I do a lot of thinking about “engagement.”

How I can engage with existing customers to create the best product experience.

How I can engage new prospects and convert them into paying clients.

How can I engage customers in a way that they want to pay me.  Lots.  (I actually think about this one a great deal of the time).

The word engagement implies more than just contact – it implies a commitment to perform.  No performance, no engagement.

When a person is engaged to be married, they perform certain outward signs supporting the promise to commit to a new state of being – for example, dating other people becomes a no-no; usually a ring is worn signifying the promise to marry; and things like keeping the toilet seat up become tremendously huge deals.

When a person engages in a business relationship, they also are making promises.  Promises to perform, promises to deliver, promises to be there when support is needed.

For many people, especially with the ubiquity of social media, engagement has become somehow synonymous with connection.

It. Is. Not.

Without execution on promises made, there is no commitment.  Without a commitment, there is no engagement.

I’ve had several projects this year where the engagement factor of participants has been less than satisfactory.  Bad economy, “do more with less”, too many fires to put out… many excuses could be made.

But part of the problem – and I think, the biggest part of the problem – is that people simply have forgotten what it means to truly commit; of themselves, and on behalf of the companies they work for.

Seth Godin had a great post this morning about “I just work here” that captures the zeitgeist perfectly.

If we really want to make a difference with the work we do and the things we create, we have to get back to the first principles of engagement.

We have to commit ourselves fully to whatever relationships we are promising ourselves to.

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