How to Expand Your Influence and Impact When Promoting Sustainability: Ideas worth sharing from US SIF's Conference on Sustainable and Responsible Investment

By: Alexandra Kueller

Recently, the SSC team attended US SIF's annual conference in Washington DC which focused on sustainable and responsible investment. While many of the topics highlighted specific issues like measuring and reporting on sustainability factors, and safer standards in consumer products, the keynote address had a much broader focus: how to expand your influence and impact.

The discussion, led by senior journalists from The OpEd Project, challenged participants with some thought-provoking questions, and here are some of the takeaways that we thought were worth sharing:

What is the source of your credibility and how do you establish it?

  • Your credibility is derived from what ideas and experiences you have to share, what others think of you, and your shared experiences with the people you are trying to influence in a positive way. Never underestimate the value of your credibility because once it's gone, it's very hard to get back.
  • Knowledge leads to wisdom- which in turn will lead to credibility.  Take the steps required to gain the wisdom so that people will take your advice more seriously.

How do you build an evidence-based, value driven argument?

  • It must start with good statistics and research- a strong foundation from which to build.
  • Make it personal- include tangible anecdotes that help make the argument real.
  • Try connecting to your audience through emotion which will make your thoughts more memorable.

What's the difference between being “right” and being effective?

  • Nobody likes a know-it-all so avoid “preaching to the choir”
  • It's hard to be effective without also being "right"- a combination of both have a stronger impact

What’s the bigger picture and how do you and your ideas fit into it?

  • Start with the smallest change you can make...and then work toward your goal of creating change with something small every day.  All of your efforts will add up to something bigger.
  • Look at the specific field you’re in and see how your ideas might change over time.   Will your age, status, or geographic location influence how your ideas fit into the bigger picture?  Sometimes these influences will not stand the test of time when trying to reach a larger goal and you should you be looking beyond your specific scope to understand the ideas of others, as well.

Are you communicating your ideas in the most effective way?

  • An influential idea begins with a good understanding of the issues, is communicated with good metaphors rather than jargon, and wins over others with the right tone and passion.  Make the most of the time you have to influence others!

Need more ideas on how to more effectively reach your sustainability goals? Read our article, 3 Reasons Your Sustainability Pitch is Failing.