Iowa Beta was asked to write about their recruitment success that was seen on the Scroll News Feed – Iowa Beta (Iowa) Increases Chapter Size by 80%, Largest Phikeia Class in Chapter’s History
By Patrick Grim – Iowa Beta (University of Iowa) Recruitment Chairman
Note: The only thing that I found to be consistently effective in all circumstances, (regardless of the varying settings, formalities, etc.), was to directionally exploit each situation to cater to the attention/interests of the individual(s) we were speaking to. Now, I know “directionally exploit” immediately registers a negative, almost self-interested connotation, but in this instance, I am using the word a little differently. When I say “exploit”, I mean to completely and intuitively utilize the specific setting the conversation takes place in to make the potential new member not only feel comfortable having the conversation with you, but to also ensure that the exchange sparks a distinctive interest in your chapter. That is, every fraternity at the University can uniformly spew off an enormity of statistics and facts that they believe will impress a recruit enough to make him favor their organization relative to the others on campus. The key is to understand the specific situation the conversation takes place in, and consequently know when and how to talk about your chapter during your discussion. Directionally exploiting situations is what set my chapter apart from all the other dog and pony shows on campus. Whether it is scholarship interviews over the summer, playing basketball at the rec center, or the monotonous formal recruitment process in the fall, each situation presented its own unique opportunities to distinguish ourselves and our fraternity as something a potential new member wanted to become a part of. I understand you already know the ins and outs of recruiting, (most likely much more than I do), and I’m not trying to lecture you on how to do your job. I am just telling you what worked for me and my chapter this year. Below is some of what I believed to be the key to our success…
Offer scholarships: This alone brought us 100+ names of incoming freshman before school even started. Even if they don’t win your scholarship or sign on with you informally, they know specific people in your chapter whom they can identify with later, namely during formal recruitment…(we had five plus guys that we interviewed during the summer join with us through formal recruitment in the fall)
Recruit who you know: While my situation was a bit irregular, I knew of several guys coming from my hometown to the University in the fall. I informed them of our scholarship opportunities, and also extended an individual invitation for each of them to stay at the house during their orientations. Not only did four of the guys end up joining, but each of them were a key asset in getting people from their dorms/classes to stop by and check out our chapter. Even if you had a high school graduating class of 30 and don’t know a single incoming freshman coming from your hometown, others in your house do.
Alumni referrals: Granted, it is easier said than done, but I had several alumni contact me letting me know that their sons, grandsons, nephews, etc. were coming to Iowa in the fall. Alumni newsletters are clutch, and at the very least make certain that your recruitment chair’s contact information is available online.
Be Different: Not in the hipster anti-mainstream sense, but more so in the “directional exploitation” sense discussed in my note. For the average PNM, all the chapters on campus seem more or less the same in the beginning. Basically, the image is a big mysterious house filled with an indiscriminate number of strange and intimidating people with letters from a foreign alphabet posted on the front. Because of this, it is your chapter’s job to distinguish yourselves during formal recruitment by making things much more colloquial. It’s all about what I call, the “Recruitmentality”. The typical “where are you from, what’s your major” talk is impersonal and only goes so far. Start off by addressing the ridiculous formality of the process, (I referred to it as demented speed dating), and ask them how they feel about going through it. In many ways, conversations with potential new members are like conversations with women. Pose the right questions make sure that they are ones talking for majority of the time, (people love to talk about themselves- I shoot for a 1/4 ratio, every second I speak, they speak four more), and to some extent play hard to get. Not country club, nose in the air hard to get, but more so that your chapter has a lot to offer, but doesn’t just offer it to anyone. Essentially, make them feel like this situation is unique to them, and thus offers them a special opportunity to be part of your chapter.
Utlilize your freshmen: We heavily utilized our informal pledge class in helping out with formal. By bringing our Phikeia along for the ride, potential new members were able to speak to freshman just like themselves who had recently just taken the “big step” in joining a fraternity. This not only adds a more personal appeal to your chapter, but stands as a statement that your fraternity offers younger members sincere opportunities to get involved.
- Keep your house clean
- Appropriate attire
- Understand that you are being constantly evaluated
- First impressions are everything
- REMEMBER THEIR NAMES- a huge part of our success was the simple process of saying each guy’s name 10 times in our head when he told us. Little things count.
- Be REAL (PNM’s can smell bullsh*t a mile away, and if they can’t, they’re probably not a guy you’d want in your chapter in the first place)
I know this diatribe does not include a lot of specifics, so feel free to contact me personally anytime if you have any further questions/concerns about anything and everything Iowa Beta recruitment. Thank you.
Yours in the Bond,
Recruitment Chair Iowa Beta