Building Pipelines? What Does That Even Mean?!

by Dr. Colleen Coffey-Melchiorre

Well, it’s that time again- time for break. Pack up your room, put all your leadership work aside, maybe pick out what you are going to wear to a summer conference and plan for how you’ll be doing recruitment and intake this fall. This blog is all about using the summer months to prepare for all the big events you have coming up this fall.

Just kidding.

We hope you didn’t read that and think “oh yeah.” If that sounds like what you were planning to do that’s ok- it’s not your fault- it’s what most growth officers / leaders do in the summer months, but taking a full 3 months off  to plan for events that happen in August is really not the most healthy way to attract your newest members.

There are several ways you can work on growth  that will help your organization get more, better members even if you are not on campus/ at school. Only one of these things involves preparing for whatever big Fall event you have.

One of the best things you can do is to work on building your pipelines. A pipeline, when it comes to group growth, implies a process through which potential members progress before saying yes to membership. The pipeline process we teach at Phired Up has four stages that correspond with letters: DCBA (iykyk- if you don’t, click here). Pipelines can be looked at in two ways:

Working your existing pipeline:

1. Use the summer months to stay in touch, keep hanging out, check in every week- just continue to engage in some way over the summer.

2. If it’s possible, introduce folks in your pipeline to more folks in your chapter. You can gather together to play a game online, have a group FaceTime, send a text introduction, or even meet in person.

3. Set a time to connect once you are on campus before you get to campus. This can look like a simple text: “Hey what are you doing after you move your stuff in on Monday? Want to grab coffee?”

4. Focus on normal relationships first and rules next. We don’t want to overthrow your campus contact rules for summer. We have found that 99% of contact rules are perceived and not actual. Contact rules are often urban legend, so if you are curious just ask. A good rule of thumb is that normal, friendly, all Greek promoting contact that involves normal friend stuff is usually not against the rules. Someone you have on a potential COB list that you have been getting to know over the summer doesn’t need to be invited to a members only gathering at the bar the night before formal recruitment, but would be a great candidate to go for a walk with over the summer. Let the relationship guide you, not perceived regulations.

5. Consider: what does the person in your pipeline need to hear right now? Be the host of your institution. Use your social platforms to remind folks of the upcoming deadline to get books, the deals on dorm room decor happening at Target, or a scholarship opportunity. Consider your audience and speak to them.

Adding new names to your pipeline:  

1. If you don’t tell people you are doing intake or looking for new members, they won’t know. Make sure you mention this, use socials to announce it, and talk about it not just at school but during the summer,too.

2. Consider who you may know that will be attending your school in the fall. Connect with them over the summer, reach out and welcome them and let them know you are here to help.

3. Use social media to seek out new students. Look at hashtags specific to your school, follow people that follow them, and when they follow you back, say hello.

4. Once your members have a little time and space, send out requests for names and reminders to connect with those names.

5. Just like 5 above: What do the newest people about to join your school community  (and maybe even their parents) need to know about? Center your summer socials around that knowledge by providing relevant content so that your relevant audience can engage with it, thereby letting you engage back.

Caveat on Event prep:

*We should make mention that our NPC groups in some communities do actually have a lot of preparing to do this summer for large formalized recruitment processes. Here’s our best advice on this – work the pipeline AND the formal prep. This can be as simple as follow/follow back, connecting with women from your high school and ensuring they know about formal recruitment, encouraging your sisters to make sure they keep their eyes open for opportunities to connect with PNMs and tell them about the gift of sorority. This also looks like having a names list of potential candidates for COB. Keep building those relationships so if you have spots to fill, you already have folks ready to fill them. Also, when doing preparation and practice with your members make it 80% about connection to each other and conversation skills training. We have lots of data to show that’s the most effective thing you can do with them.

In the end, use these months to continue to build relationships and make new friends. That adds to your pipeline and it really is that simple.