Last year I was given a tour of Airbnb by a friend I really only knew from Twitter. I had an hour to kill in San Francisco, and he invited me to see their new offices, which at the time were still under construction. The company was (and is!) growing hand over fist by doing something relatively simple and replicable many times a day: they help people promote extra space in their homes to be rented out by customers seeking a special, nontraditional place to stay. 

Look at the Similarities in Network Marketing
The simplest concepts of network marketing involve creating a system to help promote a product or service and make it easy for promoters (or sellers) to find customers. In the specific case of Airbnb, it’s not a network marketing company. There’s only a seller-to-buyer connection. But just like network marketing, the most important part of the process is in the “last mile.”

The Sharing Economy and the Last Mile Both Need You
In network marketing, no matter how effective the system, it requires a willing human as part of a collaborative team to make the connection and close the final sale. No matter if you’re an Airbnb user with a place to rent or the Uber driver helping people get to their hotel, or the distributor with a tasty shake that helps fight obesity, there’s a human interaction that completes the operation.

That’s a beautiful thing. What’s exciting about all these shifts in technology is that it opens up new ways to do business. What’s comforting about all these new ways to do business is that it still requires you to make it work.

How Sharing Is a Lot like the Best of Network Marketing
When you help someone find the opportunity that best suits their needs or desires, it’s a beautiful thing. Maybe you’re promoting alternative energy sources or helping people find organic products to replace their current household items. In those moments when it works like magic, it’s all about informing and educating.

The sharing economy is similar. It’s fueled by social media, which is much more about helping than selling. It’s fueled by mobile apps that facilitate less friction and more simplicity of interaction. It’s powered by things like Square and Swipe to take credit cards on the go, and all kinds of other gizmos and gadgets. 

And yet, it’s all powered by people who want to contribute. Be not afraid, friends. Don’t worry about what you don’t yet know how to do. Rejoice in the fact that this new experience is opening up a whole new level of connections for you to help in your own special way.

CHRIS BROGAN is a New York Times bestselling author of 8 books, including Trust Agents and The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth. Chris helps people and companies understand how the digital space can best serve their businesses.