by Paul Manly
People join (and stay in) organizations because of relationships (research from Dr. CoCo taught us that). We live in a world where transparency and intentional discussion about expectations during and after recruitment significantly impacts retention. When I recruit, or when I coach chapters to recruit, I share a three part plan for keeping members involved and engaged throughout their membership.
Part 1. Recruitment
I believe that the most powerful tool recruiters can have is honesty. The most successful recruiters share with PNMs what their chapter is really like. They share what their chapter truly values. They share their chapter’s genuine vision for the future.
Transparency in recruitment leads to trust, which is the foundation to every relationship. New members should know 100% who they’re joining and what they’re getting themselves into before they commit.
When each new member joins because they all got excited about the same message and the same vision, the recruitment team has done it’s job. Research shows us that when every new member joins with the same expectations of membership – and it is what was promised to them during recruitment – they’re members for life. If it’s different, that’s when we see poor retention.
Part 2. Pre-close
The pre-close is another powerful tool any recruiter can have. If done correctly, you can virtually guarantee a PNM accepts a bid when he is extended one.
The pre-close is performed to decipher the interest level of a new member and gauge hesitations before a bid is extended. Transparently addressing all of a PNM’s concerns during and providing honest and factual information is a crucial part of the pre-close.
Simply ask, “if we were to offer you the chance to join, what would you say?”
If the answer is yes, that’s a good time to have a bid in your back pocket. If the answer is no or maybe, now is the time to learn what hesitations the PNM has to joining, and offer genuine, transparent information to help them make the best decision. I like to communicate to the PNM out loud, “I need to be as transparent as possible during this process.”
Part 3. Recruitment Again
Recruitment is never over. Just because someone has accepted a bid doesn’t mean that we can stop recruiting them. New members must continue to be “recruited” all the way through initiation (and throughout life as an alum). We can not take their membership for granted. Prevent drop off by thinking of them as prospects who you continue to recruit throughout the semester. New members need to feel welcome and important every day.
Have honest discussions with new members about their experience periodically. Ask things like, “How is your experience so far? Is it different from what you expected? How can we make your experience better here?” People stay because they’ve developed quality, genuine relationships.