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Engagement. Yeah, About That

What is your relationship to the word, ‘engagement’? Does it make you cringe? Does it inspire you to seek out a conversation? Engagement. Yeah, about that.

Here’s what I’ve discovered about engagement. It’s different for everyone. My husband is an extrovert. When he walks into a place inhabited by humans, his first thought is, “Who is here that I might know? Who can I talk to?” Then there’s me. I’m looking around for the empty table, preferably one requiring me to pass by the coffee station on my way to find a place where I don’t have to talk to anyone I don’t know. I may not be your standard introvert by certification but I am by expression. People who know the real me, are often shocked at my presence on social media – because they know me as the person most likely to run from cameras and escape networking meetings with a minuscule number of new acquaintances. Engagement. Yeah, about that.

Where you ride the waves on the sociability spectrum has very little to do with your ability to engage with people. Capacity may have more limitations because engagement requires us to dig into our resources and make time for it. Let’s consider, first, the subject of engagement and what that means. A quick peek at my American Heritage Dictionary proves that the implications of this word ‘engagement’ range from betrothal to battle. Not helpful! I prefer what I’ve learned through social media channels like the BizCatalyst 360° network.

Engagement is the communication and interaction between people that builds relationships, breaks down walls, adds to our repertoire of knowledge, and makes conversations come alive. To engage means to participate, to be involved through posting, reading, reacting, commenting, and encouraging each other toward learning and self-development.

Platforms, how do I love them? Let me count them all. This is not even in the realm of possibility unless you lean into some strong OCD tendencies. The number of platforms has grown at an incredible rate and more seem to be added weekly. A platform is an app or tool where words, music, and pictures create the online experience. Think: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and let’s not stop there because added and smokin’ hot just in the past couple of years are SnapChat, Periscope, Vimeo, Vine … Are you still with me? See? More added every week. A platform is also your message proclaimed to the world to invite people into your experience to connect and interact with you, become part of your tribe.

Engagement. Yeah, about that.

Now that we know that social media engagement is more like the snowball that rolls and grows than the rolling stone that gathers no moss, let’s agree that it’s a good thing. Social media has not only opened up windows to the world, but it has also removed walls entirely, and this is the sticky wicket. On the one hand, we meet people across the United States and globally whom we would never have the opportunity to know.

We enrich our vision of how the world operates by reading posts from home and around the world. We can ask questions and learn something on any topic on our minds because people are eager to share their knowledge with their perspectives.

Then on the other side of this is our communications as we engage with whoever happens to read what we’ve written. The broader our circle extends, the greater the need to be sensitive to cultural differences and careful with our communication. Yet another facet is that we grow a thick skin and become adept at letting rude inferences and ugly comments roll off our backs. Perhaps the most positive benefit in social media is that we learn about everything from culture to climate, to technology – without leaving home. And it is all due to engagement – through reading, adding a comment, asking a question, and through pursuing more.

Maybe you, like me, see so many opportunities for engagement spread across multiple platforms, groups, articles, and authors you think,

This is too much. Oh. My. Goodness. Where do I start? And if I start, where does it end?

It’s a good dilemma to have if you’re always learning, right? It’s overwhelming if you’re racing to the finish line of a day already packed with obligations. Remember capacity versus ability? Our ability to engage, as we’ve seen is limitless. We can choose a variety of ways to engage, but all that ability kicks us hard in the capacity.

I am not a social media strategist. I am not a social media guru. I am not a social media expert. I am a social media enthusiast. Where I fail at face to face networking, I excel at social media networking. It’s because I see the benefits of social media engagement. But, I have my limitations. Realizing the threshold on my time, I have to be selective on the number of articles I read and respond to. Of necessity, I sometimes have to read an article to glean facts from it and have no time to add a comment because there are limits to how much time I can spend online. My situation isn’t unique by any standard. We are in the same boat, you and I. We have to set boundaries around the time parameters we have available for learning and sharing via social media.

In my planning notebook, I have my purpose statement, some objectives, and list of topics I’m interested in. I also have a list of people, groups, and organizations whose work I’m interested in whose values I respect. This helps me set boundaries around those time parameters that melt right off that rolling snowball we talked about earlier. Based on those interests in my notebook, I created a vision board and made a pact with myself. That helped me determine three things: What to read; Why comment; When to share my own writing. Before I made that pact with myself about boundaries, I wasted hours every day (weeks at a time) wandering aimlessly around the Internet. I might have been successfully engaging, but without real focus and with minimal value to my goals.

I generally set up my weekly plan on Sunday night, but if not, I write my plan before I push on the throttle for each day. If my day allows time for engagement, I use time from my budget to visit groups, blogs, and one of the many platforms to investigate opportunities that align with my interests. I still get discouraged sometimes that I don’t have a plan or routine to spread out my engagement broadly enough, but I believe I’m at least avoiding the unilateral approach by participating in multiple groups over multiple platforms.

I might go directly to the BC360° Site. More often, I peruse LinkedIn where I am a member of numerous groups under the BC360° umbrella. Facebook is probably my most prevalent option because this is my go-to place for gleaning information among friends. I’m more likely to slip into this group and spend extra time and yes, much time is sucked away from my budget on this platform. I use Twitter to find articles quickly if I want to read a particular author or learn about a specific subject. Twitter is also my favorite platform to quickly share articles right while reading the article. Nearly every article posted today has a set of ‘share buttons’ that allow you to click and share in an instant. This, too, is engagement.

