To Be A Successful Networker

This post was inspired by a discussion in Kim Willis’s Facebook group about being successful as a home business networker.

In Kim’s group you can meet other like-minded online entrepreneurs all learning a better way of marketing online.

Being a member of the group has really helped me. Contact Kim if you think you’re a good fit for his group after reading this post and the thought process it sparked.

Can You “Make” People Successful?

Kim’s style is to use insightful Facebook posts – some long and some short – and then people chip in with their own experiences. Here’s a recent post:

You can't make people successful. Perhaps one of the reasons why network marketers struggle to get team members into action is they they think their job is to make people successful. They do far too much for them and wonder why their new people don't do anything. All you're doing is creating a bunch of helpless people who will never stand on their own feet and make it happen.  Kim Willis

This reminded me of a situation in danger of happening in a business I was in. It can apply to any MLM business – online or offline.

Team Building In Network Marketing

My group grew really fast – I only joined at the end of October 2016 and three months later I had over 160 people in my own team, sponsored directly or indirectly.

A team as big as that could take some supporting if everyone starts hitting you with questions. But that’s not how the system is designed to work.

We already had in place free training AND a Facebook resources group with everything laid out. The group contains steps 1 to “n” and includes video trainings on how to do every aspect of the business. Plus a Q&A post where people can ask if there’s anything they can’t find in the existing resources – posting the answer there means everyone will get the benefit of it.

However my upline tried to go the extra mile and set up “Chat boxes”. The intention was for these to be a place to make special announcements of news or helpful tips. This is happening to some extent.

Lazy Mode Causes Extra Work

The unintended consequence was that people became too lazy to go the training and resources mentioned above, and they would just pop a question in the chat box. Because we’re a helpful bunch, someone will reply, and then follows a long series of “thumbs” and emojis so that you have to scroll WAY up the chat box to find out what the hysteria is about.

Usually it’s someone answering a question that’s already been answered in the resources and training.

Occasionally people accidentally give the wrong answer, which may be spotted and corrected, or it may be hidden by the thumbs.

So it’s far better to go to the official group training.

Sometimes it’s just someone celebrating extra people in their company matrix. Yeah, that’s great, but the same thing is happening to everyone – we don’t need to know five times a day LOL

Whatever generates the thumbs, the bad news is that useful tips and news get buried in an avalanche of thumbs, emojis and repetitive questions.

Answering the same questions over and over again, is actually wasting everyone’s time. More importantly, as Kim observes, we’re breeding a helpless team rather than encouraging them to think for themselves and learn from the info supplied.

A Specific Example Of Being Too Helpful

Because the parent company at the time wasn’t “English speaking” and has been more built on “belly-to-belly” introductions, our online enrolment process isn’t the easiest. We know, and head office are working on that and a few issues we’ve asked for.

Our team leader, Phil, had prepared a video to walk you through the process, highlighting what could go wrong and telling you how to avoid the pitfalls. People I enrolled fall into two distinct camps:

  • Those who watched the video and come back saying it was straight-forward.
  • Those who made every mistake the video warns about, spent ages with problems, and then said they didn’t have time to watch the video (it was about 10 minutes long).

So for a while the chat box was full of “What happens next?” type questions, patiently answered by more experienced members, and the whole thing was just a vicious cycle. The more people saw it happening the more they joined in, adding the same answer over and over again. Sometimes people made minor mistakes, so the leader had to step in with the correct information he’d already put in the video.

Enrolment is just the first step in the process – imagine it magnified over the different steps of learning a business that’s adding new distributors to the team every day.

Being Unhelpful?

Because I’m part-time in my online business I couldn’t devote a whole lot of time to the chat boxes myself, lest it got to the point that it was taking over my day. I didn’t want to seem unhelpful by saying “Watch the video I already sent you” when everyone else was giving one-to-one answers. If that was just me for my team, imagine what our two leaders were going through!

