How Network Marketing Saved My Soul
Most people reading that headline will shiver at the thought of network marketing and some of you will quit reading at this sentence just because of the word.
For those of you that have braced yourselves for rest of the story, I thank you and promise there will be no opportunity being pitched for you to buy into the next big thing in this post.
You see my experience with network marketing was probably similar to many of you. I remember going with my mother as a kid to go pick up her Amway orders from the local distributor who also happened to be a long time family friend across town. I knew nothing about the business model itself, all I knew is all the products in the house from laundry detergent to deodorant and toothpaste all had the same packaging and were not the name brands everyone else was using.
Many, many years later I was introduced to another product that contained a bunch of juices blended together and well I drank the Kool-Aid and was sold. I learned everything I could from the people who were successful in network marketing. For several years I was that guy that everyone ran from when they saw me coming because I had something new to sell them. The funny thing was I was not a people person but yet if I believed in a product I could sell it to my grandmother without blinking an eye.
One day my own eyes were opened and I was told in very plain terms that these business ventures were interfering with the rest of my world. I had become so consumed in chasing people and making the next sale that I no longer was paying attention to the things that mattered. I was losing myself, my family, my faith all in the pursuit of the next hot lead or the newest product line launch.
I was becoming one of those MLM guys that everyone loves to hate, our social life consisted of home tastings and sharing parties. These were not the fun parties where you catered to your guests and made the event all about them. These were the events where you brought in one of the local big dogs to sell the snake oil of the week and you might make a little profit off of his pitch.
I became disgusted with the words that came out of my mouth; I was ‘faking it till I make it’. I was pretending that we were seeing great success and yet at the same time we were driving people away where they no longer would answer our calls for they didn’t want to have to tell us ‘no’ again.
One day while digging through these past endeavors that now fill my office with unsold inventory I came across a notebook from one of the early meetings. In that book it had a quote in it about how ‘Jesus and his disciples were the first network marketers.’ At that moment I realized that no longer was I doing what He would do, I had made it all about me.
Without notice, I walked away, hung up my MLM hat so to speak. After many trials and errors I had decided that if we were ever really going to make it we needed to make it for the right reasons.
We began having get-togethers at our house not to sell anyone anything but to actually share in fellowship and develop relationships with those people that we had ignored over the past few years.
Rather than opening up a bottle of mixed juices or sharing the benefits of a new grain or chip, we began to break bread with our neighbors and friends. If a bottle of anything was opened it was a bottle of fine wine to be shared because we cared and wanted to share not because we might make a commission check.
One of our first wine tastings we had at our house made it apparent the history we had created. We brought in a wine consultant that we do business with to entertain the party. Everyone that was at the party felt obligated to purchase something as they assumed we were once again selling something. Truth be told we were just sharing a product we enjoyed, there were no commissions to be earned of down lines to build.
It is saddening to see what we once thought was a dream derailed us not only financially but also spiritually and emotionally in the friendships that we had strained.
The lessons I learned over the years from network marketing are these:
- You will lose friends if you only sell
- Develop relationships and you won’t ever have to sell.
- People will follow you for you not for what you can sell them.
- Jesus and his disciples were not network marketers they were believers that lived so others would follow.
- Forget the pitch and be their friend first.
- Show them that you care and they will care about what you share.
This is not to say that there is anything wrong with network marketing also known as MLM’s, however if you are in one, or ever decide to be, be sure you are in it for the right reasons. Anything that we do in this life should be focused on building up our family, faith, friendships and communities. If whatever we are into at the moment is not doing that then it probably is just another snake oil fly-by-night opportunity we ought to let pass.
I know this may rile some of you up, this is simply my opinion and experience and you are welcome to yours as well.
I do welcome you to share any opportunity or distraction that derailed you and possibly cost you family or friends so that others may also learn from our mistakes.
About Charles Johnston
Charles is a Christian, husband and father of fur-kids who shares his walk with others in hopes to help other's along the way.