The Challenge of Engaging Others

There may be some truth to the saying, “dog is man’s best friend.” Maybe that’s because dogs, or whoever your beloved pet is, actually pays attention to us. While technologically we are becoming more social, it seems we are becoming less engaged.

This may be due to stimulus overload, boredom, apathy or perhaps a mixture of all of them. We can move quickly from various social media apps, to playing a game, to texting and back again in just a few seconds. How boring it is to have a real conversation with someone and unstimulating it is to read an email! Is my blog boring you already? Has your reading already been interrupted by something more exciting?

Thank You For Your Attention

If you have made it this far, I sincerely appreciate it. Hopefully I have written something of value or have somehow piqued your interest.

We know that kids don’t have much of an attention span, and adults aren’t much better. Research has shown that many things we sign up for, that we initially show interest in, don’t get the time of day. The Wall Street Journal reported that a significant amount of people don’t open apps they have downloaded for their mobile devices. So they went to the App store, downloaded it and lost interest before the download even completed???

My Personal Example

I have this struggle when working together with financial professionals. (And I presume others struggle to get me engaged). I often speak at conferences on behavioral finance. At the end of the presentation I offer advisors to join The Behavioral Finance Network (no cost, no credit card) so they can obtain additional information. I try to make it very easy on them. They can either go to the URL I provide or I say, “text me at this number and I will text you back the sign up link.” I get many texts of interested advisors.

Now, I haven’t twisted anyone’s arms at this point…those that text me want to learn more. Within an hour I text them back a link direct to a sign up page (which takes less than 30 seconds). Do you know how many people that wanted to sign up actually do? It’s less than 50%…and these are people that told me they want to sign up less within the past hour.

What’s In It For You

Enough of my story. The bottom line is that this behavior is known as “human”. We all do it. If you want to get someone’s attention – whether you are selling something or simply trying to get their attention, how do you do it?

I wish I had the Holy Grail of engagement. I don’t. In all my seeking, I don’t believe anyone else does either. However, there are a few rules to implement that can increase the odds and success of engaging another:

    • Lead with “What’s in it for them”
    • Keep it brief and stick to main point
    • Reiterate how it can help them
    • Make it easy to do (minimize their effort to engage)
    • Tell them how much time it will take (and be sure it won’t take a lot)
    • Give them a sample (taste test) and tell them how it will help them


Your Experiences…

I’d love to hear what has worked for you. How do you engage others? If we are talking teenage kids, threats may be effective. But we likely are not going to threaten someone we want to engage with who is not a family member. If you have any successful tactics you have used, please share them in the comments below.