"Let him not trust in futile things, deceiving himself,
For futility will be his reward." -- Job 15:31
The online world spins out ever-increasing amounts of videos, images, words, and Web sites. There may be needles in the middle of all those haystacks, they are getting harder to find.
Chris Brogan and Julien Smith look at this circumstance from the perspective of someone trying to create or improve a business and pose the useful question: How can you become and remain the person who is trusted most in your area of expertise? From there, you follow an exciting journey through lots of good stories and little tips that clarify how you can operate more effectively in the online world.
Here are my paraphrases of some of the key principles:
1. Use continuing business model innovation to create ways to develop and share useful information in ways that delight people with their novelty, freshness, and value.
2. Be viewed as someone who is just like the audience, not someone with a hidden agenda, a lot of arrogance, or a phony.
3. Energize online communities by providing them with choices they like from a point of authenticity.
4. Build genuine, positive relationships by seeking to provide value for everyone you interact with.
5. Be considerate.
6. Assemble large numbers of people to work toward a common purpose while meeting their needs.
I was impressed that the authors appreciate that the way to do these things will continually change, but the principles will probably remain the same. It's a useful book from that perspective. Most people who write about the online world assume it will always be like it is today . . . and optimize on things that don't last.
My only disappointment is that they didn't address more about what those who write book reviews on Amazon.com should be doing to be more helpful to more people. There are millions of us who would like to know.
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.