I recently got wrapped up in a networking marketing opportunity.. and honestly, how I failed at network marketing.
I’ve always been intrigued by network marketing, but as an outsider. I’ve never really been directly solicited to join one until recently. Over the years, I’ve attended parties for Stella Dot, Norwex, Thirty-One, Origami Owl, Wildtree, Matilda Jane, CAbi, and probably many others I can’t remember too. I could see how the lure of selling cool products and supplementing your income is very appealing to the millions of people who have joined a multi-level marketing (MLM) company in the last 50+ years.
And that’s exactly how I failed to make network marketing work.
As I grow into my role as a health and wellness coach, and gluten-free blogger, I got swept up in the excitement of networking marketing. My excitement lasted for a total of six days until I decided it wasn’t for me.
Here’s what happened:
I learned about an awesome health and wellness supplement that my friend was distributing via network marketing. I thought, “Wow, I love this, I could offer that product to my clients, after all, my clients are seeking health and this product could definitely help them.” My friend told me how much money she was making(a lot!) and that she loved the network marketing company she joined (and she has been with many MLMs). She invited me to take a closer look.
In the six days of my MLM journey, I did the following:
- I first attended a two hour “opportunity meeting” to hear about the products and business opportunities that awaited me. I got excited.
- I talked with my friend for an average of one hour per day. Every conversation excited me more and more about what might lay ahead.
- I went to a corporate-run event for four hours on a Saturday morning. It was amazing and changed my once negative, anti-MLM mindset.
- I spent five hours training with my friend on a Sunday afternoon. I was still excited.
- I read an entire book, Go Pro, by Eric Worre, and even took notes and felt like was learning and growing.
- I was learning the lingo, drinking the [gluten-free] Kool-aid and was excited to offer these products to my clients.
Then things started to feel real.
First, I listened to an audio CD (training CD) my friend gave me, which talked me through the “proven plan” for success in network marketing. I thought these guys were off their rockers – they wanted me to call my friends, act all weird, and get them to come to my first event, which would be more about selling the business than the awesome products I first fell in love with.
Then, I started reaching out to my friends to see the initial response. Surely they would tell me, “Jenny, that does sound exciting. I’ll come to your event.” Those words were only uttered by only two of my friends and my mom. The other 10+ people I talked to got weird on me. I wanted my friends to take this product and work on their health, but they were not going to take anything that I sold because it looked like I was selling them something they didn’t need (they needed it, trust me, but they weren’t having it from me). Suddenly, my established credibility in the health and nutrition space was diminishing. I was using the words I was taught to use. I was doing the approach I was taught to do. My friends weren’t having it. The only proven plan here was a proven plan for awkward conversations. I could cut the weirdness with a knife.
In all, I connected with 16 people in life (including my mom). Some I told more to than others. Some asked more questions, while others just went along with my spiel.
On day six I was done.
Networking marketing wasn’t for me.
I asked myself a tough question. “Am I really adding a cool product to MY business, or am I selling people on someone else’s business?”
Oh boy. This isn’t at all what I wanted.
Here’s what I realized:
- I realized that I spent a ton of time emailing and talking to people about someone else’s business, not mine! I wasn’t helping people get well, I was helping them buy a business from me! No. No. No. That is not what I want to do. Bad Jenny.
- I realized that this “side job” that promised residual income was a full-on time-suck. It was going to be a lot of work building someone else’s business, all the while, I really wanted to build my health coaching business.
- I realized this job wasn’t going to be easy, although those that have come before us and are very successful made it sound easy. I thought at first selling a great supplement to people would be an easy sell, but now my word was tainted. And in order for you to make any sort of living doing this, you’d have to sell people on the dream of joining your team and then encouraging them to work hard for you.
- I realized that the rules of MLM can change at anytime too. This isn’t really your business. It’s someone else’s business and you work hard for them with the hopes of reaching those high ranks. One of my friends, who was very successful in MLM, realized this the hard way. As soon as she reached a certain level of success, the MLM company changed the rules on her, beating her down so she couldn’t make the kinds of money promised in the beginning.
- I realized these conversations about the product were going to be uncomfortable because I had to also tell them about the business. My credibility was going to be compromised if I went forth with this, and my position as a health coach would now be shrouded in a conflict-of-interest situation.
This journey into networking marketing was amazing albeit a failure. It’s one I learned a lot from. I went into it with the best intention – wanting to share a product I discovered with people I thought could benefit from it. I love spending time with my friend, and I loved going to the company’s live event. I hung on the speaker’s every word and related to her story very much. As the conversations with my friend intensified, and the events got more exciting, I was now finding myself sold on the idea that I was going to grow a new business vs. getting product into the hands of people I worked with in my current business.
Here are the truths from my short but failed journey in the multi-level marketing space:
- The truth is, no matter how excited you are about the products, there is a stigma attached to them, after all, they’re being sold through a MLM company and you benefit from selling them. If you tell your friend to go buy these at the store, she probably would. But if you told her to buy them from you, she won’t or if she does, she’ll feel weird about it.
- The truth is the live event is a place to motivate, inspire and perhaps even brainwash you into the belief that you can do MLM, even if it’s ugly, tough, difficult, hard, or awkward.
- The truth is I want to work alongside my dear friend, and learn from her, but the only one who financially benefits in that situation is my friend and the company’s bottom line.
- The truth is that the promise of a residual income business that goes on long after I’m done working for the company is only achievable by .01% of those that take the journey – and not without a lot of blood, sweat and tears – and maybe even the loss of friendships.
- The truth is success in a MLM business isn’t about the products AT ALL. It’s about selling people to join the business. Selling product makes no sense in MLM, it’s selling the dream of business ownership that offers the path to success.
- The truth is that while you’re sold on the dream of owning your own business, you’re not actually owning your own business. It belongs to someone else. The people getting rich are either at the top of the corporate ladder, or those that worked their butts off selling others on their dream of business ownership.
So, there you have it. That is how I failed at networking marketing in six days. It was fun. It was weird. And now it’s over. It just isn’t me.
Whatever path to business ownership you take, MLM or no MLM, I wish you much joy and success!