I love to talk!  I can talk to anyone at any time about pretty much anything.  It’s easy and fun and yeah well…I love to talk.  I also am a good active listener.  I know when to close my mouth and “hear” what the other person is saying.  I am able to answer a question and then ask another question that continues the conversation flowing.  I think it’s a gift…a talent even.  For some however, the art of conversation and listening can be painful and at time awkward.

I was thinking last night while finishing up the 3 recommendations on my desk, about how important being able to have good conversations during recruitment is.  I know, I know I have harped and harped on making sure your resume is fabulous and how important recommendations are but (I am going to throw you a curve ball here) when it come down to it the conversations you have and the connections you make are what’s going to seal the deal on that “BID”.

I have looked at well over 100 (I haven’t kept count but I know it’s over 100…maybe closer to 150) resumes this recruitment season (so far….more still coming in).  I have advised girls about how to make a killer resume.  We have chatted about GPA’s, activities and volunteer hours.  I have to tell you that 95% of the resumes I have looked at are all high stat, heavily involved (many varsity athletes..some in more than one sport), philanthropy orientated girls.  You could put them all in a pile and score them and many would come out equal.  Yes…..they all look really great on paper and it is naive to think that you will receive a bid just because the “paper you” is perfect (or close to).

Those recommendations and resumes will get your foot in the door.  They will definitely get you in the running for a bid but they won’t seal the deal.  Once you actually step in the door of the sorority house it’s the conversation that takes stage,front and center.

I now you all are now either foaming at the mouth….panicking, or saying to yourself, “hey I know how to talk to people…I’m fine”.  Yes, I am sure you do but recruitment conversations seem to take on a life of their own.  so I thought I would share just a few conversation strategies to think about (and PRACTICE!).

Suggestion number one… be informed.  Surf the internet looking for lists of potential questions that are asked during recruitment. I posted earlier about this back on February 12, 2012.  The post,  “Excuse me…I have a question?” discussed some potential questions you might get asked.  In addition Greek Chat has several thread on sorority questions….so read up…be prepared.

Suggestion number two ……NO ONE WORD ANSWERS!!!!  It’s a dead end to a conversation, creates awkward silence and I guarantee it will be the longest party of your life and you will not be visiting that house again!

Suggestion number three…..answer a question so it will lead to another question.  How??? What??? you ask.  here’s an example. So the girl you are talking to you asks the question “How do you like your dorm?”  You reply …”I really like it.  I  have had so much fun starting to get to know my roommate and decorating our room.  It’s fun to have another girl to share all of this with since I am the only girl in a family of 3 brothers.

Ok…so now you have left the door open for the sorority girl to ask multiple questions like: “Where’s your roommate from?  How did you decorate your room?  How did you meet your roommate?”….you get where I going :).

Suggestion number four….YOU ask lots of questions :).  Not ones that lead to  one word answers but rather ones that again, lead to more questions. For example:  you ask the question..”How does your Big Sister program work?”.  After you “listen” to the answer then twist the next question back to you …like this :  “Wow..that sounds like so much fun.  I’ve always had this group of older friends that were like mentors in a way.  I bet that’s kind of what like having a Big sis is like.”  the conversation can then move to how the girl got her Big sis, how did the bond.  In this case one question has now lead to 5 great minutes of conversation!

Suggestion number five….don’t be afraid to have fun and sometimes even silly conversations.  Some of the best conversations I have had are about some pretty silly topics.  My youngest daughter told the story during recruitment about when we were in London on spring break one year and while taking out the trash she was almost arrested (She didn’t sit the bag in the correct place and an undercover police officer snapped a picture of her and then tried to tell he was now taking her to jail for this!) It wasn’t funny at the time but now when we look back on it, it was pretty comical!  There was a foot race and her dad had to intervene.  This conversation then led to her talking about the rest of the trip (she got to go to the red carpet premiere of “The Bounty Hunter”, got her pic taken accidentally with Jennifer Aniston and ended up in People Magazine)..see how that works :).  One little quirky story can lead to all kinds of great conversation.

Suggestion number six….as you are having these conversations be openly thinking, “This is how it would be if I was a member of this sorority.  This is what hanging out would be like on a day to day basis.  Am I forcing the conversation of does it flow smoothly and comfortably. Can I really “talk” to these girls?  Is there a connection?? If the conversation seems to flow effortlessly, you are comfortable and seem to form connections with the girls you talk to then chances are this would be someplace you could call home.  However, if conversation seems forced and difficult, there is no connection or common ground..as much as You want this to work it might not be the home for you.  I always tell girls to not dismiss a house because of one bad conversation but if you see a pattern then it might be time to move on.

So…your great grades, high stats and killer resume will get you in the door…..and then the real you has to shine.  The first round of parties will contain the “pool” of PNM’s that have all the same “paper” qualifications as you do.  the emphasis now shifts to how well you can “fit in” with the girls and one way that is determined is by the conversations you have and the bonds that you make.  Chapters love high stats girls, don’t get me wrong but when it come right down to it they will take a girl who is fun , easy to talk to and outgoing with a slightly lower GPA over a high stats boring girl every time.

Since I know you all have your recommendations all finished and sent in the ART of conversation can be your task.  Practice getting out there..meeting new people, it will benefit you  in the long run.

I will leave you this quote to think about..

“A conversation goes sometimes into personal things and that’s nicer. You look to each other and you have a different picture, you get into a relationship.”

Maximilian Schell