The issue of trust ...


As I've noted previously, I spend vast amounts of time on Twitter in pursuit of job leads, information, and articles to share in this blog.  When I first started using Twitter (before my current unemployment), it was because I saw it as an amazing way to get information on the activities and interests of key players in various spheres (I started out with following folks involved in Virtual Worlds, and this expanded into Social Media, and the new "personal branding" areas).  One of the people that I've been following for a while is Chris Brogan, of New Marketing Labs.  Chris has been one of the leading voices in the field of Social Media, and his blog is ranked #3 in AdAge magazine's "Power150" listings.

One of the things about Twitter is that, with the "popular" users, it is not so much a tool of engagement as it is a window for a certain internet voyeurism (Chris has 124,000 followers, which is huge by "average user" standards, but still far less than some of the "celebrity tweeters" like, for example, Chelsea Handler who has over two million followers) as you can "watch" what folks are doing and feel you know them (like you "know" a character on a TV show), but not appear on their radar at all.  While it was very interesting following the development, release, and subsequent promotion of Trust Agents, I realized that this, despite how much I "knew" about it, really wasn't something in which I was "involved". Chris, however, does make a valiant effort to stay in contact with his readers (and I'd had some exchanges with him in the past), and I was very pleased that he was able to block out time to do my e-mail interview for this post.

As I go into more details on in my review, this book is about Trust, its importance, and how to build it in the new electronic environments.  Nominally, this is a book about business utilizing the web, but the tone of the book is more philosophical and the information in it works as well for the Job Seeker looking for their next opportunity as it does for the individual trying to forge a path of connectedness through a global web of voices and attention points.  Brogan and co-author Julien Smith break this down into six compartments, and offer guidance for how to build up one's skills and competencies in those areas, defining aspects of how to engage and maintain one's expanding networks.

Below the cut are Chris Brogan's answers to my interview questions ...

Q:  Briefly, what's your background?

A:  I come from the telecom industry. I started in landline and moved on to wireless. Parallel to this, I was into social media from back in 1998, when it was called journaling. In 2006, I launched an event with Christopher S. Penn, and that catalyzed my career change into marketing and social media.  

Q:  Have you had notable job-transition experiences?

A:  In fall 2006, at the last day of PodCamp, Jeff Pulver came to me and said, "I have no idea what you're making right now at your company, but I'd like to hire you to come run my 'Video on the Net' conference." I said, "okay," and that was it. He had no idea whether I was a serial killer or what-not. He just believed in me.

Q:  Why did you decide to write an "internet reputation" book?

A:  We wrote a book about awareness, reputation, and trust, that so happens to use the Internet as a lever. To us, the book is just as much about how to conduct yourself as a human as it is anything else. Why a book as a format? Because my desired audience is offline more than my blog audience, so this was a bridging tool.

Q:  How do you see the "Trust Agent" concept in relation to the average job seeker?

A:  If a job seeker is also a trust agent, she has the job halfway in the bag. Trust agents build networks the way other people absentmindedly watch TV: as a matter of habit. Trust agents make their own game, defining themselves in ways that make them the irrefutable leaders of their space, however narrow and directly defined that is. Trust agents know how to be "one of us." These skills are everything in job-seeking.

Q:  If you had just ONE piece of advice for today's job searcher, what would that be?

A:  It would be to forever more keep your networks alive and cultivated, even when you have a job. What landed you in the difficulty part of your search is that you sat pretty on your existing network, believing yourself to have no need of their relationships, and when you fell, you had to warm up a lot of cold connections. Hot networks limit the chance that you'll be out of work for too long.

Q:  What do you feel makes your book unique?

A:  Our book is unique because Julien and I are natives in the space. We wrote the space in lots of ways. Stuff we've created is stuff other people are reporting as gospel. But, we never stop. We don't rest on what we figured out. We move on to the next one.

Q:  Aside from your book, what resources do you recommend?

A: There are great books out there: The New Community Rules, by Tamar Weinberg is a great one. Pick up any book by Alexandra Levit, if you're job seeking. She's a pro. Stay connected on Twitter/Facebook/Blogs/community sites and keep your networks alive.

Q:  Any additional words of wisdom?

A:  Be helpful. It's the most powerful measure of your attraction. People never kick someone out who is helpful.

Do go check out my review of Trust Agents for more information!

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