Keep Young and Work the Virtual Room

Keep Young and Work the Virtual Room

Remember this question when we were kids: If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one around to hear it, does it make a sound? 

Here’s a modern version: If you don’t have a strong web presence, including blogging, Linked in and Twitter, do you still exist?

I’ve been thinking a lot about social media lately and even more so after reading Trust Agents, a new book by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, and attending the Trust Summit in New York last week.   I’m still dipping my foot into using social media, yet like many, I’ve been reluctant to jump in all the way.  That is changing, albeit slowly. Here’s why I think it’s important to take the plunge:


I remember the days when simply reaching a certain age, one was seen as old. I think Web 2.0 changed that.  My theory is that in the world of social media, people aren’t judged by simply by chronological age, but rather by adaptability to and use of, technology. It may be true that the older one gets the less likely a person is to use new tools. But age does not prohibit one from jumping in. Chris and Julien capture this concept in Trust Agents, by describing a person who is seen as connected as “One of Us."  Age doesn’t seem to a factor by itself anymore. If my theory is right, then by using Web 2.0 channels of communication we can connect and be connected, without regard to age. And that opens new doors in business for everyone.


It’s more than just about adapting to technology.  It’s also about being part of a community – one that creates trust.  I’ve watched my son play a virtual game on line and build relationships with a community of avatars representing people.  Trust is created based on how long people are there, and how people talk with, trade with and treat each other, even when they never can meet in the real world.   

 That’s not to say real world connecting isn’t important. I teach a workshop called How to Work a Room and Still Feel Good About Yourself™  This workshop is about the typical ways to network in person – conferences, luncheons and charity dinners, even in line waiting to board a plane, and addresses how to build relationships – NOT sell – in that environment.  It is still relevant to network this way in business. 

However, there are a lot of people that never get to the same physical rooms we are in.  But they are in virtual rooms.  And those virtual rooms are growing in size and number.  Those rooms include blog conversations, Twitter, Facebook connections and groups, and of course, LinkedIn.  If we’re not in those rooms, we’ll never meet the people who are, and will miss the opportunity to build relationships with new connections that “meet” there. 

And just like a connection at an event can lead to follow up, so can a virtual room connection. For example, recently, I connected with a contact I met when she commented on one of my blogs on We talked by email and then by phone.  And we’re building a relationship just as we would have had we met at a conference.   


Many will now have to operate in both the real and Web 2.0 worlds. Of course we still exist if we’re not blogging and tweeting. While the Web 2.0 world doesn’t discriminate based on age or any factor other than whether we enter the room and appropriately create relationships, only we can decide if we need to be there. But if we’re not in the room – whether virtual or physical, we’ll never even know what we’re missing. This is a benefit of social media, and why we can’t ignore it, whether we’re 20 or 65.

Trust Breakfast Part II Video: Q&A

Trust Summit Part 2 Q&AMore from the TrustSummit at the Harvard Club, New York, on October 23.  The open statements, Part I, were available on yesterday’s blogpost

Today’s Part II of the video is all Q&A: questions from the audience, and answers from David Maister, Julien Smith, Chris Brogan, and yours truly.

There is 75 minutes of video here, so to help you navigate, here is a rough map of the questions asked and the time marker at which they are asked, plus a sample quote:

   1:11    -How do you put a number on the value of engagement and trust?  (David: if measurement drove trust, we could lose weight by standing on the bathroom scale)

11:00    -What role does the fear of failure play in shutting down trust? (Charlie: in trust, risk mitigation doesn’t just cut risk–it increases trust)

16:30    -What was the best response you’ve seen to a screwup?  (Chris: Coke hit a home run; Branson hits lots of singles, so they can risk losing a few)

21:00    -Doesn’t price beat trust at some level? (Julien: intimacy is a great differentiator)

27:00    -Isn’t customer intimacy just one strategy, and you can only pick one?  (Charlie: these days you can’t pick only one; trust is actually the way you get to scale for low-cost strategies, not just intimacy.  Chris Brogan: Vanilla Ice said: stop, collaborate, and listen.  David: if people trust you, you don’t have to do all that icky marketing stuff).

35:00    -What kind of metrics work with non-profits? (David: if companies were serious about metrics, they’d post their customer satisfaction ratings) 

41:00    -How do I transfer powerful online trust to an MBA-managed traditional business?  (Chris: Let revenue do the talking.   Julien: I’d urge a healthy level of scepticism about the social media Kool Aid. It’s an experiment; try it.) 

53:00    -How does a leader teach matters of virtue, in a corporation?  (Charlie: the doctrine of competition is essentially anti-ethical. If all you do is compete with others, you have no one left to be ethical toward. "Buddhist capitalism" works better.)

Trust Summit Part II56:00    -How do you balance privacy versus transparency?  (Chris: there are times for both).

58:00    -Can this kind of cool event actually happen outside of Twitter?  (Julien: the horizon effect, everyone gets closer to everyone else–it’s inevitable).

62:00    -What’s the generational impact of all this?  (David: We’ve talked about clients, but trust between generations is a very big issue within organizations, and we’re doing pathetically)

65:00    -Is there a danger of giving priority to squeaky wheel twitterers?  (Chris: In some ways, that’s odd.  We don’t really want to wait in line like sheep; twitter empowers).

69:00    -How can I use social media to create authenticity?  (Discussion: it varies with target audiences–reaching 5 people through social media is tough)

72:30    -Why do companies pay 4x to get new customers what they’d save in retention?  (Charlie: Stupidity in this area does abound).

73:30    -Charlie describes how Chris and Julien role-modeled all this behavior in setting up this event.


You can see the video here.




Trust Summit Summary and Video – Part I

Last Friday, October 23, New York’s Harvard Club was host to the Trust Summit.

Put on by myself, David Maister, Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, and moderated expertly by Robin Carey (CEO of SocialMediaToday), it was a breakfast, panel discussion and Q&A session with 300 of our closest friends.

OK, maybe "Trust Summit" is a little grandiose, but I think the 300 didn’t mind much. And after all, Chris and Julien did write the very hot Trust Agents. And David and I (and Rob Galford) did write The Trusted Advisor, which has proven to have legs.

And we all, very much, talked about the same thing. Trust is vital in a new economy, just as it was and is an old economy. In fact, if anything, new social media are making trust even more central to successful business.

Robin asked at one point how many people there were on Twitter; about 99% raised their hands (excepting David, I think). More tellingly, when she asked how many signed up through the Twitter channel, the answer was remarkably similar.

Big thanks to Marvin Bzuro for making the video available to us. Thank him yourself, at marvin "at"

Today, we’re posting Part I of the video: it consists of opening remarks by Robin Carey, and by we four panelists. It runs to about 25 minutes. Tomorrow we’ll post the (lively!) Q&A session.

To see Part I of the video, click here.

The Twittersphere was hugely active before the session. And after. And during, for that matter. You can see the entire twit-fest on Twitter with a hashtag search: look for #trustsummit. And while you’re there, check out @chrisbrogan, @julien, and @charleshgreen

If you don’t want to do that, several twitterers did yeoman’s work summarizing for the sake of the rest of us. At the risk of ticking off all the others, I’ll single out @amandarykoff as the most re-tweeted summary. You can find it here. But honorable mentions also go to Fred Abramson, Andrew Marshall,, and Articu-Blog.

And if that doesn’t satiate your appetite, then go watch the video again. And come back tomorrow for the Q&A.