The Third E - Engagement
Welcome to 2020! We can make this the year of meaningful engagement.
If I'm honest with you, and I am always honest with you, the word "engagement" is thrown around frequently and actually achieved very infrequently.
Engaged communities and communication are such noble goals. Engagement is an active and involved process that pulls people into it. When we truly engage with our clients, our communities or our customers, we create meaningful connections. Those connections, when done well, are authentic and human. They leave everyone involved with a feeling of accomplishment and an excitement about what can come next. To truly engage, we need to allow the process of engagement to be flexible. We cannot show up at a place and time and demand that people tell us their thoughts or Immediately offer their questions. We certainly can't go in with a preconceived idea of what they already know. In fact, we can't necessarily set the parameters of the engagement process ourselves.
One of the biggest errors that we make in the early stages of engagement is to go in with no knowledge of the people with whom we are trying to connect. What are their barriers to participation and how can we lower them? Do they work a third-shift? Then we need to be willing to meet in hours that suit them. Do they have child or elder care concerns? Then we need to examine ways to assist in providing care. Do they have effective transportation to the location we are considering? If not, we need to change the location to one that works for more people. And the most important question of all - do they believe that this will be a worthwhile use of their time?
It is possible that people will overcome other challenges to attend an event that they feel is valuable. If we are recreating an experience they could have elsewhere, we aren't adding value. In other words, if they aren't coming to your current meetings because they don't think it's worth their time, hosting a similar meeting in a different place or at a different time may get them in the door, but won't get engagement. As the ones seeking engagement, we must be the most flexible part of the process.
Because true engagement is cooperative, we have to allow all of the people involved to determine how to best make it work. We can enter engagement processes with goals, but we must allow them to change as a part of the experience. When we place our frameworks over engagement, we can end up creating more of a problem than when we began.
So how do we engage effectively? By leading with our humanity, by having clear, but flexible, expectations, and by meeting our communities where they are.
I can help you connect with your communities, customers and constituents in more effective and engaging ways. Through Rebel Tree and my experience, I can create an engagement plan with you that won't just get people in the door, but will get them back and make everyone feel that time and energy was well spent. Get in touch.