Author Archives: Josh Green

Creating a Brand Name for Your Chapter

All too often, chapters are hungry to recruit new men but lack a clear brand for their chapter. Before you can sell yourself to others, you must first define who you are and what you offer. This article from careerbuilder.com discusses AOL hiring employees from other top companies, which can easily relate to Sigma Nu chapters.

Know Who You Aren’t: A Lesson In Employment Branding Done Right

Can you remember the last time you heard the phrase “You’ve got mail”? Feels like a while, huh?

Well, prepare for a blast from the past, because the company that used to be America Online is suddenly a hot commodity again…or at least it is among job seekers…

In the past year, AOL has successfully recruited employees from high-profile companies like Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, The New York Times and Time Warner, prompting AdAge’s Michael Learmonth to ask, “Why does everyone want to work at AOL all of a sudden?” in a recent article for the online magazine.

You can’t blame the guy for asking: Nothing against AOL, but it’s been roughly a decade since the company’s heyday as the “goliath of Internet service providers.”  So how is it suddenly an employer of choice among what is surely a highly sought-after talent demographic?  Well, it’s simple, really: Basically, AOL is a lesson in employment branding done right.

By understanding the specific talent demographic its brand appeals to, AOL gets one of the most crucial elements of employment branding right: It knows what it stands for – as well as what it doesn’t stand for – as an employer.

“Employment branding is about knowing who you are as an employer, but just as importantly, it’s about knowing who you aren’t,” says employment branding expert Mary Delaney, President of CareerBuilder’s human capital consulting company, Personified.

In AOL’s case, the company knows it’s no Google…nor is it trying to be.  Sure, Google enjoys a reputation as a top company to work for, but that doesn’t mean that it’s the right fit for every single worker ever.  Understanding this, AOL seems to be using its smaller position in the industry as its employee value proposition: By marketing itself as a place where employees will be challenged to expand their knowledge and help rebuild what was once an industry giant, AOL is appealing to a candidate base that is hungry for career, professional development and training opportunities, factors that a recent employment branding study found to be among the top reasons employees chose their employers.

Similarly, if you look at the list of the 50 Best Small and Medium Companies to Work For in America, you’ll notice how these employers sell their brands as ones that can meet employees’ intangible needs – such as motivation, empowerment, trust and recognition.

The takeaway here? All too often, companies try to sell themselves as something they are not – effectively making promises they can’t fulfill – when, in fact, they should be embracing what differentiates them from other companies and focusing on what they do offer.

As AOL demonstrates, companies need to look at what is unique about their culture – and what demographic is attracted to that – rather than waste their time trying to appeal to a group of candidates that would fit better elsewhere.

The two bolded sections are what caught my eye the most and cover two different topics. The first is marketing and thinking about how you can effectively market your chapter. Each chapter is different and therefore must market themselves to specifically fit who they are. While you want to get your name out to as many people as possible, you want to make sure that you campaign mirrors who you are as a chapter.

The second bolded section discusses actually selling the right brand. If you host basketball and volleyball recruitment events, but never do them at any other point throughout the semester, then you aren’t selling who you are. You also have to be able to back up what you discuss when talking to potential new members. If you talk about how the LEAD Program is a full four-year ethical leadership development program, but don’t do anything past Phase I, then you have sold someone on something you can’t follow through with. As the article states, you have to focus on what the chapter can offer.

It is also important to look at the article as a whole. When you want to recruit the best men on campus, you can’t simply wait for them to come to you. Chances are the best men on campus, who aren’t already in a fraternity, haven’t even thought about going through recruitment. You have to actually go out there to find and recruit them.

Redefining Stereotypes

Here on this most important day of football and advertising of the year, I am sitting and thinking about recruitment. Last week, I sat down with the head coach of a collegiate football team in an attempt to gain referrals of young men that would be interested in leading a new fraternity on campus into greatness.

I went into the meeting with low expectations because of the stereotype that I had built up in my head. Athletic coaches want to keep their players to themselves and their program, not wanting their time to be shared with a fraternity that will waste their time and energy. I let the stereotype cloud my objectivity and did not go in with an open mind.

As many have found across the country with Sigma Nu not fitting into the classic Greek fraternity stereotype, I too had my perceptions changed. As I was making my case for Sigma Nu and how it would better all of those who got involved, I was stopped in my tracks. “You don’t need to sell me on Sigma Nu.”

Here, I found a Division I head football coach wanting to help me build a great fraternity. Not a Sigma Nu himself, but a fan of the organization through several alumni friends. He asked himself how he could help me and even offered to speak with the quarterback of the team about the leadership opportunities within Sigma Nu. While I don’t know where this will lead, the meeting itself was an opportunity to grow and learn.

As an Expansion and Recruitment Consultant with Sigma Nu Fraternity, I find myself battling stereotypes on an almost daily basis; either when trying to recruit or trying to describe my job to others. This was a chance to see that I too sometimes allow stereotypes to cloud my judgment. I started thinking about how we look at potential new members and create stereotypes about them. Seeing the positive qualities in a prospective member but we stereotype something about him nonetheless. How often do we all fall into this way of thinking?

When you are recruiting men into your chapter, do you allow stereotypes to guide your decisions on potential new members? Will you vote no because someone is too young, too old, too smart, or not athletic? Maybe he comes from a long line of Kappa Alpha’s, but he himself wants to be a Sigma Nu.

How can we create the fraternity that breaks the stereotype? How can you, as a member, redefine the term fraternity man?