by Matt Mattson
In our recruitment education programming we make a lot of jokes about the importance shaking hands with people. We go on and on about how the more hands you shake, the better your chances will be to recruit a higher quantity of higher quality people.
Recently I had a realization though… Recruitment success truly can be measured in handshakes. There are two specific types of handshakes I”m talking about here though, so stay with me… In fact I”d go so far as to say that Recruitment Starts With a Handshake and Recruitment Ends With a Handshake. Two types of handshakes must be mastered if you want to truly develop a year-round, values-based recruitment system…
I”m going to be even bolder. I”m brave enough to make this statement… A great recruitment system, that consistently drives a high quanity of high quality members into your organization is built on your ability to master both of these handshakes!
Handshake #1: "The Opener Shake"
The first handshake in recruitment is the one that gives you a chance. This is the handshake that allows everything else to happen. This is known as "The Opener." The more times you give The Opener Shake, the better your chances are with recruitment. This is the shake you give a stranger to make them not so much a stranger anymore. This is the handshake we sometimes refer to as "The Screw" or "The Trap." This handshake is the one you give to the person sitting next to you in class, the person you just met at the rec center, or the person you met through another organization.
Here’’s how to execute The Opener. Step 1: Go up to a stranger. Step 2: Reach out your right hand. Step 3: Follow the script below.
Hi, I”m ______________. What’’s your name? [Continue the conversation with the 5 F''n Ways to Master Conversation - found in Good Guys or I Heart Recruitment ]
The Opener Shake isn”t really recruiting… It is what has to be done before recruiting can begin. It is simply used to make more acquaintances so that you have a chance to make more friends which will give you a chance to recruit more high quality members. The Opener is the shake you”ll want to start using today as many times as possible. Use the opener to open the door to more members. After all, since you can”t recruit who you don”t know, the first step in a great recruitment system is to use The Opener on as many people as possible each and every day.
Handshake #2: "The Closer Shake"
The second handshake for you to master if you want to build a successful recruitment system is The Closer. This handshake is not one you should use on someone the first, second, or third time you meet them. If you do, you”ll probably scare them away. No, The Closer is a handshake you reserve for the right people at the right time. This handshake has some serious consequences and you”ll want to make sure you”re using it right. This handshake results in new, committed, quality members who have clear expectations of membership and are empowered to be a great member and start recruiting other great members immediately. That’’s a pretty powerful handshake.
To use The Closer, be sure you”ve gotten to know the individual first. Obviously, a pre-requisite to using The Closer is to use The Opener. In fact, you”ll probably want to "Pre-Close" a person before you use The Closer.
If used correctly, The Closer can help your dues collection rates increase. The closer can help with retention. The Closer can reduce the behavioral problems in your organization. The Closer can improve your future recruitment results. The Closer can help a group align closer to its stated values. The Closer can improve relations with other organizations and university administration. The Closer can help fix a lot of things… if it is used correctly.
Here’’s how to execute The Closer. Step 1: Approach a friend that you want to be a member and that you”ve already Pre-Closed . Step 2: Get that friend somewhere that you can have a serious conversation. Step 3: Provide a written and signable version of the Script Below to reinforce the conversation. Step 4: Use your own version of the script below to have a serious conversation. Step 5: Shake hands on your mutual commitment to each other and the organization.
Sample Script for The Closer Shake (Edit to fit your organization):
Josh, we”d like to offer you a formal invitation for membership in Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity. This is a big deal, and I want to treat it as such. Let me be clear, if you join you”ll receive a lifetime of commitment from me, our chapter, and our entire nationwide brotherhood. You”ll be a part of a huge network of successful people. You”ll have become a part of something much bigger than yourself, and that something’’s purpose is to better the world around us through service, leadership, and scholarship.
I don”t want to you to misunderstand though… in order for me to shake your hand right now and offer this invitation of membership to you, we”ll need a commitment. If you choose to join, you”ll be making a commitment to work your hardest everyday in the pursuit of honesty, charity, and brotherhood. You”ll be committing to exemplify to the best of your ability the spirit of trustworthiness, charity, purity, honor and patriotism. There’’s more too. You”ll need to pay your dues on time every semester. You”ll need to commit to a lifetime of supporting our organization in whatever way you can. You”ll need to commit to showing up to our meetings every week on-time. You”ll need to commit to holding an office in the chapter. You”ll need to commit to behaving like a gentlemen at all times.
You”ll also need to commit to holding your brothers accountable to that level of values congruence and performance. Speaking of brothers, there is one more commitment you”ll need to make. In our organization we call it ”creating and perpetuating brotherhood” — in layman’’s terms, that means you”re committing to share this opportunity with more people by recruiting more men as good as or better than yourself.
You should also know one more important thing. If you don”t do any of these things at any time, I can personally see to it that you are kicked out of our chapter. Do you understand the level of commitment we”re looking for?
Josh, if you”re ready to make that commitment, so are we. Can we shake hands, like men, to solidify this mutual agreement?
If you can execute both of those handshakes consistently, you”ll be doing year-round values-based recruitment. Sure there are some other pieces of the recruitment puzzle you can fill in, but it can all be simplified down to your ability to consistently do those two handshakes.
The more OPENER’’s you do, the better your chances of doing more CLOSER’’s on the highest quality people.
Recruitment. It starts with a handshake. It ends with a handshake.