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I’m now into my fifth month as a new network marketer, and I have a few lessons I’d like to share with you. I think the last few months have gone about the way I expected them to, so these aren’t necessarily surprises as much as they are confirmations of what I already thought.
For the new network marketer or the person considering joining a company, there aren’t a lot of people out there telling it like it is. You have both ends of the spectrum, from the anti-MLMers who love to hate on the business model to the current MLMers who are trying to sell you the business or the products.
I’m able to view this business from a different perspective as the wife of an entrepreneur. I used to be anti-MLM until my husband became involved in entrepreneurship and online marketing. I used to be anti-MLM until I saw how much time and money my husband spent on his various business ventures. But that’s not the subject of this post, so I’ll get back on track.
Before I get to the rest of this post, let me quickly tell you a little bit about my company. It’s a natural, nontoxic skincare company that has been in business for nine years, but just recently moved into direct sales. And when I say recently, it just launched into network marketing four months ago. The company was in pre-launch for about nine months before it switched to its new sales model. This allowed people to recruit other ambassadors and share the company with friends and family who might become customers.
Those are the basics, but you get the picture.
Now, on to what I learned.
Lesson #1: I need to understand my network.
There’s a reason it’s called “network” marketing and “social” selling. The people I’ve seen who had success right out of the gate have the right kind of networks. Some of these people are involved in ministry or other Christian groups and know a lot of people; others have worked in network marketing before and have built up their networks.
Others are just really outgoing and social, or they have the right kinds of friends on Facebook and Instagram. For example, I see other people on my team create Facebook posts and do Facebook lives that generate TONS of comments and interest in either the products or the business. But when I post to my Facebook, I get… crickets. I think my posts are good, too, but my Facebook friends just may not be the right audience for what I’m selling.
Or they’re lurkers and just don’t interact much on social media. They might be interested, but they’re just not ready to buy yet. It could take several “touches” or posts before someone asks for more information. Then it may take several more before they’re ready to buy. This is a well-known principle among marketers and entrepreneurs, but probably not among network marketers.
I’ve also never sold skincare before, so my network is still getting a feel for what I’m promoting. Those other people who’ve done direct sales in the past? They’ve already established themselves with their Facebook friends as a network marketer.
So I’m focusing most of my time on blogging and on Pinterest. My long-term goal is to build a brand around myself rather than my network marketing company so I can expand my network outside of friends and family. That’s always been my goal, but it’s a long-term strategy. Friends and family are my short-term strategy.
Network marketing is first and foremost a sales job, and selling takes work. It can become passive income, but it doesn’t start out that way. It can also take much longer to find success than anyone expects. You simply have to start by trying different things to figure out what works for you.
Lesson #2: There’s a lot of information for a new network marketer.
During the first month, I was in five different Facebook groups (still am) plus a separate 30-day training. There are company trainings and videos, and then team trainings and videos, and I was very quickly overwhelmed with information.
I finally turned off all notifications from these Facebook groups, plus any group Messenger chats. I also unfollowed the groups, which means that I’m still in them but they don’t show up in my news feed. Now I go into these groups once a day or so to catch up.
The problem for me is that I suffer from analysis paralysis. I spent so much time trying to learn everything and see what others were doing that I wasn’t actually doing anything. I had also decided before joining that my main focus was going to be on blogging as a way to build my audience and network. But then I started to question my strategy and myself so much that I didn’t do anything.
If you struggle with information overload, check in with your upline and ask for help. Ask what groups and trainings to focus on, and have them help you narrow down your tasks and to-do list.
And don’t forget that you’re allowed to market and sell in a way that feels comfortable for you. You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing if it doesn’t feel right. Making a list of 100 people and sending them all notes about the business opportunity is just not my thing. I didn’t like being on the receiving end of them, so I’m not about to be the person sending them. Yes, you’ll still have to go outside your comfort zone sometimes and do hard things, but there’s a difference between doing hard things and doing the wrong things.
With all that being said, I love this company and I do believe that the team leaders really want to see people succeed (and not just to fatten their own pockets). They’re constantly sharing and teaching, but you know how you can have too much of a good thing? That’s what it feels like sometimes. But from what I’ve heard from people with experience in other network marketing companies, this is totally normal.
Lesson #3: There’s competition if I want it.
Listen, it’s a sales job, so if you do well, you are compensated and rewarded accordingly. It would be unfair if it didn’t work this way.
That also means that it can be competitive… if you want it to be.
You’ll see people receive recognitions and incentives, and you’ll know when they achieve new ranks.
This has the potential to go two ways: it can motivate you; or it can discourage you. (I fall into the second category.)
If you’re in the first group, then pay attention and keep pushing! But be careful not to turn friendly competition into catty rivalry.
If you’re in the second group, you may want to turn off the notifications that I discussed earlier. Then find someone in your upline who you can talk to openly and candidly, or find a business mentor outside your company who will encourage you. I think it’s helpful to have both because you get different perspectives.
Bad competition is when your upline pressures you to do more, push more, sell more, or sacrifice other aspects of your life for your business.
Good leaders will coach and nudge you out of your comfort zone. Bad leaders will make you feel worse for not selling or recruiting “enough.”
One of the reasons why I chose to join my company is because it welcomes ambassadors to sell as much as they want or can. If your team isn’t selling as much as you’d like, then go out and find new network marketers who will.
Lesson #4: I need to get over myself.
I never, ever thought I’d join a network marketing company. As I stated earlier, I didn’t like them at all.
But then one fell in my lap that I finally felt like I could support.
I love talking about the products because they actually work really well. But when someone asks me where they can buy them, I clam up. I feel awkward sharing that I sell them.
Here’s the deal: I need to get over myself.
I’m selling skincare, which is something they use everyday. I’m not selling steak to a vegan.
There’s a chance they might actually buy what I’m selling. But I’ll never know if I’m too scared to put it out there.
Lesson #5: Starting a business requires personal growth.
Here’s where I tell you what surprised me, although it was more that I was disappointed in myself.
I learned that a friend of mine was introduced to my company’s products through one of her friends. I unfortunately don’t see or talk with her very much any more (#busymomlife), but we had texted a little bit and she shared that she was using the products.
I thought it was great that she was using them, although I admit I was a little bummed that I had missed out on a customer. Then a little later, I figured out that she had signed up to become an ambassador and was now selling the products, too.
This part is really hard for me to admit, but I want to be honest: I wasn’t happy that she signed up to be an ambassador because I was hoping to sell my products to her group of friends (friends of friends, and all that).
And I am so disappointed in myself for feeling that way. Part of why I joined this company is because they are actively working to keep out the cattiness that plagues other MLMs. I wish that my first reaction was excitement for her and this opportunity, but unfortunately my first thought was that she was a threat. Yikes.
This woman is my friend, and she’s as sweet as can be. What kind of person am I to think this way?
Well, I’m probably quite normal. People just don’t admit this stuff out loud.
However, I must actively work not to have these feelings. This requires immense personal growth, a lot of self-reflection, and conversations with a trusted confidante. (Which is ironic, because here I am spilling my guts on the internet.)
I want to be the type of person who lifts up other women and supports them unconditionally. I want to be the type of person who’s excited to see other women succeed in this company even when I don’t benefit in any way.
And obviously, I still have a lot of work to do. But I recognize that I have a problem and I want to fix it.
Do you want to learn more about my company and what I’m doing? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s chat!