This question was submitted by one of our readers. If you have a question you want me to answer go here to submit it: Fraternity Advice.
I am my fraternity’s VP of Membership and I basically manage and run our fraternity recruitment and new member education. My problem deals with recruitment.
During recruitment we seem to have a steady group of guys come through. Some come around every day and some stop by once. The problem that we face is potential new members that we are 99% sure will accept a bid go and join another fraternity. I do not know the source of this problem but one thing I do know is that we a have a poor reputation with other fraternities.
Other fraternities view us as the nerds, the gay fraternity, the Jewish fraternity. In all actuality we have few guys that many would consider “nerds”, we have 3 gay men, and 4 Jewish people. With a chapter of 60 brothers this obviously is a small percentage of the Chapter. I don’t know where the trash talking comes from because we do not have any deep problems with any fraternity on campus. I honestly think they view us as a threat because we continue to push out good recruitment numbers and place in almost every sorority philanthropy we participate in.
How do we make sure PNMs don’t change their mind at the last second and how do we better our reputation within the Greek community?
I know that you brought up the perception that your chapter is the nerd, gay, or Jewish chapter on your campus. However, I am going to push past those perceptions. I simply don’t have a good answer on how to attack those issues directly. I do see that there is some over-arching problems instead. You are going to be hard pressed to answer the “trash talking” conundrum. Every chapter on every campus has this problem somehow. Let’s focus on some things that can be more directly control.
Recruiting is like a sales pitch. It sounds like to present a great product in the form of your chapter. Your chapter during recruitment is what you are “selling”, but more importantly, chapters have to sell their individual members. I want to outline a few ideas that might help you close the deal on your PNM’s regardless of the aforementioned perceptions.
1) Follow up and stay in touch
– Too many chapters step away when they feel like that have a guy on the hook. They say to themselves, “this guy is definitely ours. Let’s focus on a guy on the fence.” The issue with that approach is then you ignore that guy, albeit unintentionally, and he doesn’t feel like he is truly wanted in your chapter. This leads to those 11th hour switches that you feel you are plagued by
2) Make sure your individual members sell themselves
– People join people. This is absolutely true. When you buy a car, you want to trust the person that sold it to you. You as an individual chapter member have to sell yourself to the individual PNM. If your chapter is full of people that cannot make others feel comfortable joining the group, you will struggle. Nerd or gay perceptions aside, sell the person. Don’t underestimate the power of those one on one recruiting moments.
3) Overwhelm the negative perception with the positive message
– Fraternity Public Relations should not be taken likely. In the modern age, positive and negative public relations are seconds away on Twitter, Facebook, and the like. You are passionate about all of the things that make your chapter stand out on campus. Do you advertise this effectively? Do you use facebook as a chapter or have a chapter twitter account? Online and social media is the fastest growing marketing medium in the business world. Everyone now seems to have a smartphone and has instant access to information about your chapter and your MEMBERS. Your online and social media image and marketing efforts can greatly overcompensate the negative perceptions you have described.
4) Ask questions
– The PNM’s that chose another chapter will tell you why if you ask in a non-defensive way. Other chapters and sororities will tell you why PNM’s went another direction. Your Greek Life office should conduct a survey or gather some kind of feedback at the end of formal recruitment. You need to know why you lost a PNM in order to figure out how to tweak your approach and make improvements.
5) Recruit year round
– This is true everywhere and in every situation. Recruiting does not just take place during formal recruitment periods. You recruit every day and in every way. You positively recruit my publicizing your events and your achievements. You negatively recruit when your members do stupid and inappropriate things. You can hype up your chapter to PNM’s 24 hours a day without having an event. We call it Guerilla Marketing in the company I work for. It cost you nothing to talk to a guy you like and you think could benefit the chapter. It cost you nothing to spend time at the rec playing pick-up games with other guys on campus. Why not do it? These are the little things great recruiting chapters do year round.
This answer was written by Joe Russo, an alumni brother from Phi Delta Theta and contributor for the thefraternityadvisor.com. If you are interested in writing for thefraternityadvisor.com – let us know (CLICK HERE)!
To learn more, check out our most in-depth article on fraternity recruitment: The Complete Guide to Fraternity Recruitment.