Elements of Trust for the Sustainability and CSR professional on the Web

I am currently reading Chris Brogans and Julien Smiths Trust Agents book. And one of the key themes of the book is the trust agent concept. A quote from the book reads: “Trust agents aren’t necessarily marketers or sales people; they are the digitally savvy people who use the Web to humanize businesses using transparency, honesty, and genuine relationships.”

Reading this prompted me to take a critical look at my own industry, the Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) industry, and what people we trust in this industry.

Do we truly trust people like John Elkington, Jonathan Porritt, George Monbiot, or Al Gore? Only to name a few.

I am not so sure. We like them and agree with most of what they do and stand for. But do we trust them? Doesn’t trust really mean a lot more then just agreeing with someones views?

These are big questions and they are tough to answer but I believe there are certain key elements we are looking for when we decide to trust someone or not. Especially in the context of the web and the fact that you can not meet the person face to face right away.

Today I am looking for the elements of an online presence you should look out for when someone claims to be part of the CSR and Sustainability sector.

Elements of Trust for Sustainability and CSR professionals on the Web

  • Does he/she have a blog or a website where I can take a look at what they do? Company websites are okay but the really interesting content and context is usually on the blogs. We seem to trust blogs more then company websites.
  • Is this person using social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc to reach out to more people? If not then how is he/she communicating their messages online? A Twitter and LinkedIn profile is a must nowadays.
  • What is the first impression of the content he/she is providing on their website/blog? Is the blog being used for self promotion only or is this real content with a proper message that adds something to the discussion of the particular topic?
  • How long has he/she been working in the sector? Is he/she just out of university (not bad- but not so much business experience of course) or is he/she a seasoned professional that is now discovering the web and is willing to engage us online now?
  • What is their general business experience other then in the Sustainability/CSR sector? The Sustainability and CSR business sector is not so vastly different to normal business sectors so general business experience is a very important aspect of trusting someone.

These are just a few, but in my opinion most important points to look for in new people coming into the Sustainability and CSR field.

Have I missed anything? What do you think could be added to this list?

Picture Credit: purplejavatroll

No Comments

  1. In a recent discussion with a friend we talked about the difference between "believe" and "trust" – which on the surface would appear to be the same thing, but during our conversation we could identify people who we believed, yet didn't completely trust.While we may like someone, both personally and for their views, we may also feel they have their own agenda, which implies they're not completely objective.

  2. I totally agree. This is part of why I wanted to raise this issue. But you said it much better then I did. 😉

  3. Hi Mark. I totally agree. This is part of why I wanted to raise this issue. But you said it much better then I did. 😉

  4. very tangible and thought through, Fabian. Will check myself now – I think some more work to do 🙂

  5. very tangible and thought through, Fabian. Will check myself now – I think some more work to do 🙂

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