by Erin Chatten and Brittany White
Welcome to the second part of our blog series on the lessons we’ve learned from Speed Dating. Didn’t read part one? Fix that now by heading here!
If we learned anything from our speed dating experience, it’s that finding a lifelong partner is no easy task. We also know that finding a lifelong sister can’t be any easier. In sorority formal recruitment we have a very limited amount of time to decide if we want to call the woman in front of us our sister. If our goal is to find our future sisters, the path to achieving our goal is paved in questions. The right kind of questions.
Do you know chapters (maybe yours?) who recruit by initially asking the typical credential questions like: “What’s your major?”, “Where are you from?”, “Where did you go to high school?”, and “What did you do in high school?” If you have ever seen a Phired Up program, you know that there are some key fundamentals of asking good questions: using the 5 F’s (friends/family, favorites, future, fun, from), keeping questions open ended, and using the fun/deep zones when appropriate.
Each of us has our own personality, so we each recruit differently by asking different types of questions. Some sisters are really great at staying surface level with PNMs, while others prefer to go deeper by asking about life influences or hopes and dreams. The different styles of recruiting each communicates something different about each of our sisters, serves different purposes, and achieves different goals in establishing a meaningful connection.
We all know that we have different types of recruiters. Some women are really great at making instant connections during formal recruitment, and some women struggle to make those instant connections. Speed dating isn’t really that much different. Everyone we met had a different purpose with trying to get to know one another, and it was certainly evident through the conversations and questions they engaged in.
We met the “fun-zone” guy that asked the fun questions like “If you could be any fictional character, who would it be and why?”, or “If you were stranded on a desert island, which movies would you watch?” The fun-zone guy was – well – fun! He made everyone in the room feel comfortable and at ease because we could all joke around with one another’s answers, or connect when we have a similar interest or perspective. At the same time, he only asked fun-zone questions, so it never felt like he was trying to meet someone. The questions and responses were great fun, but they never really allowed anyone to connect on a deeper level.
Let’s be clear: fun-zone questions are always welcomed, particularly in recruitment. It’s important for us to make PNMs feel more comfortable in a super intense process. However, we were reminded about the importance of a balance in questions. We can’t always rely on fun-zone questions because they don’t allow us to build a deeper connection. The best way to utilize fun-zone questions in recruitment is to use them as a bridge to the deeper, more meaningful, values-focused questions.
The “Best Friend” guy always seemed to be there for a good laugh or a funny quip to break up conversations. He made his rounds and got to know everyone, but rarely stuck around to engage in deeper conversations. In recruitment we call them the “floater”. She is there and plays a unique role, but doesn’t always build great relationships with the PNMs in the room, She is there to help cushion conversations and provide connection for others to build on.
There were also the “me-too” guys that always agreed with whatever was said. They never really challenged anything in the conversation. Instead, it felt as if they were agreeing as a way to seek out the connection they desired. Connection needs to happen in an authentic way. It is not bad to have different interests. Actually, it can be a great way to connect over teaching or being taught something new. What matters most is showing interest in another’s interests, not pretending those interests are also your own.
We encountered the “straight-shooter” guy. It was evident that he knew what he was looking for, and wasted no time trying to inquire about it. He wasn’t afraid to make it clear, and was upfront and straightforward with his questions and his intentions. Being straight forward isn’t a bad thing, but it’s important to be mindfully straight forward.
When we work with sorority women, they are afraid to be a straight shooter because they feel like it’s off-putting. The concern they express is valid and we teach them to find the balance of asking more values based questions like, “Tell me about how your hometown has shaped you”, while not be overbearing with questions that can be too intense, like, “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?”
Each individual had their own way of asking questions to try and create a connection. Some guys were more effective in developing relationships than others. Where we enjoyed the company of the fun-zone guy, me too guy, and best friend guy, we left the night not feeling as if we got to know any of them because they never engaged in authentic conversations that caused us to feel a genuine connection.
The moments and conversations we remember most from the event were as result of the open-ended questions we asked in the style that felt right to us. We don’t remember the fantasy land or book world they said they would want to live in or the superhero power they wish they had. We remember when these men genuinely shared from their hearts. We learned about a guy who was a deeply loyal friend and always offered to be a designated driver. We learned about how someone faced their fears to achieve a childhood goal of skydiving. We remember what actually mattered to the individuals we talked to and played a role in their lives. We remember things that were a result of answers to good, open-ended questions.
All we wanted (all anybody truly wants deep down, especially PNMs) is to feel like we matter. When someone makes us feel like we matter, we feel connect to them. The odd thing about the conversations in this event was that not a single person asked us how we were, or how our day was. When recruiting, we forget to care. We focus so hard on WHO you are that we forget to ask HOW you are. We forget to root ourselves back to the purpose of creating a connection that can simply be sparked by a simple, “How are you doing?”
We ask questions to show that we care. We ask questions to create connection. We ask questions to determine what comes next in the story of the relationship. No matter what type of recruiter you may be, you have the power to determine what comes next in your relationship with a potential member. We have to be curious, we have to care, and we have to listen in order to learn their story and to remember what matters most about the woman we sit across the table from.
Wow. We clearly learned a lot about what it’s like to use recruitment skills and tactics in the real world, and especially in the dating world. We’ve got one more blog coming up for you to wrap up our speed dating blog series. We look forward to sharing our final thoughts with you soon!