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Sep 5

Are You Engaging with ROI Expectations? You Engaging with ROI Expectations?

I recall attending a conference and the theme was “Engagement”. I paused, thinking to myself ‘what an interesting theme’. As I prepared for the meeting – scanning through the conference bag, session descriptions, and program book, wouldn’t you know it – the theme was incorporated in everything.

Once on-site I noticed the words engage, engagement and engaging plastered every where. Ironically, conference themes don’t usually mean much to me because I know first-hand that they are used more for marketing and branding. But this time I began pondering more and asking myself – Do we even understand what it means to engage? Who will I engage with while here? Will people engage with me or will they just go about their business [like most conferences] – focusing on their personal agenda?

I also asked myself why should I engage? Is it really necessary to engage –I just want to learn?

According to the Meridian/Webster Dictionary, the definition of “engage” included: deal with especially at length; to attract and hold by influence or power; to hold the attention of. I personally liked one of the definitions offered by to occupy the attention or efforts of (a person or persons).

It seemed that the words (engage, engagement and engaging) for this conference were used more so as a verb and suggested “action”. It also became obvious that the conference planners clearly wanted attendees to understand the meaning of the root word because they used every version of the word. One can only assume that we were to take some form of action – do something.

With my curiosity aroused, I set out on a quest the next day purposely looking to see if people were truly engaging. Were they interacting with each other at length — holding influence or power? How many people were occupying the attention or efforts of others? And, how many people were induced to participate?

As I walked through the common areas and exhibit hall observing or “people watching” I did notice some engagement in the education sessions. I monitored the times the audience “engaged” with the keynote speakers at plenary sessions. I took special notice of people engaging at receptions, special lounges, and on shuttle buses. I discovered that people were indeed chatting at lunch tables; saying hello to friends and colleagues in the hallway or as they passed each other on escalators.

Some facilitators were awesome at engaging with their audiences in the sessions. However, many of the keynote speakers appeared to just be speaking to the tops of heads. Then there was the truth. What was apparent is that more people were really not engaging as the definitions above suggested. This was truly unfortunate. Imagine the ‘power’ of engagement and the missed opportunities when we do not engage with one another.

We can actually learn from our conference exhibitors and assume they truly know the art of engagement. Exhibitors realize that when they engage with people they can create valuable relationships that may have a return on the investment (ROI) of that one engagement opportunity. An opportunity that may not come again could turn into a sale or better yet a customer relationship that can last. For attendees engagement could turn into the next job opportunity or your next perfect hire.

I guess if we all took on a simple mindset of engagement and invested in “ROI engagement expectations” the results of attracting and holding the attention of others would induce even more participation and powerful long-lasting relationships.

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