Recruitment is truly the most beautiful (and stressful) time of the year for any sorority woman. It means new babies, potential new littles, and a fresh start for your chapter. As someone who was a top-recruiter for my sorority, I know how vital it is to the health and future of your organization to recruit the best new members. To be a good recruiter, you have to know the types of girls who will flourish in your chapter, use your communication skills, and how to tell if this girl is fit to wear your letters. My 13 tips below will help you unlock the secret to becoming the strongest recruiter in your sisterhood!
- Remember the needs of your sorority
Remember the goals and needs of your chapter the whole time. While I very strongly believe that sorority life can impact ANYONE in a positive way, not every sorority is for every girl. We all have different values and gaps we need to fill. Have an open and honest discussion with your sisters on the type of women you would like to wear your letters. For example, if you are looking to win “Best GPA” next semester, focus on girls who would rather go to the library to study for big tests on Friday nights versus girls who blow off studying for themed parties and wine night. Throughout my many years as an active, I met girls that I LOVED but knew that they would be a better fit in another sorority.
- Pay attention to and observe PNM’s
Pay very close attention to girls who you know are going through recruitment, or potentially could be at parties and recruitment events. You should always go for girls who love to socialize, but also work hard and hit the books as well. If you always see a girl at parties and hanging around fraternity guys, but never in class or the library, get to know more about her before considering her for membership. Even if you fall in love with her, be real with yourself. The girl dancing on the bar at parties who is sloppy drunk will probably have a hard time transitioning into the high conduct expectations of sorority members. I can remember vividly one girl who just made it VERY obvious throughout the whole recruitment process that she wanted my chapter, but before recruitment, she had already been getting around an entire fraternity (guys are THE WORST at kissing and telling). While she was sweet, she wasn’t a liability anyone in the chapter wanted to take on, and her values apparently did not match up to ours.
- Stalk their social media
Don’t lie; you’re probably already doing this to your rush crush. If you meet a girl that you think would be perfect for your chapter or sorority life, get to know her through her social media! Look out for red flags like lots of party talk or pictures with alcohol, vulgarity, racist or discriminatory posts, or anything else that makes you think “Does her mom know about this….” While you can’t judge a person completely based on their social media profiles, it does say A LOT about them. Keep this in mind for recruitment, and express any concerns you might have to your recruitment chair. I met my “little sis” at a recruitment event and knew she would be my little. I stalked her social media all summer, and it just solidified the fact that I knew she’d be a good fit in our chapter. On the flip side of that, I had a great conversation with a girl during recruitment about our spiritual aim, and in between rounds decided to stalk her Instagram. Every post was either alcohol or drug related. When it came time to vote, I gave her a big fat “0”.
- Give everyone a chance
While a HUGE part of the recruitment process is based on looks (I mean, we do only have like two minutes to talk to each girl), you should give EVERY PNM a chance. It’s easy to write someone off automatically in your mind when you see that they aren’t wearing the “right” clothes or anything else physical you could critique, but you should treat everyone with value and respect. I can remember wanting actually to drop out of recruitment when a girl in my eventual sorority got up and left me alone after she found out I didn’t know who Lilly Pulitzer was. If the issue is that the conversation is just awkward, being polite, open, and interested in what she’s saying will put her at ease which should help the conversation move along. Not everyone is used to having to talk to 100+ strangers a day.
- ALWAYS ask open-ended questions
Have you ever tried to have a conversation with someone for them to only answer “yes” or “no” to everything? Awkward as hell right? The truth is, these PNMs are WAY more nervous than you. It’s your job as an active to keep the conversation flowing and to get them to open up to you (communication and psych majors should have this in the bag). Always ask questions that require thought to answer. Asking “do you have any questions or concerns about sorority life that I can clear up for you?” versus “are you excited for rush?” is going to elicit a lot more thoughtful response, and keep the conversation going.
- Stay calm and composed
Be prepared to have some of the most awkward, uncomfortable, and downright inappropriate conversations in recruitment. I remember during one recruitment cycle, we had a girl in our room who very clearly wanted another sorority. She was so incredibly rude to our sisters and even asked if it was true that another sorority on campus had filed a lawsuit against us for using a symbol that we both shared. Seriously? We were all pleasant and maintained our composer, but we couldn’t get to our recruitment chair soon enough to tell her this girl was a huge “NO.” Also, on the whole, staying “calm and composed’ subject, do not EVER tell and PNM how tired you are, how bad your feet hurt, or how ready you are for this 13 hour day to be over. Period.
