Is trust a fad?

Trust seems to have become the hip buzzword for the past couple of years. At every conference and in many new business books, you’re reading about how important it is to build trust to succeed and win business. From the sounds of things, you’d think this is a revolutionary new concept! It seems trust is the new trendy thing to do.

Chris Brogan and Julien Smith took trust mainstream with their book Trust Agents, which is all about how to build trust and why you should. At several points in the Marketing Profs B2B forum, trust was brought up. So was authenticity. But what is trust really? And will marketers embrace the true meaning of trust or fake it and give it lip service to generate more leads and earn a few more bucks?

To build real, bonafied trust takes time. It takes sincerity. Authenticity. After years of spam and spin, can marketers really be reformed? Will you take it to heart? Or try it for awhile and go back to your old ways because change is painful? Fortunately, we all have the means to call out those who spin. We can spin the spin.I must say I’m getting a bit tired of hearing about trust. It seems that the desire to build trust with others – customers and colleagues should be built in. I’m not naive enough to realize that many have selfish motives – read the news – the examples abound – but is trust so foreign a concept that it’s now trendy?

What I worry about is that people will try trust on as the flavor of the year until the next shiny concept comes along. Several years ago I was listening to an incredible talk by Chuck Ferguson on Leadership. He mentioned at the time (2003) how difficult it was to find many books on leadership just a few years prior. Then the floodgates opened. Type “leadership” in Amazon’s books section and up pops 61,235 results. Much the same is happening with Trust: type trust and you get 52,234 results. Now many of these are author pages, different editions, form factors, but you get the idea: There’s a lot on leadership and trust.I like the concept. I like doing business with people I trust. And having friends I can trust.

But must confess it takes awhile for me to trust someone. Why? Because I’m skeptical. So many people are talking trust. Are they faking it or really sincere? When they are sincere, it’s the coolest thing. It’s refreshing. About as refreshing as getting good customer service from a big company. (Now that’s rare) And I’ll go to the mat for such people. How about you?

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