details, it helps the person feel like they are there. They picture themselves being right there with you.
3) Use Feelings: Talk about how frustrated you were, how the relief washed over you, the building excitement you felt all day. Talk about the emotions because people have felt happy, sad, upset, angry, and relieved. But they have never walked around in your skin. They can understand the emotion but they cannot understand your fraternity or sorority.
Your story is powerful, amazing and perfect. Don’t be afraid to tell it. Your story has the ability to change the lives of others… but only when you tell it. If you want to matter to this world, you have to be vulnerable enough to talk about what everyone does not see. People don’t see your story, they only see your surface, and your story is deeper than that. Trust me… I have heard some of your stories and they have changed my mind and my life.
[Gabrielle Rimmaudo is an intern with Phired Up and a Student Affairs graduate student at the University of South Florida. She does excellent work for Phired Up and is a serious up-and-coming student affairs professional]
In my current role I serve as a graduate advisor in the Office of New Student Connections at the University of South Florida. Currently in my office we have been exploring Simon Sinek’s TED talk “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” which can be found here . In Simon’s TED talk one of the main lessons the viewer learns is that, “People don’t buy what you do; people buy why you do it.” He shows this through his concept of the “Golden Circle”.
Through this Golden Circle, Simon tells us that every organization knows what they do, some know how they do that, but very few know why they do it.
When listening to this conversation and thinking of examples, my mind could only go back to thinking of our fraternal organizations and how we can continue to grow them by using this concept. By knowing our individual organization’s “why” we can continue to recruit more great, quality student leaders. When we know the why, we can continue to sell our groups to potential new members. This was something that I had done as my organization’s recruitment chair and did not even realize it at the time. In Simon’s TED talk he uses the company Apple as an example. Apple sells us the “Why”, they tell us how they believe they challenge the status quo, how they make their products beautifully designed and user friendly. They then introduce us the idea of buying a computer. We are more enticed to buy a computer as a consumer when we know the why.
By following this concept of working backwards from the why, we can apply this to our organizations. If we can articulate the why through recruitment, whether that be brotherhood, sisterhood, lifelong friendship, socially excellent leaders, whatever your why is, we can continue to recruit higher quality and quantities of students on our campuses.
Simon Sinek also said, “If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.” By recruiting these leaders who believe what your organization believes, they are more likely to be invested in the group and more likely to give back to the organization. This may be through being an involved member, holding a chair position or even being the chapter president.
So with that, examine your WHY; what get’s your organization Phired Up, why do you exist, what did your founders intend, etc. By examining this, your organization will continue to recruit better and higher quality leaders.
“You just can’t get it until you’re in it.”
We say this pretty frequently, most typically when we’re having trouble convincing non-affiliated students to be a part of our organizations (or judging them for not being a part of a fraternity or sorority).
And man, do I agree.
I used to think that I got it. I was sure that I understood this whole “sorority thing” even though I was not a part of it, wasn’t a member (read my story here ). I had served as a house director for a sorority. I had volunteered during sorority formal recruitment. I had done research about the fraternity and sorority experience. All my close friends were in fraternities and sororities. I knew what “philanthropy” was and I had read the book Pledged . Everything I needed to know about being a member of a sorority, I knew. And from all I’d read and seen, I was sure that I understood what it meant to be a part of one of our organizations.
I was wrong.
I’m going to say that again, because frankly, I don’t say that often. I was wrong.
How do I know I was wrong? I was invited to become a member of a sorority.
So, now that I am a member I can say this: yes, I agree. I agree that it is difficult to understand what it really means or what it’s really like to be in a sorority until you are actually a part of it. Give yourself a self-five; you nailed it! Truly, I really didn’t get it until I was in it.
And now it’s time for the catch (of course there’s a catch). We use this as an out, as an excuse for why it’s not worth it to try to show the non-affiliated students otherwise, an excuse for why we shouldn’t try to recruit them. But this shouldn’t be our excuse: this should be our solution.
To me, this sentence really just sounds like surrender—they’ll never get it, so why try, right? And let’s be honest—it’s a little valid; a non-affiliated student likely would have a difficult time identifying with some of pieces of our world (i.e. Ritual). The words aren’t wrong; the attitude is.
It’s no one’s fault and it’s not bad or negative; most importantly, it is certainly not a reflection of their fit in your organization or their sorority aptitude. It simply means that, just like you and me before we were initiated, perhaps no one has yet shared with them the outrageous and powerful benefits of sorority. It doesn’t always mean they hate you, or that they will never want to join you; it just means that they’re missing something. Something only we can provide to them.
So the fact that “they won’t understand it until they’re in it” doesn’t work as an excuse, a justification for staying further away from them or choosing intentionally not to connect with them. It means the opposite. We seem to forget that the only way the misunderstandings or confusions we had about sorority life before we joined were corrected was that someone shared with us what it meant to be one of them. My sisters shared something with me that only they could, bringing me into a world that often only those inside can truly understand. They helped me understand what it means to be part of “us.”