- Make the conversation about the PNM
People love to talk about themselves. The easiest way to make a PNM comfortable is to show them you’re interested in who they are as a person. Be careful not to barrage them with rapid fire questions. Maintain a good balance of talk and questions. It’s also smart to avoid word vomiting fast facts about your sorority. Unless they ask, you shouldn’t talk about your chapter at all. If she mentions, she loves to plan parties or is really into sports bring up some of the fun mixers your chapter has had or the fact that you guys beast in intramurals. Avoid commenting on physical or material appearance, though. Remember, people’s favorite subject is themselves.
- Stop using the same old and tired conversation topics
This poor girl has probably already been asked 10,000 times today questions like “where are you from, ”so, what made you want to go Greek? And “what were you involved in high school?” While you shouldn’t start asking her hard thought provoking questions right off the bat, by asking her questions that elicit real thought, and are different than what she’s been asked in every other round you are setting yourself and your chapter up to be memorable. Questions like, “so tell me about the place you are from?” “what qualities do you admire in sorority women and hope to gain by going Greek?” and “what qualities did your high school activities teach you that you think would make you a great sorority woman?’ are significant variations of the same tried and true questions, and will make you seem genuinely interested in who she really is.
- Frame your questions before you ask them
You have to be very careful of how you word and phrase things when talking to PNM’s. Honestly ask yourself if what you are about to say is a “no-no” topic, or is going to make a PNM uncomfortable. Some topics that should always be off-limits are finances, politics, religion…Anything that could start a heated debate.
Always ask yourself, “Can this be framed in a different manner to promote a more profound conversation?”
- Do not dirty rush or bid promise
If you have done this in the past intentionally, you are THE WORST. Not everyone is perfect, though, and you can redeem yourself this year. In case you are just clueless, dirty rushing and bid promising are when you frame a question to sound like the PNM is already “in” or just straight up tell her she is. Even if it’s an accident, this is totally unacceptable. Avoid saying things like:
“well, when you are my sister…”
“I can’t wait for you to be my little…”
“You’d make the perfect ZBZ.”
“All of my sisters love you so much.”
“See you tomorrow!”
“I can’t wait to see you on bid day!”
Or anything else that would make it sound like the PNM is for sure coming back tomorrow. Doing this sets them up for heartbreak if they don’t get called back to your room it makes it impossible to keep an open mind and find their real home. One year, I sponsored a girl who I knew was a great fit for our chapter. I even made her cry on preference night after she had just told me she hadn’t cried in years, and genuinely was not a very emotional person. What I did not know was that in a previous round, another chapter had fed her a bunch of bs, and had even promised her a bid. As she left our room and gave me a huge hug, I watched her face fall, and she said “see you tomorrow!” and I answered with “have a great night!” She ended up going the other sorority, hated it, and dropped within a year. She still to this day tells me she wished that she had gone with her gut when she preffed, but already being promised a bid from another chapter made it hard.
- Monitor yourself during conversation
If you suffer from resting bitch face, this one is especially for you. Be aware of your facial expressions, your body language, and of course how you phrase things. Like I said in #6, you are going to have “WTF” moments with PNMs. When those happen, make sure your face or reaction does not give away anything. Some other questions to ask yourself are: “Am I allowing the girl a chance to express her before hopping in with another question or a comment” “Am I keenly listening and actively picking up the cues to shared interests “Am I able to handle natural silences aptly?” “Am I able to gracefully end conversations within the set time limits?”
- Embrace awkward silent moments
If you’ve asked a thought provoking question that requires thought, or if the topic has run its course you are going to find yourself with a few seconds of awkward silence. This gives you both time to readjust and reflect on what was just said. The best recruiters take these few seconds to think of their next course of action and keep the conversation going. You should know how to direct your talk in a fresh direction when one subject matter has run its course.
- Be genuine and real
It’s okay to be nervous, and it’s okay to be human! Mistakes happen. It’s life. Always make sure that you are genuine in your interest and answers. PNM’s will pick up on it if you’re not. Remember that very special little I told you about? When I sponsored her during preference night, I was so nervous that it put me off my generally top-notch recruiting game. I wanted her to go my chapter SO badly! At some point in the conversation, I told her how nervous I was. This totally opened her up and made things less awkward. It’s okay to laugh or smile if you mess up the chant, its good to laugh at yourself, and it’s okay to open up!
At the end of the day, it takes two. If both sides are genuinely interested, then the conversations and recruitment process will go smoothly. Always remember that the women you recruit today will be your sisters and leaders of your chapter tomorrow. Choose wisely, and happy recruiting!