July 28, 2017

The world we live in is fast paced and constantly moving. We are able to get just about anything by a push of a button or a swipe of the credit card. We hear over and over again about the implications of social media on our generation, but have you ever stopped to think about what it was like to communicate with our friends (or even strangers) before we had the world at our fingertips?

I’ve heard it over and over again, “I’m awkward… I don’t know how to talk to people” or “I’m nervous because I am not great at talking with strangers.” Undoubtedly, the topic of conversation is heavily focused on during each formal recruitment. We practice the chants and the cheers, we coordinate our outfits and work on our hair, and we practice every Getting to Know You question known to man.

  • Where are you from?
    What’s your major?
  • Why did you choose to go to (insert your university here)?
  • Ohhhh, that’s cool…
  • So, do you have siblings?
  • That’s cool, you watch TV together. What is your favorite TV show?


Then, before you know it, you find yourself down a rabbit hole of questions that don’t provide any idea of what the person is actually like, what their goals are and what they are passionate about. Then, in a flash, you’re walking her out of the chapter room or the house not knowing what to think because you didn’t take the time to really get to know her.

Now put yourself in her shoes. She loved your house, thought your philanthropy was great and knows your organization is involved on campus. On the checklist of the perfect sorority, you seem like the real deal, but she doesn’t join your sorority. Why?

People join people, not groups.

To her, the chapter looked and seemed great but when she had to choose, she chose the one where she made a connection. Because people join people.

Think about it, why did you join your sorority? My bet is you met someone who you really connected with — who helped you see yourself there and encouraged you to make a bigger difference on campus. Someone talked to you about real things and took the time to really get to know you.

It’s important to get to know the person you are talking to and it’s OK to scratch the surface before digging deeper. But in the end, it’s crucial to be vulnerable and have conversations about real topics. What gets her fired up? Don’t you want to know that about her? Make it fun, people love talking about themselves and the things they’re passionate about. Along with asking open-ended questions, you can ask questions that are going to make the conversation more memorable and will help her to differentiate between sororities when it comes time to make preferences. You have to make a personal and thoughtful connection with her. Being vulnerable with her helps for her to be more vulnerable with you.

Here are some “deeper” questions that lead to bigger conversations:

What are the top three goals you have for college?
(Don’t you want someone driven to join your chapter?)

Tell me about something you’re really proud of or passionate about?
(Can you imagine if we filled our chapter with a bunch of passionate people? We’d move mountains!)

What are you nervous about when it comes to college or joining Greek Life?
(Give her a chance to get real with you!)

When you are real with others, they will be real with you. Ultimately, the best advice I can give is to remember that you joined your organization because someone made a connection with you  that connection left a lasting impression on you that helped you decide which organization you wanted to be a part of!

About Maggie Shelton:
Maggie graduated from Western Kentucky University (Go Tops!) in May 2016. She is a member of Phi Mu Fraternity and served as treasurer and president for the Delta Tau chapter. In college, her passion was getting students involved in leadership initiatives on campus and her senior year she was named WKU Greek Woman of the Year. During the 2016-2017 school year, Maggie served as a national leadership consultant for Phi Mu Fraternity and traveled to over 45 universities across the country. She is currently attending Texas A&M University, where she is working towards her Master’s in Student Affairs and Higher Education and works in the Texas A&M Student Activities Office.