Clueless About Network Marketing?
By Cora L. Foerstner
A year ago, I began reading about real estate and residual income. My desire to become an entrepreneur was born. As I read, term network marketing and its synonym multi-level marketing (MLM) kept popping up. The authors of these buzz words didn’t bother explaining or defining them. They assumed that I, their eager reader, knew their meaning.
I asked around, but no one had a clue as to what network marketing was. One of down sides of academia is that business world is a mystery to many of us. And so began my quest to discover what I could about MLM. Proponents of MLM boast that anyone could start a business for as little as a few hundred dollars.
After some fruitless research, I finally struck gold. I stared open mouthed at my computer screen. The name of network marketing company jogged an old memory. In high school, I had known a young man who belonged to this company. A couple of times, he came to pick me up for a date, but before we left, he would clean my mother’s stove or refrigerator, showing her miracles of his product. His goal, I assume, was to make money and dazzle me with his entrepreneur qualities. I felt humiliated because my mother was taking advantage of him to get her kitchen cleaned and because this boy was embarrassing me – I wanted to go to a movie or to a party, and he was cleaning my mother’s appliances.
I had holy grail in my hand, but I felt apprehensive. I told my colleague what I’d discovered. He shrugged and said,"It’s a pyramid scam."
But I found that lure of residual income far outweighed my apprehensions. Today, I’m a proud network marketer, ready to give anyone, who is as clueless as I was about network marketing, my fledgling expertise. Here’s scoop.
DEFINITION: Network marketing is a business that markets a line of products or several lines of products through independent salespeople. An independent salesperson is recruited; she, in turn, recruits other people; these people recruit others, and so it goes. Each representative builds her own business with her recruits and their recruits under her, and she makes commission on sales volume of her team. The people under independent salesperson are called downline. The potential for increasing downline and earning money is exponential.
SCAM or LEGIT BUSINESS: When I was in high school and amorous young men were cleaning appliances, many fawned upon these companies. Let’s face it. There were lots of jokes. Most people didn’t make much money; they pestered their family and friends, and horror of horrors, they had garages filled with unused products that they had to buy to meet their quotas (a certain amount of products a salesperson or team has to buy). Times have changed. Today, major corporations and Fortune 500 companies, like AT&T, MCI, Citigroup, and IBM, have multilevel sales forces.
The difference between network marketing and a pyramid scam is easy to explain. Network marketers sell products; they run businesses. A pyramid scam is a con. People give someone money in hopes that they can get other people to give them money. The claim is that anyone can get rich just by finding other people to do same. There is no product, no business. The people at top make lots of money. The scam falls apart. This is illegal. People get arrested.
THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE UGLY: Not all network marketing companies are created equal. There are some excellent ones, some okay ones, and some down right awful, ugly ones. If you are looking for a network marketing company, you have to do your due diligence and make sure that you find an excellent one. Remember that you are investing in your future.