• Fraternity Recruitment
    Fraternity Recruitment Thoughts from the Expansion Department of Sigma Pi Fraternity, International

In a rare moment of clarity, I've actually decided to make this month’s recruitment blog about recruitment. Imagine that! For many of you, the spring "rush week" is probably over, and you're about to sit back and enjoy a few months of relaxation and spring weather. (Jokes, everywhere is frozen and terrible except California, who we can all agree to hate on this month...) But if you're an avid follower of this blog, or have a shred of common sense, you know that recruitment isn't over for you. In fact, your work should really just be getting started, but where do you begin?

The answer, is goal setting. More specifically, SMART Goal setting. Though I'm sure many of you have already heard your Expansion Consultant or Regional Director discuss SMART Goals, let's briefly review their purpose:

S - Specific
M - Measurable
A - Achievable
R - Realistic
T - Timely

I want to focus on two key parts of SMART Goals, "Measurable" and "Realistic," because in my experience, these are two elements that are often misunderstood and can throw off the whole purpose of setting goals in the first place.

Let's go ahead and get this out of the way, having a measurable recruitment goal doesn't just mean knowing how many guys you want to recruit, but that's a great start. A measurable recruitment goal means having benchmarks, knowing when you want to hit certain numbers, and being able to hold yourself accountable to those benchmarks throughout the semester/year. Here's an example of a bad measurable goal:

"We want to recruit 30 members this semester."

Now, here's an example of a better measurable goal

"We want to extend bids to 15 new members during our formal recruitment week, and extend bids to at least one new member every other week of the semester."

Do you see how even though both goals say the same thing, they automatically portray a very different type of recruitment, AND set smaller, more achievable (yes, I did that on purpose) goals along the way? Setting a goal like this allows you and your recruitment team to measure your success throughout the semester, and make necessary evaluations and changes as you go.

Again, let's avoid some myths right away. A realistic goal does not mean "one we know we can easily achieve." A realistic recruitment goal is one set by honest reflection, introspection, and a willingness to responsibly challenge yourself. When chapters set realistic recruitment goals, they spend time finding the balance between "what we know we're capable of" and "what we want to be capable of."

I use the term balance because it needs to be just that; if the goal is set too low, the recruitment team (and ultimately the chapter) are not challenged enough to progress and develop. However, if we set our goals too high, we risk being disheartened and discouraged by not achieving them. Let's review some examples again, here is an unrealistic goal:

"Since we recruited 30 men last semester, we want to recruit twice as many this semester."

There's not necessarily anything wrong with this goal, as long as the recruitment team has the data and information to prove that it is achievable. (Yep, on purpose again.) However, at face value, it seems pretty unrealistic to think that any group could recruit double their last recruitment numbers based solely on will power. Here is what a more realistic goal might look like:

"Since we recruited 30 men last semester, and know from evaluating our prior successes and areas of opportunity that we missed out on extending bids to at least five other PNM's, we want to recruit 37 men this semester by recruiting 22 men during our university's formal recruitment week, and extending bids to at least one new member every week of the semester after that."

Note the measurable follow up to the realistic number? Also, notice that while the second number seems slightly high, it was set by analyzing where we had missed out on bids in the prior semester AND challenging our recruitment team to increase their numbers by two additional people. Now, we could spend days talking about that analysis step, but that can be another blog for another day. The important thing to remember is that setting goals too high can be problematic for any recruitment team, but setting them too low can be equally as damaging.

Spend time on this. Recruitment goals should not be set by one person in the group looking at a number and adding “x” more extended bids. This should be a team effort (preferably the recruitment team) and should take some time. Be realistic with yourselves, but challenge each other as well. When done right, goal setting should be exciting and inspiring, and should set measurable benchmarks throughout the semester so you can hold each other accountable as you go.

Send me your recruitment goals and how you came to them, and I'll share your chapter or colony's story in my next update!


