Today's highly competitive and digitized world has really changed the game for brands, both business and personal. Though advertisements may still attract your clients' or customers' attention, these aren't enough to convince them to secure your services or buy your products. People are doing their research, asking for referrals and recommendations from people they know, and basically only buying from brands they trust.
As a personal brand, it's very important that you take charge of the reputation you have, both online and off. The more people who know you and recommend your services, the better for your brand.
Most professionals understand the value of client feedback and testimonials. You get a significant edge over others offering the same services when someone recommends or refers you, or when someone gives you glowing feedback.
There is a drawback when it comes to online testimonials and recommendations. Because the competition is so fierce, some unscrupulous brands have taken to making up their own testimonials and feedback in order to have control over their reputation. Let's face it - brands want to have positive feedback. It's definitely not fair to people when a brand creates glowing feedback for itself, defeating the purpose of an honest evaluation of the brand.
Social media has even muddled up the online world some more, since anyone can simply sign up and create an account - even a fake one using a fake name. Though there are lots of people who accurately represent themselves in social networking sites, there are also many who create bogus accounts, lie about their credentials, and make up stories about their past work or lives.
This is where Connect.Me comes in. According to the site, "Connect.Me was founded with a simple mission: make the social web a better place for real people." It aims to help individuals find real people in social networks that they can trust to get the job done.
How does Connect.Me work?
Connect.Me gives you a reputation card based on people who vouch for you. They can vouch for your interests, your skills, your expertise, and so on. The more people who vouch that you have a certain skill, for example, the more that people can trust that you have that skill and can do it well.
But what makes it different from other testimonials and feedback? Connect.Me is based on the Respect Trust Framework, a groundbreaking trust framework that has been designed for personal data. It covers the model of personal networks, defining a set of principles and rules that the network agrees to in order to share data with confidence and honesty.
How can you be assured that the "vouches" are real and not just from people who simply want to vouch for you in order to get vouches as well? In Connect.Me, everything is transparent - people can see the ones who vouched for you, so they can evaluate whether that person is credible or not. People who vouch indiscriminately gain little credibility - basically, the judges of your reputation are other people who have also been judged.
There are also people who manage the network called Trust Anchors. These individuals have identities that are publicly verifiable and have agreed to uphold and administer the rules of the Respect Trust Framework.
It is currently still in beta version, however, and you can only sign up if a Connect.Me user vouches for you. But people are predicting that it will soon be an important part of the social web, helping people find individuals they can trust and connect with.
As a personal brand, your online reputation is based on what other people are saying about you. This is why most social networks have included opportunities for people to give testimonials, feedback, recommendations, etc., about other people, companies and brands. And this is the reason why you should take charge of your reputation by doing an excellent job at what you do, by actively seeking these recommendations about your services, and by making sure they're featured prominently in your social media accounts.
With its transparency, Connect.Me is poised to become an excellent way for people to provide feedback about each other and establish their skills and expertise in their chosen niche through other people's vouches. In the digital world of today, it has become more important for people to find individuals they can trust and rely on, which is why the trust framework that Connect.Me offers is a great solution. This network could significantly improve how people use the social web, giving people a more open and honest platform for exchanging information.
Maria Elena Duron, is managing editor of the Personal Branding Blog, CEO (chief engagement officer) of buzz2bucks.com - a word of mouth marketing firm. She helps create connection, credibility, community and cha-ching through mobile marketing and social commerce around your brand. She is co-founder of #brandchat - a weekly Twitter chat focused on every aspect of branding.