“Trust Agents” Offers a New Strategy

trust_agent_coverChris Brogan and Julien Smith walk the walk when it comes to connecting with people online and building trust. Long before I even heard of their new book, “Trust Agents,” I was well aware of them: they both go out of their way not just to network with people online but to help those people they come across. Brogan and Smith are genuinely interested in just about everything: they’re willing to get into discussions on Twitter, their own blogs and anywhere else you find them online.
They’ve managed to package that willingness to get involved into a book. “Trust Agents” is a guide to how to building influence online, whether you’re trying to promote your company’s product, build a name in order to advance your own career or start a broader marketing initiative. Where other books tell you how to promote yourself, Brogan and Smith focus on building trust — giving your new online connections a reason to do business with you. It’s a relatively fast read — it weighs in at 271 pages, but it’s arranged into sections that make it easy to read the sections that particularly interest you first, and then catch up on the rest of the book later.
Being trustworthy has become a crucial skill for anyone working online today. Any web worker that needs to sell or market a product or a service — or themselves — needs to be able to build trust. Brogan and Smith say it best: “As a society, we no longer have confidence in advertising. We are hostile to those who appear to have ulterior motives, even if they’re just selling themselves…We are suspicious of anything that comes to us from outside our circle of friends.”
In order to be able to work online, it has become necessary to be connected with any group that you’re trying to influence — preferably before you actually try to influence them. Brogan and Smith use the example of Joseph D. Pistone (Donnie Brasco). In order to infiltrate the Mafia, Pistone spent months simply hanging around bars. By the time he actually tried to start finding out about the illegal activities Mafia members engaged in, everyone knew Brasco couldn’t possibly be a cop — after all, they all know him well from the local bar. While not an example out of business, the story certainly proves Brogan and Smith’s point — and it sets the tone for a book that explains techniques that work in the real world, rather than just in your company’s marketing department.
“Trust Agents” makes mention of plenty of technology, like Twitter or LinkedIn, but it really isn’t a technology book in the end. And while it talks about the major changes happening in marketing, it isn’t a marketing book, either. Instead, it’s about the simple steps that you can take to earn and keep someone’s trust. Yes, that trust will benefit you in the end, but Brogan and Smith make it clear that no matter how much you want to land a job or sell a product, you have to be trustworthy to begin with.
You can find more information about Chris Brogan at ChrisBrogan.com and about Julien Smith at JulienSmith.com.
Have you read “Trust Agents?” Let us know your opinion in the comments.