Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Event based recruitment - Generating leads

I visited an event this weekend, it was a two day local show/festival but I was unfortunately not available to attend the Saturday only the Sunday.  On the first day there was around 6 volunteers on the "recruitment stand" and and another 10-15 volunteers scattered across 4 other stands selling everything from ice-cream to books and candy to sideshows and penny arcade games to raise funds for their local groups.  

On the Sunday the volunteers managed to get only one person to put their name to paper to receive a call/email etc. about volunteering with scouting.   On the Sunday, alone I got 24 people to do the same thing (and 13 youth, though that wasn't what I was "fishing" for).   

I was asked at the end of the day, HOW?   How did I get TWENTY FOUR to their ONE?   The day's were similar, the weather lightly worse in fact. But at the time I couldn't exactly put into words any guidance for the volunteer in charge. Since then I have thought about it and below is a first attempt to jot down some guiding notes.
  • a)      Representing scouting – be neatly dressed.   Full uniform can be a little intimidating, try the new iScout colourful T-Shirts or polo’s – scouting is fun, we should look like a fun organisation.
  • b)      Be brave, be confident -  do not be afraid to approach people.  Just think, do you have fun in Scouting?  Has it made a difference or impact on your life?  Then just think of that when you go to speak to anyone else and remember that your offering a chance for scouting to do the same for them, their child or their family.
  • c)       Open and friendly - Smile, make eye contact, stand straight, step forward with confidence  to engage passers-by.
  • d)      Don’t apologise – many people start a conversation – sorry to bother you – but …  Be proud of scouting, we have a great offering and you should know many people love scouts even if they don’t know it yet (wink).
  • e)      Ask questions to build rapport -  Hi, have you ever been a scout?  OR    Hi, is your daughter/son in scouts?   
  • f)       DO NOT attempt to explain - roles, locations, hours, commitment, training, meeting times etc. etc. unless specifically asked, even then keep it short and to the point.   Many times I see volunteers convincing leads NOT to sign up.   We need to give the DC or specifically trained development staffers or volunteer development champion the maximum opportunity to get this lead to engage in scouting as a volunteer.  To do this we need to have that lead attend either a 1-2-1 meeting or presentation about adult volunteering where all their questions will be answered OR better still to attend a local group and meet the group where they could potentially find friends and see scouting in action.  
  • g)      Are they showing interest? Try - Putting pen to paper techniques -  I usually ask “Have you ever done any volunteering?”  always asking straight after if they would consider volunteering for scouts?  This seems obvious but many volunteers simply don’t ask properly and seems to want leads to ask them “can I  volunteer?”.   Mostly the line I use is something to the effect “Can I send you some info about volunteering roles that you might find interesting?  Maybe invite you to visit a group and see the kind of fun we have?”  No?  - No problem, thanks for speaking to me, enjoy the rest of your day.   Yes?  Great, if I can just get your postcode and email address then I will send you something.
  • h)      More info. – Asking for just a postcode and email is a very easy and low commitment way for us to get what we need (some info. on them).   I have a small form designed to assist at events in guiding some questions to generate even more information from the lead at this point including: what is their interest in volunteering? Working with youth or more of an administrative, support or management role?  How often etc. (email me and I can send you the form).
  • i)        Even more info – Most people, once they are handed a form with the usual, name, address, postcode, email etc. will fill out the bulk of the form automatically.  If they don’t want to give you some information, don’t pressure them, a nice request like “ it would be great if you put your name down, so I know who I was speaking to and then I can also address it to you on the email.  Or Is this email the best or can I have your phone number as well just in case I can’t get you?
  • j)        Is it readable?  -  I have lots LOADS of leads just because of poor handwriting.  I would suggest that you read their email address, name and phone number back to them so you both know its right.  I am working on an small iPad application that will capture lead info into an online database (with an automatic email thanking them for their enquiry) to prevent many of these simple mistakes.
  • k)      Setting an expectation – I usually finish with setting an expectation for the lead.  Something like “ So, thanks for that, I will be sending you an email, as you requested, with some information of scouting in the area, and one of our volunteers will give you a call, probably this week to invite you to something fun and they can answer any questions you might have, is that OK?“  99.9% of people say YES.   I always finish with “ So lastly as I mentioned Scouting is a volunteer lead program so the person who calls you will be volunteering their time so if maybe they don’t get a chance to ring you later this week it should be early next week OK?  You know, sometimes life, family, work and stuff just gets in the way of the fun stuff.  But you will have my email, with my contact details if you need to speak to someone quickly”. 
  • l)        THANKS leaving them happy –   We need to appreciate the lead and set them up with a warm fuzzy feeling before they walk away.  I usually say something along the lines of - “thanks for offering to find out more about scouting, obviously I love the program and I hope that it will be fun for you to, thanks again, and enjoy the rest of your day”  

Any and all of these sample scripts can work for you but to get the best effect you have to either practise them a lot until they are natural or adapt them a little to your own personal style.  Being comfortable, natural and having an easy conversation is crucial to success.  If the interaction sounds too scripted then you will come across as a salesman and that of course has negative connotations we don't want associated wit the scouting movement. 

This is a small but important part of making a successful recruitment event possible.   Preplanning, training, marketing, stand design, activity/attractions design, buyer motivators, site location and many more things contribute to a recruitment events success.   Feel free to email me if you want more info.  I hope you next event if a big success. 

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