On June 30, 1993, I did something I’d never imagined I would do: I signed up as a distributor for a network marketing company.

I was both clueless and uplineless: my friend Mel, who worked for this company, had informed me that it was running a free registration promotion, and all I needed to do to become a member was sign on the dotted line.

Not knowing what I was supposed to do next or who my upline was, I didn’t do anything. Mel couldn’t help me, either, because employees weren’t allowed to get involved in the field. Given the circumstances, I should have become another attrition statistic for network marketing, but things turned out very differently because of three factors:

1. Several months after that uneventful sign-up date, my friend Joe presented the opportunity to me again. I could see how having an upline I knew, liked and trusted could make a world of difference. After his presentation, I spoke with the company owner, who happened to be a mutual friend of Joe’s and mine, and he agreed to let me transfer to Joe’s tree. I now was no longer alone and in the dark.

2. Joe continued to invite me to events, and I kept showing up. It took me several meetings to understand the compensation plan and several more to muster up the courage to talk to anyone, but one thing I knew how to do was follow a system. Back in 1993, it was very simple: make a list, invite people to an opportunity meeting, and attend events.

3. I was a single mother to three young children, desperate for a means to survive. I didn’t have a big dream, only a big need. Regularly interacting with other networkers exposed me to stories of small beginnings with inspiring endings. My faith and hopes progressively grew. Although the meetings I attended had a standard program, each speaker brought their own story that reinforced my belief in myself and the opportunity.

The combination of having an upline, a system and a desperate need allowed me to slowly start building my business. In my first months, I wasn’t very successful in bringing people to opportunity meetings. But because I was soaking everything up like a sponge and desperate to make it work, I was able to bring in people nevertheless, outside of these meetings. I started doing home meetings, which were very effective.

Since I was building outside the system, it took the company leaders some time to notice me. When they eventually took note of my commission check, they wondered how I did it—and when they learned what I had done, they decided to adopt the home meeting approach into their system as well.

As for countless others, my first attempt at network marketing was a failed start. With the right reasons, relationships and routine, I was able to restart and build right.

DONNA IMSON is executive chairperson of an international
network marketing company based in the Pacific Rim.
She is an accomplished network marketer, a much
sought-after speaker and a role model for aspiring entrepreneurs.
She is infinitely grateful to the profession for bringing
dignity and fulfillment to single mothers like her.