Becoming a Trust Agent

A High Five column from Bob GilesHigh Five from Handshake 2.0:

In 4 Ways Social Media is Changing Business, Soren Gordhamer writes, "In the age of social media, the rules have changed radically, and people today demand a more honest and direct relationship with the companies with which they do business." 

That’s the same major message of Chris Brogan and Julien Smith in Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust, in Linden’s Working Across Boundaries: Making Collaboration Work in Government and Nonprofit Organizations, and in Peter Fingar's Dot.Cloud (my note on Dot.Cloud's relationship to Ron Karr's work is here).

Gordhamer states that businesses will need to use social media and other means to reveal their human side, welcome transparency, and forge new relationships with their customers.

How to use “other means” is a historic topic of the business world, argued incessantly and seemingly-interchangeably as branding, advertising, marketing, selling, and doing  public relations. Now emerges “using social media” and Brogan and Smith offer delightfully creative and challenging lists of actions to take for people becoming, as they call them, “trust agents.” 

One action to take is to not take.  Never proclaim  "I’m honest" or "I'd be great at that."  Brogan and Smith argue that we are in a “trust deficit” and that trust agents are needed to use the power of the tools of the Internet, expanding connections, humanizing it, reducing image-building and replacing it with “self”:  innovating, being genuine about one's work, being interested in prospective customers' colleagues, employees, etc., and realizing these new tools “…enable more unique, robust communication [and] also allow more business opportunities for everyone.”

Gordhamer writes, “We are now in the age of open communication, engaged dialogue, and transparency, and business success may now have less to do with the size of ad budgets, but on the quality of interactions with customers.”

According to Brogan and Smith, those quality interactions will occur with trust agents. 


Robert H. Giles, Jr. writes High Five for Handshake 2.0.  The opinions Robert Giles expresses are solely his own and are not necessarily shared by Handshake 2.0 or its clients.

Feel free to follow Robert H. Giles, Jr. on Twitter @Bob_Giles

Robert H. Giles, Jr. is a Virginia Tech Professor Emeritus with a vision for a rural land management system. He writes two blogs, The Survivalists and Faunal Force.  He is the father of Anne Giles Clelland, founder of Handshake 2.0.

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