Sorority Recruitment: Start With Why

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Author’s Note: When I’m not quarterbacking my quarter-life, I’m busy coaching some amazing women as the recruitment adviser for my local chapter of Delta Gamma Fraternity. Sorority recruitment is my passion, so once or twice a month, I’ll be writing Greek Life focused blog posts. You’ll be able to access all of these quickly by searching “Greek Life” from my sidebar.

Every spring, sorority chapters across the country will begin preparing for Fall formal sorority recruitment. They’ll learn how to select new members, practice chants, and prepare to have meaningful small talk conversations. Women will start identifying potential new members they’d like to have join their chapter and chapter officers will make the big executive decisions – like, what the heck are they going to wear?

Too often, chapters get so caught up in the logistics of recruitment that they fail to teach the single most important recruitment skill: How to verbalize and communicate their why.

I’ve been reading Start With Why by Simon Sinek, and I see so many parallels with fraternity and sorority recruitment. Sinek talks about how, when making decisions, we need to rationalize tangibles — the whats — but that our brain inherently knows it is making the right decision when we have a solid why. Feelings drive gut decisions.

Teaching members how to verbalize the feeling they had when they made the decision to join their organization is critical for recruitment success for several reasons:

Verbalizing feelings builds trust. Nearly every sorority or fraternity member can narrow their reason for joining their organization down to a name or a face. They join because they find someone who they connect with. In other words, they find someone that they trust. Sinek shares that trust is a feeling, not a rational experience. Therefore, trust is born from shared feelings. It doesn’t matter how cool the house is, if the potential member doesn’t trust the members they meet, they are not going to join an organization.

Verbalizing why a member made the decision to join their organization allows a PNM to contextualize their own decision. If members are able to verbalize their why – why they chose (and why they continue to choose!) their organization – a potential member is able to gain context for their own decision making process. In this way, members empower potential members to make the very best decision for themselves. If the organization is a great fit, a potential member will naturally visualize themselves as a member. If it’s not, they won’t.

…Which means that being able to articulate the why automatically increases the quality of new members who join their organization. Think about it: If every new member is making a decision from a place of why, new members will naturally join organizations that align with their own why. An organization full of passionate men or women who can articulate why they are passionate about their experience will naturally attract other passionate people. The organization will virtually guarantee a new member class passionate and excited to begin their fraternal experience.

So what does this mean for recruitment chairs? Instead of focusing on the logistics this recruitment prep season, start with the basics. Prioritize talking about why members joined in the first place and why they continue to pay their dues/wear their t-shirts/come to chapter. Build a shared why that also allows for individual whys. Start recruitment prep from a place of passion, and your chapter is sure to end with a new member class excited to continue propelling your organization forward.

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