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You’re considering network marketing as a way to make some extra income, but you’re unsure about how to start, right? Maybe you’ve heard that you need to reach out to friends and family and that’s absolutely nerve-wracking for you?
Oh, I feel ya. Same, girl. Same.
But recently I had this “a-ha” moment that made me view this industry very differently.
Before I get to that, let me tell you a story about what I struggle with in this business.
A Little Bit of My Story
A few months ago, I said yes to joining a premium natural skincare company that was preparing to launch this spring. I love the products, and they fit so well into this healthy lifestyle I’ve been pursuing.
But more importantly, the founder and the company she’s built share my values. This is a group of people who have shown me that they’re worth my time and effort.
But I was still hesitant.
Because I was embarrassed.
Before becoming a stay-at-home mom, I had two jobs that people wanted to talk to me about. These positions were unique and exciting and respected. But network marketing? It doesn’t quite have the same admiration that working for USA Gymnastics at the Olympics or in the Intelligence Community does.
I was in, but I wasn’t all in.
And two weeks ago, that company officially launched.
I watched everyone else cheer with excitement and happiness while all I felt was regret. I regretted that I had wasted months that I could’ve been building my part of the business.
I struggled big time with feelings of doubt, fear, and shame.
Can I do this? What will people think of me?
I talked with my husband, who’s been incredibly supportive, and I worked myself up and thought, “I can do this!”
And then when it came time to reach out to people, I froze. I thought, “I can’t do this!”
I’ve been on the other end of the pitches, and I didn’t want to be THAT girl.
I had no idea how to start network marketing.
My a-ha moment
I needed someone to talk to other than my husband, so I called up a friend who knew I was getting into the business. I hadn’t even told many people that I was doing it so she was one of the few people who knew.
When I said how I was nervous to reach out to people, she shared a story about her husband starting his own business that completely changed the way I viewed how to start network marketing.
When her husband decided to open his plastic surgery practice, they moved back to his hometown where he had a NETWORK of people to help him.
His first customers were his family and friends, who then went out and told others about their amazing experience and results. Then their friends and family became customers and went out and told even more people about his practice.
See how that works?
Let me give you another example.
When my husband started his home inspection company, he practiced by doing free inspections for his family and friends. Then he reached out to people he already knew who were real estate agents, and he also asked his friends and family who they knew who might need his services, like other real estate agents or home buyers.
Not all of these people were ever going to be his customers, but the more people he told about his business, the more people would think of him when they heard about someone who needed his services.
Starting with people he knew also built his confidence for when he went out to network with people he didn’t know.
Here’s one more quick story:
I have another friend who started a home design business with one of her friends. Their first customers were her parents and some friends who live in her community. And those friends showed off their homes to other friends and family who now know about my friend’s business.
How to start network marketing
One of the basic marketing concepts is “know, like, and trust.” In other words, people have to know you before they like you, and once they like you, then they trust you. It’s how you get people to buy what you’re offering. That’s true whether you’re selling skin care products or interior design services.
Now, assuming you don’t already have an online following, what people know, like, and trust you RIGHT NOW?
You guessed it: your friends and family. (Well, I’m assuming they do.)
Here’s the trick, though: They might not be interested in the products or business you’re selling, but someone they know might be. And that someone knows, likes, and trusts your friend, who knows, likes, and trusts you.
This is a referral. It’s like your dentist referring you to an orthodontist. You trust your dentist so you make an appointment with the orthodontist she recommends.
I recently asked someone I know in another network marketing company how she finds her customers. She told me that most of them are referrals from other people who know she sells the products these people are looking for.
Makes sense, right?
Know Your Customer Avatar
A customer avatar is a detailed description of your ideal customer. In network marketing, you’ll have two customer avatars: one for your product customer; and one for your business partner.
So, for me, since my company offers premium nontoxic beauty products and supplements, my ideal product customer is health conscious and has disposable income. I’m going to call her Jessica, because I’m not sure there’s a more millennial name than that. 😉 She’s in her late 30s, married with two kids, and drives a Tesla Model X. She shops at farmers markets and Whole Foods, and loves her Peloton and barre classes. Jessica is anxious about getting older, and wants to use natural solutions to help her age gracefully.
My ideal business partner, however, is someone who wants to own her own business but doesn’t want to spend a ton of time or money creating a product or service. I’ll call her Ashley (because it’s another popular millennial name). She’s a hard worker, self-motivated, and looking for a little something extra in her life. She’s a stay-at-home mom and married to an entrepreneur. Ashley is rooted in her Christian faith and values community over competition. She is health conscious and chooses nontoxic products for her and her family.
Do you see how specific I got with both of those descriptions?
Defining your customer avatar in a detailed, clear manner will help you avoid the rejection you’ll receive if you reach out to every woman you know.
You should still reach out to people who aren’t your ideal customers, but your message is going to be different. You’re going to ask them who they know who fits the description of your customer avatar (overall, not down to every specific detail) because you’d like to share your products with them. Then briefly explain the benefits of the products. You may even find that they’re interested in your products or opportunity, but because you’re not pitching them directly, it’s much less salesy.
My long-term strategy for network marketing
Networking with friends and family is not my only strategy for my business. I am also blogging and posting on Pinterest to start developing an online audience.
But all these strategies take time to develop that know, like, and trust factor, which is why I’ve also started my network marketing business by reaching out to friends and family.
Like me, you’ll eventually need to build some automation into the process so you’re not doing it all manually. But I think for many people, just getting started with their network is the first step, while knowing that there are additional strategies to reach more people online.
I realize now that how to start network marketing is like how to start many other businesses. I believe that the icky, gross factor comes in when people over-sell the business opportunity or reach out to anyone and everyone with a heartbeat.
I’m not saying reaching out is easy, but it helps knowing that people outside of the network marketing industry are doing the same thing.
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