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thumbsup As more and more individuals and businesses invest in the social media space, there will come a crisis of trust.

With so much access to so many resources, it will become more difficult to decide who to connect with, and who to do business with.

It’s a given that we all want to do business with people we like and trust. The part that is not so clear is how do we know who to trust in the first place?

At first glance, this is easy- we are naturally going to trust those people we know offline, and with whom we’ve built some kind of relationship.

These may be clients, friends, business partners, colleagues- anyone we have a real-life connection with, as well as on online one. These people move to our first circle of trust.

You can think of the circles of trust as a series of concentric circles, gradually becoming larger and larger and moving further and further out from the center.

The second circle of trust is built by friends of friends: people who have been recommended or endorsed by those in our first circle.

The third circle of trust is made up of people you would be friends with, if you could connect with them.

The fourth circle of trust is made up of people you would never connect with, even if you could.

To generate the greatest reach in social media, it is important to cultivate contacts up to, and including, your third circle of trust. This will give you the greatest range of outreach for your expertise and your message. There is inherent value in building up your social network.

Here are some strategies for building your social media trust factor:

  1. Be consistent. The human brain responds to repetition. As I say, “Repetition is Reputation”- which means that what you continually repeat is what people will remember about you. Make sure the messages you send out are what you want to be known for.
  2. Don’t participate in social media when you’re stressed, angry, or having a bad day. An ill-timed (or ill-considered) rant can undo all your relationship building efforts. Have your opinions, of course, but find other places to blow off idle steam.
  3. Do what you say you will do. If you promise to assist someone with a resource or a lead, follow through. Don’t offer if you aren’t going to do it.
  4. Be what people expect. If you have given some thought to how you want to be perceived, you should strive to be what people expect. You must carefully nurture your social media brand, just like in any other interaction.
  5. Be congruent to your message offline as well. If you are presenting yourself as an expert with specialized knowledge- look the part in person, too. Never give people a chance to wonder if you are really what you say.

Building trust in social media takes time. But the more you repeat consistent, brand supporting messages, the more likely people will be to notice you.

And getting attention is the first step to making anything happen.