5 Lessons from Influence Nation Summit 2018

We held the first-ever Influence Nation Summit earlier this month, exploring the influences that build and sustain social movements. If you attended or watched our live stream, thank you. If you missed it, you can view videos of each session at causeandsocialinfluence.com/videos.

I’ve been studying what influences young adults to engage with causes for over a decade, and yet I still learn something every day about those hard-to-pinpoint components that make some social movements more successful than others. After hearing from our roster of truly inspiring speakers who are dedicated to improving issues affecting us, I took away five significant points that I’d like to share with you.

1. Inspire in the good times … and the bad.

To influence a public that already expects (and is beginning to demand) authenticity and transparency, we must be fearless and bold in our work. Courage is an authentic emotion that inspires respect, trust and action in others. We can’t be brave and bold only when things are going our way, though; we must remember that our audience needs inspiration every single day. (For more on this, watch the sessions with Anastasia Khoo and Jean Case.)

2. Leading is tough. (That’s why not everyone is a leader.)

We all know that being the person others rely on for leadership and inspiration can be daunting at times. How can we measure up to our audience’s expectations day after day? When we hit those walls, it’s important to remember why we are doing what we’re doing. Think about the people who inspire us, pushing our thinking and action so we will go above and beyond for the cause. (View Michael Smith’s session.)

3. Listening is more important than talking.

Before we attempt to influence the public, we must listen to the conversation about our issue. How are people talking about X? What are the different perspectives? Is correct information being shared? Then, as we try to engage individuals, we must “listen” to their feedback as revealed via pre- and post-campaign surveys, constituent conversations with fundraisers, social media posts and other communication channels. Today’s young adults won’t listen to you if you don’t listen to them. (See Tony Foleno’s session.)

4. Look for ways to create common ground.

How is your issue personally relevant to the lives of those you want to engage? Look for ways to make the connection. This approach will help potential supporters “see” themselves in your organization, making them much more willing to engage. (Watch Anastasia Khoo and the National Geographic panel).

5. Building community is about relationships and understanding.

You already belong to several communities: your neighborhood or city, your place of worship, your hobbies, etc. – any attributes shared by others. These communities were built by finding common ground (see #4) and sharing experiences. Promote relationships among your audience to build community around your cause.

I’ll be discussing more of what the Influence Nation Summit speakers addressed in upcoming blogs.

What about you? If you attended the summit or have watched any videos, I’d love to hear your comments about what you heard.

Derrick Feldmann