Ohio State Crushes Recruitment
Ohio State University just pinned a class of 30 New Members. Ian Lowe sat down with VP of Recruitment Devin Das (pictured below) to learn more about their success. Ian was impressed with the intentionality and thoroughness of the plan OSU executed and the results speak for themselves. This is a transcript of their conversation.
NOTE – “PNM” is short for “Potential New Member”.
IL: Tell me about your results?
DD: They were exceptional! Our goal was 20, but we ended up with 30. This was a big improvement for us – we only pinned 4 in the fall.
IL: What made such a big difference this time?
DD: It was a mixture of getting a commitment from all Brothers to help, the Recruitment Committee doing significant leg work last fall and early this spring, and our unique strategy for making it all work.
IL: How did you utilize your Recruitment Committee?
DD: It’s only a handful of guys, but they are really committed to recruitment. We began our work last November – planning events and creating our rush budget. We ramped it up over winter break. When others were relaxing, we were willing to put in the extra effort.
IL: What was it that you were doing with the Committee?
DD: We knew we had to target students instead of waiting for them to just show up. So we did activities with our Brothers to identify as many men that they knew that were good guys. Didn’t matter if they were interested in Greek Life, just people we respected or that were doing things that seemed respectable. Specifically, we looked around each of the different schools at OSU (Architecture, Arts & Sciences, Business, etc.) and identified impressive men. As long as we knew their first and last name, we were set. OSU has a people directory that we can access to find their emails. We spent HOURS searching emails and then sent messages to these guys.
IL: So, you spammed them with email? 😊
DD: *Haha*, not spam. We were intentional about customization. For the guys in the Business School, we talked about the business & leadership skills you learn in a fraternity that can help propel and develop you. We shared a personal story tied to that, and simply said if this resonates with you, come check us out, we’d love to talk with you. It had to be about things that appeal to them directly. We customized the messaging for each school.
IL: And that’s how you got a lot of guys to join?
DD: It got them to pay attention. So, they replied or maybe attended a rush event. We had to do a lot more to get them through the process.
IL: How’d you move them through the process?
DD: At OSU, a lot of fraternities do similar events, but we knew we had to engage guys differently and better than our competition when we had their attention. We had food nights, but it was how we engaged the PNMs who were present. We did three things really well that IHQ taught us.
IL: What were those three things?
DD: “+1 Theory”, “Bridging”, and casual meetings with PNMs in between events. We knew PNMs would have better conversations, feel closer to us, and always have something else to talk about if we always had 2 Brothers to 1 PNM (+1 theory). It made a difference in the conversations and activity. We also were REALLY intentional about “Bridging” PNMs to other Brothers they had commonalities with. When we’d hear of some interest or fact that they had in common with another Brother, we made a point to introduce the PNM to this Brother so they could connect on that commonality. That made it easier for conversations to happen too. Our goal was that by the end of each event, the PNM would have met and had a meaningful conversation with 10-15 Brothers.
IL: How did you use casual meetings?
DD: You get limited time to talk with PNMs during an event, so we wanted each PNM to have a chance to just sit down with us for coffee or lunch on campus in between events so they could get to know us and us them. We’d have 1-3 Brothers meet up with the PNM in between events. This enabled them to connect with us, ask a lot of questions, and see what we were like normally. We did this with many of the guys that accepted bids. It made the PNMs feel good that we wanted to make time outside of an event to get to know them. It made a big difference in closing the deal.
IL: Anything else that helped?
DD: Our bidding process is also unique. We give each bid individually in an intentional manner. Usually it was offered by the President and me but not until we shared with the PNM over a 15-20 min conversation all the reasons we liked him, how we thought he’d fit in here and do great things, but also the expectations we had of them if they were going to join. We balance the seriousness of offering them this bid to join us while also being really comfortable and casual with the PNM.
Between the intentionality of meeting a lot of Brothers at events and the meetings between events, our Brotherhood felt strong about knowing the PNMs, so it was easy to vote “yes” on the PNMs.
It also helped that as we got guys to commit, we asked them about their friends and asked them to bring their friends around. We picked up a good handful of the 30 just by having the early bid-accepted guys help with recruitment. No one is more excited than them to see Pilam grow.
IL: What type of training did you give Brothers?
DD: Before Rush we did a quick training of helpful things to say and talk about with PNMs. Basically, trying to help the Brothers know what to talk about and the things PNMs may ask, and then helping the Brothers frame their own experiences in Pilam to help be relatable to the PNMs.
We even made a flier that was used more as a talking guide then just something we hang up. It had some key points on it about our Brotherhood. Brothers could reference it, and point to those key points. As an example, we listed that we value scholarship and noted that we had the top grades last fall. The sheet helped Brothers remember what all to review. It was similar to some of the resources IHQ has online, we just customized ours a bit.
IL: Any other noteworthy reflections about how you spoke with PNMs.
DD: Although we earned the top GPA this past fall, we noted that we didn’t always have that GPA as a Chapter. We worked at it and had to grow into that. Likewise, we don’t expect them to be perfect, but through Pilam we think they can grow and develop, and we want to help with that.
IL: What was your bid acceptance rate?
DD: 86% (30 accepted of 35 offered)
IL: What advice would your offer other Chapters?
DD: Our first semester we only got 4 guys. We put in the effort, planned, listened to the good ideas from IHQ and other Chapters, and then customized it to fit our needs. It’s completely possible to have success if you’re willing to do those things.
IL: Would you be willing to speak with other VPs of Recruitment looking for advice?
DD: Yes, gladly. Recruitment is my passion! We’re already now preparing for the fall, so I’d love to learn from them too to make our process even better.