Please note that this article is an excerpt from my book The Fraternity Leader.
Most guys want to know how to join a fraternity. Before you can understand how to join, you must first understand why guys join.
Let’s assume you did your job and you have found guys to attend your fraternity rush event, and your fraternity has adequately prepared. Now you have to sell them on the idea that joining your fraternity is best for them. To do so, you need to realize why guys join fraternities.
Why Guys Join a Fraternity: Six Reasons
There are really only six reasons why guys join a fraternity. Figuring which category your potential new member falls into is very difficult. Most people actually join because of a combination of the six. Because of this, it is imperative that you appeal to all the possibilities.
The first and most common reason why guys join a fraternity is because they are looking for acceptance.
Most guys who will be rushing your fraternity are freshman who have just recently stepped foot for the first time onto a college campus. They have left behind everything they have ever known, including their comfort zone. It is natural for a guy to be looking for a place to fit in. Your fraternity provides that opportunity.
To gain their confidence, you have to make them feel like they are part of the group. The first step towards accomplishing this is the simplest. You must remember the rushee’s name and making sure they remember yours. Think about it, the rushee is going to be in a room or house full of strangers. He is going to get names mixed up and is going to feel out of place. It will appeal to his self worth if you make it a point to refer to him by his name. Doing so makes the rushee feel like he is accepted. Then, you must always remind the rushee what your name is. Not only is that the classy thing to do, but it gives the rushee an opportunity to tell you that he remembered who you are. It doesn’t matter if that is a white lie or not. By saying that he remembers you, he is acknowledging a relationship exists.
If enough brothers take the time to do this, he will definitely feel like the fraternity has accepted him. If you are really looking to score big, make sure the girls who are around do the same thing. Think of the impression it will make on a freshman if an attractive, older girl strikes up a conversation with him and knows who he is. It doesn’t matter if the girl is a brother’s girlfriend or sister. It will leave a huge impression.
2. Resume Builder
The second reason why guys join a fraternity is as a resume builder. Appealing to this crowd is easy. Show these Greek Life Statistics — which is all the impressive stats on fraternity men. You know the ones I am talking about. The ones that say a crazy percentage of the Fortune 500 CEOs and members of Congress are Greek. That is good information to share and is a good first step.
The next step would be to tell them a story of how a brother has used their fraternity experience to get a job. The story I would always tell rushees is how I got my first job. I would explain that when I applied for my internship with IBM, I had no real experience. Truth be told, I didn’t have very good grades either. The only thing I could sell them on is my leadership ability. Fortunately, my fraternity experience provided me great examples of how my leadership transformed an organization.
Remember that a perspective employer doesn’t care about how many seconds you can do a keg stand or how you are the greatest beer pong player in seven states. The only thing they might care about is how you improved your organization by respectable accomplishments. I could explain how my efforts as president led to our fraternity GPA increasing for five straight semesters. I could explain that I organized an event that raised $5,000 for the Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer Research. I could explain that I had to make the tough call on holding brothers accountable for their actions and the positive results that occurred as a result. I then summarized by explaining the awards I received as a result of my accomplishments.
To be honest, this type of rushee is really interested in getting a good job and making money. I would tell him that my internship at IBM paid me just under $30 and hour and I could work whatever hours I wanted while in school. I would also make sure they knew that a lot of the alumni of the fraternity have got great jobs due, in large part, to their fraternity experience. I made sure they knew that this network of brothers would be able to assist them in getting a job once they graduated. If your rushee is really looking for resume fodder, give him what he wants.
3. Leadership Experience
The third reason why guys join a fraternity is for the leadership experience. These are the guys you want in your fraternity. They are the type A personalities that form the backbone of all chapters. These are the guys who are going to put in the long hours to make your fraternity great. You need to make sure these guys know that the leadership opportunities they seek are out there.
I would always relate this back to fraternity elections. Most young guys believe you have to be elected to a position to be a leader. While this isn’t further from the truth, it isn’t a topic worth debating during rush.
