On the Yonder Bookshelf: Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith

On the Yonder Bookshelf: Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith

By: Laurel Farrer

“We are currently living in a communications environment where there is a trust deficit… but you can build influence, share influence, and benefit from the other currencies that exchanges of trust deliver to you.”


Welcome to the “Yonder Bookshelf.” This is our team’s anthology of great books we’re reading to enhance our distributed management experience and inspire great results in our remote work!

Our pick of the month for July was Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, which is a series of great strategies to “build influence, improve reputation, and earn trust” using only virtual tools.

The title and subtitle of this book stood out to us because we believe that trust and communication are the keys to successful remote relationships, and we were eager to compare our ideas to those of the authors. Turns out the book is less about person-to-person relationships, and more about business-to-business relationships. Or, to quote the authors, “the crossroads between trust and technology and how they impact your business.” This topic wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but it was a thought-provoking read nonetheless.

So, here’s the burning question: what or who are Trust Agents? Trust Agents are business professionals who utilize the latest technology to strategize their interactions, belong to a community, leverage their unique traits in the workforce, know the value of social networks, and understand human interaction. They then use those strengths to build an influential “army.” In other words, they are the influencers who are bringing the human element back into the web, and back into the business world as a whole.

This is a crucial topic to contemplate because those of us who work in distributed companies understand how challenging it can be to humanize our daily virtual interactions with our teams, our prospects, and our clients. This lack of sincere personal connection often has a profound effect on the goals of our relationships, including decreased productivity, low morale, weariness, and isolation. In so many ways, it is vital that we learn how to trust and be trustworthy in our online identity, and this book offers some great tips.

Favorite Takeaways:

  1. The Golden Rule applies as much in the virtual world as it does in the real world.

  2. The wider your network, the easier it is to get things done.

  3. Get immersed in the community of your targets. Speak their language, know their news, and care about what they care about.

  4. A contact takes a click, a relationship takes time and attention.  

  5. If you mess up, remember the three A’s: acknowledge, apologize, and act.

  6. To enhance your results, don’t focus on the goal, focus on the people who can help you get to the goal.

  7. It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.

Overall, Trust Agents was a great reminder of the importance of humanizing our online presence by giving our interactions more intention. Personally, I would have loved for the authors to go a little deeper into the subjects of friending people on Facebook and sending direct messages on LinkedIn. In the end, I was left with a few unanswered questions. For example, how do you create the quality of face-to-face interaction using only virtual tools? How can you develop real friendships without meeting in-person?  If you have any expertise in this area, please share your thoughts/feedback in the comments section below! 

What’s next? Our pick for August is a classic in the remote work world: Remote by Jason Fried, the CEO of Basecamp (formerly 37Signals). If you haven’t read it already, we hope you’ll join us! And If you have read it, we look forward to hearing your thoughts on Twitter (@yonder_io) or on our Facebook Page.

Disclaimer: This article is not sponsored and contains no affiliate links.

Laurel Farrer is the COO here at Yonder. She always has a notebook and pen within arm's reach, never sits with both feet on the floor, and drives (safely) without depth perception.