How To Build Trust and How Leaders Learn

I originally drafted this with the title of “What do you stand for? Chris Brogan and Seth Godin Know”, but then I realized that might not be a good headline so I changed it before posting – who knows if either were good to begin with….

Back story and foundation for this post:

In a recent article from Chris Brogan, he shared his frustration with Timberland regarding a pair of boots he saw advertised on TV on Thanksgiving day, but couldn’t find locally in any brick-and-mortar stores. His story sufficiently details a negative experience with shoe representatives at various stores in his area with conclusive thoughts on why brick-and-mortar stores are failing and how that leads consumers to make online purchases when they would have done it at a local store. While I did not see his first version of the blog post, it was apparently very negative and he was prompted by a reader to reconsider his narrative (and for good reason too according to his followup post entitled “With Great Power”).

Any how, the original, but revised post: What Timerbland Taught Me About Retail says:

I changed this post around 100% after a conversation with Pat Phelan. He was upset at my handling of the post, and I think I can see his point. More about that in a subsequent post.

Now you should know that Chris Brogan is a prolific writer, consultant, and book author who blogs frequently about his thoughts on what it takes to be successful in today’s world, how to run a great blog and all things social media. Chris happens to be the #1 blogger in the country according to AdAge and all this from a “normal” guy sharing his thoughts on his own blog. His online success stems from his experience, authority and expertise + transparency + consistency around thought leadership. The word ‘trust’ fits in there somewhere too since he can be trusted for what he says and is coauthor of a new bestselling book, Trust Agents.

Why does Chris Brogan or this Story Matter?

I respect what Chris has to say and what got my attention is how he reconsidered his own thoughts and opinions about his experience after hearing others chime in. Not just personally, but as it related to his brand and his blog and seemingly how he viewed himself and how others view him. This shows that leaders really are learners too. As he learned more about this experience, he revised his views and then went on to share his new view post haste. Remarkable to see such transparency in a leader.

Stand up and Stand Out

This brings up two key thoughts. What do you stand for and how relationships are built online.

Continuing with Chris as my real world example (hope you don’t mind Chris), I’ll just keep working through this scenario to reveal how important it is to stand for something and how relationships are built online.

What do you stand for?

People are quite familiar with this question, but it can often be hard to extract or define because we tend to stand for things based on situations and we typically stand for things based on core beliefs. I can’t claim to know exactly what Chris Brogan stands for, but I’m guessing it’s based on trust, leadership and transparency.

According to Seth Godin, another thought leader and online trail blazer has a better way to illustrate this concept and shares it well in his Authenticity post from a few months ago:

Authenticity, for me, is doing what you promise, not “being who you are”… because if you’re inconsistent, you’re going to get caught.

Yep, that’s a good way to be recognized for what you stand for, how/what you are. So, in the quest to stand for something, start by being authentic, which Chris does in his blogs and video posts.

This gives way to how being authentic is at the core of building relationships online (and in life). Mainly because people want to trust and if you can be trusted you’ll win and keep them. Again, Seth Godin chimes in:

People and brands and organizations that stand for something benefit as a result. Standing for something helps you build trust…”

How do you build online relationships?

Being authentic is a key factor. That authenticity leads to trust which is at the foundation of all relationships. In another blog post regarding Seth Godin, Small Biz Bee shares another insight from Seth:

Seth says we should be asking ourselves “Are their people out there I’d go out of my way for, and would they go out of their way for me?” That’s what you should be tracking.

And how do you get there? By going out of your way for them, and earning the privilege of one day having that connection be worthwhile.

While that may seem obvious, we can not all go out of our way for everyone all the time. That’s what leads me back to Chris Brogan. In his post, “With Great Power”, he actually brings you into his thoughts and experiences and the consequences of his actions with the earlier Timberland post. By sharing his new findings, he creates more trust in all of us who follow and read his blog. This new level of insight on how Chris thinks and sees this allows us to buy in a little more. Its this buy in that makes us connect to Chris even though he may not know us. In business terms, we are increasing our loyalty to his brand – just because he consistently can be trusted.

For me, this leads me closer to him, I make a note to read him daily instead of ever few days, I revise my mental note of “maybe” buying his book, to “I will buy his book”. This is social media at it’s finest. Chris like Seth sells himself, his thoughts, his ideas, his passions and I buy into them, one blog at a time until ultimately, the trust, the relationship, and the message is solidified into action. That’s how you build a relationship online.

What this means to you:

If you are considering how you build relationships, what you stand for, and how to use social media in your life, start with authenticity and trust, act consistently and don’t stop learning or sharing. Also, take Lucy Beer’s advice on social media because she’s right, when it comes to a life online and social media, it is about self expression, being personal, and growing as an individual.

Are you trust worthy? Do you stand for something? How are you growing as an individual?

  • Diane Brogan

    Great post Justin. I really like your explanation of how to build a relationship online.

  • Lucy Beer

    Interesting post Justin – I like the way you've brought multiple strands of discussion into your post. Thanks for the mention too!

  • Leader4hire

    Thanks Diane. Glad you liked it and thanks for stopping by!

  • Leader4hire

    You're welcome for the mention. I found your post on target for this article. Thanks!

  • Mohammed Al-Taee

    Great post. We are at the same page:

  • Mohammed Al-Taee, PMP

    Great post. We are at the same page:

  • PhilGerb

    @mmangen @ecowordsmith @Leader4Hire we rock. Happy Tuesday everyone.

  • ecowordsmith

    @Leader4hire I have been an @PhilGerb fan for quite some time, too!

  • mmangen

    @ecowordsmith now I’m following you too since you are connected to both @Leader4Hire and @PhilGerb – one happy circle now :-)