Covid has changed the rules to fraternity recruitment. The world is different, and the world is scared. If you want your fraternity to succeed during rush, you must be willing to change your approach.
Fortunately, every crisis creates a fantastic opportunity. Chances are, the other fraternities on your campus will not be nimble enough to overcome the new challenges that Covid brings to recruitment. You need to take advantage of this new reality.
You take advantage by outsmarting your competition.
These seven tips below will help you form your fraternity recruitment strategy during the pandemic:
1 – Understand what you are trying to achieve.
As a leader in your fraternity, you first priority is ensuring the longevity of your organization. You need to make sure you don’t die. In times like these, that has to be a real concern.
Let’s say you belong to a 100 man chapter. That rounds out to 25 guys per year. Let’s say your chapter throws their hands up, and decides that it is impossible to recruit during Covid. The result is you only get 10 new members this year.
Next year will lead to 25 men leaving your chapter through attrition and graduation. That leaves your fraternity with a 60 man chapter to start the 2021 school year. As we all know, seniors tend to be less engaged, meaning the number of active brothers will be even lower.
That will make next year’s recruitment significantly harder. And that’s not good because you absolutely can’t have two years of poor recruitment.
Further, the chapter will suffer significantly financially – especially in regards to house finances. Less funding in the form of dues also means that the brothers will be getting less out of their chapter membership.
This can lead the chapter into a death spiral of apathy and disinterest.
You need to recognize this real possibility, and understand the bare minimum number of new members your chapter needs to make sure you survive the year. You have to recruit until you hit that number. Doing so may require you to think differently, and we will discuss that more in depth.
2 – It’s time to master digital for recruitment.
The ability to use different digital platforms to recruit this year is essential. I don’t see how you can succeed without this skill.
If I was running a recruitment campaign during Covid, this is where I’d start:
I would set the brothers up in four-man teams. I would pay special thought to the construction of the teams. You obviously want to keep close brothers together, but you also want to make sure there is at least one motivated brother per team.
I would then assign each team different dorms. I would issue a challenge to connect via social media to as many guys in those dorms as possible individually.
What that would look like is each brother would send out an individual message via social media to residents of their assigned dorm. Think of it like a weird form of cyberstalking dudes.
The question asked is ‘Have you ever thought about joining a fraternity?’. If you get a positive response you set up a meeting for the guy to meet the four-man team.
From there, you develop a relationship and then introduce the recruit to the rest of the chapter. Recruitment would really be no different, outside how the initial contact is made.
Further, if I was leading this effort I would make sure I was tracking three statistics. How many guys were reached out to, how many responses were received, and how many meetings have taken place…
I would send an daily email to the entire chapter updating everyone with these statistics. This should create some form of competition, and it will also create some peer pressure to get the slackers motivated.
3 – Relationships Matter
Fraternities are in the relationships business. At the end of the day, building relationships is the secret sauce to success. That is why our members are more successful than non-Greeks post-graduation. That is what makes the fraternity undergrad experience special.
Go build new relationships. Just because the world is upside down right now doesn’t mean you can’t make new friends. Our calling card is our ability to be social. That shouldn’t ever stop.
Don’t forget the tried and true methods that work in recruitment. They may be more challenging now – but they still work. Here is a great starting point:
Note that this is a great teacher for life after college. How successful you will be in life after college is directly correlated to how good you are at developing relationships.
Is this harder now that everyone is scared and wearing masks and afraid to leave their room? Absolutely. Realize though if you can develop meaningful relationships and recruit in this environment, then you can recruit anywhere.
4 – Don’t focus on what you can’t do – focus on what you can do.
There are a lot of “can’t do’s” in the world right now. I don’t agree with a lot of it, but I don’t make the rules. Crying over it won’t solve anything.
You need to adapt. Crap happens in life. It is what it is. How you adapt and overcome is what will determine your success.
I’ll share a little secret with you that you may not have noticed (lots of sarcasm here) – the world is evolving quickly.
You always need to be adapting.
The Coronavirus can teach your members a valuable lesson. You are either growing or dying. If you stay stagnant and resist change you are dead. You have to be one step ahead of the game at all times.
