Good intentions are like positive thoughts—they mean little without action and are seldom effective without follow-up.

The concept of sharing is a good intention and promoted throughout network marketing. The long-term winners are those who practice the ethics of authentic sharing.

I came into network marketing long before the Internet. Even group conference calls were rare. The winning focus was on one-to-one sponsorship, training, follow-up, and a whole lot of handholding. To be effective we had to have on-location opportunity meetings throughout the week and trainings on weekends. And we had to walk through the snow or take the stagecoach to get there.

Okay, maybe not the last part. But building a network marketing business was time-consuming, costly, and prone to quick burnout.

Today it’s possible to work with teams online while giving them individual attention and care via phone, email, and social media. However, the latest technology does not free recruiting distributors from sharing their time to motivate, inspire, teach, and most of all, to follow up.

What often happens is the “sharer” shares the opportunity, but not the way, hence the trails of broken dreams and discounted promises that have contributed to the prejudice some hold against network marketing.

Here’s a “share test.” If you are reaching out to give, you’re sharing; if you’re reaching out to get, you’re not.

The primary feeling the new person has when joining you is hope. He or she holds the expectation that this will be everything wonderful they’ve been told, along with the greater hope that they might make some money—soon! But this hope is also mixed with the fear of the unknown and every negative rumor they may have heard about the business.

New people are usually poised to be negative anyway. They are looking for a breach of your promises. Many are subconsciously looking for an excuse to bail early, because if they quit, they can point a finger at someone else; they don’t have to hold themselves responsible for another failure. Your pathway to wealth is not to give them that excuse!

Regardless of experience, the distributor is seen as the expert who can help this new recruit achieve greater success and prosperity.

Years ago in a seminar I coined a phrase to define the network marketing ideal: You’re in business for yourself, but not by yourself. It caught on and I’ve seen it used often. However, I’m afraid many who say it are in the habit (and may not even know it) of leaving their recruits behind and alone.

If this sounds familiar—if your upline is not responsive—keep going until you find someone who is. There are leaders above you in the compensation plan who are benefiting from your work and who are accountable and incentivized to help you.

My first sponsor had tried to get me interested in about five previous “opportunities.” I’d been a TV/radio talk show host and producer with offices at Universal Studios. He was shocked when I agreed to come to a meeting. Why he’d kept coming after me was a mystery.

I was suddenly available because after putting most of my money into a “surefire” project, it had been cancelled. The same day I was given 48 hours to vacate my tiny office at the studio, he called again with yet another invitation. I agreed to go to a meeting only because I was so depressed I just wanted to be around a group of positive people.

The person who had sponsored my sponsor, Kurt Robb, was there and gave one of the greatest speeches I’d ever heard. I tried the product and it worked for me.

While I liked and believed in the product, I couldn’t see myself in what was then called multilevel marketing. I’d been a TV producer after all. I was all puffed up about that. I was broke, but I was a “big shot,” at least in my own mind at that time.

My sponsor was a good guy but he couldn’t help me much. He’d never been trained in his other companies and he’d been in this one all of about a day.

I was mentally checked out of the business for most of the first two weeks, but Kurt always brought me back. He followed up constantly. If not for him, I would have fled.

His efforts became well worth it for us all. Because of his help, some dumb luck, and a great product, within six weeks, mine was the largest downline in the company! I followed Kurt’s lead with my people and it kept growing. I used to joke that I was making more money by accident than I’d previously made on purpose. It wasn’t far from the truth.

You may be familiar with the late Og Mandino’s first and most famous book, a delightful allegory titled The Greatest Salesman in the World. I was privileged to be a friend of his and we often spent hours talking on the phone.

Because of his high profile in self-help and transformational writing he was a sought-after speaker for the biggest network marketing companies in the world. Og had never been a distributor except to buy products at wholesale. He knew little about the business except that it involved selling.

After I’d been in my company for a while I told him what I was doing. He was surprised because I’d been a TV producer with an office at Universal Studios.

I told him that for me, being in business for yourself but not by yourself was what made it work for me. He became fascinated with the concept and picked my brain and those of other top leaders. He agreed that what we’re now calling sharing was the unique core of a successful distributorship.

In less than a year Kurt was killed in a tragic accident. Because of his care and ability to share his time and experience with me, he was to have the most profound influence on me of any other person in my life other than my parents.

To find inspiration is like finding gold; to be inspiring is like creating gold. You can be the alchemist of your organization and your company. You will create other “alchemists” who will spin gold for themselves, for you, and throughout your downlines.

Imagine being the “Kurt Robb” to just one person, let alone to the unlimited number of people you have access to today. That’s the magic and wealth that comes from authentic sharing in network marketing.

Thrust into network marketing from the world of show biz 30 years ago, TOM JUSTIN built several successful downlines, then moved on to consulting, coaching, and speaking. He also became a consultant to Entrepreneur magazine and the author of How to Take No for an Answer and Still Succeed.