Fraternity rush ideas are important, but not the major factor in producing a good rush week.
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“I am the rush chair of a small struggling chapter looking for a bit of advice on rush events. When it comes to rush week our rush events have always been lackluster to say to least. We don’t really put an emphasis on rush week because we take an approach that we recruit all semester long instead of putting all of our time and effort into that one week (which hasn’t always worked). It should also be said should be said that our nationals and school IFC allows this. But still I want a good rush week and good events. However in the past none have worked to well. Guys don’t seem to want to come out to random off campus apartments and many on campus events seem somewhat lame and boring. Any advice for a good rush week?”
People always want to ask about fraternity rush ideas and events, but it’s almost never the problem.
When I was in school, my chapter was always middle of the pack. But, I guarantee you we all considered ourselves the best on campus, and we strove to reflect that in everything we did.
One of the things I learned as a new member was a saying, “sell yourself, sell Greek, sell your fraternity, and close the deal.”
Formal rush and year-round recruitment are both critical to your survival. If you aren’t going full-force at both, you’ll eventually fade away.
Formal is the backbone. This is a ton of guys that already know they want to join a fraternity.
The hardest part of the sale is already done. All you have to do now is make friends, show them why your fraternity is special to you, and close the deal. It’s not really about having the most unique fraternity rush idea.
Year-round is excellent, but has to be secondary. It is a great way to target non-traditional prospects and guys involved in other organizations or campus leadership.
You can find some outstanding quality there and sell them over a longer period without as much direct competition, BUT you have to sell them from scratch on going Greek at all. This is a good way to improve quality and enlarge new member classes, but you can’t count on it as your primary volume recruiting tool.
Formal rush is coming up. The freshmen even remotely interested in fraternities will be in that rush pool. There’s a lot of quality there to be divided up between fraternities based on what they’re selling and how well they sell it.
When you tell me your chapter doesn’t take formal very seriously because you pick up guys during the semester that says something to me. It says you’re conceding loss of all those quality prospects because you think your chapter is by far worst on campus and can’t hope to compete with anyone. It says you believe you’re SO incapable of competing that you’re willing to wait till after rush is over to pick up the leftovers when there’s no competition, and to do 2-3 times the work in year-round to find a few quality candidates. When you tell me your chapter is small and struggling, I’m really not surprised.
I don’t think you believe that about your chapter. You wouldn’t be asking a question here if you did. But, you are reflecting that attitude to rushees, if you know it or not. They may not understand it, but they can see a difference between you and chapters that are proud and highly motivated.
Think about it like trying to pick up a girl. She’s not going to go for the guy that’s dragging around sorry for himself with nothing to offer. She’s going to go for the fun confident guy that makes her feel excited but secure.
As rush chair, you’re the leader right now. You have to give your chapter a wakeup call and inspire them to attack formal rush like their life depended on it, cause it kind of does. You aren’t fighting for a few guys. You’re trying to save the soul of your chapter so you can go on to bigger and better things. That’s all attitude, and you have to make your chapter change theirs. That requires leadership.
When you sell your fraternity, you need to offer something(s) that make you special. Why does someone join a small struggling chapter over a big successful one? And don’t say brotherhood cause the big chapters say that too. What do you really offer? Are you just a collection of rejects from the real fraternities, or is there something actually meaningful about your chapter that other people want to be part of? Figure out what those things are and sell the heck out of them.
And remember, all recruiting really is personal. People join people more than ideas, especially ideas that have to be experienced to truly understand. Recruiting is about making friends with people. In the end they’ll take a bid because they want to stay your friend and be part of your lifestyle. Then go watch Boiler Room and close the deal.
So What Are Good Fraternity Rush Ideas?
There’s no real good way to answer that because no one is intimately familiar with your campus like you are. Use your local knowledge and be creative. That said, I’ll give you some stuff to start your brainstorming.
What are you doing from the dorm move-in until the first day of formal rush? Do you have guys out actively helping guys move into dorms? Are you having events – anything from parties to grilling out, to pool parties, to catching a game somewhere? One of the things we do is go tailgate prior to a football practice to show what it’ll be like during the season and then take guys through a tour of the luxury boxes at the stadium.
How often are you doing rush workshops (sales meetings)? Those are the place to fire up your guys, refresh their memory on sales techniques, and talk about the things you’re trying to sell. You almost need a retreat before school starts to set the baseline, but you should be having short meetings as you move through the rush process to tweak performance and keep everyone on track and motivated.
How are you managing prospects? Are you building a contact list? Is that just names on paper that you invite to functions or do you have note cards with everything you know about them on it? If a guy comes walking up your steps after having met a couple hundred people in the last day and you know him by name and remember things he told you about himself, that carries weight. We would put that stuff on note cards on a bedroom wall in the house so actives could come find the guy they were just talking to and then go back into the conversation like he’s their favorite rushee out of the hundreds he’s met. You can use the password protected technology you have available, but do something. Don’t just stand around a party sub for a couple hours till the rushees leave and then go get drunk.
What are other chapters doing? If you’re doing the same and people aren’t showing up, the event isn’t the problem. Don’t blame it on a house. Figure out what you’re showing these guys that isn’t attractive and change it fast.
What kind of events can you do that prospects would show up to no matter who was hosting it? We do DJ pool party at an apartment complex. Be creative. I’ve seen everything from a grilling in the backyard of someone’s duplex to buses to a party barge on the lake. I once recruited a guy by taking him to lunch with my Dad and me. All you’re doing is creating a fun situation for people to interact. 90% of them are there because of you, not the entertainment – again think of it like hitting on a girl. Just keep it from being boring while you sell yourself and what you’re all about.
Once you get to the formal process, that’s not fun for anyone. Rushees already have perceptions about the social aspects. Now they’re deciding who they want to be their family for the rest of the time they’re in college. It’s really too late for an exciting event theme to change your fate. If you plan out and execute the best date in the world, you can’t complain why a girl didn’t show up if you didn’t ask her out in the first place. Don’t worry about making your date plan better till you can get her to say yes to showing up. Other than that, show a great attitude that people want to be part of, keep close contact, make people feel wanted, make friends, and close the deal. It’s a lot of work, but you should be fine. Then you can go use year-round recruitment to expand.
— This answer was written by Dennis Nall, an alumni brother from Alpha Tau Omega and new contributor for the thefraternityadvisor.com. If you are interested in writing for thefraternityadvisor.com – let us know (CLICK HERE)!
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