3 things to remember for better community engagement
For organizations of all shapes and sizes, community engagement is vital. This applies to cities, schools, businesses, unions, political parties, etc. Whether a community consists of city residents, university students, employees or even customers; the community is the heart beat of any organization.
This post highlights 3 tips to remember when building a framework for effectively engaging your community.
1. Remember That People are Busy
It’s important to remember that people are busy. Coming and going, running the kids here and there, and trying to do all the other things in life keep the average person busy. You must go to the people because they won’t come to you.
Depending on your resources and desired level of engagement there are different ways of reaching your community members.
For those with a fair amount of resources, consider physically going to where the people are. Walk the streets, go to local events, or go to the lunch room on a regular basis. Face to face interaction will allow you to pick up on people’s tone and vibe. It also helps to build closer relationships.
For those with more limited resources or large scale quantitative objectives, consider using engagement tools. There is a world of web-based engagement tools to fit diverse organizational needs.
For helpful tools some interesting companies to check out include:
· Citizen lab for large cities needing a web-based platform.
· Compettia for companies that want to engage stakeholders with gamification.
· Future Dialog (Yours Truly) for mobile community engagement.
Find the channels, methods, and or tools that work best for reaching your community in your particular circumstance.
2. Ask Precise Yet Simple Questions
Once you have found the right channel for connecting with people, engage them by asking for their opinions and preferences on specific subjects. Your goal should be to get actionable information and insights. The best approach is to ask precise yet simple questions.
For those that want quantifiable information this is where some tools will be very useful.
3. Put People at the Core of the Conversation
Give people that opportunity talk about themselves. Frame the conversation and or questions to revolve around their opinions, their insights, and their experiences. After all, the whole idea of community engagement is to get input and develop relationships with the community, so it is essential that the community members are the stars of the show.
These simple concepts are the foundation of effective community engagement. No matter the type of organization or engagement objectives you have, it all boils down to approaching the community on their terms and in ways that revolve around them.