Having seen some of the myths generated by the Chinese Whisperers, I think it’s far more helpful to tell everyone to watch the official videos. That way, no well-intentioned team member can be at fault.

The Solution

Finally it all got too much. Instead of working on additional training material Phil was answering the same questions over and over again. So he decided to remove himself from the chat boxes and we’ve all been advised first and foremost to take responsibility for training our own teams – using the official material supplied.

Soon the chats were pinging less frequently and we can all develop teams of people who have learned the business from the resources supplied.

A Duplicatable Business

The whole point of going into a networking style business is that the company has supplied you with resources to help you get started, so that you can duplicate their business to your own contacts. You save time by NOT re-inventing the wheel.

Your prospect needs to be able to see what you're doing and think “Oh, yes, I can do that. It's just sharing videos from the group.”

Without good company resources you are no better off than being a solopreneur responsible for all aspects of the business.

Assuming your company has good training materials in place to share the information, you need to plug “customers” into the system. No customers, no profits, no commissions!

Who To Work With

Initially you may be eager to welcome anyone into your business – and, assuming your business is available in their country, so you should – and show them the company training.

As my online experience has developed I am more discerning about who I will work with.

If anyone sends me a Facebook Friend Request I check out their Facebook page first (we work largely on Facebook) to check they’re not fake, and probably wanting to sell me mailing lists or something. I don’t want or need those any more. You can learn a lot about a person from their Facebook profile. Another good tip from Tony, one of my team leaders, is to Google them.

After Eliminating The “Fakes”

be a successful networkerIf they look genuine I welcome them to look at my business and probably direct them towards the most ideally matched of my proven team-leaders. But what I look for most is to get a feel for whether they are hard-working and coachable – not just “sheep” looking to follow blindly.

Network Marketing is no business for passengers – hopefully that goes without saying.

If your prospect is flat broke / in debt don't make things worse by getting them into deeper financial trouble, joining a business they can’t afford. Assess whether they are willing / able to fund whatever your business is. If your business needs an initial stake and some start-up costs, save yourself time and stress, tell them up-front – don’t be mealy mouthed about it.

The biggest test of a person you want to work with is whether they are coachable. Someone who refuses to learn and use the information available is going to be a drain on your time – and, even worse, won’t be properly trained to support anyone they introduce.

Q. What happens if they stay dependent on you and then you leave the business, or have a holiday or fall ill?

A. When their support system (you) is no longer readily available then their business falls apart and maybe a significant portion of yours.

You need well trained team leaders, NOT sheep.

Developing Team Leaders

It’s easy to spot team leaders – they will just emerge by training themselves and giving good support.

They will be the type of people who will read good business books from this list.

If they don’t emerge (for me), no problems as I already have some great team leaders who are taking a lot of the pressure off me now I’ve learned to delegate.

I had a migraine the other day and I needed to get away from the computer. But I had two prospects who wanted to enrol. So I passed one prospect each to two of my team leaders, put my feet up, and when I came back my leaders had a new recruit each and my headache had gone. Win-win.

One of those prospects upgraded within a week so that team leader was amply rewarded for having proved himself as a reliable.

Tough Love Needed

be a successful networkerWithout team leaders you lose a big potential benefit of any business – delegation.

If you try to do it all by yourself and be super-helpful you have done your team no favors.

A duplicatable business, and people duplicating the system, is essential for the long-term success of any business, online or offline.

If I say “Would you like fries with that?” you don’t need to me show you the logo of the franchise I have in mind. Will YOUR team members stick to the duplicatable system?

When you join any online business you should be prepared to educate yourself from the training provided and teach your team to do the same.

Look for a network marketing business with a duplicatable system in place and use it. No more sheep 🙂

Your Tips To Be Successful In Networking

I'd love to hear what else you think is necessary to be a successful networker starting a business online. Please comment below.

Update September 2019: The ecommerce business I was working when this post was published never got off the ground in the UK, and I have left network marketing, but the principles I learned remain the same so would apply to any MLM you are working.