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Supporting Different Levels of Engagement in a Network

A healthy network relies on engaged participants, but engagement doesn’t have to look the same for all participants. According to Amelia Pape, a network consultant and Converge Network CoCreator, strong networks allow for a spectrum of engagement.

There are a variety of reasons why individuals may decide to be part of a network, and a variety of ways individuals will want to be engaged as well. Not everyone will be highly active in a network—it is common to see some folks that are more passively engaged. In a discussion with the K-12 education networks cohort, Amelia offered a way of thinking about 4 levels of engagement that networks might see from participants:

  • Honor

  • Follow

  • Partner

  • Lead

Understanding and planning for these different levels of engagement allows networks to tailor messages and offerings and consider strategies for helping participants move along the spectrum of engagement. The following table describes what people in different engagement levels might be looking for from the network and how they might interact with it.



“It’s common for folks to move through different levels of engagement,” Amelia said. “The framework is one way to invite participants to share their desired level of engagement at any given time. It also offers an opportunity to be more intentional about focusing on different parts of the spectrum in connection to your goals and what you want to accomplish. For example, if you’re focused on growing the network you might spend more time connecting with those in “honor” and “follow.” If you are trying to accomplish a task, you might focus on providing support to those taking a lead role.” One important distinction about this framework is that those who choose to engage in a lead role are not the only leaders of the network. Leadership can emerge at any place across the spectrum.


Cohort participants reflected on how attention to different levels of engagement could benefit their engagement efforts.


“We sometimes focus on the most engaged participants,” said Krysia Gabenski of the National Association of Elementary School Principals. “This framework reminds us there aren’t one-size-fits-all approaches to incentivizing attendance and engagement.”


“For Benjamin Banneker Association (BBA), people are interested in joining the organization because of our mission, but the challenge has been developing the infrastructure to move people along the engagement spectrum,” said Pamela Seda of BBA. “We need to put systems in place so that people who want to get more engaged know how to do that.”


As networks engage with the realities of a changing workforce in education and explore ways to increase their own resiliency in an ever-changing world, this framework can offer ways to think differently about offerings and ways to engage and support their members.


Some reflection questions to consider in your work are as follows:

  • If you were to apply this concept across your network. what does the engagement spectrum look like across your membership body? What are your engagement challenges?

  • What is the goal you are hoping to achieve? (ex., increasing membership, members leading the work, other)

  • How might leaning into this approach deepen relationships and address some of your challenges?

 

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