The next time you get tired of trying to make friends with non-affiliated women, next time you feel judged by non-sorority women or non-fraternity men and you think or even say out loud “they just can’t get it if they’re not in it,” remember this: your excuse for why it might not feel worth it to connect with them is exactly why it is worth it. Use it as your fuel for connecting with them. Reach out and find out what they understand sorority to mean. Help them see what it means to you. Share with them those outrageous and powerful benefits of your sorority experience (which, yes, you can do without sharing any of our secrets!).
Sorority women proved me wrong by sharing with me what about this experience I didn’t understand from the outside, and I have never been more glad to have been proven wrong.
“They just can’t get it because they’re not in it.”
So invite them in it.
I never wanted to be in a sorority. Never.
That wasn’t a big problem for me, especially because there was no opportunity to be a part of a sorority while I was an undergrad. It wasn’t anything I really put any thought into.
Not until I made the decision to go to graduate school, at least. I had chosen to attend Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois, where I didn’t know a soul. I was complaining to one of my mentors about finding a living situation when he suggested to me, “Tina, why don’t you look into being a House Mom for a sorority on campus?”
“…You mean like House Bunny? HA!”
Literally, I LOLed. Like I said, I NEVER wanted to be in a sorority, let alone live in a sorority house. To be surrounded by 30 sorority girls all the time? No thank you.
But I still needed a place to live, so being a snob about sorority life didn’t feel so much like an option, especially not as my grad school state date approached. So I made some phone calls, applied for some jobs, and was eventually selected to be the Resident Supervisor (aka, House Mom) for the Alpha Gamma Delta chapter at Illinois State.
I’ve never been more grateful for anything in my life.
The year I spent serving those women changed my life. I expected to hate it. HATE it. I expected it would affirm all of my preconceived judgments about sorority girls. I expected to leave still knowing that I NEVER wanted to be in a sorority.
That year taught me what sorority was really about, about the difference between “sorority girls” and real sorority women. It inspired me to do more research, do more learning, which is what lead me to work at Alpha Gamma Delta International Headquarters after graduation.
Nine months into my employment, I came to work to find a fax on my desk; it was the recommendation for Alumnae Initiation, completed by the women of the chapter at Illinois State about me and why I should be a member of Alpha Gamma Delta; why I already was a member without having yet been initiated.
Even now as I type this, I don’t have the words to describe what that felt like. But if you’ve ever been invited to join a group of women you admire and love, if you’ve ever been extended a bid to the organization of your dreams, you know exactly how I felt.
Three months later, I was standing outside a ballroom, dressed in all white, painfully aware of the fact that I was about to make a lifelong commitment in front of hundreds of people. Was I really about to do this? What if this was a mistake? What if I’m standing there at International Convention in front of 700+ Alpha Gams, and I don’t like what I hear? What if I disagree with the words of the Ritual? Is there an opt-out option at the end of the Ritual? (there’s not.)
Turns out I didn’t need one anyway. My initiation is still one of the most powerful moments in my entire life. It solidified the bond I’d built with Alpha Gams, sorority women and fraternity men, confirmed my passion for sorority and reaffirmed my life’s purpose.
“Great story Tina, but what does this have to do with recruitment?”
Valid question. Answer? EVERYTHING.
I wasn’t just a maybe-joiner; I was a never-joiner. Remember: I was NEVER going to join a sorority.
Until each and every sorority woman I met defied the stereotype I’d built in my head. Until they taught me what it means to be a sorority woman. Until they invited me to get to know them before they asked me to join. Until they showed me their purpose. Until they asked me to.
Today is the one-year anniversary of my initiation, and while I am grateful for uncountable moments and experiences I’ve had as an Alpha Gam over the last year, I am grateful for one thing above all else: being recruited.
We have the power to change lives, to connect people to their purpose. The gift of membership has changed my life, and we have the power and the privilege to give that gift to men and women this year. Recruitment can be hard work; it can be stressful, time-consuming and exhausting. But from the perspective of a new member, man is it worth it.
Find those stellar maybe- or never-joiners. Defy that stereotype. Teach them what it’s about. Get to know them. Ask them to join you.
Change their lives.
by Paul Manly
What’s the driving force for your chapter to grow? Is your chapter conducting recruitment efforts out of fear – that is, fear of closing? Or is your chapter growing because you know you have something to contribute? Are you recruiting to meet quota, or to not have “the smallest chapter on campus”? Or are you recruiting because you want to truly share your organization’s beliefs and principles with others? Does your chapter have a destination or a destiny?
