We like to tell our clients that effective online engagement is a like being a good party host. You’ve decided to throw a party. But, before you send out the invitations, you need to determine if anyone else is planning to do so as well. You don’t want them to think you ruined their party and you don’t want to compete with them for your guests’ loyalty.
Once you’ve made the decision to move forward, you think about what kind of party you’re going to have and what you will serve. You consider parties others have thrown—what was popular as well as what hors d’oeuvres you saw people spit back into their napkins.
When you put together your guest list, you think about people who know each other and get along. But you also think about those who may not know each other yet but whom you think would generate some interesting conversation, particularly if they come from divergent backgrounds.
On the night of the party, you organize an icebreaker, but you don’t try to control the entire evening. As the host, you take time to mingle with your guests, versus getting caught up in worrying if everyone is having a good time; there are some things over which you have no control.
When you join a conversation, you listen to what the others are discussing—not simply the topic, but the different points of view and the tone of the dialogue as well. You join in, thoughtful about adding something new to the conversation that doesn’t redirect it, but adds an additional layer. You don’t introduce an entirely new topic and ramble on with a monologue into which there are no opportunities for others to interject.
As the evening winds down and a small group makes plans to go on to another party, you don’t feel resentful or worry you were an inadequate host. No, you are happy you brought them together and hopeful that something good will come from having done so.