Are you constantly bragging about how strong your organization is in an effort to impress potential members? Are you claiming that your organization has the… “strongest brotherhood/sisterhood,” “best house,” “most fun,” “best grades,” “most famous members,” “proudest history,” “biggest trophies,” etc.?
While there is definitely some truth in the statement that winners attract winners, there is another, more humble, approach to talking about your organization in a way that might attract new members that are strong leaders.
Your weaknesses can attract the strongest leaders.
That's right. Talking about your organization's weaknesses can be an effective way to attract your campus's strongest leaders. Your organization does have weaknesses, doesn't it? Yes… yes it does.
So, what do we mean by this? Well, imagine this scenario. You're a confident, intelligent, leadership-oriented person on your campus who is looking for a way to make them most out of their college experience. I'm a member of a student organization (like a fraternity, sorority, or club of some sort). We meet on campus and build a good relationship, then I decide to pitch my organization to you in hopes that you’ll join… Which pitch are you most attracted to?
“As you know, I'm a member of Alpha Beta Gamma Fraternity. We're known around here as the best chapter on campus. We have a chapter GPA of 3.3, we have 75 solid members, and we have the tightest brotherhood on campus. You've probably seen our house, it's the 3 million dollar mansion on the hill — the one with the Ligers guarding the front door. We only take the best leaders on campus into our organization, and we're hoping you’ll be one of us. We have tons of fun, check out these pictures of us from the last year. We've won homecoming for the past 6 years, and we have a 4 year dynasty with the best intramural waterpolo team on campus. Would you like to be a member of our group of champions?”
“As you know, I'm a member of Alpha Beta Gamma Fraternity. I know you're not a member of a fraternity, and I'm guessing there is a reason for that. The truth is that I think fraternities around here could use some improvement. Our chapter is a good group of men, and I'm proud of who we are and what we stand for, but we could use some improvement too. I’d like to see us grow a little bigger, I’d like to see us do more meaningful community service, I’d like to see us involve our members' parents a little more, and I’d like to see us have a better relationship with the university administration. Funny… when I think of that stuff, those are all things that I think you could really help us with. The truth is that I’d like to find some real leaders on this campus, like you, that could lead the re-building of our chapter. Would you be interested in envisioning what our organization could be, and then maybe talking about how you could take the lead in making that a reality?”
Do you have a new organization on your campus? We used to work exclusively with new fraternities (colonies or interest groups) on campuses all over the country, and what we learned is that most often, these brand new groups attracted the best leaders on campus… Why? Because they could CREATE something new. They could truly lead, and not just follow the lead of older or past members. You don't have to be a new organization to offer the opportunity for creation to potential members.
Consider how the two “pitches” above differ. Pitch #1 is focused on talking about how great you are, while Pitch #2 is focused on talking about how the potential member could create a great organization. The funny thing is that both “pitches” above could be about the SAME chapter. You don't have to be struggling or new to pitch the possibility of creation to a potential member. You just have to be humble and willing to allow your new members to maximize their creativity and leadership potential.
So, don't be afraid to let your weaknesses show… use them to attract the strongest leaders on your campus.