I am concerned. No, I’m actually worried—better yet, downright alarmed. And you should be, too, if you think about the situation at hand.

Let’s start with the bright side: the future that lies before us in network marketing. The stage is set, the seats are filling, the lighting is flawless, and the characters all know their lines….

Or do they?

Network marketing has finally come of age. Just about every mainstream business publication, including The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Forbes, Inc, USA Today, Smart Money and more, have written about our profession. Many of the articles are glowing. We’ve made the breakthrough. We’ve become legitimate. We have books on the New York Times bestseller list. Former presidents speak at our conventions. Yes…the future certainly does look bright enough to send me in search of sunglasses.

…So What’s the Problem?
Why the state of alarm? Because of attitudes. Three, in fact—and they’re alarmingly common, and they threaten the core of our profession.

First, every day a small but visible group of overzealous, under-educated and less-than-truthful representatives of our profession tarnishes our name and integrity by telling others how they “went from welfare to millionaire overnight!”

How about this one: “I get paid for doing nothing.” Or, “Just sign up, you don’t have to do anything—we’ll build it for you!” Downright disgusting.

Then there are the representatives out there who blast every company that isn’t their own. Some actually using this strategy as a platform for building their business. It’s the “my dad is stronger than your dad” syndrome—only this isn’t happening on the school playground. It happens in coffee shops, in large hotel presentations and on the Internet.

Finally, some of us have developed a self-righteous, holier-than-thou attitude directed at those who decline our opportunity. I’ve read posts on message boards and heard stories on company voice mail about would-be sponsors who piously tell the prospect who says no thank you, “Well, that’s okay—I’ll need someone to wash my car and mow my grass someday.”

I read a two-week-long message thread on the Internet between two feuding reps from the same company, a shameful display of slamming and name calling—hanging out there for anyone and everyone to read.

Oh, the things I have seen on the Internet…the littering and spamming of newsgroups and message boards and e-mail lists that has left our businesses sometimes bruised and battered. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love the Internet. I love shopping my opportunity on the Internet—the right way: posting only to boards and groups that are designed for advertising business opportunities—not broadcasting to masses through unsolicited e-mails.

Such attitudes and practices threaten the integrity and viability of our profession. They undermine all of the blood, sweat and tears that many veterans have shed fighting to legitimize and mainstream our profession.

So, whether you’re a veteran networker or someone just considering joining our wonderful profession. I offer this challenge:

Be a Leader
Look before you leap; think before you speak. Evaluate every action that you take publicly that represents network marketing.

Each time you represent your opportunity—whether in person, on the phone, on the Internet or whatever—think about your words and actions.

Are you being honest and up front with people about the reality of the time and energy commitment involved in building a successful business?

Do you make them aware that our business is one of consistency and persistence?

Are you acting with courtesy and integrity towards people, leaving them with a positive feeling about you and the company and profession that you represent?

Are you operating with an abundance mentality, realizing that of the billions of people on the planet, you will find partners to join you, rather than operating from a scarcity mentality, believing that you have to coerce the person you’re prospecting into “your deal?”

If the person you are dealing with has already been approached about your opportunity, are you encouraging him or her to get back with that person and re-evaluate his or her options?

When a prospect says “No,” do you act with dignity, courtesy and grace, leaving the door open in the future?

When you use the Internet to shop your business, are you engaging people as a warm, living, breathing human being, rather than a robot interested only in what each cyberunit can do for you and your business?

In every encounter, think about the words you say, the body language you use and the way that you leave each encounter. Would your mother be proud of you and your actions?

What is the legacy you will leave behind in network marketing? What words will be spoken about you at local, regional and national company events?

I challenge you to build a successful, respected business for yourself, your company and your profession via the high road, and avoid the low road at all costs. We need your commitment to uphold the integrity of our profession—now more than ever.

I’m committed to the challenge of leadership. Are you?

JACKIE ULMER is a successful "InterNetwork" marketer and has been in the profession for eight years. She lives with her husband, Mark, and their two children in the new house they built in Blue Jay, California.