There are a bunch of good books on the market right now dealing with the social media and “new media” marketing, but most of them pretty much say the same thing.

Occasionally you will find a diamond in the rough, as in the case of Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith.

Their book not only made the New York Times bestseller list (#13), the Wall Street Journal bestseller list (#8), and the Amazon top 100 list (#30), but it also received an enormous amount of coverage in the online world (go figure!). That’s pretty good for two virtually unknown authors in traditional publishing.

So then if there are plenty of social media books on business shelves these days, what makes Trust Agents stand out from the rest? It really boils down to the way Brogan and Smith took specific online strategies and generalized them in a way that made sense for building business and personal relationships offline as well.

For instance, the entire notion of becoming a “trust agent” is covered in such abstract terms throughout the book that it can apply to the way you interact with everyone around you in any situation. Now wait, I know what you’re thinking; if the book is this generic, why do I have to read a 260 page book for something so simple? Well, as Leonardo da Vinci once remarked, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Trust Agents takes this lesson to heart.

Okay, now let’s dive into the main ingredients of this fast-paced read. Basically, Trust Agents focuses on several key areas, such as:

  • The importance of social capital
  • How to transform the space you work in to make yourself its leader
  • Why networks allow people to thrive
  • Many of the web’s non-verbal signals of trust
  • How to leverage social tools for maximum benefit

Notice how mastery in any of these areas can be easily transferred in our daily lives off of the web. For instance the phrase “social capital” has been cited back to the early 1900s, where it was meant to refer to “social cohesion and personal investment in the community.” While today we have many different levels of social capital, can’t you see how learning what makes it work and how to best leverage your social capital can help you in many different ways, both professionally and personally?

This book was excellent simply because it will make you think about the things you know you should be doing to build your social capital, but aren’t. It will challenge you to reassess the reasons you want to be a part of any community, both online and offline and in doing so you will see the connections you make with your friends and “friends” in a whole new light.

We all know what trust is and how important it is to be trusted, especially in business relationships. Salesmen in particular should take heed to this point, because without trust, you do not have much. So how then can we gain the trust of others, who we may not have even met? As the authors of Trust Agents state:

Gaining the trust of another requires you to be competent and reliable. It also requires you to leave someone with a positive emotional impression, which is something the Web has the potential to do quickly and well. Since most of the modern Web isn’t trying to complete a transaction (things like spam notwithstanding), people have a tendency to feel closer to each other there.

Wow, before I read that passage I had always viewed the physical distance created by online communications to be a problem rather than a solution. Talk about changing your view on something! This is just only brief example of how Chris Brogan and Julien Smith have completely modernized the way we should view social media. It is a tool in every way possible and it holds the power to let us do what we can all naturally do very well: become trusted and trust others in a likewise manner.

For the simple yet profound insight it contains, I would have to rank Trust Agents up there with Socialnomics by Erik Qualman and Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk (reviewed here) as some of the best books on the subject of social media available today. So what are you waiting for? Trust Agents is a great read and you can trust me on that!

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Founder of FastBlink, where I discuss social media marketing and SEO. Brother of Phi Delta Theta, alum of FAU, fan of coffee.

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