Let’s draw a quick distinction right out of the gate:
- Network marketing is a part of e-commerce, but
- E-commerce isn’t necessarily network marketing.
E-commerce is the process of conducting business in cyberspace. It may involve digital products like e-books and software or hard goods like jewelry and clothing. You don’t necessarily need to be a Type A personality to be successful in it.
As to network marketing — also known as direct sales or multilevel marketing — you probably have an image firmly planted in your mind as to what it’s all about:
- Housewives buying and selling Tupperware while gossiping and eating finger sandwiches, or
- A high-pressure salesperson trying to convince you how easily you can become a kajllionaire if only you and your friends and their friends and so on would buy and sell vitamins with him or her.
Incidentally, if I ever pose in a hot car with a lettuce crisper in my hand, feel free to hunt me down.
That’s because these stereotypes couldn’t be further from the reality of network marketing. It’s neither a hobby nor a get-rich-scheme but an opportunity for you to earn money running your own part- or full-time business.
What does it take to succeed in this industry?
Vincent J Kellsey, director of member services for the Direct Selling Women’s Alliance — an organization that provides a variety of resources to women and men in the direct-selling industry — offers these tips for becoming a success in it:
1. Choose wisely
There are six key elements you should be looking for [when selecting an opportunity].
Number One: stability. How old is the company?
Number Two: excellent products or services that consumers will use on a continuous basis.
Number Three: the pay plan. How fair and generous is the overall distribution? This is crucial, as the pay plan represents exactly how you’ll get paid or not get paid. There are really only two questions to ask [regarding this]: How much of each sales dollar get paid back to the distributors each month, and how fair is the distribution between the old and new members?
Number Four: the integrity of the company and the management. As much as possible, [investigate] the experience of the CEO, [his or her] experience in the network marketing industry, and [his or her] background. [Has he or she] been successful in other companies in the industry? [Does he or she] have a good reputation?
Number Five: momentum and timing. Look at where the company stands now, what’s going on with it, and if it’s growing.
Number Six: support, training and business systems. You may have [chosen] a great company with excellent management, products that make a difference, a pay plan that’s uniquely fair and very generous, and momentum and stability, but if you don’t have a system in place that works, all of that [doesn’t matter]. Most companies will have a transferable training system that they use, and that’s where mentorship comes in.
2. Practice what they teach
[To succeed,] you need to be willing to listen and learn from mentors. The way this industry is structured, it’s in the best interests of the [MLM veterans in your company] to help you succeed, so they’re willing to teach you the system. Whatever [your mentor] did to become successful, it’s very duplicatible, but you have to be willing to listen and be taught and follow those systems.
3. Get to know your upline in advance
It can be called various things, but the general term is upline, meaning the people in the organization above you.
How supportive are they? Do they call you? Do they help you put a plan in place? Are they as committed to your success as they are to their own? You should be able to relate to [the people in your upline] and be able to call them at any time to say “I need some help.” How much support there is from the people above you in the company is very important.
4. Take the lead with your downline
There’s a term in the network marketing industry called orphans, when somebody is brought in and then the person who brought them in is just so busy bringing in other people that they don’t spend the time to teach and train [the new person].
You should be prepared to spend at least 30 days helping a new person come into the industry. That involves training them, supporting them and holding their hand until they feel confident to be able to go off on their own.
You really need to ask yourself, are you willing to do that? Are you able to do that? This is really about long-term relationship building. It’s not about just bringing people into the business and then moving forward solo. It’s about working with these people and helping them to develop relationships.
5. Learn the fundamentals of internet marketing
People are utilizing [the internet] as their main marketing tool. [You can set up your site] with autoresponders so when you capture leads, the autoresponder can follow up with that person.
One of the greatest keys to success in this industry is follow-up. Many people will have someone call them who’s interested or they’ll call the person and say they’re interested, but then they don’t follow up with it. Automation on the internet has allowed a much more consistent method of following up.
The only drawback with the internet is people who utilize it to send spam. If there was one thing I could put forward to say, “Do not do” when utilizing the internet as a marketing tool, it’s spamming, because that can convey a very bad reputation, not only to you but also to the company you’re working with.
6. Treat it like a business … because it is
This is a business, and just as if you were running a franchise or a storefront, you [should have an] accountant. You have all the same write-offs tax-wise that you have with running a [full-time] business, so it’s very important to [do your research] prior to getting involved, before you start making money from it. How is that going to affect you tax-wise? What are your write-offs?
It’s important to set up a [support] team around you. I’d suggest seeking out lawyers who deal in network marketing, so they’re very versed in all the laws and how that affects [your business.]. There are also accountants who specialize in dealing with home-based businesses specifically in the direct-selling industry.
7. Stay the course
Never leave your full-time position until you’re absolutely certain that the income coming in with the company you chose is going to keep being generated. [Be sure that] you’ve been with the company [for awhile] and that you know it’s a stable company, and the income that you’re earning is equal to or greater than the income you’re earning from your job before quitting.