Thoughts and Thought Leadership

A Case for Community Engagement

by | Oct 16, 2020

Photo Credit Thomas Drouault and Unsplash

In marketing, the Engagement Economy is defined as the competition for the valuable attention and cognitive bandwidth of a target audience. It’s a very real and valuable asset that is becoming more complex and harder to attain with each passing year.

But, this is not the Engagement Economy I’m talking about. Real engagement is not about Facebook likes, email clicks, or contact forms. I mean it is, but it’s not. Engagement, as I’m thinking about it, has more to do with relationships than it does retweets.

Over the past 8-10 years, we have seen a groundswell of activity in the Tampa Bay area that has spurred growth across a myriad of industries and indicators. We have seen our innovation and entrepreneurial community flourish while our physical and economic growth has exploded. We are seeing greater collaboration and connectivity resulting in real and lasting relationships that will hopefully perpetuate this cycle.

In that time, I’ve had my own personal groundswell of activity and growth. I have learned from many and I have gained a lot. I have enjoyed remarkable opportunities and celebrated some noteworthy milestones. And, when I look closely, there is one singular cause. Engagement.

The Engagement Economy I’m talking about is where value is created when the value is given. It is when people give their time and talents for a greater purpose or cause. Yes, it’s about volunteering, but it goes beyond that. It is about sustained collaboration and commitment to helping others grow.

Decide in Favor of Action

The first step is always a decision to take action — to do something. In my case, that was the choice to jump on a bus headed for Austin. I was looking for a little adventure so I took a chance on the unknown. But, when I returned from my StartupBus experience, I knew I had been changed and this was only the beginning.

I was introduced to a community of people that have, in one way or another, been the benefactors of everything that has come my way since. This community provided me with connection, opportunity, unconditional support, and immeasurable value. The relationships formed with the StartupBus community led me to several other communities.

A singular choice in favor of action compounded through continued engagement, eventually allowed me to work with several other organizations like Tampa Bay Wave, Synapse, and Frameworks. Thus proving the incredible value to be gained just by simply deciding to take that first step.

Decide in Favor of Impact

One could argue the events of the past year have given us many opportunities. The opportunity to take a break. The opportunity to grow and the opportunity to reflect. Of all these, there has been none greater than the opportunity to invest. The investment comes in all shapes and sizes, but an investment of time and attention almost certainly provides the most value.

It may not be altogether profound or revolutionary, but recognizing time and talent as hard-currency was a turning point for me. Each of us has something to give that is valuable to someone else. When we make an investment of ourselves in others we are creating a collective impact. These investments provide valuable returns that are not exclusive to the one making the investment.

Our communities, industries, and ecosystems are all sustained through the contributions of those who support them. We each have value and should be diligent in applying it where it can have the greatest impact.

Decide in Favor of Us

In order for a community to grow, we must be patrons of it. This is never more true than during a time of so much uncertainty, anxiety, fear, and unrest. When we decide in favor of what will lift us all, we are focused on sustainable value instead of immediate results.

Like in marketing, the ultimate goal and a key performance indicator of all our efforts is advocacy. When you are an advocate for others they will become an advocate for you. When you help and support the growth of
a community, that community will help and support you. While it takes commitment, it is simple and it is repeatable.

Regardless of your talent, experience, age, or upbringing, you have something valuable to give and something valuable to gain if you participate in the Engagement Economy. Tampa Bay has so many successes ahead. So, join us. We need your help, and you’ll be happy you did.

This article was written by Coconspriator‘s founder, Shane Needham, and was originally published on Innovations of The World and will appear in the 2021 Edition of the Innovate Tampa Bay book.

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