Four Ways to Connect With Incoming Students Right Away
by Elena Pastore
As a sorority or fraternity member, it’s important to connect with incoming students over the summer in a way that is authentic and relatable. As we know, establishing strong connections is a great way to retain members and is the foundation of strong organizations. Often, sororities and fraternities can seem intimidating or even weird to new students. How can we make sure we’re being more “normal” and approachable to new students? Here are four key strategies that can help you connect with new students and build lasting relationships.
1. Make Friends Organically
This might be in summer classes or in another organization. Instead of relying solely on organized events or activities, try getting to know potential new members in class. Strike up a conversation about a class assignment or a shared interest. For members not taking summer classes, find ways to grow your outreach on virtual platforms. As a chapter or council you can hold webinars or events like “Meet the Greeks”, where future joiners can speak with members across orgs. These things can help create a more natural and comfortable connection, rather than one that is forced or superficial.
When you meet new people naturally, you have a better chance of connecting with those who share your values and interests. These are the types of connections that will most likely yield long-term friendships. By building relationships with new students on a personal level, you’ll be able to identify those who are the best fit for your sorority or fraternity and help them feel more comfortable with the idea of joining.
2. Focus on Being Relatable
College can be a stressful and overwhelming experience, especially for incoming students who are adjusting to a new environment. As a sorority or fraternity member, it’s important to show that you understand what new students are going through. Share your own experiences and struggles as a college student to help them feel more comfortable.
By sharing your own story, you can create a sense of empathy and understanding with new students. They’ll be more likely to see you as someone they can relate to, which can compel them to join an organization. Remember, the goal is to create a welcoming and inclusive environment where new students feel like they belong.
3. Be Inclusive
Sororities and fraternities are often seen as exclusive clubs, and it’s important to make sure that you’re reaching out to a diverse group of students and creating a welcoming environment for all.
Leverage social media and other media outlets, such as websites, text messages, and email outreach to highlight the diversity in cultures, backgrounds, and identities of members. Be sure to also publicize different extracurricular activities, areas of study, and achievements that your members have accomplished to dispel myths and stereotypes about what sorority and fraternity is not.
4. Be More Normal!
Avoid doing things that might turn off new students. This could include certain traditions, hazing, or other behaviors that are seen as strange or intimidating. Instead, focus on building relationships through shared interests and values.
It’s important to remember that new students are looking for a sense of belonging and connection, not a hazing experience or initiation that is designed to make them feel uncomfortable. By focusing on building relationships in a positive and inclusive way, you can help create a welcoming environment that encourages new students to get involved and stay engaged. This might include publicizing some of the bonding or community engagement events that took place during the past year that would be attractive to a new member.
In conclusion, connecting with new students is an essential part of building a strong and active sorority or fraternity community. By focusing on being relatable, inclusive, and approachable, you can create a welcoming environment that encourages new students to get involved and stay engaged. Remember to make friends organically, share your own experiences, be inclusive, and avoid behaviors that might turn off new students. With these strategies in mind, you can help create a sorority or fraternity community that is welcoming, diverse, and engaging for all members.