By Brittany White
One of my favorite things we teach at Phired Up is this simple message: People don’t join organizations. People join people.
On our Dynamic Recruitment Assessment we ask the question, “Which of the recruitment methods listed below would most members say is the primary reason they joined your group?” Almost half of the respondents said Relationships. Relationships were indicated more than the events of formalized recruitment processes, our t-shirts, or our events. The relationships we build in our organizations continue to be the largest indicator of membership joining practice.
The word relationship is typically associated with romantic relationships. However, this word in the context of our fraternal organizations implies a more significant connection that is deep and meaningful. These strong personal connections to others are ultimately why I think we choose to join fraternal organizations We join because we have found a significant connection that we like to call a relationship which eventually turns into brotherhood and sisterhood.
Consider this: every time we host a potential member, we have the opportunity to create a new relationship with someone that we have likely never met. Recruitment is our opportunity to make friends with so many of the new men and women on campus. Whether they join our organization or not, we are still allowed to maintain a friendship with them.
Each of us has that one (maybe more) person that we created a relationship with and is the reason why we joined our organization. What would recruitment look like if every recruiter entered a conversation with a potential member with the attitude of just making a friend and creating a relationship? Would it allow us to worry less about making a good impression or covering our specific “talking points”? Would it allow us to focus more on developing a relationship that could cause more people to want to join us as people – and coincidentally join our organization? Here are three things we can implement to help build relationships.
1. Learn their story. Everyone has a story to share with the world. We don’t have to constantly stress about what questions we need to ask them or what information we need to share. Be present with the person that you are having a conversation with so that you can truly listen to what they have to tell you about them. We have gotten in the habit of spending far too much time talking about ourselves and we don’t take the time to learn the story of the person we are meeting with, a person who will potentially be our brother or sister.
2. Be authentic. We can’t form a relationship if we are not being who we really are. At some point in our lives, we have all encountered someone who we feel like is really “fake”. Those interactions are never fun and we tend to walk away exhausted. We want Potential New Members (PNMs) to like us and to like our organization, but that shouldn’t come at the expense of who we authentically are. True authenticity is about knowing who you are and what you are all about and not wavering from that to please someone else.
3. Be vulnerable. When we think about relationships and the reason we connect with people on a deep, meaningful level, we tend to find that at some point in that conversation we shared something that made us vulnerable. Vulnerability allows us to connect with people on a deeper level, but we have to have the courage to be vulnerable first with people. My favorite author and personal spirit animal, Brene Brown says, “Connection is why we are here. We are hardwired to connect with others, it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.” Through vulnerability we can establish deep, meaningful relationships. Being vulnerable is not about spilling all of your guts every conversation; it’s about sharing a little bit of you to connect with another person.
Hopefully these things will encourage you to spend less time focusing on hosting the perfect event or finding the perfect tabling spot for your organization, and instead encourage your efforts towards the ways in which you build relationships. Remember: people don’t join organizations. People join people. People join YOU.