Network marketing is, or should be, organic by definition. After all, it comes about as a natural product, or byproduct, of normal actions of you, the network marketer. Like most things organic, it might benefit a little from some planting, fertilizing and removal of parasites.
A genuine “network marketer” is concentrating more on the network than the marketing side of the equation. Many of the sales made by network marketers come more often from the trust and relationship the buyer has with the marketer rather than from the perceived qualities of the product itself. Make no mistake here, a good product at a reasonable price can influence a lot of potential buyers, but the trust in the seller will have a lot more to do with success, all other things being equal.
This brings up a point for those interested in getting into a network marketing program, but who are afraid of having to “sell” things. If done properly, the major “job” of the network marketer is to continually expand their circle of friends and acquaintances. It’s a rough life, isn’t it?
Another point to remember is that many internet business opportunities and internet marketing techniques adapt themselves quite easily to the network marketing model. The main difference the network is built in cyberspace and you may never see a single customer.
HOW TO BUILD A NETWORK
There are many places and activities that are good for building your network, but there are a couple of steps you might want to take first.
* Prepare yourself: At first, there are going to be two strong tendencies on your part. One is to throw up your hands and quit at the first question or contact, the other is going to be the desire to make every meeting into a sale. Both of these will probably be influenced primarily by ignorance. If you don’t know what you are talking about, you will either avoid the topic completely, or babble idiotically.
You should definitely be as familiar as possible with your company, its history, its place in the business community, the products you sell, prices, return policies, and the business opportunity itself, in the case of a multi-level-marketing business. You don’t have to have every figure or statistic immediately at hand, that’s what brochures, website, and lunch dates are for, but you should be able to present a rational overview without consternation.
You should also prepare some simple, tantalizing responses to such beautiful lead in questions such as, “And what business are YOU in?” In his book “The Wave 4 Way To Building Your Downline,” Richard Poe offers tips from a successful network marketing professional named Jerry Campisi. When asked what he does for a living, Jerry would commonly reply, “I’m a lifestyle marketer.” This response would very often elicit a request for further details on the part of the listener who would then be in the position of asking about what Jerry had to sell rather than having to run away from a sales pitch.
In his network marketing classic, “Big Al’s Super Prospecting: Special Offers & Quick-Start Systems”, Tom “Big Al” Schreiter offers much the same advice, including a list of sixteen possible responses, such as, “I put people on the fast track to retirement. I save them money and help them retire 15 years early”. See how it works?
* Prepare your tools: It doesn’t hurt to have some brochures in your pocket or purse, but the biggest single physical network marketing tool you will need for building your business and your network is the simple business card. Always have plenty of these with you and hand them out liberally. They should be simple and unobtrusive but should give the prospect all they need to get in touch with you. They should NOT be sales pitches, although they can contain the name of your business and/or a quick overview of your business. For example: Bob’s Mowing – Complete Landscaping and Lawn Care. It is also a plus to include a website and email, particularly if they contain information about your business: bobrobertslandscaping.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org. That website did not exist when I wrote this, by the way, so if you are Bob Roberts and are in landscaping, go for it!
WHERE TO BUILD YOUR NETWORK
Your network will be mainly built from two groups, professional contacts and social contacts. I view professional contacts as two groups, although there might be some overlap or blurring between the two. I refer to connected and non-connected professionals.
YOUR PROFESSIONAL NETWORK
Connected professionals are the people you work with or come in contact with as a result of your “real” business if you are just getting started in network marketing. You have to be careful here as you can alienate someone you need for your regular business, or you might create a conflict or overstep a boundary. Just as one example, many companies frown on soliciting and might consider even talking about your network business as grounds for censure or even firing.
Non-connected professionals are those such as property managers, real estate agents, car sales people, and others who may already have a rich network of contacts, who may have some sales experience or expertise, and who might be interested in your opportunity if not your product. I won’t call these people “fair game”, but you certainly do have a little more latitude in contacting them and explaining your business, and having them join you could be quite a boost.
YOUR SOCIAL NETWORK
You may already have a broad network of social contacts, but here are a few suggestions of what you can do to broaden this network.
1. Public places and events: You can frequent malls, fairs, coffee shops, sidewalk sales, garage sales, and other group functions…all in the interest of broadening your reach. Stay away from selling. Talk of generalities or the weather, or who won the game last night, but have your cards ready and know what you are going to say when the moment arrives. A lady asked me about a wrap I had on my wrist the other day, and I jokingly replied that it was an occupational hazard. I spent so much time making money on my computer that I must have gotten carpal tunnel syndrome. Trust me, after that, she was more interested in the money she could make than possible damage to her arm. By the way, I switched to an ergonomic keyboard and mouse along with a better chair and it cleared up.
2. Clubs and organizations: While many of these are targeted groups with agendas of their own, there are a great many opportunities to network with the membership, and they are a great way to expand your own group of contacts. You can also sometimes get some great help in other ways as well. More than one person, including myself, has gotten a good job through a social contact, or a good price on furniture.
3. Speaking engagements: If you are knowledgeable on a subject related to your business, you can provide free workshops, classes, or talks on that subject. Don’t think it works? I once watched woman who sold self-defense items such as pepper spray, whistles, and books, sell over 200 items after giving a 45 minute talk on protecting yourself.
4. Business lunches or seminars: Here’s an opportunity to mingle with like minded people who might be interested in what you have to offer. It’s a great time to exchange cards and practice your “what do you do for a living?” response. By the way, there is a website called MeetUp.com. You can go there and sign up to join or start groups of people in your area who share your interests. Two weeks from today, I am going to participate in a seminar on search engine optimization. The audience will include a lot of people who will be interested in internet marketing…a topic I know a little about. I wonder if I can give them a card?
There are many other situations such as PTA meetings, weddings, and even church functions which become great network marketing opportunities when you leave the selling at home and concentrate on making friends and acquaintances.