Advice for Clubs Day From a Waterlooian Student
January 18, 2013
The University of Waterloo's Clubs Day event is currently underway. For readers that don't go to UW, it's a two day event where the student clubs set up booths in our student life centre to promote their clubs and recruit new members. Having been involved with AAFW for close to 3 years now, and participating in the Clubs Day event every term that I'm actually on campus I thought I'd provide some general tips about promoting your atheist club at such an event.
1. Encourage several members of the club to come out and participate in promoting said club.
Each Clubs Day event lasts for 5 - 6 hours. No surprise, working a single booth for that long gets boring. When people ask you to describe your club, what it does, when you meet, conditions for membership (if you have any), you end up repeating yourself which becomes tiresome. Eventually, you'll switch on your auto-pilot voice and then enthusiasm you had at the start of the day will be gone. Involving multiple members can help alleviate the boredom. You'll have someone to converse with during the slow periods, they can also provide their own little presentation on what the club is all about allowing for a better sense of variety when it comes to what the club is all about.
2. Have at least one member that is good when it comes to making a "sales pitch."
What do I mean by this one? Have a member of the club that isn't apprehensive to shout out to people who are just passing by. Most of us tend to wait until someone is staring right at our display board, and even then we may wait for them to initiate the conversation before we start talking about the club. This is because getting the attention of strangers who are barely paying attention as they walk by is difficult to do. I know how I am when I'm on the other end of the exchange. I'm likely to ignore you (or possibly not hear you because I have my headphones in). Therefore, I'm expecting a similar attitude from the person if I'm the one trying to grab their attention. However, the sales pitch method does work, not all the time, but it does work. It will bring in people who otherwise wouldn't have given the club a second-look. If you don't have anyone in the club who possesses a natural sales pitch mentality, then work on developing your own. Practice. The first few rejections and odd looks are going to hurt there's no way around it. Just try not to take it too personally. Create a good one-liner that will catch someone's attention. Usually, "Hey, are you interested in atheism?" will do just fine. Don't hesitate to seek attention. In an event that's about promotion it's exactly what you want.
3. Patience. Be prepared for some frustrating conversations.
You are the atheist club. Expect controversy. I'm sure this is an obvious statement, but it never hurts to repeat it. You're going to have people come by and say some rather annoying things. Try to be polite. We all get frustrated and there may come a moment when you need to end the conversation because it's clearly going nowhere. Promoting your club means promoting its attitude as well so do what you can to stay positive.
4. Have fun.
During the peak hours of Clubs Day there's always a small hint of excitement in the air. More so during the Fall term when the new students arrive, eager to get involved in university life beyond studies. Make sure your club's ability to have fun is on display. It's a great recruiting technique.
AAF Waterloo group members at Reason Rally 2012 with Jessica Ahlquist, CFI's Volunteer High School Coordinator.
Note from CFI On Campus: Don't forget that all CFI On Campus affiliate groups have access to resources for tabling events like these! Email email@example.com to find out how.
About the Author: Chris BurkeChris Burke holds a Bachelors in Environmental Studies: Honours Environment and Business from the University of Waterloo. Next he will be working towards a Masters of Environmental Studies in Sustainability Management. He's an active member of the Atheists, Agnostics, and Freethinkers of Waterloo student group. In his spare time he enjoys reading and playing music.
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