In the 19th century, snake oil salesmen would travel the country selling “miracle cures.” There is actually a traditional Chinese medicine made from snake oil which has some pain relieving properties, but the snake oil salesmen of America were not so particular in selecting compounds with actual curative properties. Why go to the trouble of finding the real thing when the story will sell the product for you?
Today we see the same thing in social media. Digital social media marketing can be incredible effective if done correctly. It can be a medium cost, high bandwidth method of communicating with existing and new customers.
Like snake oil, however, most people peddling “social media marketing” wouldn’t know effective marketing if it made 12-15 impression on their face. They trade on the fact that you don’t know it either, so they flim flam you with buzzwords and fancy graphics so you don’t realize that your money is completely wasted on them.
For more information about services for Realtors from The Guy Who Knows a Guy, click here.
The more undifferentiated your offering, the more you need branding. The more competition you have, the more you need branding. Realtors face competition from hundreds or even thousands of competitors and seem to sell an undifferentiated product. Arguably more than any other industry, a Realtor must brand themselves in the market if they are to be truly successful.
In my business as a publisher, it is my job to know many Realtors. My publication is a great resource for them. However, out of the 1200 or so Realtors in my area, I could probably only name a few dozen. The rest have so completely failed in branding that even I, a marketing professional whose job is to seek them out, am not even aware of them.
Of course, it’s not their fault. They’ve been taught by countless seminars from companies that offer property marketing services that marketing their properties is much more important than branding and marketing themselves. While marketing properties is vital for doing your business as a Realtor, branding yourself is crucial for building your business.
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.
I use a web site called Shapr, which could be described as Tinder for networking. It puts 15 people interested in networking in front of you every 36 hours which you can swipe left or right.
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.
We all have challenges and troubles in our lives. Sometimes we are overwhelmed. Sometimes we are broke. It can be hard to think about helping others at such a time, but I believe that such a time is exact time to think about helping others.
In the TV series Babylon 5, there is an excellent parable.
You know, before I got married, Emily used to come by sometimes and help me clean out my apartment. Well, I asked her, “How come you’re so eager to help clean up my place when your place is just as bad?” She said, “Because cleaning up your place helps me to forget what a mess I’ve made of mine, and…when I sweep my floor, all I’ve done is sweep my floor. But, when I help you clean up your place, I am helping you.”
When you help yourself, you are just helping yourself. You are reminded of every limitation, every challenge, every flaw. When you help another, you see your power, your resources, your abilities in a new light. You see them from the perspective of another who needed your help to overcome their challenges.
Whether they needed a fresh set of eyes or particular skills or connections which only you can offer, you offered something indispensable. You feel empowered. You feel stronger.
Sometimes when I feel stuck, I’ll make a post on social media asking people to share their problems with me so that I might take a crack at solving them. While it is a nice thing to do, it’s not altruistic. It’s for me. It helps me get unstuck. I solve some problems for others, and it resets my spirit to take on my own challenges.
Solving the problems of another gives you a new perspective. It provides new energy. And, it is not unheard of for the process of doing something for another to open a door which solves that which you could not solve before.
So, if you are feeling stuck in your own rut, try pulling someone else out of theirs. The worst that can happen is you let a friend know you care. The best is that you might find a way out of your own rut.
I have a goal, and it’s going to take my entire network to help me achieve it. I want to share my knowledge of networking with 1,000 people in 2019. By December 31st, 2019, I want 1,000 people to be more comfortable with networking, better connected, and knowing the contacts they need to have their best life.
I have created a number of ways that people can benefit from my experience. They can read The Guy Who Knows A Guy. They can attend a workshop. They can take my course on Udemy.com (coming soon). They can become a Patron and get access to exclusive content.
If you are reading this, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you have valuable networking skills can be.
The great thing about networking knowledge is that it is something which becomes more valuable the more you share it. The better each of your contacts is at networking, the stronger your network becomes. Through connections to one another, we all get better.
How you can help
The most efficient way to me to educate people is in groups. Chances are that you are either involved in an organization that hosts speakers or you know someone who is. I would like to speak to as many groups as I can in the first half of 2019.
To facilitate this goal, I will be waiving my speaking fee for any non-profit or educational institution in New London County , Middlesex County (CT), and Washington County (RI).
Please share with me any leads or suggestions you might have on groups that would benefit from a fun, interactive, informative talk on networking from The Guy Who Knows A Guy.
Of course, you can also help by sharing my posts on social media, letting people know about my book, and telling them about the class.
Let’s Do This!
Together, we can help 1,000 people to become better networkers and build the connections to make a better life in 2019.
For any suggestions or recommendations, please contact me.