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Aug 14, 2014

5 Things I Learned from Rush That I Use in Real Life

I was recently reminded of sorority recruitment when a friend (or should I say sista) shared the Buzzfeed post 23 Awkward Situations That Happen Every Year During Sorority Recruitment.

At first I was nostalgic for the times of matching T's and catchy rush songs, but then I remembered how exhausting the process was. I started to think about everything that rush entailed and realized it taught me skills that I use at my job everyday. In case you never went through all of this, in honor of rush season, here are five things I learned in recruitment that I still use every day.

1. How to hold a conversation... with anyone
I know it sounds like something out of House Bunny, but in rush practice once we were actually told to sit facing a wall and converse with it for five minutes. If you've never tried this, I challenge you to put five minutes on your cell phone timer and give it a try. The first minute or so is rough, then you realize it's really not that hard. As drastic as it seems, this exercise (and using it in practice) gave me the confidence to hold a conversation with anyone. In both sorority recruitment and now in my professional career, I've talked to people who I know have no interest in talking with me. I can make it through these challenging "conversations"  with confidence and come out as the better person.

2. One interesting conversation outweighs many generic ones
During rush it was easy to have the same conversation over and over again. Where are you from? What is your major? Which dorm are you in? It's impossible to walk away remembering people if there was nothing differentiating them. Sorority recruitment taught me that the best conversations are started when you can find something interesting that you have in common and then genuinely listen to the person talk about it. I love this quote from the book How to Win Friends & Influence People (a good read for aspiring managers, anyone in in sales, or really just anyone):

You can make more friends in two months being interested in other people than you can in two years trying to get other people interested in you.

People love to talk about themselves, their work, and their adventures. You just have to hit the right topic. Before a meeting or a call with someone new I try to do a little research on LinkedIn or on their website (nothing creepy, if they put it out there they want people to see it). If I can find common ground such as being from the same area or going to the same college, I always find that the rest of the conversation goes better.

3. Handshakes can be awkward and gross, but are very important
One year during rush the swine flu was going around and we weren't allowed to shake anyone's hand as they walked through the door. Talk about an awkward greeting. It's true though, shaking hands is like doubling the germs on your own hands, but without a shake you can leave someone hanging.  Master a solid handshake, SMILE WITH YOUR EYES, avoid anything that looks like the shakes in the hilarious video below...then go wash your hands.

4. Be yourself, but the best version of yourself
There is a lot about rush that demands conformity. You wear the same shirt, sing the same songs, and go through the same motions as 100+ other girls. It may be creepy to the outside, but the whole point of the uniformity is to make sure that you look polished and together. Lesson, wake up and put your best foot forward because first impressions do matter. Also, just because you have to do something a certain way doesn't mean you can't be yourself. In work, in love, and in life it's important to be authentic. The best friendships, relationships, and work partnerships are based on authenticity. Follow the rules of the road, but don't forget to be you!

5. Some processes really suck, but are worth the work
Recruitment was the most draining time of the year in college. Sometimes you are up until 1am working on member selection, plus you have new classwork that you're trying to not fall behind on, all while making it to football pregames and looking fresh during rush. Really it's a time that is representative of balancing things like your career, friendships, and relationships in the real world. With light at the end of the tunnel, it's worth pushing through the stressful times when the outcome brings you so much satisfaction.
It brought me these girls, and for that I am thankful.

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