My peeves with untrustworthy humans extend past the aspirants who populate Meetup audiences. Web 2.0 startups that "succeed" through hype instead of earnings do so partly by ignoring the need to build trust. Here come some stunning examples. Facebook and Twitter will eventually face serious problems because clients who pay for targeted ads can't trust whether their audiences are real. Both of those companies' user engagement systems are easily manipulated by paid "likes" and "follows" from phony contractors running hundreds of fake profiles out of Internet cafes in developing countries. Yelp has a similar problem with false reviews from competitors and an algorithm that mysteriously hides valid reviews. The obvious solution is for these companies is to hire an independent auditor who can verify the extent of fake user profiles in their systems. The Nielsen Company figured out how to do this with audience ratings for TV and radio broadcasts decades ago and advertisers trust their methodologies.
Trust matters. It takes a long time to build. Its foundation is integrity in disclosing facts, processing data, and representing operations. The Meetup panelists understood this and valued the relationships they built with influencers. Those influencers built their reputations with integrity. This very simple lesson in personal character went right over the heads of the majority of attendees. That's why those people are a long way from ever building world-class companies.