College students live busy lives, and one of the most common problems OCF leaders face is how best to communicate with their chapter. Clear, consistent communication can be the difference between a struggling chapter and a thriving community that makes a lasting impact on their university.
When I was a student at MTSU, our chapter grew from 2-5 students at a given meeting to 20-30 students at every meeting, and that growth was over a period of just two years. A major reason we had such quick growth was that we committed to consistency & diversity in our meetings, but during our strongest year we also had a clear communication strategy.
Having more students at your meetings would allow you to have a long-lasting influence on your campus community. To reach that level of influence, communicate better with your OCF members by following these three steps:
1. Create a contact list
It’s crucial to have a spreadsheet where you keep updated information on every student that is part of your chapter—even the students who rarely attend meetings. A good way to do this is to set up a simple form where students enter their name, year in school, email address, & phone number. You might also consider asking their major or where they are from! To use the same contact form we did at MTSU, click here to copy the free template.
Pro Tip: Now (during the Summer) is a great time to start collecting contact information from students you know on campus.
2. Create a Facebook group
You may have a couple students in your chapter who aren’t on Facebook, but chances are most of your chapter members are. A Facebook group is a great way to give any student in your chapter the ability to start a conversation online, and it’s pretty simple to publicize events on Facebook, too. Setting up a Facebook group is pretty straight-forward, but look over our Getting Your Chapter on Facebook guide to make sure you get your name out there.
3. Set up a communication schedule
Whether it’s just you or a team of volunteers contacting students in your OCF chapter, you need an intentional communication schedule so that you know when to contact each student. Consistency also benefits the students in your chapter, because they have regular meeting reminders to rely on. In order to make sure every student has the chance to join your meetings, commit to 3 types of contacts.
- Email your chapter. A quick email five or six days before your next meeting will let your chapter members know what’s coming up next, and gives them plenty of time to plan ahead. Try not to send more than one email a week on average, because it makes each email come across as a little more important.
- Create a Facebook event. Make sure the event is created through your group, so group members are automatically invited. If you do this a couple days after you send the email, the event invitation serves as a friendly reminder to your chapter members about your next meeting. Plus, you’re likely to reach many students who may not yet be on your email list.
- Send a text reminder. If you do this about six hours before your meeting starts, it serves as a great personal reminder and encourages last-minute planners to attend. You can even use an app called GroupMe to easily connect all your chapter members using just their cell number.
If you’re not already using email, social media, and text messages to engage the students in your chapter, commit to a strategy that you think you can maintain, and see what effect it has on your attendance.