Trust Agents: A book review by Bob Morris

Posted on: November 18th, 2010 by bobmorris

Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust
Chris Brogan and Julien Smith
John Wiley & Sons 2010)

As Chris Brogan and Julien Smith explain, “The idea for this book came out of our individual successes in achieving goals using the Web to work with people and out of our fascination with non-currency-based economies. We’ve taken what we’ve learned from our years as `digital natives’ (people who have grown up inhabiting the various online haunts of the moment, combined with our understanding of games, people, and business as a whole, and followed it all up with information and ideas to help you better understand the mindset required to match these actions to your business needs.” There seem to be at least two primary objectives that their book is intended to achieve:

1. To help their readers become “trust agents.” That is, “power users of the new tools of the Web, educated more by way of their own experiences and experiments than from the core of their professional experiences, [and who] speak online technology fluently.”

2. To help their readers think more strategically, to understand certain principles much better, and to master the aforementioned “new tools” to build influence, share influence, “and benefit from the other currencies that such exchanges of trust” deliver to them.

I appreciate Brogan and Smith’s skillful use of reader-friendly devices such as “ACTION” sections throughout the narrative that serve two separate but related purposes: they emphasize key points and suggest how to apply them. For example:

“Build a Listening Station” (Pages 11-12)

“Start Figuring Out the Rules…Everywhere!” (Pages 45-46)

“Starter Kit fir Hacking Work” (Pages 61-62)

“How to Make Friends” (Pages 88-89)

“The Business Card Game” (Pages 161-162)

“Get LinkedIn” (Pages 177-178)

Brogan and Smith repeatedly stress the importance of being worthy of others’ trust and respect, of building healthy, honest relationships. In Chapter 1, they identify the six characteristics of trust agents (e.g. “The Archimedes Effect” which involves effective leverage) and then devote a separate chapter to each of the six. Those in need of information and counsel to help them increase the scope and depth of trust in a workplace should seriously consider this book.

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