The Engaging Association Summit, "consuming" any article or research paper about engagement and how to create it in a business and association setting.
But my heart sank when I saw the latest cover of The Meetings Professional, MPI's monthly magazine. When I read the headline, "How molecular gastronomy can breed engagement at your events," I feared that engagement is in danger of becoming just another buzzword.
Let's be clear: I love food, and this is a great article about getting people to interact at events. But does getting people talking about food really constitute engagement?
What is engagement anyway? Google pulls up many definitions of the word including, "a formal agreement to get married" and even "a fight or battle between armed forces". No wonder there's confusion!
The origin of the word that caught my eye. Apparently somewhere in the 17th century the French verb engager (which still means "to pledge" today) was adopted into the English language. The noun engagement began to refer to a "legal or moral obligation." We might be getting closer...
In the workplace engaged employees are thought to be "fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work, taking positive action to further the organization's reputation and interests." There's lots of research linking employee engagement and business performance.
But it's often "easier said than done." A few years ago we had a problem with employee engagement in our company. People were at work, but they seemed "checked out" in many ways. I knew there was a problem but things didn't get better until I, as the owner of the company, became more engaged with our employees. I soon realized then that engagement is not something you "fix" and then move onto the next thing. It's something you have to practice every day and that's not easy.
So we're back to engagement as a pledge, a commitment, or a practice. What does this mean in the context of associations? As association leaders, how do we engage staff? What can staff do when their own boards aren't engaged? And how can associations foster engagement with their members, sponsors and exhibitors?
These are some of the issues I hope we can explore together on July 24-25, and through ongoing posts in this blog. Look for the tag "What is engagement?"
P.S. We can't promise you molecular gastronomy, but I promise we'll make sure you get food you can talk and rave about!