Many Groups = Many Opportunities for Engagement
I was having breakfast with a bank executive recently who had served as a minister and president of a large local chamber of commerce. While he was having breakfast with me, he was talking to several others at various nearby tables. He wasn't being rude — he was just very popular. He has been a fixture in Indianapolis for many years and seems to know everyone in town. I was amazed at how many diverse people knew him.
When I walked back to the car and drove away from the visit, I thought about how many groups we belong to without realizing it.
The first logical group is our immediate family and extended family. Next comes a long list of possibilities:
- Professional associations (peers in field)
- Jobs current and former co-workers and employees
- Service clubs members (Rotary, Kiwanis, etc.)
- Fellow alumni from schools attended
- Church members past and present
- Parent contacts
- Children-related contacts
- People we've dated
- Sports teammates and, in my case, players coached
- Activities engaged in over the years
- Hobbies we love and participate in such as music, cruising and art
- Awards we've received
- Clubs we belong to
- Fraternity or sorority links
- Veterans of military
- Places we visit with others
- Places we frequent
- Friends where we live or have lived
- Neighbors who play cards
- Fellow workers or fellow retired workers
- Online friends and contacts such as Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
- Single or married groups
- Charities we support
- Places we volunteer
- Geographical contacts
- Patient friends with whom we share ailments
- Fellow authors, speakers and consultants
The list goes on and on. The purpose of this exercise is for you to realize how many diverse contacts you actually have in this world. All of us have many friends, professional colleagues and associates. We all interact with them differently based on the group function and personality.
Each day, we meet new people to add to these groups. Life is very dynamic and not static in nature. The opportunities for engagement are endless. The longer one lives, the greater the volume of groups and memories to share. The memory bank grows over time.
I am amazed how many people who reside in different groups create individual perceptions of us based on various group associations. It's a complex process. In many cases, you have the same individuals in several of the same groups with you. How do you individually perceive them?
We live and work in the field of relationships. It is critical for us to study human behavior and interpret how best to interact with various types of people. Your goal is to create a positive link with someone in order to develop a long-term relationship. You hope to engage and motivate individuals in the best way possible. Make sure you think about groups and where your contacts fall into group dynamics.
You will never truly succeed in this business unless you care and understand ways to best engage people. It may take others that you know in other groups to open doors for you. Think about the best way to make the first approach memorable and build the relationship from the start. Be prepared for a long and very diverse ride. You quickly realize each individual group member is unique in a variety of ways. How often have you stopped and realized how complex this process is to achieve long-term results?
The next time you have a free moment, jot down the various groups you belong to and think about others in the same context. If you can relate to others on their interest levels or group dynamics, you will have a better understanding of the proper beginning point to a successful relationship. Think through the purpose of each engagement with a clear strategy. Practice makes perfect, and good luck with your next individual encounter. The excitement may be in the unknown ultimate short- and long-term results, which can never be totally controlled!
Duke Haddad, Ed.D., CFRE, is currently associate director of development, director of capital campaigns and director of corporate development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis. He also serves as president of Duke Haddad and Associates LLC and is a freelance instructor for Nonprofit Web Advisor.
He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO since 2008.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis on education administration plus a dissertation on donor characteristics. He received a master’s degree from Marshall University with an emphasis on public administration plus a thesis on annual fund analysis. He secured a bachelor’s degree (cum laude) with an emphasis on marketing/management. He has done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
Duke has received the Fundraising Executive of the Year Award, from the Association of Fundraising Professionals Indiana Chapter. He also was given the Outstanding West Virginian Award, Kentucky Colonel Award and Sagamore of the Wabash Award from the governors of West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana, respectively, for his many career contributions in the field of philanthropy. He has maintained a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) designation for three decades.