MLM AND BUSINESS
Yeah, just typing that out, there are eye rolls and sighs and I’m certain the word “seriously” has been said by at least two people reading this.
MLMs (multi-level marketing) get a bad rap and most of that rap is true. Some folks are crazy pushy. Or they alienate their friends and family. They write such ridiculous emails that are very transparent as in “Hi, we haven’t spoken since we were in grade school and ate paste behind the slide, but hey…. come spend money and then join my team. Because…. friendship.”
Sigh. Large, out-loud, exasperated sigh.
Look, I get the whole “MLM run away. RUN AWAY” mentality that most people have towards multi-level marketing. It feels slimy and ingenious. In most cases, their feelings are completely founded. Unfortunately, most people who decide to go into business for themselves, generally choose an MLM. It’s a good bet on paper; a small start-up fee, a somewhat easy return, and small purchases to build a customer base. I say unfortunately because many companies do not actually train their people in how to deliver true customer service. They do not take the time to give actual numbers of hours worked throughout the week. They fail their employees by saying magical words like “follow my example” and expect that everyone on that person’s social media is doing nothing but sitting around and waiting for someone to yell “JOIN MY TEAM.”
Let me be really clear here.
Yes….. you CAN be successful in an MLM.
Yes…. you can make money, sometimes life-changing money.
Yes…. you can impact your friends and family.
You will never do it if you do not stop being annoying.
I said it.
HOW NOT TO BE ANNOYING
Stop the not showing your products, or not naming your products or saying things like “PM me for details” to “gain interest”.
Stop PMing, DMing or emailing folks you haven’t spoken to since 1875 to join your “amazing opportunity”.
Stop bombarding your social media feeds with all products all the time.
Stop saying things like “haters” and “jealous” when people choose not to spend their hard earned money with you.
And for the love of all that is holy, please please please do not add folks to your group without asking. Please. Can this be a commandment? I feel like it needs to be a commandment.
YEAH, I AM ONE OF THOSE
I am in a leadership position in the MLM I am with. I have been with this company going on five years now and I make residual income each month. I work hard and try to encourage my team. I work in time for emails and blog posts about my passion. I schedule Facebook and Instagram posts for the month. I make phone calls, send out postcards, run ideas, and generally try to be a help to those who choose to work alongside me. I do not, however, do any of the following above and I still have full classes and high customer numbers. I am not sitting here, pretty as a peacock, just watching to waves of money roll in. I’m certainly not rich. It doesn’t work that way and anyone who tells you it does….. lies.
Here is what I have learned in almost five years in this MLM world.
Consider this a totally honest free guide.
Tips for newbies (and those looking to change it up) if you will.
1) You are a part of a team, so stop acting like a party of one.
In business, it may be one person who says an idea in a meeting, but it is a team who works on it. It is a team who takes the idea and collaborates to make it a reality. It is a team that works together toward a common goal. While MLM thrives on team making, being a team player is far more than saying “join me” and far less than getting angry when your next-door neighbor avoids you. When in business you are selling not your product, but yourself. You are selling what you can offer someone and it has nothing to do with a product. Do you want to be a successful entrepreneur? Sell what you personally bring to the table. HOW do you help your teammates reach their goals? Workshops? Leadership events? 1 on 1 brainstorming? Idea think tanks? When someone is looking to go into business, they need to know their boss (or upline) has their back. Just coming on board is never going to be enough. Just having people join your team, but then you never take the time to build a relationship with them will always come back and bite you. Knowing they are supported, listened to, heard, valued, even trusted…. those are what will keep people in your start-up, your coffee shop meetings, and on your MLM teams.
Take Away: Value People, not profit.
2) Social Media is your friend but not always.
A great place to get exposed to massive amounts of people the world over is through social media. Whether you do an MLM or you are a web designer, knowing how to use social media to your advantage is key. One big thing I have learned is that someone may need my product but I will never win them over by bombarding them constantly with “buy from me”. If you are all sales all the time your friends’ list may not take a hit but your engagement will plummet rapidly. People do not care that you are running a special on lipstick or bundles, or websites. What they care about is the person running the ads. Does that person have kids or love animals or prefer to belt out show tunes in their minivan? (that last example never happens here **cough**) When using and engaging on social media, having an 80/20 rule is powerful. 80% of your content needs to connect with people. It needs to evoke emotional responses or “me too” moments. It needs to bring a sense of validity to the message and help others connect with you in real and meaningful ways. Then and only then can you bring in your offer and have folks see it for what it is, you truly trying to help solve a need.
Take Away: 80% you connecting with people, 20% you filling a need.
3) Tell your story.
