“The Emperor’s New Clothes” is a fairy tale by Danish poet and author Hans Christian Andersen about an emperor who unknowingly hires two thieves to make him a new set of clothes.  Network marketing, like many traditional businesses, is full of people selling us on false hopes.  In the fairy tale, a young boy pointed out what should have been the obvious to everyone in the crowd, the king was naked.  We must ask ourselves, are we being conned into ignoring the obvious in network marketing because we want what we are hearing to be true.  Unfortunately, this is often the case.

Most network marketers and management teams have no idea how to be authentic. I continue to be amazed at how we in network are marketing make claims and statements that assume people will simply buy into our ridiculous one-liners. People are smart. To believe anything other than the idea that people are smarter and more perceptive than the way we have been treating them is a recipe for disaster going forward. If you want dumb distributors, treat people like they are dumb.

Let me give you a couple phrases that are very tired and overused in our industry:
• Ground floor opportunity
• Once in a lifetime
• Family values and integrity

In my years as a network marketer I have had about four chances at “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” I have found that everyone, including some of the biggest thugs on the planet claim to operate with family values and integrity. The most fun claim of all is presented to us once a week, the ground floor opportunity. Unfortunately ground floor usually just means a dirt floor. New companies can be a great opportunity but there is a ton of work for the management team and field leaders to make it legitimate.

I love network marketing, I intend on being a part of it in one form or another for the rest of my life, but people, let’s work on some real authenticity. Authenticity in network marketing requires that corporate and distributor behavior is consistent with our claims. It requires that we really care about people and have a true commitment to improving our own bottom line by really, I mean really, bringing people with you. Network marketing is not just business as usual. No matter what your sell, your real product or service is built on the backs of your downline’s faith in you. Do not underestimate how much you can help or devastate those who buy into your message.

Network marketing is rarely philanthropic, but few businesses really are. However, there is not a problem with wanting to make money and network marketing allows you to truly help people when you do it correctly. If we fail to become authentically interested in bringing people with us, our prospects and downline will see right through our one-liners and disingenuous statements. People see through empty words and partial truths more than ever before. Our downline has many options today and can sense if we are not being authentic.

Here’s a way to start being authentic. Ground floor is fine if you are willing to work through the difficulties in the beginning. Tell people the advantages and disadvantages of not having a system built yet. Demand management teams be accountable. Demand true product value at real prices. If your company says one thing and does another, hold their feet the fire. Help people recognize that the opportunity is in how we make it, not in what others give us. Show people you have integrity and values by committing to it over the time, don’t just say it.

Network marketing is the real deal and is coming of age. Let’s quit screwing it up.