Dynamic Recruitment takes a whole lot more work than static recruitment. At Phired Up, we’re constantly being asked, “how can I motivate my chapter to put in the effort to adopt Dynamic Recruitment principles?” If you ask Woody Woodcock his opinions on education and coaching, he’ll reference William Butler Yeats, credited for preaching: "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”
If this is true, let’s examine the properties of fire. Fire requires three things to exist: fuel, heat and oxygen. The science of building a great campfire is knowing how to regulate these specific elements together to get the end result. So what two or three elements must be present to ignite a fire within your chapter?
In a discussion on education, Dr. Timothy Pychyl – a professor of psychology at Carleton University – suggests two elements absolutely vital to lighting a fire in others: will and skill . Excellent recruiters have the will and hunger to grow their organizations to truly reach their density, not their destination. They understand their chapter’s WHY. In addition, excellent recruiters have the skills to connect with others in a meaningful way, and know the appropriate strategies for conducting dynamic recruitment.
Pychyl resolves, “ultimately, the student must be the fuel for the fire, but that doesnt mean that educators dont have a role in lighting this fire. At the very least, we have to spark the students interest.” Our chapter officers, recruitment chairmen, and other leaders need to spark the fire in their members. But how?
Winston Churchill once said, “The orator is the embodiment of the passions of the multitude. Before he can inspire them with any emotion he must be swayed by it himself, before he can move their tears his own must flow; to convince them he must himself believe.” Before we can sell our chapter on fully supporting Dynamic Recruitment, we must fully support and believe in it. Confidence goes a long way here. Rally support from other chapter members that want the same things as you.
So, before you can ignite the fire within your chapter, you must:
1) Know WHY you’re recruiting, and have the will to grow your organization to reach its destiny
2) Possess and practice the skills associated with Dynamic Recruitment.
For more information, check out Pychyl’s discussion of Will and Skill here . Try substituting in “recruiters” or “officers” for where Pychyl mentions “educators”.
(Wow, I made it the entire blog without a Phired Up pun! I hope I don’t get Phired.)
by Josh Orendi
Marlon Gibson is a big name in the fraternity/sorority world. He is currently at Georgia State and has been serving the fraternal movement for a long time. Marlon used to be a big man, literally. Today he is not only a dedicated advocate for Greek Life but he is an inspiration to thousands after losing 240 lbs! Here is his story: READ THIS .
Three lessons were shouting at me from this great article:
1. Marlon partnered with a COACH to walk the long journey with him. That is what all championship teams and top performers do to become their very best.
2. Marlon did nottry to "rush" the weight off in 2 weeks. He eliminated nearly 250 lbs in 30 months by making DAILY choices. He uses words like "religiously … lifestyle … new me" to describe HOW he did it.
3. Marlon started with a powerful WHY. The love he has for his wife and desire to raise a family with her created a turning point and fuels his daily commitment.
These are questions that drive real, sustainable change. That is true for individuals with big life goals (like Marlon) and its true for organizations that want to get bigger to do more good. Whether its time to grow or time to shrink, today is the best day to get started.
*Special thanks to Marlon for giving us permission to share this story and the lessons found within. Fun note: The coach who works with Marlon is another fraternal friend who used to do fraternity expansion for Sigma Phi Epsilon.
by Vince Fabra
Have you ever heard that expression “Work smart not hard”?
When I work with fraternity men, at least the ones who choose to work at all, they seem to be hard workers when it comes to recruitment. They are planning recruitment events, inviting potential new members to the events, furiously calling and texting their brothers to make sure they are coming to the event, grabbing ice, manning the barbecue pit, talking to guys, GOING CRAZY BECAUSE YOUR CHAPTER BROTHERS ARE EATING ALL THE FREE FOOD AND TALKING TO EACH OTHER. Let’s get smart!
Planning recruitment events sucks.
My suggestion: Part 1. Stop planning recruitment events. It takes so much time, a lot of money (depending on the event) and requires that all of your brothers pitch in and help out (“I think I just saw a unicorn”).
My suggestion: Part 2. Start going to events planned by other people. Every campus has a Campus Activities Council that plans fun and free events for students on their campus. It might be a comedian, a musician, a game show, a video game tournament, a lecture on an interesting topic, or any other event that you probably ignored this semester. The Campus Activities Council is always looking to reach more students with their programming, and you are tired of running yourself ragged by planning and executing your own events. HMMM…! How about you just hitch your wagon to their wheel? Meaning, invite people from the names list, not to your chapter house for the fun event, but to the student union/quad/dorm/auditorium for a free night of fun.
Also, you know all of those brotherhood, service, social, philanthropy, your exoteric rituals and intramurals that already fill your calendar? Those are great opportunities to invite people with whom you have a mutual interest. The best way for potential joiners to learn about the organization is by witnessing the organization in a realistic group setting. Rather than standing around on your back deck eating hamburgers and hotdogs, with every member asking every potential new member “Where ya from,” “What’s your major,” “Did you play any sports in high school,” show them what fraternity looks like in a real way.
Pretty soon you can stop planning recruitment events, wasting time and money and you’ll be working smart not hard.