As a senior in high school I knew exactly where I wanted to go to college! Ironically my school of choice was well over my price range and had a weak program for my major. BUT when I went for a college weekend my student hostess was friendly, engaging and a week later I even received an invitation to her wedding!
Recruiting strategies have taken a turn for the techy these days. Colleges use eye catching strategies with Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest and online ads to boost their visibility. These strategies can be extremely effective! But even with the technological advancements, we can’t underestimate the power of interpersonal skills. As relational creatures we have a strong need to connect with others, feel heard and have a sense of belonging. As you interact with potential students, here are five ways to increase your interpersonal effectiveness.
Everyone loves a good laugh! There has been some interesting research showing the positive effects of humor. Laughing creates physical responses that lead to a happy, relaxed feeling. Many potential students are wrought with anxiety. This anxiety can keep them from hearing the great benefits of your school and building a positive association with campus life. So help them lighten up with humor!
One thing that is sure to turn off your potential students is if you are trying to sell them on things they don’t want or need. Be a good listener. You can test your listening skills with this trick. Within a 2-5 minute conversation you should be able to pick up on someone’s core values. Use this information to think about what information would be important to them.
Another technique that shows you are listening is to rephrase and repeat back what you have just heard. This helps the student know that you are following them and care about what they are saying.
While at Starbucks recently, the barista behind the counter complained the entire time I was in the store. She complained about the pastries, management, her coworkers... I was so turned off by this experience that it was all I could do to not run out of the store! Make sure to keep your conversations positive! If you complain about campus frustrations your potential students will start seeing the negative aspects of your school and miss out on all of the positive aspects.
Be Mindful of Body Language
If you watch a pair of close friends having an intimate conversation, you can see that their body language generally mirrors each other. Mirroring is a natural response when we are comfortable with someone. Mirroring is also an extremely effective interpersonal skill! During a conversation, if you can imitate the body language of the person you are talking to, it will help them to feel comfortable and like you are on the same page.
Use Your Own Words
Templates are a great tool for expediting your work and organizing your thoughts. It is not a good tool for recruiting. People can tell when you are writing your own words and when you are copying and pasting. Whenever you can, use your own words for e-mails. Make your e-mails personal and lighthearted. Also, try to not get into the pattern of saying the same thing during phone conversations. You can tell when a telemarketer is reading a planned speech and your students can too!
Your core personality will probably not change much over the course of your life. But your interpersonal skills are like a muscle. The more you practice the better you get at being friendly and relatable. Fortunately, the skills that you refine through recruiting will benefit you in every aspect of your life. So don’t get lazy! I hope these tips were helpful reminders so as not to forget about good ol’ fashion recruiting techniques.