A few years ago while walking around Harvard Square, I noticed a new retail store that was creating quite a buzz outside. Curiosity drove me into the store to see what types of goods were for sale that would attract so many people my age. I was immediately hooked and became a part of the buzz. As I walked around the store, a steady procession of childhood memories flashed before my amazed eyes.

The store's shelves were jammed full of original "old-school" products from the '80s: Rubik's Cubes, bandanas, E.T., Madonna, lunch boxes, Rainbow Brites, the A-Team, Strawberry Shortcake, My Little Pony, Thundercats, the Smurfs.... Everywhere I looked, I saw toys I'd once owned, books I'd once read, music I'd listened to. I walked around the store (quietly singing along with Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar On Me") and saw people wearing ripped jeans and girls with two-foot-tall hair.

I shook myself loose from the shop's spell of nostalgic commerce and walked out, thinking how happy I was that the '80s had come and gone.

What were we thinking back then?!

I'll tell you what network marketers were thinking back then--and it has everything to do with the future of network marketing. Back when my friends and I were busy riding our Big Wheels, network marketing was all about building personal relationships. Attending hotel or home business opportunity meetings (no doubt wearing one of those skinny '80s ties) was the way to build a successful business. Network marketing was booming.

Then came the Internet.

Today we live in a high-tech, low-touch world where many web site owners hide behind their URLs, listing no contact information on their sites but an e-mail address. This low-touch feel of the Internet has unfortunately made its way into network marketing, too. In this duplication-focused business, what is someone new going to do when they join your business and the only communication they have with you is through e-mail? They will duplicate your efforts, attempt to build high-tech, low-touch relationships--and rarely if ever pick up the phone.

Without that personal touch of meeting someone or having a conversation with them on the phone, the only relationship we're building is with our keyboard.

Those who learn how to effectively combine the high-tech power of the Internet with the old-school way of network marketing will be those who cross the finish line. The future of network marketing is for the new generation to learn how to tie the "old school" way of network marketing in with the new--minus the big hair and skinny ties, please.


year-old full-time network marketer; he resides in Houston, Texas.