Proper Etiquette At Recruitment Fairs
If you are in an undergraduate environment, a college fair is usually a great opportunity to see a lot of students (and parents) in a short amount of time. If you are recruiting for graduate students the opposite is usually the case. I have attended hundreds of fairs over the years and have come to one conclusion: they are usually as successful as you make them.
In a time of information overload on the Internet many students will probably already have your information. You can’t do anything differently if no students show up (what usually happens with Graduate School fairs), but you can stack the odds in your favor. How do you do that? There are a couple of tips that have worked for me, and others, that really set you apart from the crowd.
- Don’t sit behind the table. Most fairs will allot the representative a table where you can show you wares. Unless there is no one at the event the representative should be in front of the table standing up waiting to greet students.
- Look each person passing by in the eye and say hi. You would be surprised how many representatives don’t do this. I’ve witnessed hundreds of representatives sitting behind the table waiting for someone to come up to their table. If you have a line waiting for your information, most schools will envy you. If you are not quite as fortunate (the rest of us), you need to be proactive.
- Ask potential students what programs they are looking for. The simple act of being helpful to a potential student goes a long way for them (and their parents.) Even if you don’t have the exact program the student is looking for you can probably point them in the right direction. If there is another school that offers a specific program that you do not, give the student your card and send them over to that school. That is great customer service and the student might just remember that down the road. If not you’ve helped a student.
- Put the Phone Down. Or the Ipad or the book or the whatever. I have pictures of representatives sitting behind their table reading their phone or a book. Remember why you are there (and remind your staff) that recruiting students is the primary function of the event. Engage, engage, engage.
I had an interaction many years ago with a representative from Indiana State University. She represented all of the graduate programs at ISU and was one of the best I have ever seen at interacting with students. She pulled every student into her table to see what their interests were for graduate school. She had something for almost everyone. If she didn’t she knew where to send them. If you aspire to give great customer service to students you will never be disappointed.
Since the physical recruiting aspect is many times the most expensive way to recruit (cost per lead) make that event worthwhile by being interactive.