Failing at engagement
Reunions, networking, relationships. We’ve all been there.
Here’s how to avoid it.
By Jacquie Liversidge
I sit here in this moment reflecting on the overwhelming failure of a 10 year reunion to engage its audience.
An audience who all have something in common. In terms of audience engagement for an event, this event should be reasonably straight forward on the surface level to unify its attendees.
Who out there dreads networking events? Hands up. My hand is up so far I am typing with one hand.
But I can remember great events I’ve been to. So why is it that sometimes they go belly up?
And what on earth does this article have to do with The Resume Writers?
This reunion, run almost entirely through Facebook, presents a fantastic example of a bad approach to digital engagement. Similar to industry networking events, someone is at the helm.
And no, you can’t please everyone. But, you can cultivate an environment where your attendees feel safe, supported, and equal. In short: what are you offering to your audience for their attendance?
Everyone’s time is worth something. In the context of a reunion, numbers determine success.
With a digital strategy, numbers determine success.
With your online digital strategy for your career, be it LinkedIn or your personal website, it’s also down to numbers which determine your success.
In the context of this reunion, a group of people with a poor historic relationship to the majority of the audience are at the centre of the event organisation.
There is already mistrust.
So, how do you develop a content strategy that doesn’t alienate your intended audience in every, single context?
“Everyone’s time is worth something. In the context of a reunion, numbers determine success.”
1: Be relatable
If I’m reading something and I feel like I can’t relate to the reader or the content, am I comfortable, do I believe it? Heck, no. Am I going to use that content, or reach out to that person? No! Make your reader feel like they believe you. Similarly with your resume, if you ‘pad’ or ‘fluff’ your content, it’s not relatable.
2: Engage your audience
So, you’ve got your content, and you want a real world outcome. That’s what all content is produced for. Be it money, for building subject matter authority, or for something like your resume, it’s time to start engaging those people. Put your content out there, and follow up.
But it’s how you do it, not how many times you do it.
You’ve submitted your resume for a role. Do you just leave it? You could. It can work. But you’re much more likely to have impact by calling your employer following your application (or more ideally, before your application) to let them you’ve applied and you’re excited. You are not going to get the job if you call each day and ask whether you’ve got the job.
In the context of the reunion I’m witnessing, I see low levels of engagement outside of a select few despite regular posts and updates. There is an established group flanking each other. There are regular posts, but the majority are not engaging with these at all. Imagine attending industry networking events in this kind of environment, or those (much loved) professional development days where you’re made to work in groups. Who is flanking you? Also, why on earth do you need to feel flanked at all? Something has gone wrong here with this kind of repetitive engagement.
If you’re a sales professional, you feel me. You’ve probably worked for a place that loves calling every day with excessive follow up, and it hasn’t worked.
In this scenario, engagement has run at the detriment of the event.
3: Offer value
Again, people’s time is worth something to them and you. With your resume, you can demonstrate your worth in a number of ways as we’ve written about here. And as we’ve said in other articles, it all comes down to the objective. Your resume is to offer something to the business. A reunion is offering an experience. What value has been offered if negativity is well established? What value has been offered in the content your pitching?
4: Be transparent
Get to the point, and do it quickly. People do not take the time assessing your resume that they did even 5 years ago, and for good reason. In a world where so much of the content we consume comes from digital platforms, how quickly have you gotten your message across? Assume you only have the benefit of a couple of seconds to get that message across. What content have you engaged with recently, and how quickly did it take you to determine your perception of it?
In the context of this reunion, I scan through and not much is very clear—event details have changed, I wonder what the plan is for the night, what ensures that everyone is going to gain something from this? I’m immediately disengaged. And from the event numbers, it appears everyone else is, too.
Things fail. Not everything is going to be a roaring success. At the core of this reunion is an hisotric toxic culture permeating the tone of the event, which is sadly reaffirmed throughout the visible posts.
However, each and every single attendee in the context of something such as a high school reunion do have something positive that they’ve gained from an experience. Which leads us to:
5: Recover from past failures
Whether you’ve been to an event that’s previously failed, or you’ve submitted your application for a job and you’ve incorporated mistakes in your application, there is always the option to recover.
I’m remember back to a rushed application I squeezed in between a shift at work and a university class. To save time, I used a cover letter template I’d whipped up, and crammed. Ideally, we have more time, however, it’s not a perfect world. The job had come up through a verbal conversation with the organisation earlier that day and I was racing to demonstrate how available I was (I wasn’t) and the quality of the application that I could submit.
I realised after submitting that I had critically spelled the name of the organisation wrong. It was a small, horrific oversight entirely down to the choice I made in rushing and not permitting myself the time to proof (and it never happened again). It was after hours at the time of submission, so the next day I changed my plans and went in to the business with my hard-copy paper application which was correct. They had it on hand now, and they didn’t bother downloading the copy with the error. The day was saved, I was offered the job.
In the context of this reunion, past failures have not been addressed. If anything, it appears that no attempt to move from an historically toxic culture has been made at all. Similar to industry event networking events which can be uncomfortable for some or highly political arenas, if no effort to recover from past errors have been made, you lose that audience for good.
Remember your objective with your content. What's the point? How do you define
A reunion is something that gets your brain ticking in unusual ways. Over the course of our lives we define, redefine and improve ourselves, and opportunities where historic dynamics permit revisiting the people we were. Similar to professional networking events, as you develop overtime, these events can anchor you back in a time where you defined yourself differently.
Take control of your narrative and stay firm to the person or the professional you are today. Be relatable, engaging, offer something of value, be transparent take control of the content by continually reassessing the efficacy of the engagement.
Thanks for reading, and as always, happy hunting.