Recruiting Harry Potter?
POSTED: 2007-11-26 :: LAST UPDATED: 2007-12-19, 14:53 ET

Jai Patel It wasn't the wave of a magic wand, but instead, a mixture of classroom learning, a lot of ambition and the real-time laboratory of his Sigma Nu chapter that propelled Jai Patel (George Washington) into the job of his dreams his first year out of college. Jai's role as New Business Development Manager for UCGMarketing, an experiential marketing and promotions agency, gave him the opportunity to promote J.K. Rowling's seventh and final book in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which was released this summer.

Jai says it's a position beyond what he could have ever imagined for his first job but that he was ready for the challenge because of the leadership experience he gained in Sigma Nu.

"As a new business development manager, I have to continuously make ‘new friends' aka clients. Pursuing new business is just like recruiting new members for the fraternity," he shares. "It's also similar to the process for gaining consumer loyalty to a particular brand."

So today, instead of figuring out how to market the fraternity to the next incoming class of students, Jai gets to think about things like how to get an 8-year-old to buy the whole set of Harry Potter books or build a teenage girl's loyalty to the Neutrogena brand. He explains the step-by-step process: "First, they have to be aware of the product; then, realize their need for it and finally, recognize it's the brand of choice," he explains.

The NIC Five-Step Model of Recruitment

  1. Meet him
  2. Make him a friend
  3. Introduce him to your friends/fraternity brothers
  4. Introduce him to Sigma Nu
  5. Ask him to join

"It's only after those steps that a consumer makes a decision to buy. The Five-Step Model of Fraternity Recruitment does the very same thing in helping prospective members connect with the brothers and learn enough about the organization to say, ‘Hey, I want to buy what you're selling,'" explains Jai.

As a result of landing the deal with Scholastic to promote the Harry Potter book, Jai was part of the team that developed the idea for the touring Harry Potter Knight Bus, based on the unique triple-decker bus depicted in the third book and movie in the series, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. The bus spent the early part of the summer traveling to 37 libraries across the country touting the release of the final book in the seven-part series.

At each stop, fans were invited to step into the Knight Bus and share their thoughts and feelings about the Harry Potter books on camera. Select video clips from the Knight Bus stops are available for viewing on www.scholastic.com/harrypotter. The Knight Bus also drew nationwide media attention from The TODAY Show in June.

Jai has landed other projects with Scholastic, including the first campaign they did for the Captain Underpants book series, in which the UCG Marketing team created a life-size purple porta-potty to promote the children's books. Other clients Jai has pursued with UCG Marketing include Fortune 500 companies like Johnson & Johnson, Nestle and NBC Universal.

This summer, just one year after graduation, Jai was so excited about how he's been able to apply his fraternity experience to his career that he wanted to pass on this lesson to his brothers. He wrote a letter to the chapter detailing how he "recruits" new business and correlating his efforts to the way they recruit new members.

"I want to help them relate their fraternity experience to the real world," he says. "I always want to do what I can to help improve the chapter. When I'm able to visit in person, I have conversations with individual brothers about their ideas and how they can step them up to be more successful. I don't reveal my ideas; after all, it's their fraternity. I just ask the right questions to get them thinking," he shares.

During his time in the chapter, Jai chaired several committees, including Recruitment, and he remembers sitting in his marketing classes and thinking constantly about how he could apply what he was learning to the chapter. "That's what always got me excited: marketing the fraternity, getting people to attend rush and showing them what the brotherhood is all about," he explains. He also chaired the Alumni Relations and Fundraising committees.

He landed his job, no doubt, as a result of his persistence and inspiration to pursue the CEO much like he would the types of clients he knew he'd have to go after in the position. It all started while he was still in college with cold-calls to the CEO. After three months, when he mentioned winning first place for GW as part of a district advertising competition in New York City, he earned the chance to meet the CEO for coffee. And the rest is history. He may be the youngest person in the industry working as a new business development manager, all the more reason that he's excited about the challenge and opportunity the experience provides.

Jai's 20-year goal is to one day become a chief marketing officer for one of the top Fortune 500 brands. He knows it was his mentors in the fraternity, and the overall fraternity experience, that helped him get where he is today; and he's actively searching for a new mentor—a brother who has held the type of position he hopes to one day attain.

In the meantime, while his new career keeps him busy, Jai still makes time to be one of those alumni members who gives back and supports the undergraduates as much as he can so that they, too, can be successful. He visits the chapter, helps with alumni events and is working with another brother to establish an alumni chapter. No matter what happens with his career, Jai says he'll always find a way to give back to Sigma Nu.


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