Attracting and Retaining Membership

Is your section stuck in a membership rut? It’s the same handful of people that come meeting after meeting? Want to bring some new faces into your section? Recruitment is an on-going process; it doesn’t just last for Weeks 1-3 of the fall semester.

Successful recruitment is a five-step process. It includes:
1. Meet her
2. Make her your friend
3. Introduce her to your SWE friends
4. Ask her to join
5. Keep asking her to come back

Use the following tips to help attract and retain SWE members.

Attracting New Members

  • Designate a recruiting officer!
    Here’s a story about recruiting.

    There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.
    Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.
    Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody’s job.
    Everybody thought that Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.
    It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

    Don’t let this happen to your section! If recruiting becomes somebody’s job, then you can hold someone accountable.
  • Ask new members to help you recruit. They probably have friends in their classes that would be a perfect fit. And the new members would already have someone they knew!
  • Get referrals from professors or other professional societies. NSBE, SPHE, or AISES probably have excellent female members that would also make excellent members of SWE!
  • Recruit in related academic disciplines, such as Computer Science, Biotechnology, or Aviation. People from any major can be a member of SWE!
  • Be seen on campus together, wearing your SWE shirts. Have a designated SWE Shirt Day.
  • Identify your perfect recruit. Do you need more civil engineers? More outgoing people? More freshmen? Write down all the people you know who meet those requirements, and go recruit them!

Keeping New Members

  • Use nametags. I know it’s tacky, and everyone hates them, but how else will you learn 50 new people’s names?
  • Get their contact information. If you only know them as “that red-headed girl,” you’ll never be able to get a hold of her again.
  • Ask the new members why they came to the meeting, and then try to cater to their tastes for future events.
  • Follow up on people who only came to one meeting. Find out why the stopped attending, and make an effort to invite them personally to events.
  • Take a new member out to lunch. Most people hate dorm food, and they’d be thrilled to be thought of! Plus, you can talk about SWE while you eat.

Keeping Old Members

  • Identify the members of your section that are leaders in other organizations. Ask if they know students that would be great for SWE. They’ll be more likely to come to meetings if they have a new member relying on them to be there!
  • Offer a prize for the best recruiter. Make a big deal about it and give it out at the end of the year.
  • Actually, offer a prize for everyone that was active. Make it SWE apparel, so they can publicize SWE for you!
  • Give them a job, no matter how small. If they know the society is counting on them for something, they’ll be more committed.
  • Ask members that aren’t officers what socials or activities they’d like to see SWE do. If you follow their suggestion, they’ll attend!
  • Don’t do the same things year after year, just because you’ve always done it. Even the most dedicated SWE member will get sick of hearing that “How To Get Your First Internship” schpiel for the fourth year in a row, and stop attending.

SWE’s Collegiate Leadership Coaching Committee (CLCC) has a module called Building Membership. If your section needs help, contact the CLCC and they will come visit your section.


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