The following is a guest post from Anna Caraveli and Elizabeth Engel, CAE, who have also written a very nice White Paper on engagement (link at the end).

Think about a time when you were deeply engaged, when something or someone touched a nerve, and resonated with what truly matters to you or with what you are trying to accomplish in the world. It could be a relationship, a volunteer activity, a community, an idea, an experience, a hobby. It was probably something you were pretty passionate about, right? But it’s unlikely that your passionate involvement was a result of slick marketing or a clever pricing strategy.

What compelled you to commit your precious and limited time and resources and convert from passive observer to enthusiastic champion? Was it because the person, community, or organization that touched a chord took the time to discover what is meaningful to you and how you define value? In other words, were they seeing the world through your eyes, taking your perspective, putting you at the center of their endeavors, and creating an authentic connection with you?

Associations have always been “about” engagement, and in the past several years, we’ve had a renewed focus on engaging our members and other audiences. The thing is, most of us aren’t really doing it well. Why not? Why are some associations successful in capturing, engaging, and sustaining members, and some, frankly, aren’t? Could it be because we’ve been thinking about engagement all wrong?

In Leading Engagement from the Outside-In: Become an Indispensable Partner in Your Members’ Success, we take an “outside-in” look at member engagement and describe a radical shift in our understanding of engagement, one based on an approach that encourages us to view the world from our audiences’ perspective, focus on the outcomes they want to achieve, build authentic relationships, and harness the power of collaboration to co-create the value our organizations provide.

The truth is that associations cannot create engagement for our members. Rather, the members choose to become engaged because they perceive and experience value they need to succeed. Engagement is not about you. It does not depend on your achievements, “engagement” strategies, communications, benefits, or powers of persuasion. It depends on your ability to discover what matters most to your members at any given time and to facilitate their success at the outcomes and goals they seek to achieve.

How does that play out in real life? The white paper offers the stories of 11 different organizations that are on the path to reconfiguring their member relationships for greater engagement and financial success and identifies eight keys to becoming truly engaging.

Download your free copy of Leading Engagement from the Outside-In: Become an Indispensable Partner in Your Members’ Success, at

Anna Caraveli, PhD, is the Managing Partner at The Demand Networks, LLC and Elizabeth Weaver Engel, M.A., CAE is the CEO & Chief Strategist at Spark Consulting LLC

Jamie Notter