I had the pleasure of volunteering for the Middle Tennessee State University FSL Community this week as they held an IMPACT session, a leadership development and educational program organized by the NIC, for the newly elected leaders of their chapters and councils. As a small group facilitator, I had the opportunity to work alongside a 25-year volunteer for a national sorority, and assist nine young leaders in understanding their potential, their purpose, and their shared vision. After three days of early mornings, late nights, and a whole lot of walking from one side of camp to the other, a few important lessons began to sink in for both the students, and the facilitators.

          1. We all face the same issues, and the times haven’t changed much.

IFC, Panhellenic, NPHC, it doesn’t matter. We all share common burdens when working with our chapters, and very few of the issues we struggle with our actually exclusive to our organizations. The real struggle is overcoming our pride, exclusivity, and fear of change in order to find collaborative solutions. What we discussed and accomplished in our small group was only a single piece of a much bigger puzzle. Similarly, the issues we face as councils today are the same issues we faced 25 years ago. The difference, however, is that today we are equipped with the knowledge and vision to correct our mistakes, and the available resources to make that vision a reality.

          2. It’s ok to be proud of our accomplishments, as long as we also admit our flaws.

As a community, we focus a lot of our time on sharing our successes. “Look how many new members we recruited this semester!” “Look how much money we raised for our philanthropic partner!” “Look at how many hours of mandatory community service our members completed this year!” I think, at times, we might be guilty of fitting ourselves with blinders, and willfully choosing to ignore the serious issues within our organizations because, as we’ve made a habit of sharing, we’ve been doing so well in other areas. We’re not being fair to ourselves trying to have one without the other. Recognizing and acting on our opportunities is practically the definition of progress, a concept I know our members hold dear.

          3. There is an overabundance of help available to you, and it often goes unnoticed.

It really is uncanny how much support you have available to you as an undergraduate member of a fraternity or sorority. Between your specific Chapter Advisors, Regional Advisors, Graduate Assistants at your university, full time FSL Advisors employed by the university, travelling staff working for your national organization, and a plethora of other Directors and Coordinators in your office of student activities who, above all else, are deeply invested in seeing their students develop and succeed, you’d have to try pretty hard to find yourself in a situation where no one was available to offer you help and support. Sometimes, the easiest and the hardest things to do are the same, and in this case, that may just be reaching out admitting that you need a helping hand. Never be afraid to ask for guidance, we are all here to see you thrive.


picture courtesy of MTSU FSL Facebook Page


For information about bringing IMPACT to your campus, or any other NIC programs, check out the NIC website here

*Special thanks to the MTSU FSL Community for allowing me to experience such a great retreat with them, the NIC for coordinating the program, and to my small group, the Fantastic Chapter 4, who I know will continue to show their peers what it means to lead by example. #TrueBlueMove

This month's blog may seem like more of a rambling, tangential collection of thoughts, but I promise there will be a point. (I think...)

It's the holiday season, and regardless of which religious affiliation you associate with, or your family background, everyone has a few similar motivations this season. Some relish the opportunity to see family and friends they haven't seen all year. Some enjoy the thrill of watching their loved ones open that one gift they really wanted this year, and some of us enjoy the thrill of being the one to open that gift. Whatever it is that gets you in the spirit of the holiday season, I think we can all agree that the season is better with company.

Which brings me to my first point: inclusivity. This feeling we all get when we go home for the holidays, or see our best friend from high school, or that relative who is always making funny jokes and slipping you some extra spending money behind your parents back, that feeling is probably best compared to belonging. We are there because we are MEANT to be there, with the people who matter the most to us. Now, let's translate that to a Univeristy context, since this is, after all, a fraternity blog. No matter your university, no matter your Greek system, no matter what type of school you are attending, I guarantee that there are more students than you can count on campus who haven't found their place to belong yet. They don't have that group of friends they couldn't live without yet. They don't have that home away from home. Wouldn't it be incredible if we took the time to get to know them and maybe give someone else the gift of fraternity? The gift of brotherhood and belonging?

