When you meet a lot of people like I do, you come many who are involved in network marketing or multi-level marketing. As an entrepreneur, I’m very open to opportunities which would allow me to leverage my connections to create revenues, but only if they really are opportunities.
Presently, I publish a local magazine, represent a local non-profit agency to help them find sponsorships, partner with a couple local consultants, in addition to my book sales, speaking fees, patreon. I’ve got a few revenue streams, but they all synergize so they make sense together.
Just like on Tinder, it’s pretty hit or miss. You can make some high quality connections, and you can find people looking for the quick hook up. In the case of networking, the quick hook up is often the networking marketing opportunity.
I met “Susan” (not her real name) on Shapr, and tried to recruit me to ACN. Of course, the approach was not nearly so direct, so I let it play out because you never know when something good may come of a connection, and all I lost was 20 minutes on the phone before discovering that this was not for me. In this case, she suggested that she could get me in front of an audience of 20,000 to educate about networking, which is quite an opportunity, since my 2019 goal is to reach 1,000.
As you might expect, her “business partner” knew nothing about this speaking bit when he started pitching me on “opportunities.”
In fairness to networking marketing
In fairness to ACN (which is not the ACN from the Newsroom), it looks like they are a legitimate company that legitimately provides energy, telecom, and security services. They just market through an MLM format. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as you understand that joining them is starting a business, not just adding a simple stream of revenue.
I know some people who are extremely successful with Isagenix. I’ve met at least one person who makes a living from ACN (who wasn’t trying to recruit me at that moment). I have also known people to do very well with Vector Marketing. The opportunity is absolutely real, and if you are in a bad career place and ready to work your face off to build a business, these platforms can do well for you, although I’d personally recommend Best Version Media over any of them.
However, if you already have a business (or four), then you probably don’t want to take on another.
Network marketing red flags
There are a few red flags when someone is trying to recruit you to a network marketing business.
1. No LinkedIn profile
Yeah, probably should have figured it out when I searched for Susan on LinkedIn and found no profile. Anyone who is serious in business has a LinkedIn profile. It may not be terribly active or fully up to date, but not having one is like not having a business card. It tells me that you’re not really a business person.
2. “Let me introduce you to my business partner.”
While it is possible that someone might be interested in recruiting you to their non-network marketing business and would want you to speak to their business partner, the phrasing is suspicious. Usually the “business partner” is their upline who is better trained and presenting and closing the opportunity.
Instead of “partner” they may say “coach” or “consultant” or “advisor” or anything similar. Same idea.
3. Non-specific business
If you have a business partner, your business has a name. As a solopreneur with multiple projects, I may introduce myself as associated with a few different businesses because I do so many things. However, if I’m recruiting someone, I’m recruiting them for one project, and that project has a name.
When they are vague about who they are, what they do, even what industry they are in, that’s a big red flag.
4. “Are you open to new revenue streams?”
Network marketing recruiters love this question. It’s basically saying “if I were to hand you a bag of money every week, would you want it?” Of course you do. I’m open to new revenue streams. That’s why I have six of them. But it doesn’t mean I want to launch an entirely new business and tie up my reputation in this company.
5. “You can do it a couple hours a week.” and “This works with what you’re already doing.”
You can learn French a couple hours a week, and in 90 years, you’ll be able to order a meal in Paris. There is no real business that you can build in a couple hours a week. There are some businesses that are natural synergies. A personal trainer selling Isagenix or Beach Body can increase their revenues without increasing their workload because they are selling a complementary product to their main offering. That’s not a new business, it’s adding a product line.
Don’t try to tell me that selling discount electricity and security systems synergizes with marketing and networking education. I was born at night, but it wasn’t last night.
6. “You don’t have to sell the products, just ask people if they’re open to new income streams.”
I was almost open to the idea that ACN’s offerings might be a fit for my business. After all, I do talk to business owners a lot. If the products are good, I could promote them with my newsletter. Then I saw their true colors. They don’t care about selling products. Recruit, recruit, recruit. That’s a pyramid scheme. Eventually there is no one left to recruit and it’s game over.
Maybe I would be getting in early enough, but I refuse to sell an opportunity that is no longer available.
I’m quite open to representing a variety of products because I connect with a variety people, but I have no interest in representing your “opportunity.”
There are many opportunities to leverage your network. Your best bet is to find local businesses seeking clients. Get a good understanding of their business and arrange a fair finders fee arrangement.
In some cases, these network marketing opportunities can function in the same way, but make sure that you are either prepared to take them on as an additional business or that you can execute on them with a minimal expenditure of time and energy.