February 21, 2012

The Spark.

The Spark: Recruiting Members to Your Organization – Get Out there and Meet People (Part One)

Welcome to The Spark - a tidbit of wisdom to stimulate ideas and help you transform your student organization. The Spark is a bi-weekly resource provided through the Center for Student Involvement which is sent to all registered officers through PantherSync.

We get a lot of questions regarding how to meet potential organization members on campus. This is Part One in a multi-part series on membership recruitment.

Be active. When recruiting, we often wait to see who comes to us. We hang a poster for an informational meeting, or post a Facebook Event. But, recruitment and marketing are not the same thing. Posters and Facebook invites may contribute to sharing information about your organization, but they should not be your only method of recruitment. Prospective members cannot interact with a poster, ask questions, learn why they should join. They need to meet you.

Be present on campus. A great way to get your name out on campus is to attend campus events and engage with others. This does not mean showing up and passing out flyers to promote your own organization. Rather, go support another organization's event and build relationships. Make an effort to participate in campus service events – you'll meet and be working with other people, which provides you the opportunity to ask them about their interests and start a conversation.

Make friends. Remember that recruitment is about conversations and relationship building, not a sales pitch. If you build a friendship with someone, there will come a natural point in the conversation where it makes sense to extend them an invite to a meeting or event. Get Out From Behind the Table. Many groups choose tabling as a good method to get exposure for their organization and to share information about upcoming events. Our staff has tabled. We know it can be challenging. If you are going to table, make sure it is worth your time. Be approachable. Stand up, and in front of the table. Smile. I walk past often and see people tabling who are sitting and doing work on their laptop or talking with friends. That doesn't exactly send the message, "hey, come talk to me." Make conversations and meet people before immediately jumping in with your pitch. Ask them about their day, how classes are going, etc. Be friendly, so that they remember the good conversation, and tell others about their positive experience with your group. Don't forget, a smile goes a long way!

Mind your manners. As you market your organization, and recruit new members, be respectful of building policies, and common courtesies. Avoid over-flyering, posting in unapproved places, or crowding out other groups that are tabling at the same time. Nothing hurts a good recruitment campaign like negative attention or strained relationships with other organizations. Check the CSI website for more information regarding posting policies.

Does your organization need some to resuscitate its recruitment strategies? Schedule a recruitment workshop with the Center for Student Involvement Staff. To make a training request, visit www.activities.uwm.edu and click on Organization Training and complete the Training Request for Registered Student Organization form. You can also access this form in PantherSync through the "Forms" tool. Consultations may also be requested by emailing activities@uwm.edu or calling 414-229-5780.