What’s the biggest objection you hear, the biggest reason people you know shy away from becoming involved in your business? Here’s the one I hear most:

“Oh, that’s the thing where people use their friends.”

But that’s not true! People only think that because they don’t understand network marketing! We’re not in the convincing business, we’re in the information-sharing business! We don’t abuse our friendships, we only sort people, because we’re looking for people who are looking!…

All good points. But if that’s all true, then why do network marketers always laugh when the speaker at the front of the room says, “By the time I heard about this opportunity, I was a member of the NFL—No Friends Left!” I heard this quip just the other day. I’ve been hearing it for over twenty years. Never fails to bring an embarrassed grin of recognition and sympathetic chuckle. Why? Could it be that people have that “that’s where people use their friends” objection, not because they “don’t get it,” but because they do?

Scott Allen and Thomas Power, two of the world’s top experts on networking, confirmed this shocking but accurate observation: network marketers do not know how to network.

So far, we only know how to do half our job description. We market. But we don’t network.

In fact, we are still so woefully immature at the “networking” half of the equation that in the world’s thriving, vibrant professional online networking organizations (such as Ryze.com and

Ecademy.com), network marketing activity is banned, much like spamming or pornography!

Now, that made me sit up and notice.

I don’t think anything has done more to poison the well for network marketing than the odious concept of the “three-foot rule.” Early in my networking career, I was taught, “How do you know if you’ve got a prospect? If he can fog a mirror!”

That is direct selling at its most crass, offensive and injurious.

For years, in the pages of this journal, Bob Burg has been pointing out what it means to genuinely network: connect people with each other in a way that helps everyone benefit. Here’s how Thomas Power defines it: “To give away connections.” As Ivan Misner puts it: “Givers gain.”

Not get: give. Not sell: inform. Not prospect: serve. Not “sort”—network!

Here’s what Scott Allen has to say: “The top network marketers know that the three-foot rule is not what you do. If there is a three-foot rule, it’s this: anyone within three feet is worth getting to know a little better.”

That’s maturity. And when we have it and show it in our profession, not just here and there but as the norm…well, just imagine!

Network marketing will have arrived.

JOHN DAVID MANN is Editor in Chief of Networking Times.