Yesterday I reconnected with a former colleague that is running for public office and he invited me to a fundraising luncheon.
I had another conversation with a good friend of mine who happens to share my love for BBQ. We both have a passion for eating and smoking meats of all kinds.
I also had several conversations with friends and colleagues and some “acquaintances” about my new AdvoCare business. Some know, many don’t…that AdvoCare is wellness business. Classified as multi-level marketing.
During a live video, someone posted a statement/question suggesting AdvoCare was a pyramid scheme. The comment really stuck with me and got me thinking.
A definition of the word “Network” is: interact with other people to exchange information and develop contacts, especially to further one’s own career.
I tried to trace back, with my own experiences, and with a little research why there is so much distrust and resentment towards people that start their own network or multi-level marketing businesses. Sure networking marketing got its roots when a guy named named Carl traveled to China and learned about herbs and supplements, came home and started selling vitamins, and then 2 guys went on to start The American Way company, later named Amway and the rest is history.
Whether you want to call it direct selling or network marketing or multi-level marketing or pyramid selling, they all have the same idea.
It is important to point out there is a significant difference between pyramid selling and pyramid schemes. PYRAMID SCHEMES ARE ILLEGAL! (Selling something without any value…look it up) Any comparison of the two are simply ignorant and irresponsible.
But why is the topic or practice so taboo…or detested by so many people?
Let’s break it down. Someone you know starts a new business. Contacts you to tell you about it. Offers to sell you the products and/or offers to let you in on the action…join the business. I don’t see anything inherently wrong with any of that.
Open a business, advertise, solicit customers, hire employees…sounds like the new restaurant down the street.
I’ve been to many grand openings and ribbon cuttings. Those are exciting events. I’ve even tried some free samples, got some discounts, and joined loyalty clubs as a result.
Are you turned off because they are selling knives, or sweepers, or makeup, or vacations, or supplements or jewelry? They are selling their wares. Such a basic concept.
How did our forefathers sell their wares? Barter their goods? I’m sure it wasn’t from billboards or SuperBowl commercials.
Where do you buy your specialty honey? Fresh butter and eggs? How about that that special batch of strawberries? Favorite jar of pickles? I’m guessing you’ve found a farmer or friend that has a side business selling that stuff.
How do you find a trusty mechanic? Or electrician? How did you know what plumber to let into your house? Or what roofer you could trust? How did you know what car salesman you can trust? I’ll bet you “know a guy.”
Now, if you try to tell me you relied on advertising from big box stores, and pop-up ads on your phone, and spam emails and car commercials screaming at you on television…I’ll have to question your integrity. (If that’s you…please stop reading my post now.) By the way, those big box stores, anonymous advertisers and big dealerships could care less about your long term wellness. They care about you as far as the warranty runs out. Think about your neighbor that sells you something knowing they have to see you every single day. Now that’s called putting your reputation on the line!
The truth is you rely on your friends and loved ones to recommend their favorites to you. You choose your movies and new restaurants to try out based on what you see on social media. You plan what meals to cook and what clothes to buy and yes, what car you are going to drive primarily from your neighbors, co-workers and the stranger that walked by.
But when those same loved ones, and neighbors and co-workers and even that stranger tries to sell you something under the banner of networking marketing you get offended and dismissive and combative.
Is that how you treat the girl scouts when they tease you with Samoas and Thin Mints or the Boy Scouts when they bring you the cheddar and caramel popcorn?
Perhaps you rely on Yelp, Trip Advisor and Google reviews. Reviews…really? Do I need to draw a line connecting those dots too? They are people giving their recommendations. Even though most of them are strangers, you trust their opinions and use them to make important decisions regarding how to spend your hard-earned money.
To me it is simple…either you’re looking for the product they are selling or you aren’t. No harm, no foul. It is certainly not evil.
It seems we should applaud those we know that are trying to get ahead with their bills and dreams rather than slamming the door in their face. Even if you aren’t going to buy something, it doesn’t hurt to let them practice on you and give them some honest critique. They are your friends, right? They would sincerely appreciate it, I promise you.
So whether it is Carl selling vitamins, my friend telling people about his campaign for office, my buddy bragging about his smoked meats or someone hawking their daughter’s Girl Scout cookies…there’s not much difference than your other friends telling you about their new business. Just have an open mind.
With that said, who’s looking to earn an extra $500-$1000 per month?