Book Review – Trust Agents

I just finished reading Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. If you’re reading this blog, you probably already know the authors from their wide-spread online presence. If not, check out their blogs, from where you can find more information about them (for Chris’ blog, click here; for Julien’s blog, click here).

I would first like to thank both Chris Brogan and LinkedIn – this book was sent to me as part of winning a contest on Twitter several weeks ago. There were no strings attached to me getting the book. However, I enjoyed reading the book, and so decided to write a review of the book.

In order to understand my perspective on the book, I need to take you back to when I was first introduced to Chris. My friend and colleague Jeremy Lichtman started a friendly competition on his blog on January 1, 2009 (read the post here) to complete Chris’ list of 100 blogging topics, and on January 12, I decided to take him up on the challenge. At this point, I had never heard of Chris Brogan.

Fast forward a few months, and I had become a regular reader of Chris’ blog, and soon signed up for his weekly newsletter. I’ve had a couple of e-mail exchanges with him on various small topics relating to his newsletter. Then the book came out, and I was immediately intrigued by the title, and when he posted the competition in conjunction with LinkedIn, I submitted my entry (click here to see my post), and was pleased to see that I had won.

The way I had won the book in the first place demonstrates how appropriate it is that I read the book. Chris and Julien wrote about establishing trust online, and clearly, I had already been involved with establishing trust with Chris himself. Many of the lessons they wrote about I already knew, but never thought about in a conscious manner. Trust takes time to establish, but can be destroyed in seconds. Most people know this, but don’t think about it.

The book was easy to read and well-written, flowing smoothly between topics. The objectives of the various points were well laid out. If you read Chris’ newsletter (and if you don’t, I recommend you sign up here), then you’ll be familiar with the style.

From a content perspective, the book did not teach me anything new per se, but rather promoted critical thinking about how and why online relationships work. Having completed the book, I do not believe that I am now a trust agent – rather, I understand more about the side effects of the various actions I do online. I understand the power of the masses, and how it can be harnessed for mutually beneficial purposes. I understand the difference between asking a friend for a favor, and getting your friend to offer the favor before you ask.

Most of all, I now understand the path I am on (after all, if you are present in several online communities, you are involved in establishing trust at some level), and what I can do to ensure that I don’t have to learn all the lessons the hard way, and how I can be sure to apply established rules to increase my circles of awareness and acceptance as rapidly and smoothly as possible.

If you blog, or interact in any manner online, I strongly recommend that you read this book. It will explain to you much of what is happening to your relationships as you progress in your online involvement.