While I use other platforms, I will share just two others. I find that creating memes is a fun, creative outlet for me. I am not an expert and have not one drop of artistic blood in my veins. I am a fun loving creative and adding text to photos is my outlet. My platform of choice to share memes is Instagram. However, I could also share them on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and that brings me to Pinterest. Remember my lack of artistic ability? Pinterest is the infinite encyclopedia and creative platform for ideas and adventures in design that would never come to me had I not opened a Pinterest account back in the day when it was by invitation only. Yes – true story. That is how Pinterest, the behemoth it is today, got started. When we engage on Pinterest, creativity kindles because creatives dwell there.

So where are we? Do you see why engagement can be the fuel we need to keep ideas flowing and to keep learning about new subjects, becoming familiar with cultures around the world, and finding satisfaction in living in a complex world because we understand it better? Engagement takes time, but it doesn’t have to slow you down. Use your budget.

Engagement. Yeah, about that. We can’t do it all, but we can do something. Choose to engage once a day. See if that works for you.

Without engagement, there is no real way to gauge the effectiveness of what we’ve learned from reading, or if you’re the author, from writing. Without engagement what we learn stays on the surface without solid roots formed through interacting with others. The key is to take two or three minutes to read and another minute to comment adding your own perspective. Think of it as sharing knowledge that enriches communication at a minimum but in reality has the potential to add new insights, improve networking connections, strengthen relationships, and to encourage the author who put effort into writing on topics of interest.

How about you? How do you interact? What is your engagement strategy? When you budget your time, do you build in time to read and respond so others can learn from you? Sharing is value added. Let’s adopt the “Each one teach one” philosophy. As you learn, pass it on. Write the article or engage by writing in the comments section.

Ready …. set …. engage!

Jane Andersonhttp://refininggrace.com/
JANE’s professional experience is scattered across industries from financial services and insurance to engineering and manufacturing. Jane sees her background in writing and editing website content as the foundation to her current love of social media. Being an avid reader, meticulous note taker and lifelong learner has fostered her natural pursuit of sharing her world through writing. Reading books and summarizing content started as a hobby and has since grown to be a major part of her vocational experience. Jane says, “Authors pour their heart and soul into writing their book. When I write a review, it’s with intent to celebrate the book and promote the author.” Jane claims to be 'the best follower you'll ever want to meet' and has been repeatedly called servant leader, eternal cheerleader, social media evangelist, and inspirational go-to person. Jane is a contributing author to the inspiring book Chaos to Clarity: Sacred Stories of Transformational Change.

13 COMMENTS

  1. Great article Jane. Engagement is interaction to me is something I love and something I am unsure of. I often give classes on customer service and talk to many people and I love one on one engagement but I like to listen and ask questions. I never talk much about me in the engagement I feel by asking questions I can bring out what they already know..

  2. Another great article, Jane. Thanks. I’m lucky in that I’m retired. I don’t have to have a weekly plan. I don’t have to be present or engage on any given site for business or exposure.

    I limit myself to Linkedin, Biz 360, and reluctantly to Facebook. Instead of trying to have hundreds of “friends” on Facebook, I studiously limit the number I allow to be in my “friends” group.

    I also largely avoid those posts that indicate the writer is locked into a view and is rabid about it. In my experience, trying to get such a person to see another side or shade of a topic simply becomes a source of frustration.

    My last such effort was a person that had a “Poliana Attitude”. The theory was that nothing bad can happen to you if you are a good person. Yeh, right.

    • Thank you for your on target response, Ken. I am retired too, which is why I have to discipline myself in the volume of time I spend on social media. I have been involved for so many years (2008, 2009 or earlier for LinkedIn) my catalog of connections is much greater than I would have had I not started so many years ago. Yes, I could disconnect, but why? For my personal social media diet, I prefer to moderate the time I spend and be selective of the articles and posts I read. Anyone who knows me will recognize that I don’t debate, I don’t complain, I don’t entertain the comments or posts of whiners. People are welcome to have their opinions and I might disagree with them, but I don’t have to jump in and defend my position or argue their points. I agree with Mark Babbit and Ted Coine who said over and over in their book, A World Gone Social, “More social, Less media’. I use social media to enhance my knowledge and allow me to pass on what learn to others. If I happen to also encourage someone along the way and JOY up their day a little bit, well, that’s the whipped cream.

  3. Engagement. I agree that it has many faces. When I do dog adoption events in my store I am emotional invested( Thank You Chris) in finding them a forever home. When I am developing one of my team members I am helping them invest in their future and to the stability of the team. When I read a book I am engaged in learning or a moment of escapism. When I sit quietly in my garden I am engaged and invested in finding a clam place within myself to reflect or just be a peace. When I reply to your article I am engaged in lettering you know that your story touched me or gave me knowledge and that I know the engagement or investment that went into the story. Thank you Jane for sharing your thought and words with us that walk life’s path with you.

  4. I feel engagement is directly related to “emotional investment” that people make into a specific idea or thing. The problem is that everyone has a different view in what they’re engaged in. With the more engagement, the more differences, the more push to get specific parties to disengage. We see this in office politics, social movements, and buying brand name items.

    • That’s a good way to put it, Chris. Emotional investment. I like that because it makes sense that things we take at face value or have a superficial interest in, we might read and have just that type of reaction. Then something comes along that we care about deeply, maybe are even passionate about and our reaction is very different. I think one of the keys to successful engagement is to have ideas and perspectives and opinions shared openly without anyone taking offense or getting angry when they differ. I disagree with you does not mean I hate you. Thank you for adding your valued engagement to the conversation.

        • Funny that when I first started hearing the word ‘engagement’ it took me a very long time to wrap my mind around what that meant. Now I don’t even think about the actual word used (engagement) as much as I think, “How can I indicate to the author of this article that they had something to say that spoke to me in some way”? I guess even that personal objective could sound vague.

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