Nov 13, 2009

Stalk the Freshmen

Stalk the Freshmen

For years people have been boiling recruitment down to three words. “Stalk the Freshmen!” Recruitment chairs always wonder why their members are so unmotivated to go out and do this type of “recruiting.” No surprise. It is uncomfortable, unnatural, and unnecessary.

Why stalk people you DO NOT know, when you can (and should) recruit people you DO know. If we focused on our natural network of friends, and that of our brothers and sisters’ we have more than enough high quality leads to recruit. Sure there are artificial strategies to build up the potential pool – referrals, cold calls even wandering around our classrooms introducing ourselves to strangers. These buckshot methods have no quality control to our efforts and just make people feel weird.

Collect names from our brother and sisters of people they think would be good members. Tell them to ignore how likely or not that person will join. If we push them to really think, it should be about three times the size of the chapter. Now we have a Wish List. This list should be where we are focusing our recruiting efforts. Not buckshot, sniper. Many people on the Wish List think and say they will never join. OK. Many of us said that once too. And, just like us, these are the women and men who will make your chapter great. Who will make our founders proud. Who will become the family we get to chose.

The founders of our fraternities and sororities relied upon the natural networks they develop to find new members. They got to know people through NORMAL life. Meeting people with whom they lived, studied and worked. People with similar interests whom they met NATURALLY. The values of the fraternity or sorority were used as a measuring stick against what they knew of that person. They debated and discussed whether the person would bring honor to them through fraternal association with them. Then asked him or her to join them in a sacred bond of sisterhood or brotherhood.

The challenge in recruiting some of the best of our Wish list is that they know us well enough to question our claims. If your chapter ISN’T all that it says it is, they know the truth. A brother once told me that this type of recruiting can’t work. See, he wouldn’t put one of his close friends through the pledge program. He just couldn’t do that to someone he really liked! WHAT!? Others have said she is too old. She’s already a Sophomore, or (GASP!) a Junior! Well if our chapter doesn’t find value in older leadership, or just repeats the same old programming focused at the first two years of school, there is no wonder why we have such senior flight! Maybe recruiting more of these Wish Listers will force us to find, and fix the flaws in our chapter. Hmmm.

Sounds so natural. Sounds so clean. No cheesy awkward sales B.S. Sounds like the exact OPPOSITE of what so many chapters are doing RIGHT NOW in their desperate frenzy of getting new members. “Hi, what’s your name? Wanna join an organization for the rest of your life? Let me tell you about my fraternity! We are the BEST fraternity on campus. We’ve won Greek Week for the last THREE YEARS! We throw the sickest parties. You want good grades? That’s cool. We have a guy who got a 4.0 last year. We are really diverse. We totally have the tightest brotherhood too. Want some wings?”

As co-founder of CAMPUSPEAK, David Stollman has facilitated workshops on over 350 campuses and has also served on the faculty of numerous university and fraternal leadership conventions.  David is a crowd favorite keynoting the Greek regional conferences – MGCA, SEIFC, NGLA, SEPC, and WRGLC.  He is also an active volunteer for his fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon.  David went to the University of Maryland for undergraduate degrees in both Government and Communications. David lives in New York City and enjoys following his Maryland Terps basketball team.

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