Let me start by telling you that I am not in network marketing, a.k.a direct sales, a.k.a multi-level marketing, or a.k.a. pyramid schemes (as some will call it). However, six years ago, I became a Stella & Dot Stylist (for those of you not familiar with it, it’s a young, yet classic jewelry line). I have to admit, it was difficult for me to put myself out there, but one of the first things I was excited about was creating a Facebook page that would hopefully attract business for my new venture. A few times a week, I would post the latest styles and sales. My time with Stella & Dot didn’t last long (6 months, actually).
We’ve all been flooded with these types of “annoying” posts. However, due to a recent “aha” moment, my annoyance shifted to admiration and understanding. Listen, I totally get it. It’s annoying to see your newsfeed filled with self-promoting posts from friends declaring the “best (fill in the blank),” but have you ever asked yourself why they are doing it? Why are they taking time out of their day to blindly reach out to their online family and friends to sell this amazing body wrap or tell us why we can’t live without the life-changing “vitamins” that have given them eternal youth?? Could it be, could it really be, that they truly believe in the company’s mission or product? Gasp! Stay with me here.
An often missed perspective on network marketing
The definition for direct sales goes something like…face-to-face presentation, demonstration, and sale of products or services. Hmmm….that sounds very familiar. Sounds like a profession that many of us are in, right? Okay, what about the “pyramid scheme”? Let’s just call it multi-level marketing. This very controversial marketing strategy looks something like this: Sales personnel not only gets compensated for their own sales but also for the sales derived from the salesperson(s) that work(s) for them. Sound familiar? Many of us work in a similar type of environment where the CEO, senior-level executives and/or upper management receive a nice bonus at the end of the year depending on sales and profit margins. I’m a working mom in the corporate world, so I know it’s not that cut and dry. I simply want to paint a picture of network marketing by looking through a different lens.
The moment I stopped hating
She doesn’t even know this yet, but my “aha” moment came not too long ago when I was on the way to a good friend’s house, where she was debuting the Fall line for her Noonday Jewelery Collection. Noonday partners up with with artisans in other countries and provides them a fair trade business opportunity to market their goods. To be honest, the company’s mission wasn’t my “aha” moment. I was just really excited to see my friend since our busy mom lives allowed us little time to connect! It was a long overdue visit and I really didn’t know that much about the company. It was on that 60-minute drive to her house where I thought about all those times my eyes would roll when I came across those unsolicited posts. This time was different – I was genuinely excited to see what she had been up to. A positive surprise was that her passion for helping others fit perfectly into her newfound business venture. I simply thought, “You do the [email protected]# thing, Mom Boss (a.k.a. Mompreneuer)”!
We are all working moms. We each define it differently, but it comes down to providing for our children and being a role model to our little humans. So why are we quick to judge these moms/professions?
It can be awkward when someone from high school all of sudden messages you 10 years later. You think they are generally interested in re-connecting, but instead they drop cryptic references to the “amazing program or product”. This is where you politely excuse yourself from the group and say something like, “I appreciate you reaching but, I’m just not that interested. However, I’m happy you’ve found something you love! Take care!” If the 50 posts a day annoy you, there’s a thing called hide notifications.
I don’t agree with the exploiting of friendships as a way to gain sales or recruits for these types of businesses. To those that do it – shame on you. As much as we admire your drive, please respect our frustration.
Advice for the Mompreneuer & annoyed friend
Rather than advice, here’s a simple question – Have you showed (notice I didn’t say told) your audience the real PURPOSE or story or what led you to that product and/or company and your motivation for promoting it? If you haven’t, you should. It will definitely make your audience appreciate your purpose and possibly feel more compelled to help you, even if just in a small way contribute. Other than that, do your thang!
And to the “annoyed friend,” have you ever asked what led your friend to that company and/or product? Maybe she hasn’t expressed it in certain terms, but you know her well enough to know that if she is committed to a company or product, it’s most likely for valid and special reason. Of course social media is a way to self-promote. Social media opened the flood gates for direct sale businesses, which is great, but is it really that different from you posting or “promoting” your kids, new home, or favorite vacation spot? Think about it.
As a result of speaking with other women in network marketing, I found that over half of them had a life event that led them to this product or company That life event may have been a sickness in the family, a calling to help those in other countries, or they simply are trying to provide for their family. Stop the hating, ladies. Take what you like and leave the rest. We face enough challenges as women, mothers and wives. Let’s support each other and not be so quick to judge.