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on October 21, 2009
Trust Agents is a great book for anyone new to social media and community management. The concepts in this book will help you gain trust with your online peers however...if you've been following Chris Brogan's blog or if you've heard any of the webinars he's done, a lot of the content in this book is the same and you'll end up skipping a lot of pages in search of something new.
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on January 7, 2010
Yes? Then you have probably already read at least part of Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust, the new book from Chris Brogan and Julien Smith.

Most likely, you are wondering what a "Trust Agent" is supposed to be.

"Trust agents have established themselves as being non-sales-oriented, non-high pressure marketers. Instead, they are digital natives using the web to be genuine and to humanize their business."

The main premise is that cultivating "trust" will enable you and your business to succeed. They talk about creating this trust using social networks and online media. Be a trust agent and people will gravitate towards you when they need something, and then trust you with their information and leads. The book combines some theory, with the author's success stories, other relevant examples and actionable suggestions.

Unfortunately, I found big chunks of the book to miss the mark for my involvement on the web. My original jump into the web was to see how these tools would work as knowledge management tools inside an organization. I found these web 2.0 tools were well ahead of the enterprise tools. My approach in using the web is for personal knowledge management.

These tools (including this blog) are for me to find the information I need to succeed at my job and to organize that information for reuse. I use web tools for selfish reasons. They are really good at helping me collect information. That others can leverage my work is a by-product. That these tools allow me to stay connected with colleagues is a by-product.

Some of that stems from the nature of my job and my company. We don't use the web to advance our corporate image. As the chief compliance officer I am not trying to sell anything, ever.

But I do like staying connected with my colleagues and peers. There are many more people outside your organization who do what you do or have the information you need to succeed, than there are inside your organization.

Trust Agents is about creating social capital. I think it could just as easily be called: "Don't be a jerk online." They go into a lot more detail than that and come up with six characteristics of Trust Agents.
1. Make your own game.

Try new ways of doing things. Stand out from the crowd. First movers have an advantage. They quote Warren Buffet on when to enter a market: "Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful."
2. Be one of us.

Be part of the community. Don't be the self-promotional jerk in the community who is continually handing out business cards and asking for business. Contribute to the community. You need to give first if you want to receive. The more you give, the better.
3. Use the Archimedes Effect

Archimedes propositioned that if he had a long enough lever and a fulcrum on which to place it, he could move the world. Leverage your message.
4. Try to be Agent Zero

Cultivate your personal networks and recognize their value. Connect with good people. Connect between different groups.
5. Become a human artist.

Learn how to work well with people and help empower people. You need to learn the etiquette and start off by listening to the community before you burst in with a full head of steam.
6. Build an army.

You can't do it alone. You need to find people who are willing to collaborate with you.

If these concept resonate with you, then it is worth your time to read the book. If you are just starting out with web 2.0 tools you should heed the lessons in the book. Even if you are a wily veteran, you will find some useful information in this book.

Trust Agents is a bit uneven at times. In places it reads more like a collection of blog posts instead of a coherent narrative. Some of their ideas are better flushed out than others. Those six characteristics don't have equal weight.
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on January 12, 2010
This book - with such a cool title - was somewhat mediocre IMHO...While the two authors certainly do a great job of inducing you to "like-them" and try to come across as "one of us" - the main disappointment I have with this book is that there are few (if any) "ah-ha" moments! These are the things I want in a book..Stimulating new ideas, concepts, and notions that make me go "Ah-ha!" and make new mental connections.

If I had to sum this book up it would be Dale Carnegie (his book - "How to make friends and influence people") meets the Godfather (remember the line paraphrased: "I will do this for you now - and someday I will ask you for a favor which you cannot refuse", and Goodfella (remember the line: "he is a Goddfella, one of us").

On the positive side - it is a very easy read (somewhat wordy and obvious in places though) - and the best part are the specific "Action Steps" which I did find valuable. Good intro to nuts'n-bolts of Web 2.0.

A decent read but would like to have been a little more amazed with new concepts from these two Trust Agents.
-Joe M.
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on April 22, 2013
"Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust" focuses on the words trust agents which are defined by six characteristics, according to authors Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. First, a trust agent is defined as someone who is constantly communicating online, sharing personal experiences, trying new different technology, is more likely to recommend a product, connects with more people and leaves a good impression while building healthy, honest relationships (pg 15). What's important to note about this is that this definition extends beyond the computer; trust agents have these relationship via human contact as well (pg 18). Trust agents also recognize how to capture a wider audience. For example, they know the benefits and reach difference between blogging versus emailing or telling a joke at a bar.

The first characteristic of a trust agent is to make your own game. This chapter can be summarized by the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote the authors use, "Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail" (pg 63). In this chapter Brogan and Smith talk about setting your own rules and making your own way. Or, in other words, push the boundaries of what exists. Also, it's good to have competition, feedback and goals. Goals allow you to win, feedback can be in the form of comments, revenue, etc. and it's important to challenge yourself with competition.

One of us is the second characteristic. In this chapter, Brogan and Smith talk about how you can learn to trust people and websites but also, how to be that trustworthy person. It comes down to being human. Of course, you're probably human if you're reading this, but it means be genuine, competent, reliable, leave a positive impression on people and don't forget to listen to others. With the expansion of the Internet, there are "friends" and there are friends. It's important to know the difference, which ones you can trust online and those who are just saying what they are saying to get a response. There are many different identities/communities for everyone and that's why the Internet is so great, because everyone has their own place - so don't try to be someone you're not!

