September 16th…the 2012 recruitment season isn’t over and yet for many high school seniors it is prep time for recruitment 2013.  More importantly for 2013 PNMS, it’s time to start making important connections with alums.  In turn, those alums will begin to make contacts with their respective chapters on the campuses where the PNMs will attend and through this process the PNMs will surface onto the different sorority’s radar.     These young women will be placed on the coveted mailing lists, receiving cards, personal notes, and the coveted invitations to pre-recruitment events in the fall.  I know…it’s crazy that this process is starting already but the truth is that now is exactly when a PNM needs to begin this journey.

I am not advocating PNMs to have alums contact sororities now.  Most sororities who had formal recruitment in August are still in the process of getting their pledges initiated. This process will be completed by the end of November in most cases.  In November most sororities will also perform a needs assessment, identifying areas of strength and weakness in their chapter.  Through this process they will also begin to identify those characteristics that they deem important in their 2013 pledge class.  This is where a personal note from an alum comes in very handy and in many cases can be a big advantage for a PNM.

So how does a PNM go about getting these notes?  Simply they need to reach out to women who have sorority chapters on the campus the PNM will be attending in 2013.  Unlike recommendations these personal, often handwritten notes, emails or in some cases phone calls have to come from an alum who personally knows the PNM or her family.  No amount of googling alum chapters can help here.  I would suggest that you reach out to your local panhellenic association if you have one close to where you live. In some cases they will have members who are willing to reach out their respective chapters for a PNM that they find to be particularly dynamic.

So what should these notes say?  When should they be sent?  Lots of questions and I have a few answers.

As mentioned above November is an important month for sororities.  Many will slate officers for elections to be held in December and January.  Many sororities will also ask their members for names and addresses of 2013 PNMs.  These names will be put on a mailing/invite list that ultimately will generate invitations to pre-recruitment events in the spring.  So ladies now is not too early to start feeling out any connections.  Check and see if there are any girls who might have attended the same high school as your daughter.  It is fine for your daughter to reach out to those girls via facebook.

However it’s influential alums that wield a lot of power.  When you have identified women who have sorority affiliations then ask if they would mind writing a personal letter of introduction for your daughter.  As mentioned before in many cases these letters are hand written.  They should be sent to the sorority in care of the recruitment chair from the 2012 recruitment season.  If this letter is sent in 2013 you can check the panhellenic website to see if it has been updated after elections but the truth is that if it’s sent to the sorority it will eventually find its way into the right hands.

This letter doesn’t need to be long but it should focus on those skills and attributes that the PNM has that correlate with the sorority’s character values.  I am an Alpha Phi.  If you go to my sorority’s website and look for “potential new member values”, you will be led to this particular page :  The text from this page discusses the values and attributes that APhi’s looking for in PNMs.  As an alum, I would then use the text to help me write a glowing introduction for the PNM whom I am introducing.  I would request that she be invited to any pre-recruitment events and be included in any mailings. I would talk about how she exhibits  the qualities of Sisterhood, Scholarship, Service, Leadership, Loyalty, and Character Development.  

You can see how beneficial these letters can be. I would include a picture of the PNM.  You don’t have to include 2 pictures like you will need for a rec packet but 1 good picture is recommended.  Note about the pic…remember that the sororities use these pics as a tool to recognize the PNM.  It’s my suggestion that PNMs not really go through any really drastic hair changes between the time that a sorority gets a visual of them and when they participate in formal recruitment.

If you want you can ask the alum to include a copy of your resume but that  is not really necessary and really not the purpose of these notes and letters.  I always tell the alums and PNMs that it is up to them if they want to include a resume.  Make sure that the alum includes all of the PNMs contact information in her letter, so that the sorority can reach out to them via mail, email and perhaps even a phone call.

LADIES…once you are on a sorority’s radar the very first thing they will do is check your social media.  Facebook, twitter and any other type of virtual media need to be SPOTLESS!!!!  No exceptions!  If you are worried that friends and acquaintances might post comments and or tag you in picture that will give a negative message then make your pages private.  Sororities will friend request…remember if you accept then anything that gets posted they will be able to see. media…keep it “grandma” squeaky clean!

I would also caution PNMs to remember your manners. Make sure you send  “thank you” notes to the alums who write these letters for you.  Also, when you are invited to these events it’s important that your RSVP and actually, you really need to attend if at all possible.

One last item….sometimes large competitive recruitment schools will travel panhellenic reps and sorority reps to large cities around the area to do a mini workshop on sorority recruitment.  Alabama does this as well as several other schools.  I will try to post these here when they start happening in the Spring.  If you live close to one of these GO!!!  They are very beneficial!

So …..don’t panic but as I keep harping now IS the time to get started.  Preparation is everything.  Have fun!!!