What do you feel was your biggest mistake in your network marketing journey? I’m going to reveal mine today, in hope of helping as many networkers as possible avoid losing momentum and potential income from their business.
I was inspired by a post on Better Networker this morning. While that post was framed in the context of “your biggest mistake starting out”, my experience actually came more toward the middle of my journey.
Like many, I went through a few companies and learned a lot, but didn’t make much until I finally landed on the right opportunity for me. That’s when I started making money. My first efforts were with traditional opportunities that were built strictly locally, through meetings and working a warm market list. While that approach works, I struggled with it because I was not that outgoing. I’m a little reserved and had trouble prospecting people face to face in that way.
The first time I ever made a consistent income with a network marketing opportunity, I went online and did it. Check out my About Eldon Beard page for more about how that happened. I worked with others and we had a very simple strategy.
Find message boards, forums, and communities where people are discussing making money, working from home, and home business topics. These same communities attract lots of opportunity seekers, most of whom lurk in the background and never say anything. But they are watching….
In those communities, build a presence by becoming a consistent contributor. Look for questions you can answer. Look for topics where you have knowledge and contribute something of value to the discussion. Give, give, give.
The net result of this strategy was making new friends, with some of them (and quite a few of the lurkers) stepping forward privately and inquiring about my network marketing opportunity. Bingo, it worked.
With that strategy, I built the core for a long-term business that became quite profitable.
So what was my biggest mistake in network marketing, after this initial success?
I became fascinated by SEO (search engine optimization) and the potential for attracting literally hundreds of new prospects for my business every month. I set up several websites, applied SEO, and started getting leads daily. My opportunity is one where people often search for the product and business by name, so I had a lot of success with this.
My websites were built with the focus on getting prospects to opt-in to a list in order to receive the most detailed information about my business. This system worked so beautifully that I began to gradually let the system do the work, and backed off on the personal touch and the interactions with people that had led to my initial successes.
This approach worked to an extent. I had quite a few sign up just from going through the automated system, while I’m sure I lost many others who felt compelled to look for a different sponsor (no personal contact from me like a phone call).
THAT was my biggest mistake in network marketing – moving from a prospecting method that focused on building relationships and helping people, to one that focused on sifting through opportunity seekers who landed on my websites and letting a system do most of the work.
Is using automated prospecting systems a bad thing? No!
Is using automated prospecting systems and expecting them to do all the work a bad thing? Yes!
That’s the point. Automated systems are a great tool, but you must still establish that personal contact with prospects. The best prospects don’t want to join an opportunity and be out there on their own. They want to work with someone and a team that will help them be successful.
My Biggest Mistake in Network Marketing – What I Learned
During the time I focused almost entirely on SEO and automated systems to build my business, along with neglecting the personal approach that led to initial successes, my business basically began to slide. I was one of the top sponsorers company-wide, but my business wasn’t growing as much as would be expected. Growth was actually pretty flat during this time.
I observed many people who signed up and left the business after doing just a little, and in many cases I didn’t even recognize their name! I was so driven to prospect, that I neglected the “people” side of this business.
Yes, I contacted every new associate with an email, and encouraged them to go through our training and call me if I could help. I even made an initial welcome call to some from time to time. But bottom line, relationships weren’t built and potential business partnerships were lost. Follow up wasn’t what it should be.
I learned from all this. I still do a good bit of SEO work, it’s essential if you want to be found in searches, but I have it in better perspective now. For an Internet marketer who is selling products as an affiliate, putting up a website or blog and doing hard core SEO might be the only way to go. In this case the marketer is looking to make a sale and not necessarily to build a long term working relationship with anyone. They just want customers.
Network marketing is different. You are working with people. You have to build relationships. If you look at past posts on this blog, you’ll see that I hammer relationship building and working with people. I hammer these topics because I know from experience what happens to a network marketing business when you don’t do these things.
I hope this post will help you avoid making this type of mistake. Again, I stress, automated tools are fantastic but just remember they are tools only. They can get you a lead, but you must then treat that lead as a person and seek to make a connection with them. Do otherwise, and you WILL sponsor a few and make a little money, but you will likely never have the success you dream of.