An Online Presence, Part 2: Trust
There are many different elements of reputation, the first being Trust. Trust is something many people struggle with in today’s society, even in the real world. It has become easier to break trust without true repercussions and for this reason it is no longer regarded in the same manner as it once was. Especially in a forum setting, it is not easy to gain trust from anyone and this comes down to one key factor: all you have are your words.
Words, however, are not enough when it comes to trust. Therefore, you must put action into every word no matter how much you later regret the words you used. If you promise someone you will make 100 posts on their forum, you must make 100 posts on their forum. Failing to do so make your words less valuable and the less valuable your words are, the harder it is going to be for you to build trust and in turn create a strong, positive reputation for yourself.
Making posts however is not the only way of building trust, and for some it is not even a method for doing so. In fact it may require a certain level of trust for someone to even ask you to make 100 posts on their forum and this is what brings us to the key attribute of trust: It varies from person to person.
So what does this actually mean? In theory, trust is a measureable object that can be described as the level of belief between two people that these individuals will honor their words to each other. This is a rather complex and abstract description, but sums up the very facts we take into account every time we speak with a person without even consciously knowing that we are. In order to better understand trust and how to form and keep such trust between people we must look at our subconscious mind to see how we truly think. Understanding our own thoughts will help us better understand those of others.
Trust is gained through honoring agreements, keeping your word, and being respectful. However, gaining reputation online where words are your only tool is one step harder. Trust at an individual level is very much the same, but in order to build a larger, stronger reputation you want people who don’t know you well or have never had direct contact with you to trust you too. This does come in a very similar fashion, but your words will matter even more. In a private one on one discussion you can say things, explain them again and build a dialogue. After a while, certain understandings, phrases and references will, as in any friendship or close contact, become un-needed, as each party is aware of them. Someone looking on from the outside could consider a joking reference to someone who knows you extremely rude. For this reason, you must consider all words you use in the context they are being used and how everyone around you will interpret them. Even when taken out of context, the words you have used must be understandable and trustworthy.
To sum it up, the first stage of creating a strong, positive reputation is trust. This trust is built on both a personal level and an impersonal level. The words you use in every situation will build or decrease a person’s trust in you. This trust they have in you will reflect on you in many ways, as people will speak of this to others. If they trust you they will recommend you to others, if they don’t, they will tell others to stay clear. Consider your words and what they mean, can you truly honor that agreement?
This is part 2 of the series of articles which is titled An Online Presence. The next installment will be posted soon.