Nordic Track Book Club Review: Trust Agents

Chris Brogan’s Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust is deceivingly simplistic. You read, “be helpful, connect people, be transparent, blah, blah.” Social Marketing concepts you already know and may perhaps practice, yet they are presented here in such a way that you realize you can do it better, much better. Chris Brogan has proven the effectiveness of his claims after all.

The book was a solidly constructed hardback, a much nicer experience than many of the paperback-only recently published social marketing books in my collection (which I’m not all-too happy about.) Trust Agents was a quick read with a ton of good excerpts as you’ll see below. Recommended. 4-out-of-5 [NordicTrack] Ski Stars.


p.xv Focus on connecting with the people and the tools will all make sense.

p.11 Those who are active on the web realize that they need to embrace this new transparency, that all things will now eventually be known.

p.14 We are currently living in a communications environment where there is a trust deficit.

p.18 We view online social networks as media, not because they help us communicate, but because they extend human relationships.

p.22 Social capital is different from other kinds of capital. The mere act of gathering means that everyone who participates will exchange things and grow richer as a result.

p.29 Making your own game is about standing out.

p.36 Figure out who your gatekeepers are, then decide what rules you can break to make yourself a gatejumper.

p.40 It is important to differentiate yourself by creating a new category for you to fit in.

p.49 Create a source of competition for yourself—maybe even only in your own head—without telling anyone.  Then regularly revisit that race to see how it’s going. Keep at it.

p.63 The trust agent must understand the dynamics of making a game such that there’s a flow, a system, a set of rules, the opportunity for fun, presumably a chance to be the best in the game.  This is where programming comes in.

p.71 During this personal brand gold rush, anyone has the ability to make a name for themselves if they are true to their DNA and willing to work their face off.

Be authentic. Start pumping out free content and start becoming part of the conversation.

p.80 Self-orientation is a negative. The higher this is the less we tend to trust a person.

p.94 You must remain present to remain relevant.

p.98 Be sure to promote yourself, but make certain you have the reputation for praising others in a given community.  Make those around you the rock stars.

p.101 Due to the rarity of comments, those who comment are remarkable and are noticed.

p.119 Multi-capitalism is the ability to understand multiple, varying forms of value and to know how to exchange one type of capital freely for another.

p.125 Do favors because you like someone, because its the right thing to do, or because you like to be helpful. The result is that you accrue social capital as a side benefit of doing good. But doing good by itself is its own reward.

p.137 If you can delegate a task to someone else or to a machine for that matter, in order to save either time or cost, it is your duty to do so.

p. 140 A book is like a big thick impressive $25 business card. We took it for what it could give us, Old World Credibility.

p.142 No matter where they go, Trust Agents have a desire to connect good people together. We refer to this as being Agent Zero, being in the center of a network and being able to spread ideas.

p.144 Trust Agents reach out to the up-and-comers. They make friends of the people starting out, those who might not be the big voices, or the movers or the shakers, but who are interesting, driven, talented an have potential.

p.154 Unlike old-fashioned networkers with a “what’s in it for me” attitude, trust agents are thinking strategically and considering opportunities for their new-found friends that are far downstream.

p.161 Yes, business cards are so 1987, and yet, they are just as important today as they have been for the past several years. Don’t dispute us, just make sure you have business cards.

p.173 How’s your traffic doing in relation to others in the field, and where is it coming from? The Trust Agent’s hyperlinks are the 21st Century equivalent of the name-dropper. Seeing your link on someone else’s website means that you have caught their attention.

p.175 The important thing to know is that links infer relationship.

p.197 He looks at all of these services, e.g., LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, as new phones that are ringing for your company, service or product. And when your company doesn’t have a presence or listening ability, it cannot hear this social phone ringing.

p.201 Make constant touches.  Connect people together constantly. Link fervently.

p.208 When people ask Chris how he got to where he is in social media, his answer is always the same, be helpful.

p.209 Your blog is your home base. Anything authoritative goes on here.  If you had a shop, that would be your blog. You are trying to increase foot traffic and walk-ins as much as possible.

p.215 Creating a group and filling it with the smartest people you know is the truest path to influence online.

p.224 Social recommendation has become so powerful that even BusinessWeek and other mainstream news sites now have Digg, Reddit and other Social Recommendation buttons on their articles.

p.227 Chose one thing you’d like to get your community to do.  Simplify the act as much as possible. Give the idea a cause, something the community cares about. Reach cause-related influencers and help them spread it. Create an incentive.  What will happen if someone participates.  There must be a benefit for all involved.

p.249 Attention is great, but if it’s only attention, then it’s not sales, and let’s not think of sales as just money either. If we replace sales with the action I want you to take next, then that’s the real measure of success. Is there any other?


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A long time developer, I was an early adopter of Linux in the mid-90's for a few years until I entered corporate environments and worked with Microsoft technologies like ASP, then .NET. In 2008 I released Sueetie, an Online Community Platform built in .NET. In late 2012 I returned to my Linux roots and locked in on Java development. Much of my work is available on GitHub.