Recruitment in Chicago (the good)

Everywhere I go, I see recruitment. Through my years as a fraternity member and advisor, I’ve developed this perceptive ability to recognize various recruitment tactics and spot the success and failures of such efforts.

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of going to Chicago. While I was enjoying the cities sites, sounds, and smells, I couldn’t help but notice the recruitment being directed towards me, and going on around me. Some businesses and individuals were doing it right, while others fell flat on their face.

The Good:
Positive Absurdity: If you have read some of my previous posts, then you already know that I am a big proponent of what Phired Up Productions is doing. One thing that Phired Up likes to talk about is the use of Positive Absurdity; doing something unique to break up the monotony of the day, get yourself recognized, and start conversations. While at a “fun-time adults-only” food and beverage establishment, I saw some definite positive absurdity in the form of Mega-Jenga. Yes, that’s right, Mega-Jenga:

There was really nothing special about this establishment, wooden booths, high-top tables, decorative sconces… oh yeah, and a 5 foot tall game of Jenga going on at the front of the place. As soon as I walked in the door, I was hit with the positive absurdity of the thing. I pretended like I wasn’t impressed with it, but secretly I was already envisioning the schematics in my head so I could build my own version.

Mega-Jenga not only brought patrons in the door, but it made them stick around. Strangers were conversing over intense games of Mega-Jenga, subconsciously connecting to the simpler times in their lives.

Imagine your chapter putting Mega-Jenga in the middle of your quad or student union. You could challenge passers-by to pull out a piece or two; if they can do it without knocking the whole thing over they get a piece of candy. If the whole thing comes crashing to the ground, they have to let you bend their ear for a minute. This is just one example of positive absurdity your chapter can use; there are a multitude of ways for your chapter to do something unique like this on your campus.

The primary reason for my visit was to see my friend (a Gamma Phi Beta, yay interfraternalism!) that I’ve known since my days as an undergrad. Although she’s been in Chicago for well over a year, and despite the fact that I lived just a couple hours away, this weekend was the first time I went out to visit her.

Between the hours I was working, the financial impairments I was faced with, and other interfering factors, I did not feel that I had the time or money to make such a commitment. If that sounds familiar it’s probably because you’ve heard it dozens of times from potential new members.

To her credit, my friend did a great job of recruiting me out to Chicago. Every so often I would get a text, facebook message or tweet from her inviting me out. She would let me know when the best festivals were in town, and when our mutual friends were coming to visit. As enticing as this was, I still couldn’t make it out. Despite the slew of “I’m working that weekend”, “I’ll be at a conference”, and “I’m broke!”, my friend kept inviting me.

Then, a month after I settled into my new city, and new position at Bradley University, I was finally in the right place time-wise and financially to make the trip. I called her Tuesday afternoon and let her know I was coming for the weekend. Needless to say, I had a blast in Chicago and will definitely be going back.

In your chapter’s recruitment process, you’re going to hear some legitimate reasons for why students can’t join your organization. Instead of writing these individuals off as a lost cause, do exactly like my friend did. Stay friends, keep inviting them to events, let them see the fun times their friends are having, and wait for that person to get to a place in their life where joining your organization will not be an overburdening experience.

These examples were the two best positive recruitment efforts I saw over the past weekend in Chicago. In my next post, I’ll talk about some of the poor recruitment efforts I saw, and how to fix them!

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