Please don’t ever be sucked in to the countless posts on Facebook, telling you that you can join someone’s team and make thousands of pounds instantly. Network Marketing is a very rewarding industry to work in, but it is not some ‘get rich quick scheme’. Building any business takes time, hard work and commitment. Is it possible to earn six or seven figures? Absolutely. But is it easy? Afraid not.
The people you see bragging online about having made thousands of pounds in the last week are probably bending the truth a little. (And by a little, I mean they’re completely bullshitting you. This is often a poor attempt at recruiting new, clueless distributors.) It is actually illegal to try to persuade people to join a company by making claims about high earnings. Of course, high earnings are achievable, but not without hard work, dedication and the will to learn new skills.
When I first started in Network Marketing, I had no idea that it was such a huge industry and an amazing opportunity. I just thought that I was going to try and sell a few products to make a little extra money. I was still at school, for god’s sake. If only I had known what I know now. It would have saved me a lot of stress and awful decisions.
Here are five things I wish I had known when starting out.
1. ‘Join my team’ messages will get you nowhere.
It’s oh so tempting. When starting out as a new network marketer, we are often told to write a list of everyone we know and ask them to take a look at the opportunity. I think my very first ‘prospecting’message went along the lines of, Hi, I’m currently building a team in my [company name] business and I think you’d be great because of [poorly thought out reason]. Are you interested?
Eurgh.. Yes, I actually did it. It makes me cringe when I think about the number of relationships and potential partnerships I sabotaged with these awful messages. But I had no idea. This was what I was told to do and I couldn’t work out why I wasn’t building an enormous team of excited newbies.
2. The first opportunity you come across might not be the one for you.
‘But it sounds sooo amazing!’ – After my initial exposure to direct sales, back in my school days, I was put off commission-based work. That is until I saw a sponsored post on Facebook, telling me about how I could be running my own home-based business instantly. I got on the phone with the person running the ad and was so blinded by initial excitement that I signed up there and then – parting with quite a substantial amount of money.
It was alright, I’d make that money back in the first week or so (two at the most). Then I’d be well on my way to promotions, incentives and the big money. Or not. The compensation plan was great in theory, but I needed to reach a certain target each month to unlock any bonuses on top of my retail commission. Hundreds of pounds worth of targets. And with the products being somewhat overpriced, this was not an easy task. Mistake number 1: I didn’t do my research.
3. Developing a strong retail business should be your first aim.
After all, that’s what network marketing is all about – the products. Building a large team will definitely benefit you in the long run, but there are two reasons you should make retail your priority, particularly in the early days: firstly, this is where your instant earnings come from. Whenever you sell a product, you immediately make a profit. As the network marketing industry is all about retailing via personal recommendation, you will generally need to reach a certain amount of personal sales in order to reach promotions (regardless of your group success). The second reason you should make this a priority is so that you can pass your knowledge and strategy down the line. Each time you sponsor a new person, you should be able to show them how to develop their own business. If you have a strong retail business, not only are you leading from the front, but you are in the perfect position to share your skills.
My upline in my first company put all emphasis on team building and completely disregarded retail. It was as though she just expected the retail side of my business to happen spontaneously. (Definitely not the case – unfortunately.) So my focus was on contacting at least ten new people each day about the opportunity. Of course, even if every one of these people had signed up, I still wouldn’t have gotten very far without retailing the products myself.
4. You MUST be willing to work your arse off – often with little reward in the beginning.
When so many people are desperate to recruit you, they will often imply that network marketing is one of the easiest things you can do. In theory, it is, but developing a sustainable, trusted business takes time – in any industry.
You need to be willing to work around the clock in the early days. You should spend time getting to know as much as you can about marketing, networking and – most importantly – your products. You also need to work on establishing a brand that people know and trust. This means constantly talking to people about what you are doing. Not in a nagging, sales-focused way, but simply making them aware of your business’ presence. Finding that balance isn’t always easy. Only when you’ve started to get your name around and become trusted by your network, will you start to see real results in your business.
5. You will quickly run out of new people to prospect if you don’t consistently seek them out.
Every time I log in to Facebook, I see network marketers talking about what they’ve been up to, promoting their latest product or congratulating team members on promotions. Network marketing is everywhere for me. This wasn’t the case when I started out. I thought that this was some amazing new opportunity that everyone would be amazed to hear about. With my initial aim being to speak to at least ten prospects a day, my warm market quickly fizzled.
To really achieve success in this industry, you should be talking to new people all the time. Not even necessarily to add them to your hit list – ahem, I mean prospecting list – but just to add them to your radar. It might be that they realise weeks, months or even years down the line that you can help them out in some way. Try to establish and nurture relationships on a daily basis. I bet if I asked you what each of your friends does for a living, you’d be able to tell me. The same will happen with you. “Oh, so-and-so actually runs her own business. She sells [product].” This plants a seed elsewhere and your network is expanding without you even realising it. If you put in the hard work, eventually people will start to notice you and your business.