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Posts Tagged ‘trust’
Can you, or the people you write for, be trusted? People trust experts more than ever before, according to the 2010 Edelman trust barometer. In contrast, trust in a “person like me” dropped significantly.
The two best ways to build and retain trust are honesty and deep knowledge of a well-defined field. In a complex, fast-changing world, most of us rely on honest experts.
Don’t pretend to understand hot dogs
By honesty, I mean squeaky clean, resisting the urge to avoid, evade, exaggerate, prevaricate or the 101 other ways most people occasionally lie or pretend to know more than they do.
One summer years ago, I worked with a group of students who were going to promote hot dogs at touristy events. When I asked them how hot dogs were made, each one tried to answer. Given the chance, the cocky guy would have guessed the chemical composition of the mustard.
Can you imagine if those videos were posted on YouTube? Funny for the viewers, but embarrassing for the students and the hot dog company.
Chris Brogan and other web gurus have long insisted that trust is the top currency of the internet. Still, nice people, on or off the web, are tempted to gloss over shortcomings or enhance positives. It’s human nature.
But most people can smell BS (ironically, my initials) a mile away. Or the web will catch you. Besides, how can you expect others to be honest with you, if you’re not setting an example?
Once trust has been eroded, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to build it back up. Just ask Andrew Weiner or Bernie Madoff or any other fallen idol. Call me old-fashioned, but I’m convinced that honesty is still the best policy.
Deep, narrow niche
To be considered a knowledgeable expert, you don’t need to know everything about everyone. But you do have to have a deep understanding of your field. The more clearly and narrowly you define your field, the easier it is to be seen as a credible expert.
Usually when I am disappointed by a seminar, book or other purported source of expert knowledge, the experts or the people publicizing them have claimed a broader knowledge than they should have.
Take the countless so-called experts on social media. My highest esteem goes to the ones who develop and share a deep knowledge on one small slice and not the whole, constantly morphing pie.
For me, I don’t bill myself as an expert in writing, because there are many better writers out there and many people who excel at types of writing that I’m not experienced with. But I am confident saying that I’m an expert in business casual writing because that’s a niche I’m creating.
Proof of the pudding is in the eating
My official bio states that I have a master’s degree in journalism and 30 years’ experience in corporate communication, but prospects want proof I can deliver, not diplomas or yellowed clippings.
What establishes my expertise is what you see on this blog: my chatty, yet strategic writing style. What’s more, I’ve thought this through so thoroughly, I am confident in answering most questions.
Sure, I sometimes consider writing about, say, gerunds and participles. But although I may be more knowledgeable than the average person, I am not a grammar expert. I defer to those who are.
And I would never pretend to know how they make hot dogs. I know just enough to be discouraged from eating too many. That’s all you can learn from a “person like me.”
Thanks for the photo from CulinaryGeek.