Some time ago, while discussing relationship maintenance, a student of mine shared with her training group a practice she employed to keep community relationships current. (One of the big pitfalls in engagement is losing track of relationships after an event is over.) I commented on what a great idea it was and made a note to visit it further here on the blog and in my own thinking. . . . I promptly forgot about it.
Fortunately, the note recently resurfaced. As most really good ideas it’s not terribly complicated. It was simply a “note to self” to check in on all past engagement relationships on a regular–at least annual–basis.
This simple habit has the ability to accomplish a wide variety of good things.
- It encourages (if not requires) documenting relationship work–contacts, past collaborations, results. (Others in your organization should be aware of the relationship work that has been done and the checkup is a good opportunity to loop them in.)
- It provides a reasonable opportunity to “check in” on the community or organization as a means of acknowledging that they are still important to you.
- It can be a catalyst for considering collaborative possibilities in the future.
- It can provide a means by which members of the partner community or organization are aware of the past work and of the existence of the relationship for new endeavors. (Just like no one member of an arts organization should be the only person aware of/responsible for an engagement relationship, so too should multiple members of the partner community/organization have similar knowledge.)
- The mechanisms for checking in could include a brief newsletter to the community which would further serve to raise awareness of the relationship, the arts organization’s continuing interest, and the potential it could represent.
As part of the relationship maintenance process, I heartily endorse this idea. I now hope to remember it long enough to add it to my training and other materials. Wish me luck.