The Archimedes Effect is all about leverage. The web has a lot of leverage to it. When you are linked to a community, you become the gatekeeper to your audience. By building relationships you might not know you have this leverage but your friends (and "friends") pass things on that you say or do and eventually it makes its way around. Brogan and Smith define leverage as "putting in a certain amount of effort and getting a greater result than our normal human effort would give" (pg 119). This has been the example technology has given us and that's why it is becoming even more important to create before there is a need and go where there are people who need it (or make them think they need it).

When it comes to Agent Zero there are several keywords and a cliché phrase. It goes something like "it's not what you know, it's who you know." When you hold the knowledge to this cliché and these keywords, you are closer to becoming a trust agent. Be aware by being visible and leaving a trail for others. Pay attention to details, people and new technology. Influence others by forming a relationship before starting your sale and then bring people in - be a connector, one who is likely to be known by anyone. Authority and reputation are also key factors in becoming a trust agent because someone who looks up to you and the trustworthy your reputation is, the more likely you are to be heard.

To be a Human Artist you must live by the golden rule and follow these instructions: listen, ask, reciprocate, comment and comment back. These are the guidelines to making relationships last. By making a good first impression, sometimes that means just to listen, or, as our writers put it, "lurk". It's important to not always jump into conversation but instead, see what people are saying and share it with your friends to show commitment to the relationship (pg 219).

Building an Army is important to become a trust agent as well because you simply can't do it alone. It's easy to spread information in this world and by sharing someone's information, you form a social contract that says you believe or are inspired by something they have done. This allows you to connect to more and more people and reach others who you might not have met otherwise.

"Trust Agents" gives some good examples and is very descript on how you can be a trust agent. I found the book very helpful and I would recommend it to someone who is trying to learn how to be more active online but also perhaps a student who is looking how to market him or herself to a potential employer.
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on October 3, 2009
Brogan and Smith wrote an interesting book on using web to build trust, influence,
reputation. Starting with trust, social capital, media, make your own website,
agent zero, human artist, build an army, and ended with the trust agents.

They gave many tips on dos and donts, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc. But most
of these tips are common-sense business practices. The main focus of the book
seems to be missing.

It will be better, if the authors can delve deeper into one or two trusted
websites, to illustrate how it achieved its success using the tips in this book.
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on August 7, 2010
Los social media ya vienen de vuelta. No "el fondo", sino el termino. Usado y manoseado por cuanto auto-guru de Internet existe, muchos sentimos que Facebook, Twitter etc. están sobrepoblados (lo que es bueno) y mal utilizados (lo que es malo).
El uso comercial que se les da "no hace click", cuesta medir el ROI (se cuestiona mucho si hay o no), se usan y después se botan (y con ello la comunidad que se formo), en resumidas cuenta: "son moda".

"Trust Agents" abre los fuegos diciendo algo similar, pero a medida que avanzaba en la lectura, me dio esa sensación de "haber estado ahí". Eso si, Brogan se enfoca en las personas, en los agente zero (aquellos que vinculan y conectan a otras personas), en el ROI y en aspectos mucho más micro, pero relevantes a la hora de levantar campañas, construir lovemarks y vincular al vendedor con el consumidor.

Al menos yo, estoy masticando y pensando mucho en el micro marketing. El marketing de nicho, aquel que se preocupa de las pymes y devuelve la competitividad a los almacenes (en la medida que tengan algo bueno que ofrecer). Y en ese campo, el libro acierta; baja los conceptos, establece vínculos y da directrices acerca de cómo establecer vínculos, generar lazos y armar puentes.

Aparte (como buen anglosajón) Brogan lista pasos a seguir los cuales me parecen altamente pertinentes si se quiere jugar de manera correcta:

- Crea tus propias reglas
- Sé uno de los nuestros (estornudadotes)
- Logra el efecto Arquímedes (no partas de cero, usa las cosas que ya existen).
- Agente zero (conecta a personas, haz favores, networking)
- Artista humano (RRPP. Si vas a una fiesta baila, si vas a un funeral, llora).
- Construye ejércitos: Busca afinidad con otros.

Otro punto alto del libro (y en particular, de mis favoritos) son los casos. Siempre muy realizables, pero a la vez inspiradores. Las buenas ideas jamás serás desplazadas.

En resumidas cuentas, "Trust Agents" viene a empujar la materia en otros rumbos. En serio que se me hacia muy necesario reflexiones así.
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on February 24, 2010
Nice introduction to the world of social media. As the authors mention, this book could be obsolete in a couple of years. At this time, this book is a nice guide on how to build your presence online. Many of the tips that are provided should be applied to any form of networking (help people, be trust worthy ), but they also provide some web specific ideas. The authors don't provide anything that is truly ground breaking, but I found the book to be a decent read. The book reinforces many ideas of successfull networking and applies it to the web. If you are a novice in either area, this will be a good resource.
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on September 1, 2013
This is quite an in depth book on the subject and I learnt some good tips. However, the book just cut off in mid air somewhere near the end so I couldn't finish it?
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on September 5, 2013
I like the content of this book, it's fairly interesting and (hopefully) useful. But my 3 star review is mainly due to the quality of the audio. I had to give up the audio and download it to my Kindle because the quality of the narration is TERRRIBLE! This book is the perfect example of why audio books need professional narrators, not the authors, to read a book. Over and over again on the audio version the narrator's volume goes from quite loud to so soft it is difficult to hear - in a single sentence!! It's maddening. I'm just glad I borrowed this from the library rather than spending my own money for it.
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on June 11, 2010
This is a review by Eric Pratum of Grizzard Communications Group of Chris Brogan's & Julien Smith's Trust Agents.

The blog post can be found at: [...]
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