Something funny about this word, loyalty. Add it to a lineup of our favorite positive traits and it sort of sticks out. What is it, exactly...did we not brush its hair? Do its socks not match?
Integrity... honesty... flexibility... commitment... open-mindedness... courage... perseverance... yes, yes. Of course. Noble things all. But what's that one over there, lurking listlessly in the corner, the wallflower that nobody's asking to dance?

Bob Proctor put it this way: "For most people, [loyalty] requires a respectable amount of thought to define, or even just to consider with any level of care." Something a little elusive about it.

And that's fascinating--because loyalty is the human behavior that drives this business. We build a network of repeat consumers, people who keep buying and using our product or service, over and over even in the face of competition (loyalty); for that, we earn a residual income. "Residual"--residue, what's left over from the initial combustion of the enrollment--was originally called "royalties," tracing its roots back to the rents collected by the wealthiest and most powerful landowners...the royalty.

Repeat customers, over time, create residual income. Loyalty--over time--begets royalty. And there it is--that quality that has made loyalty an increasingly and strangely challenging concept in these post-modern times: over time.

No matter how generous, noble, honest, affable, enthusiastic, flexible, personable or charismatic you may be, no matter what other wonderful traits you may exhibit when I meet you and start to get to know you, how can I actually tell anything about your level of loyalty? Only one way: over time.

By definition, loyalty is something you cannot judge, detect or perceive right now. And that's tough, because we live in an increasingly right-now world.

"We'll build your downline for you!" "Get in while it's in pre-launch, it's going through the roof!" Right now, right now, right now, fast, fast, fast. I stand in front of my microwave and mutter impatient incantations--Is it ready yet?!

It's not that fast is bad. It's human nature to want to experience momentum; seeing results quickly is a great way to allay fears and bolster faith. But note two things about speed and networking:

One: every time the networking idea is abused, that abuse is associated with speed (front-end-loading, "get rich quick," crash-n-burn, sign-em-and-leave-em).

And two: the very essence of our business model--residuals from repeat consumers, a community of long-term, faithful consumers--while it may be ignited first by the fires of passion and enthusiasm, heats through the long night by the steady warmth of loyalty.

Loyalty begets royalty--and that happens, always and only, over time.


JOHN DAVID MANN is Editor of Networking Times.