I recently returned from the National Arts Marketing Project Conference in Charlotte where I led a roundtable on mainstreaming engagement (pursuing all organizational systems from a community engagement perspective) and had a book signing. I had been concerned that I might feel like a fish out of water. (A pre-conference session was entitled “Monetizing Engagement” for heaven’s sake!) On the whole I felt it was a worthwhile trip for me and I learned much that was valuable.
The best single thing I heard was two responses in the session on engaging younger audiences. One panelist was asked why she had decided to become an active volunteer for an art museum. She said:
They showed up where I was.
She was (I think) primarily talking about showing up virtually via social media “where she was,” but even out of that context, what great advice!
Another panelist, in talking about building relationships with those not already on board, said:
Learn how to have a conversation.
In other words, don’t just talk, learn how to ask appropriate questions and listen to the answers.
These two principles in this one session justified my outlay for attending the conference. When trying to develop relationships, go to where the people are (don’t wait for them to come to you: that will take a long time, like forever) and learn how to talk with (not to) them.
Those two principles, if they spring from a true desire to engage, really form the heart of any successful engagement process.
That said, it is now time for me to enter the Holiday season so, except when I can’t help myself, I will cut back to one post a week. (Not that I think anyone really cares that much, I just wanted to get the info out there!)