I finally put down my summer reading and picked up Chris Brogan and Julien Smith’s Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust (which has been sitting on my nightstand since the day it came out).

Where have I been?? Oh, yeah, pre-WWII Shanghai, pre-Tudor Court England, revolutionary France, and other far off places, but I digress.

While I am only on page 88, Trust Agents is now the #1 recommended book for my attorneys who are participating in social networking and social media.

I plan on dropping some wonderful tidbits onto the blog as I read along, the points that really resonate with me, but I suggest that you pick up your own copy and read with a highlighter and pen at hand’s reach.

For instance, on transparency (page 9):

Those who are the most familiar with the digital space – we refer to them as “digital natives” – have become accustomed to a new level of transparency. They operate under the assumption that everything they do will eventually be known online. Realizing they are unable to hide anything, they choose not to try. Instead, they leverage the way the Web connects us and ties our information together to help turn transparency into an asset for doing business.

Well, considering how difficult rolling out a CRM system can be in a law firm, I am amazed at how quickly and easily attorneys “get” the power of LinkedIn’s connections and are willing to go transparent. While they look at sharing contacts within the firm with distrust and skepticism, they SEE how sharing connections on LinkedIn creates those “6-degrees of separation” (or, in the case of LinkedIn, 3-degrees).

Transparency in your work can include uploading court filings and decisions to JDSupra. Yes, it’s work product, but once it’s filed in court, it’s part of an open record. Your competitors know how to easily find it … why not make it easy to find for those who might want to hire you??

And how about uploading to the firm’s blog the slides from the recent conference where you spoke? And why not post to the firm’s blog a case update about one of YOUR cases (with the client’s knowledge … you never want to surprise a client)?

Companies can no longer hide behind the veneer of a shiny branding campaign, because customers [clients] are one Google search away from the truth. p. 11

So, get out there and create your own truth. What is it that you do? How well do you do it?? For whom do you do it??? Instead of TELLING your prospects, let them DISCOVER it.