Ways to Get Your Members More Engaged—and Why It’s so Important By: Katherine Ramírez, Hartford Care Coordination Collaborative Think about your collaborative members. How many members are fully engaged in discussions or actively participating? How many are just going through the motions? And how many are actively disengaged? If it’s anything like the workforce, the Gallop organization’s State of American Workplace report of 2010-2012 states that 70% of U.S. workers are not engaged at work, then you have a real concern. What does engagement mean? Some people say that when a person is engaged it means they can hold our attention and involve us in a conversation. When someone says that a student is engaged- it usually means they can retain something from their lessons and are curious to learn more. In addition to all the above, I believe that for the purpose of the collaborative, the importance of engagement is making a connection, getting people to care on a level of beyond indifference, and taking an action step. It all depends on the vision your collaborative’s path is heading and whether the individuals in the collaborative understand its mission. An engaged member will take the next step and next one and so on. Someone who isn’t will not. The following engagement strategies can help your collaborative become a more engaged group who participate and disseminate the information that is being learned. Survey your members: It’s all about attraction and action. It is a good idea to survey your members on their interests in order to make in-service trainings, presentations, and case presentations attractive and relevant to your audience Be a good storyteller (case presentation): You want to be sure that the case presentation being discussed has good valuable information. Give an opportunity for members to provide any feedback, suggestions, or recommendations on the case. Invite members to discuss their experiences on any similar barriers or challenges they have faced. Find ways to connect with members individually: Be sure to follow up with new and present members. Informal and formal connections are powerful in order to build effective networks. Keep the conversation going and see where it might take you. Define realistic engagement goals: Make lofty objectives meaningful to the collaborative members’ experiences. Weave engagement into your interaction with members by discussing how you want members to involve themselves during meetings and how they can contribute to the collaborative. You may want to identify where gaps exist among relationships (within partner agencies), and how you might allocate or shift resources to strengthen particular relationships. RELATIONSHIP-building is key! Give your members an action step: It is important to communicate well and summarize at the end of each meeting with any pertinent information. Provide members with an action step, such as encouraging members to disseminate presentations or new referral source back to their organizations, identify connections and be of assistance, ask someone from the group to present on their program and services, etc. just to name a few. And…just remember building relationships takes time and is not easy, but taking the steps to engage new and present members can go a long way in building trust, value, and connectivity!