Things We Love in Engagement

Happy Valentine’s day.

For me, Valentine’s was always a party with grandma’s white cake, so many cinnamon hearts my tongue was red for days, and decorating my shoe box to collect all the Valentine’s day cards from my classmates. While I am working to recreate that magic with my own family (the cake is chocolate, not vanilla), there are some particular engagement “loves” I wanted to share on Valentine’s day:

  1. Solid objectives: When people are clear on why they are engaging it makes planning the engagement a lot more straightforward. Recently a client shared: “We absolutely want to know about Y, but we are also really curious about X.” Fantastic, we can design an engagement objective for that.
  2. An openness to trying new things: There are hundreds (at least) of engagement techniques, so when clients realize, “hey, I’m in an open house/survey rut” we love the opportunity to try something different, explore how we can improve accessibility and connect with different community members. There is a certain comfort in doing the same old technique, but being open to new techniques is fun and creates opportunities for new learnings both within the organization and in the community.
  3. Internal engagement: The staff are any organization’s biggest source of strength, and in this knowledge economy where you are always recruiting talent, we love it when organizations include staff and internal teams in the engagement. Forget quiet quitting, let’s focus on building teams and cultures that are engaged and connected to each other and the work.

Now, here’s a list of things you can buy that the engagement professional in your life might just love:

  1. When I am engaging I take notes – like old school with a pen – and I love this pen. No affiliate link here so if you can find it not on amazon all the better. Having four colours of ink is awesome for identifying in the notes when different people contribute, but you don’t want to identify them by name.
  2. Speaking of notes, I take a lot of them, and I love a good notebook. Honestly, it is a simple pleasure to have a nice notebook that you can archive and I love these ones. A bit pricey given they are in US dollars, but they have sales so don’t despair.
  3. Doing in-person engagement and craving a solid marker? Love these ones. I actually believe they make my writing and attempts at cute graphics better.
  4. I’m all for creativity and coming up with your own version of connection cards, but these ones from Jillian Harris are a nice start. This box includes questions like: What is one piece of advice you would give to the person to your right? At this moment, what do you feel the most grateful for? I love conversation starters to be used in-person or virtually. Creating a connection is key to successful engagement and if you are running low on conversation starters, seek out cards that help get you started.
  5. Tired of trying to find table numbering cards? These are so helpful for World Café or other techniques where people might be moving in and out of the conversation. I really enjoy these ones because they are inexpensive, super small to pack, and easy to put together.

Happy Valentine’s and here’s to a day filled with hundreds of cinnamon hearts!