Example – Blockbuster. Blockbuster was the shit when I was growing up. You could look at aisles and aisles of movies and then take one home. To say they owned the market was an understatement.
Tiny upstart Netflix started mailing you DVDs for as long as you wanted. That was a game-changer. Then they offered streaming, which was crap because no one had the bandwidth to do that effectively.
Blockbuster didn’t change.
Netflix’s exit strategy was to sell-out to Blockbuster. They offered Blockbuster the company for $50 million in 2000. Blockbuster thought it was a joke.
Netflix is now worth $220 Billion. Blockbuster is worth nothing.
I can go on and on with examples. Would you want to own a taxi company right now? How about a hotel company? Uber and Airbnb would eat your lunch.
What does your chapter need to do to innovate? How are you going to overcome these new challenges?
That is for you to figure out…
5 – Stand for something.
Organizations that thrive through all challenges are ones that are grounded in their core principles. They know what they are all about. That isn’t to say they don’t occasionally lose their way though.
The classic example is Apple. Apple was founded with the purpose of changing the world and not accepting the status quo. The way they did that was by making computers.
Then they lost their way because they forgot their purpose. They became a computer company, and not a very good one.
They ended up buying a company to get Jobs back, put him in as CEO. Jobs re-established the company vision of changing the world, and the rest is history. And along the way they changed the world.
The point is be sure to know what you are all about. Your core values matter more now than ever. It times of crisis you true colors will always show.
The sad part here is most chapters have no idea what they are about. Sure, your nationals will have something catchy that your national fraternity is about, but that may not match your local culture.
At the end of the day, you need to have the self-awareness to know what is important to your chapter.
If social is the foundation of your chapter, then have the best damn social program in the country. Spend all your time and energy there. Don’t be fake by pretending things are important to you when they aren’t.
If developing leaders is your thing, then spend all your time and energy there. If it’s academics… You get the point.
Your actions and your programming needs to match your chapter’s vision. Double down on who you are and what’s important to you.
If you don’t know what that is you will soon be lost like a fart in the wind…
6 – Don’t fall victim to group think.
Everyone has an opinion on what is happening in the world right now. Better said, everyone has a strong opinion on what is happening in the world.
Those opinions are blasted on social media and traditional media non-stop. It is so political and polarizing.
You are in college. You are there to learn HOW to think. You are not there to learn WHAT to think.
Now it is time to apply those skills.
Become informed. Read. Watch differing opinions. Gather data, but do so from a point of skepticism.
Then, compare that to the world you see. Ask people you trust what they think, and ask them what they have personally experienced.
From there, develop YOUR opinion. Don’t regurgitate someone else’s.
Then apply that same thought process to recruitment.
Someone is going to claim that they know how to recruit in this environment. Your IFC and nationals will put our guidelines. Everyone is going to have an opinion on what you should be doing.
They may be right, or they may be wrong.
Have the brains to develop your own opinion and strategy, and have the courage to actually follow-through with it.
Never forget that fortune and fame favors the bold. Be confident enough to follow your gut. Right or wrong, it is better to allow your destiny to be based on your convictions and not someone else’s…
7 – The answer to every question is leadership.
If you are the president of your fraternity right now I am jealous of you. You are lucky enough to lead in a time of crisis.
The skills you will gain right now will prepare you for success in life.
Let’s face it. It’s easy to lead when times are good. Anyone can lead during those times. The challenge is when times aren’t so easy. This is going to test your resolve. This is going to test your courage and conviction.
This will test your ability to lead men – some who are scared, some who are reckless, all who are opinionated.
This is a gift to you.
Out-think your problem. Develop new strategies. Outwit your opponent. Outwork the other chapters on campus.
Someday soon you will be sitting around an interview table, and you will be able to explain how you led your organization through these crazy times and how your chapter is actually better now than before. You will be able to explain how you were steadfast in your core values, and kept a group of unruly men focused on what was important.
Further, someday your brothers will look at you and will always remember that your leadership saved their fraternity. I say saved their fraternity and not their chapter because for most of your brothers the only thing that matters to them is their chapter. Their chapter is the entire fraternity to them.
Finally, you will be content and proud that you overcame this adversity. You will know you have the stuff that it takes to lead men. And with that skill there is nothing you cannot accomplish in life.