What I’m Reading: Trust Agents

Trust AgentsTrust Agents is not a hot new book. It’s been on bookshelves since 2009, and was a New York Times best bestseller not long after publication. So, when I picked up the book in early 2013, I was skeptical as to what it could teach me about “using the web to build influence, improve reputation, and earn trust.”

Turns out, this old dog still knows how to do a few tricks.

Chris Brogan and Julien Smith‘s down-to-earth manual for wanna-be influencers cuts across industries and disciplines. Just a few chapters into the book, I had ideas that could benefit my current employer as well as some that may spawn into entrepreneurial ventures.

These aren’t 10,000 feet concepts. Within the trust agent framework, the authors have included tactical calls-to-action that can be completed immediately. I read the book with a pad of post-it tabs nearby, and added one whenever I came across something I thought I could and should do, soon. There are five tabs in the book—five things I know I can do NOW that can positively affect my business or side hustle.

While reading, I also kept a highlighter close by. Many phrases spoke to me, and I’d like to share them with you. A classmate of mine is known for taking copious notes from both readings and lectures, and she regularly shares them with the rest of us. She calls them her “notable quotables.” I’m borrowing her idea to share my highlights of Trust Agents with you.

But quickly, before I do, I’d like to thank Chris Brogan for practicing what he preaches. The book is full of suggestions to share content willingly, but part of me feared that listing my favorite quotes from the book would result in copyright litigation. I reached out to him on Twitter, and he responded within minutes in just the way I hoped and expected.

So, without further adieu, my favorite parts of Trust Agents. I’m presenting these without commentary. If you’d like to find out what weaves these quotes together throughout 260 pages, you’ll have to get the book. If you’ve got questions, let’s start a discussion in the comments.

Trust Agents Notable Quotables

  • Companies must acknowledge that they are as naked on the Web as individuals are.
  • We are currently living in a communications environment where there is a trust deficit.
  • We view online social networks (the Facebooks and Twitters of our time) as media, not because they help us communicate, but because they extend human relationships.
  • We’ve chosen to make the next media ours, and we’ve shaped our own media to be an extension of our own views, or own businesses, and our tribes.
  • Trust agent isn’t the kind of thing you would call yourself. That’s like people calling themselves gurus, divas, goddesses, or experts. Let other people call you that.
  • Communities don’t want to be managed; They want to be cared for.
  • It can tell people about who we are and convince them of our value, even when we’re not there
  • If you’re like most people, you’re receiving a lot of the same questions repeatedly. But now you only respond once—and you get credit each time someone new discovers the answer. Imagine that you do this 500 times. Over time, you’ve probably been asked 500 questions about your specialty; suppose you had answered them all on your blog. These 500 posts now make up a pretty hefty set of resources, with a lot of insider information and tips, and you’re helping a fair number of people.
  • There’s the established way to do things—and then there’s a game-changing way to do things.
  • Trust agents are at the center of wide, powerful networks. They make building relationships a priority because it’s a human thing to do—long before any actual business requires transacting.
  • Hacking is usually used by the mainstream media to bring forth imagery of illegal activities, but to the Web community, hacking is more about finding alternatives for the traditional uses of a system.
  • Life is what you make of it. There are rules and there are hacks. Create the game you want from life itself.
  • You differentiate yourself and allow people to get used to the idea that you have different rules than most people, so you are seen as outside of the system.
  • The wider your network, the easier it is to get things done.
  • “Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful.” – Warren Buffet
  • There are individuals in various segments of the online world who have risen to fame in their relative niche, have parlayed that fame into something a little higher up the social ladder, and have subsequently turned their backs on the very same community where they first gained notoriety as One of Us.
  • Raise up the newcomers, instead of sucking up to the industry’s top dogs.
  • Too many companies attempt to jump into the fray on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter and immediately endeavor to peddle their wares. They don’t realize that we all know each other, that we recognize the new stranger in our midst, and that we are feeling marketed to long before we’ve been properly introduced.
  • With the giant reputation system that is the Web, it is not advantageous to be known for trying to fake your way into someone’s tribe. They can tell, and they’ll tell everyone.
  • The Web has made building relationships an inexpensive-to-free proposition, and that part is good. The reason for trust agents, however, is that this is an opt-in world, and your buyer has more control of your attempts to sell than ever before.
  • People work more hours now than they ever have, and they spend more of those hours distracted than ever before.
  • It’s easier to read too much and forget the stuff that didn’t matter than to wonder what you’re missing.
  • Proper self-definition…is the key to authority in a niche.
  • Understanding what goes into defining authority on the Web, and how people can see visual signs (social proof) of this authority, is what becomes important next. Social proof is what happens when people attempt to gain cues from other people about how to act or react in ambiguous situations.
  • People are the next revolution, and being active on the human-faced Web is your company’s best chance to grow its business in the coming years.
  • It’s easier to trash someone who isn’t around than someone we know is listening. So, just being online and accessible solves a lot of problems.
  • If you visit a blog and see a complaint about your company or product (or you), acknowledge it. Then apologize. Something simple: “I’m sorry it took you that long to get your file transfer problem sorted out.” And act. Do something. Resolve the problem.
  • Trust agents reveal stuff about themselves both because they like to reach out to people on a human level and because it makes them more approachable: It makes friends and it helps business.
  • Share your influence, even if you only have a little.
  • A group of people on the Web is more powerful than a group of equal size anywhere else.
  • For every gatekeeper, we’ve invented a new gatejumper via the Web.
  • Your soldiers must be able to take your ideas as their own and develop their own uses for them.
  • Your goal as a trust agent is to master tomorrow’s radios before others, and thus, make your own game.
  • If you focus on the awards and the praise, you’re missing the real value of the attention.
  • Part of what you do as a trust agent is realizing that everyone else has great ideas, that they are professionals, and that they have angles you’ve yet to consider. Can you hand over the keys easily?
  • By spreading ideas that help others, you get credit and people get the help they need. It’s win-win. What a change from the scarcity mentality most people live with every day, isn’t it? And that’s one of the best things about the social web; people are deeply interested in sharing with each other.
  • “This takes too much time.” So does planting your own food, but if you dare to compare the taste of the vegetables you grow in your own yard versus what you buy at a grocery store, you’ll wonder why you paid for colored cardboard all this time.
  • Attention is and will continue to be our scarcest resource.
  • Why we trust people is the same; it’s only the ways we come to be trusted that have been changing, and that’s because communication has been changing.

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2 Comments on “What I’m Reading: Trust Agents

  1. Pingback: 8 Extra Hours: Why I’ve Learned To Love My Commute | Liz Gross

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