Start by explaining to them when the next election is, and what positions they would be expected to fill. With these guys it is a good idea to develop a road map that would lead them to becoming president of the fraternity someday. That is their goal, so explain to them how it could happen.
Explain that as a freshman they can hold a position like athletics director or fund raising chair. While these aren’t very glamorous positions, they are definitely great stepping stones, and are crucial to the fraternity’s success. Explain the impact that the rushee could have if he has a couple great fund raising events, or if the team performed great in intramurals. Not many events have a bigger impact on the health of a fraternity than a successful fund raising event. And everyone who has ever been in a fraternity realizes that the most points in fraternity athletic standings come from participation. If the guy can get brothers to raise some money or show up to most athletic events, he will have a profound positive effect on the fraternity. He will also show his ability to manage in the process.
If he is successful there, he will be in line for a critical committee chair or an executive board position his sophomore year. I would explain that he would still need to make a difference in whatever position he takes. Holding a position is never good enough though. What matters is what the individual accomplishes in that position. If the guy could find his way into becoming the social chair or onto the executive board, he will have great experiences for becoming president.
From there, explain to him that his year is going to be his junior year. Seniors rarely make good presidents because they are too busy trying to graduate. Letting him know that he is two small jumps from the big chair should be very appealing. Let him know that you can see the potential in him (remember that you are selling him on the idea and appealing to his ego) and you expect big things from him when he gets there.
4. They Don’t Want to Be Left Behind
The fourth reason guys join a fraternity is because their friends are joining and they don’t want to be left behind. Let’s face it, a lot of guys are followers, not leaders. There is nothing wrong with that, and you need these guys in your fraternity. To get these guys you need to make sure you can convince the leader of the group to join and not ignore the rest of the group in the process.
This may seem like common sense, but you would be surprised how often guys get ignored at rush events. Fraternity Recruitment normally occurs the first few weeks back from summer vacation. Brothers haven’t seen each other in a few months, and are eager to catch up. The last thing they probably want to do is chat up a freshman stranger. You have to remind them that they this is the most critical two week stretch of the year. This will provide the foundation for a great year, or a mediocre one. Don’t let them fall in this trap.
5. Meet Girls
The fifth reason guys join fraternities is to meet girls. Some rushees think that by wearing Greek letters you instantly become a chick-magnet. Let them think this way. To win these guys over, you need to make sure you have girls at nearly all your rush events. It really doesn’t matter if they are girlfriends or strangers, they need to be there. Girls turn an average rush event into a great one. For example, my fraternity would always play indoor soccer. Indoor soccer became infinitely more fun when several of the girlfriends decide to play.
Another example is a cook-out rush event we had at an apartment complex. It was an average event, until we discovered the pool. Having a bunch of guys swim is pretty lame, but throw in a few girls and it turned into a great time. You must remember to always treat your female guests with respect. Not only will you score points with your female guests, you will score points with the rushees.
6. To Party
The final reason is for parties. You have to be careful that the guy you are rushing is interested in more than just parties. There have been several guys in my fraternity that pledged, and then disappeared until the night of parties. That really isn’t the type of brother that makes a strong fraternity. However, there is nothing wrong with a guy that enjoys parties, you just have to make sure that they are interested in the other fraternity functions as well.
To appeal to these guys, I would always tell them stories of great parties we had. I would first explain to them that by joining a fraternity you have hundreds of people attending your party, instead of you being one of the hundreds of people who attend someone else’s party. That is a big difference in a lot of people’s eyes. I would tell them about the road trip we organized to visit our chapter at a university six states away and the great time we had there. I would tell them about our beach party that happens every spring, and the craziness that comes with it. I would back up all these stories with pictures of the events. Being able to show pictures makes the events more real for the rushee, and will have a lasting impression. Make sure you keep them around to provide backup to the stories you tell.
Understanding the six reasons why guys join a fraternity will pay huge dividends during your next rush. You have a much better chance of getting a guy to join your fraternity if you understand what he is looking for…
To learn everything you need to know about fraternity recruitment – check out my book The Fraternity Leader.