I was contacted a few days ago by someone I’d known in my network marketing organization many years ago. Was I still in the business? she wanted to know. She was interested in getting back into it. We went back and forth a few times on email, and then I wrote to her: “People have so many different reasons for wanting to do this, and I don’t want to make assumptions: What is it you’re looking for in a network marketing venture? What’s most important to you?”

And she wrote back: “First, loyalty and trust.”

Fascinating.

She is keenly interested in a quality product, she went on to say, and first-rate training. And she has clear financial goals, which she told me about—six sentences later. But the most important factor for her came in those first four words: “First, loyalty and trust.”

We often think of trust as a condition for doing business, a quality we need to have and instill in order to build a strong network, which in turn will lead to the results we seek to gain from that business. That is, a means to an end. But for my friend, trust isn’t simply a means to an end—it is an end.

It’s not just a feature: it’s a benefit. And so it is, I suspect, for most all of us in this business—because trust is food for the soul.

Without it, we starve.

We’re surrounded today by ample evidence of suspicion and mistrust, division and danger. (We line up at the metal detectors, doffing our shoes to prove we’re not out to bomb anyone—and that’s just our junior high schools!) Yet these are but the inevitable zigs and zags, the traumatic course-correction growing pains, in humanity’s overall onward march of ever-increasing trust.

For example.

Can you imagine trusting a complete stranger to hurl a one-ton metal missile at you at hurricane speeds, promising to do his best to miss you by, oh, a least a foot or two? Insane! Nobody is that trusting. Yet we do it every day on our highways. Or what about giving a complete stranger the keys to a vault where you keep all your money? “Are you crazy?!” Not crazy, just trusting: we do that too with every online purchase.

Living in a cave requires no trust. Do-it-yourself is a trustless path. But doing anything that involves collaboration means giving up a piece of ourselves: putting our lives, or at least a piece of our lives, into the hands of others. The history of the advance of civilization is the story of making impossible things possible through increasing our capacity to trust.

And it not only makes us more advanced, it makes us more human, too.


JOHN DAVID MANN is Consulting Editor to Networking Times.