Number two and three on this list are connected. You need to make solid connections with your customer base. This can be your actual flesh and blood friends or your followers on Instagram. It can be the number of connections of LinkedIn or the number of retweets on Twitter. The social media outlet isn’t important, mainly because different demographics use social media differently. The most important part of using social media is to tell a story and one that others connect to. Let’s take web design as an example. You have a wonderful flourishing design business and you need to make a few quick sales. You could run a sale and blast it on all social media apps your business is connected to, to try and reach as wide a base as possible. If you continue to do this blast for days on end, you watch as engagement abruptly stops. If you start making the connections first, try putting funny quips in-between your offers, suddenly, not only are more people seeing the offer but it comes across as genuine and not salesy. MLMers are famous for this social faux pas. They post graphics claiming that their product is the best on the market. They put up someone else’s words and thoughts because that share button is convenient. They post at first and get huge engagement but three painful days later, the amount of likes and views dwindles to almost nothing. Then they become frustrated because they are being ignored. If you look at their feed in the last week, it’s nothing but sales and promotions. Then you find then emailing friends about offers to join teams. It becomes a desperate ploy to get sales and customers see right through it. Then, in a last-ditch effort, they post about us helping them reach the next rank or “only need 5 more people to purchase” to get them higher and in turn more money. **shivers** Look, people HATE being sold to. It doesn’t matter if it is a car or a ski trip or an eyeshadow. The fastest way to lose friends and influence no one is to try and sell TO them. What we want is a story. We want to hear your personal story straight from your mouth and not a bunch of clearly-done-by-a-marketing-team graphic. We, the customers, want to have “me too” connection moments with you, not your products. We want to see you’re using the products daily in ways that we can relate to. We also want to know that you love coffee and don’t trust under-caffeinated people. We want to see real pictures of your children doing kid things, like walking on crutches or batting at baseball games. We want to see that “hey, she reads the same books I do” and “hey, he likes to snowboard” and “Hey, that dude eats my favorite chips while cheering on the same sports team.” or even “Hey, I know what it’s like to be a military spouse during deployments.” We want to connect with you in ways that are meaningful and honest and raw. We don’t always want a graphic on the sales you are running, especially if we haven’t connected on a deeper level first. Sales aren’t bad to mention, don’t get me wrong, but if you look at your FB wall and all your posts for the last two weeks are only about this “amazing opportunity” you need to change it up. Let people connect with you first so you can become a voice they listen to.
Take Away: Social media is about being told your story, not about selling.
4) Treat this like a business and not a roundabout.
We all had that one friend in college and our early twenties that changed “jobs” every three months. They worked at a restaurant in March, then at the mall in July, then back at a different restaurant in October. They always had a reason and most of those reasons revolved around not making enough. Then, when asked to go anywhere or do something, they would complain and say they had no money. After a few years of this, you kind of just expected them to switch jobs and their cries of unfairness or not enough customer interaction begins to fall on deaf ears. The same applies to MLMers. If you sell something for the nails….. and mascara…….. and weight loss……… and totes……. and bath bombs…… and…… well, honestly, your credibility goes down the drain. If we ask you why you jumped ship after the first paycheck and your response is something close to the grass is greener, my friend, you, have lost us. Your customers dwindle with each new venture you explore. You become predictable in that we can tell when you are bored and you trot out the newest “business” you are interested in. Look, just like a major corporation cannot try everything, neither can you. You need to pick something and become so very passionate about it that it becomes a part of your everyday life. I always tell my team members, start with us and stay with us for a year. Give this a good solid try for 365 days. If you hop around from product to product, folks will not be loyal to you simply because….. and this is HUGE… (Like bigly huge)…. in a few months you will be selling something else and they can get your last product from their friend in the culdesac. Yep. In business, building a brand is all about putting your best foot forward and people want to know that you will still be the go-to person who sells wine or Graphics or crocheted swear dolls 6 months from now when their friend needs one for a birthday party. Hoping around does two things, shows that you aren’t serious about business and shows the customer that they can not rely on you.
Take Away: Being genuine means sticking with a business until the end.
Successful business ventures start with you making the decision to be honest with yourself. I haven’t gotten to the level that I am and the money that I make, by bombarding my friends and adding them to my VIP group without their permission. I arrived here by doing a few simple things that made me stand out from the crowd. I read books on leadership and try to implement those ideas with my team. I make sure my team knows they are supported and valued. I post on social media more pictures and quips and witty responses…. and awkward moments….. than I do pictures of the oils I love. I try and show respect to others by first respecting myself enough to stick with something even if at first, I wasn’t making a profit.
Business is hard. Starting your own business whether it is a graphic design, an Etsy page, editing content, media marketing, or Avon needs to come with a bit more resolve and lot more gumption. If you want to reach your goals the first thing you need to do is make a clear plan then do the baby steps to get there. Nothing is a get rich quick and overnight success, at least nothing sustainable anyway. Building your business no matter what it is, is more about building a relationship with people than it will ever be about selling them anything.
Build your dreams.
Go after the impossible.
Have heart and hustle and grit.
Don’t give up on what you are passionate about.
And Above all……. Always remember that relationships are the keys to building a solid business.
If you could add anything to this, what would you add to building a business? What tips can you give newbies on building brands that last?
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