Does this sound like your section…huge turnout in the beginning of the year and then half remaining in the end? Need more members? If these sentences describe your university’s SWE section, then this month’s HOT TOPIC will be of great interest: Attracting and Retaining Members.
1. First Meeting of the year needs to stand out from other freshmen meetings, you want to WOW them. Maybe some interesting food other than pizza is a start, like chinese food or Jimmy Johns. Break the ice with some ice breakers like the “Would you rather?” game or “The Name Game” where you go around in a circle and each person has to say their name along with an adjective that starts with the same letter…example “Ludicrous Lindsey”. More icebreaking tips HERE. To have them coming back for more, maybe present a powerpoint explaining what is SWE and member benefits like scholarships and networking. Give personal testimonies about what SWE has done for you: both in engineering and socially. They want to relate to you, they want to find somewhere that understands how hard it is to be in engineering and to have somewhat of a life.
2. Second Meeting should be more of a planning retreat that so the new members feel involved and important. Do another ice breaker, get food, and then get down to business. Set up committees. For some of the less important or time consuming ones, place freshmen in charge: this position will make them feel important and wanting to come back.
3. Make a personal connection with the new members. Set up a mentoring program pairing older 3rd, 4th, and 5th years with 1st and 2nd. Stay in contact throughout the year, this connection will ensure that they will come back for meetings and events. Along the lines of mentoring, try and make “bigs” and “littles” like sororities do. Or maybe even try group mentoring, like Carnegie Mellon does with their section, so that younger members can choose their “big” without being placed with someone who doesn’t want to mentor.
4. Getting members to pay is a common problem. If possible, try offering to pay for all or most of their membership. Emphasize the “C2C” Collegiate to Career membership where younger members will pay $50 for the rest of their undergrad and all of grad school if they go and first year of professional.
5. Lastly, STAY POSITIVE!!! Your awesome attitudes will be contagious and will make their days better…they’ll come back for more!
Good Luck this year ladies (and guys), hope that you recruit well!!!
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