TRUST. If you ask me, the first rule of our profession is trust.

Without trust we cannot do much in our firms. Without trust we cannot learn and share with one another. Without trust we cannot mentor, or be mentored, by the incredible leaders of our profession, who are still around. Which says a lot about who we are as a community.

We had a breach in trust yesterday.

I started a Facebook group for legal marketers a year or so ago. I had a question I needed to ask. I should have known the answer, but I didn’t. I didn’t want it posted in a public forum where it would live there forever. So I started a group with a dozen or so of my legal marketing friends. Not all LMA members.

I invited my friends to invite their friends, and the group has now grown to 257. I don’t even know a lot of these folks. But I still feel comfortable openly sharing. If I trust you, and you trust your friend, then I trust your friend.

Per Facebook rules, the group is “secret” so that our conversations remain completely private on our personal walls, but is open to all to join. (If you want to join the group, send me a message on Facebook).

But whether on Facebook, in an e-mail thread, at an LMA meeting, or a board meeting, we legal marketing professionals openly share with one another.

We don’t collude or plot, but we share our difficulties and frustrations that come with our jobs, and seek out solutions to our challenges from our peers.

This level of trust amongst us has allowed us to create something really, really special: friendships.

I count amongst my closest friends members of my profession and/or professional association. Some are service providers. Some are competitors. Some are true peers.

These close friendships allow me to not only do my job better, but allow me to be a better and more authentic Heather.

I trust you to see the vulnerable me. The real me.

When I am mentoring new members of our profession, I always start by telling them about this trust thingie we have going on. How you can pick up the phone and call anyone. How you can ask a stupid question.

In the past 14+ years that I have been doing this, I can honestly say that breaches in trust are few and far between, but the damage one breach can cause can be immense, and can do great harm.

However, I would caution all of us to not allow these rare breaches of trust to impair our culture of trust. It’s what makes us special. It’s what makes us a better community. It’s what makes us better legal marketers. And it’s what makes us better friends.