Why I Never Thought I’d Be a Network Marketer... and Why I Changed My Mind

I distinctly remember opening THE box nearly five years ago.

My best friend had asked me to start a nutrition program with her that she’d heard good things about. We’d tried several diet fads together, with little success. But, there was that little voice in my head asking “what if this one actually works?” I was a skeptic, but I also didn’t want my friend to get skinny without me.

She gave me the number of a woman to call who was an associate with a nutrition network marketing company. I half tuned out this friend of a friend who was telling me about the products and how much better I would feel. When my box came, I was turned off by the accompanying literature on how to earn money sharing it with others. I had worked in healthcare communications for 20 years. I was not interested in making money from a network marketing company. I tossed it all in the trash.

Long story short, the products worked. I was obsessed with how good I felt. I started doing some research, and I was impressed by the science backing the products. So when people noticed the changes in me, I was happy to refer them. The company sent me a Visa card and loaded it with referral rewards, and friends and family members started feeling better too. My best friend did the same. She was a stay-at-home mom who had always been into organic living, and she began thinking the opportunity might actually be a good fit for her. I rolled my eyes.

Thinking back, I had several hold ups in regards to network marketing, which kept me from being more than a huge fan of the products and casual referrer for the first year. No profession is more misunderstood. I talk to people all the time who have similar stigmas to those I had when it comes to network marketing.

I thought network marketing was more scam than true profession. That term ‘pyramid scheme’ was in my head when I glanced at the business building materials before tossing them. Network marketing is based on sharing... someone tells someone and that person tells someone else and the number of people grows as you go down into the network if the business is thriving. However, the shape of an organization has nothing to do with whether or not it is legal and legitimate. Almost all businesses have a pyramid structure.

An illegal pyramid scheme provides no products or services, and pays according to the number of recruits. As with anything, there are examples of companies that give an industry a bad name. However, legal network marketing companies offer quality products or services that are sold to consumers. Enrolling new customers allows for increased income based on the volume of sales, with team sales volume, not the number of recruits, being the important factor in calculating income. I was not able find the scam in products that work well enough that word-of-mouth replaces advertising and the distribution channel is direct-to-consumer instead of third-party or retail.

I thought network marketing required “hard-sale” skills.

I had visions of strong-arming people to attend parties, cold-calling, and scripted sales pitches in an effort to convince friends and family. Then I saw those that excel in this profession have very different skills, such as authentically branding themselves in a way that attracts others, connecting and nurturing real relationships and servant leadership.

I thought network marketing was for only certain types of people.

What I found were people from every walk of life... corporate converts to health professionals and students to stay-at-home moms. The common thread in the people I’ve met in this profession is they are all people who like having true purpose. Their lives improved because of something shared with them, and they want to do the same for others. I was not fulfilled sitting at a desk and doing busy work trying to make the days go faster. I am inspired by helping people achieve better health, build belief in themselves or replace an income to stay home with their kids.

I thought I could make a lot more money doing my “real” job than in network marketing.

It seemed I’d heard of a few greedy people at the top that had made money in network marketing, but otherwise, I thought the financial opportunity was pretty limited. However, what I found is that this is not a get-rich-quick scheme, but with effort, the opportunity is very real and unbelievably exciting, and available for everyone, no matter when you started, who your enroller is or where you fall in the “pyramid.”

I thought people would look down at me if I did network marketing. Well, obviously, there are lots of other people who don’t understand what network marketing is and what it takes for people to be successful, so some people will judge. But another huge gift of network marketing is the personal development that is so central to this profession. I’m grateful that I have learned to let go of the opinion of others and live life on my terms instead of staying on what was the socially acceptable path.

Once you get past the old attitudes and myths, network marketing, with the right company, provides a fulfilling and rewarding opportunity to be an entrepreneur with almost no investment. It offers professionalism, personal fulfillment and deep connections with people without the drawbacks of a boss, set hours and income ceilings.

Yep, I never knew when I opened that BOX just how much it would open up for me.

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