CraigsList founder, Craig Newmark, has a great post up today called Trust and Reputation Systems: Redistributing power and influence.
His quote on the influence of social networking tools is powerful:
People use social networking tools to figure out who they can trust and rely on for decision making. By the end of this decade, power and influence will shift largely to those people with the best reputations and trust networks, from people with money and nominal power. That is, peer networks will confer legitimacy on people emerging from the grassroots.
Our networks are moving online. Our weak-tie networks are expanding. The tools to measure and quantify our networks are readily available. Trust, power, and influence will be at the core of these networks and those with the best networks will be the winners.
Soon it won’t be OK NOT to have a strong online presence. It will be too difficult to compete.
Craig is spot on when he says:
This shift is already happening, gradually creating a new power and influence equilibrium with new checks and balances. It will seem dramatic when its tipping point occurs, even though we’re living through it now.
It will be even more dramatic for those who wait for the tipping point.
Start investing in your online presence and brand NOW! Like any good investment, it’s best to invest early as it takes time grow and have the best returns when you get in in the beginning.