Let’s address the elephant in the room: Clipboarding. Everyone knows what it is, nobody wants to do it. I’m here to tell you it’s not all that bad. Not only is it an effective way to recruit members and spread the message, clipboarding is also pretty darn enjoyable once you get the hang of it. There is a learning curve associated with clipboarding, but it only takes around an hour to train yourself into a clipboarding champion! I’m a big believer that clipboarding can be even more effective than tabling because it allows you to be mobile and thus speak to more people per hour. There’s also an added bonus of avoiding all of your school’s bureaucratic hoops associated with securing a picnic table. I’ve had my fair share of run-ins with the clipboard, and I’d like to share some tips to make your clipboarding experience as efficient and gratifying as possible:
1. Look good, feel good, play good: As comfy as those sweats are in your closet, students are more amenable to talking to strangers when they are dressed nicely. Make sure you look your best before walking out the door and you’ll boost your chances of success before the game even begins. It also will do wonders for your confidence, and nothing spreads liberty quicker than a confident message.
2. Target the Right People: The guy aimlessly walking around the student union soul-searching? Perfect kid to strike up a conversation with. The girl bundled up in the corner wearing her boyfriend’s hoodie and noise canceling headphones? Might want to pass on that one and just let her do her thing. It’s crucial to approach individuals who at least appear like they might wish to have a conversation. That will maximize your chances of spreading the message and growing your chapter. I’ve found tremendous success talking to people who are already waiting in line for coffee. Talking to someone who is passionate about liberty will be sure to spruce up their day and the line is the perfect amount of time to have a productive discussion. (I know this is starting to sound like I’m giving dating advice, just bear with me and I promise this will help.)
3. Embrace Rejection: Even if you look sharp and have the best sales pitch in the world, there are going to be a handful of students who will simply not be interested whatsoever. They won’t even give you the time away let alone talk about awesome political issues. It’s not your fault; you can’t please everyone. Take the rejection in stride and move on with your recruitment efforts. And remember, for every student that doesn’t’ care, there are five that at the very least will hear you out before they run to the hills. (But if you follow my tips the only place they will be running is to your meetings!)
4. Bring Souvenirs! While your cutting edge content will be certain to make the discussion memorable, a small parting gift never hurts! Load up a bag with palm cards, pocket constitutions, and whatever other liberty paraphernalia you can get your hands on. Even if the person you talked to decides later they aren’t interested, they might give their reading materials to someone else they know who might be. The more eyes on the literature, the better. Also, if you are having a follow-up meeting shortly after clipboarding, have some type of handout with the date, time and location. I usually throw stickers on the pocket constitutions so they can’t forget!
5. Use Your Ears: Most people will tell you to have at least some type of flexible script or plan for where you would like the conversation to go. While this can be effective in spurts, I find it to be a sub-optimal approach. Take advantage of this tendency found in all humans: people love to hear themselves talk and share their opinions. Ask questions, and let the student decide which path the conversation is going to take. Let them know with your ears that you value their political opinion and they will be even more open to hearing what you have to say about liberty. You don’t have to lecture them on the entire philosophy in the first conversation. The initial talk is all about demonstrating that their opinion is valuable and that your YAL chapter is the perfect forum to share their ideas. Even if they signal they may not align with libertarian principles, that is alright for now; just worry about being a good listener and ultimately getting them to a future meeting. Your meetings are where the true magic happens.
6. Seal the Deal: Once the conversation is wrapping up, it’s critical to end on a positive upbeat note. Closing is easier said than done, but it’s something you’ll get the hang of after some practice. I usually begin calling the student by name to let them know I care, express that I enjoyed conversing with them, and continue with a firm handshake along with friendly eye contact. The very last thing you should do is politely ask that they add their contact information to your clipboard so that you can follow up with them. You never want to begin a conversation with asking for a signup; it makes it seem like you are only interested in their email address rather than actually having a conversation.
Well, there we have it folks, my foolproof guide to killer clipboarding. I hope you found this guide helpful. I’d love to hear your own personal tips or clipboarding success stories. Now go out there and spread some liberty!Published in