My second lesson from this holiday season is this: awareness. As I'm currently sitting on a plane back to my hometown, I'm understandably very conscious of the fact that I have exactly 8 days in town to spend with family, see old friends, do some last minute shopping, hit every restaurant I haven't pigged out at in years, and celebrate Christmas with my extended family before I have to get on another plane. Time is precious, and to again attempt to transition this back into the fraternity context of this blog, our time in our chapters is precious as well. We often get caught up in the "it will get done soon" mentalities, or the "our exec couldn't get it done, so the next will have to start over" crutches. Make the most of your time as an undergraduate, because if you don't set that one standard, if you don't host that one service project, if you don't take the initiative to create positive change within your chapter, it may never happen.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, my last lesson is this: don't worry about what everyone else gets. Some of us will walk away with some new Beats by Dre headphones this season (though I can't for the life of me understand why anyone uses those bass amplifying ear dumpsters...) and some of us will get a book and a Starbucks gift card. Everyone's situation is different, and to allow your holiday spirit to be dictated by what someone else received and you didn't is missing the true point of the season, togetherness. Some of our chapters are small, some are very large, but for those of you in smaller or struggling chapters, never let anyone make you feel like your brotherhood and dedication to the ideals of Sigma Pi are less than that of someone else. Appreciate those around you, and be a good brother and citizen to everyone you meet, regardless of your situation. That's the real Sigma Pi holiday spirit.

It’s almost the Holiday Season everyone! While it’s clearly the most wonderful time of the year, it’s often followed by what can only be described as an absolute exodus of ¼ of your membership in the spring. I’m talking about that little switch that seems to go off in all of our seniors’ minds that says “Welp, guess my work here is done!” as they rather abruptly hand the chapter off to the rest of you.

The holiday season is all about spirit and a giving attitude, but it is also about setting goals for the upcoming year. So, let’s make a New Year’s Resolution this year to give our senior members a better reason to stick around and use their experience for the betterment of the chapter. But how do we do that?

A very simple way of keeping seniors involved, and one that my own chapter very enthusiastically practiced (oddly enough, beginning my senior year…) is the tradition of a Senior Specific Event. Ours was very crudely titled, Senior Weekend. The chapter appropriated a certain amount of every senior’s second semester dues to the event, with the remainder of the cost being covered by each of us. We set a date, and went to a golf resort for a weekend to spend time with the guys who we had spent four years building a brotherhood with. Talk about putting our senior dues to good use!

Another (somewhat more productive) way to keep your seniors involved is by doing just that; get them INVOLVED. Use the experience each senior has built up to better educate your new members. After all, it wouldn’t be too much work for most of your seniors to come into a new member education meeting each week and share some of the biggest lessons their last four years have taught them. Additionally, you might think about having one or two of your seniors serve on your standards board. Not only do they know what they’re doing, but they’ve seen it all before, and will probably command some welcome respect to the standards procedure in your chapter.

Let’s play the “what if” game for this last example and really think outside of the box. What if, your 1st Counselor spent a lot of his time in office contacting local alumni who work within a 50-mile radius of campus? Then, what if he coordinated a date in the spring that all of those alumni could come to campus for a few hours to advertise careers and internships in their field? THEN, what if you invited other nearby Sigma Pi chapters to attend this meeting and conducted it like any other campus job fair? BOOM, the Sigma Pi Job Fair just became your number one senior event, and you’ve found a way to not only keep them involved in the progress of your chapter, but you may have just given them a leg up in the professional world as well.

I don’t want to make it sound like every senior in the world is out of touch or indifferent about their chapter’s success come April or May. However, it’s all too common of a problem to see great members slip into an apathetic state, and that’s no way to end a great undergraduate experience in your fraternity. It’s clearly up to every senior to ultimately make the choice to stick around or not, but if you as a chapter can give them a good reason, I think you’ll be very pleased to see the results.

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About Ryan Armstrong

Ryan Armstrong

Ryan Armstrong serves as Director of Expansion of Sigma Pi Fraternity, International. Founded in 1897, Sigma Pi Fraternity is the leading, international men's collegiate fraternal organization which provides training, guidance and innovative opportunities for Leadership Development, Social and Personal Development, Academic Achievement, Community Service and Heightened Moral Awareness for its brothers throughout their lives.

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