By: Del Suggs, M.S. Ed.
In this virtual world, we still must lead and teach our students to lead. While it’s challenging, there are ways to utilize technology to help with your recruitment.
I still suggest that you follow my four-step method of recruitment. It doesn’t matter if you are seeking new members in the real world or the virtual world, these principles still apply.
RECRUITMENT STEP ONE
The first step in recruiting is not asking students to join. The actual first step in this process is to clearly understand what your organization is, and what your organization does.
Develop your mission statement. I know, you have already got a mission statement. You inherited it from the original founders of your club. Look at it, and make sure it still applies.
I always encourage organizations to utilize Dr. Toyota’s Five Whys method of determining the true purpose of your organization. That means you ask the question “why” five times. Each time you answer the why question, then ask “why” of the answer. Like a pesky three-year-old child, you will eventually get the real answer.
This is a great task for a Zoom meeting. Get your current members–or just your executive committee–to log on and participate.
Here’s an example of using the Five Whys. Why does the Campus Activities Board exist (this is the first why)? To provide events and programs for students. That is all well and good. But why provide events and programs (this is the second why)?
Perhaps you provide events to give students something else to do other than just go to class. That’s a worthy goal, because students need to do more than just academics.
But why give students something else to do (this is the third why)? Because higher education can be a stressful and challenging ordeal, students need a way to release the pressure of going to class and making those good grades.
Why would students need to release the pressure of classes, grades, and just life itself (this is the fourth why)? Because it helps them to focus on classwork better and achieve academic success.
And why do students need academic success (this is the fifth why)? To graduate and have successful careers. To be productive citizens. To create the future.
So why does the CAB really exist? To help students graduate and create the future. That is a very different mission than just providing activities and events. It is a higher calling. Embrace it!
You will find that the Five Whys method works well with every organization. While we just discussed applying it to your CAB, it also works with your SGA or any other service club on campus.
RECRUITMENT STEP TWO
Now that you have determined your true purpose, you need to let people know about your organization. Let us start marketing!
Nobody wants to join a group they have never heard of before. So, make sure everyone knows about your club. Promote your events. Spend time on social media covering the projects and programs you are doing. Make everybody jealous of your activities.
There are a lot of ways to utilize technology to promote your club. Check out “The Student Handbook for Campus Activities Boards” that I authored for APCA. Make sure you have a copy and read all the great methods of electronic marketing there. It includes several chapters on maximizing your social media. There are even two chapters on the best ways to use SnapChat for your marketing.
You can also find a lot of high-tech marketing help at the “Resources” page of my website. Go to www.DelSuggs.com and click on the link to “Resources”. It’s a great source for marketing ideas.
Utilize your Snap, your IG, your Facebook and Twitter feeds to make everyone aware of your organization. Let them see how active you are. Let them see how much you are doing. Make them want to join you and be a part of your group. You are the cool kid and everyone wants to hang with you!
RECRUITMENT STEP THREE
Now it’s time to actually ask members to join. How do you do that electronically? It’s one thing to walk around at a Club Fair and get students to stop by your table. It’s a much bigger challenge to reach them with technology.
We are living the time of Zoom, the most popular online meeting service. You can create an open meeting, and let
potential members attend your Zoom Party. That’s a great way to reach out and get them interested. That is, if they’re not too tired of Zooming, since they likely use it for class, too.
You might try Facebook Messenger’s new “Rooms” option. You know you can make calls and send messages via Facebook Messenger app. Rooms enables you to host a free video gathering for up to 50 people. That sounds like a great way to get students to participate.
Use all the standard cautions to prevent disruptions when you do a Zoom meeting or a Messenger Room. Make sure that only the host can allow screen sharing. Have the mute setting on by default.
Make sure that students need a registration to participate, and make sure it’s password protected.
Plan a game or program as a part of the virtual gathering. Reveal some of your upcoming programs and events that your potential members will want to enjoy. Make it special and unique.
Also, even if you cannot afford to be picky because you need new members, make membership something special. Make your newbies work for membership. Don’t just let them join, make them earn it.
Sure, they can easily become a Provisional Member, but to become a Full Member, with all the benefits and honors, they must first complete some tasks.
Require that they attend three meetings and help with one event or program before they get official status. Then, after they meet the requirements you can give them their lapel pin, or shirt, or teach them the secret handshake or “gang sign” for your club. Make it special!
RECRUITMENT STEP FOUR
After you get all these new potential members, you have got to get them involved. That is the key to retention – give your new members a task, an assignment, a responsibility.
Psychological studies show that if you are trusted with a small task by a new acquaintance you instantly feel a bond with that person. We do it all the time without thinking about it. When you are in the library and ask a stranger to watch your books while you run to the restroom, that stranger now likes you. It seems counter-intuitive, but it’s true.
So, give your new members a simple assignment. Ask them to share an upcoming program on their Instagram feed. Ask them to come early to help set up tables for an event. Ask them to put up five fliers in their dorm. These simple tasks will improve and strengthen their feelings about the club. Try it!
FINAL BEST PRACTICES
Everyone needs to feel more involved. Schedule a regular online meeting for your members. Get them to pop in, even for just a moment, and say “hello” to the other members.
When the current pandemic begins to recede into the past, you may not need all these virtual tips. But you can use them now, and you can use them to support your “real world” recruitment in the future.
I hope you found this information helpful. If you have any questions, or I can help in any way, please reach out. You can always find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and at my website. Let me know what you think.