When it comes to recruiting, there’s a universal law: The size and quality of your bait determines the size and quality of the fish. Unfortunately, network marketing is packed with people who fish with minnows in small ponds—and as a result, catch only bottom-feeders.

Are you presenting to prospects whom you would consider champions? If you’re like most people, the answer is, No.

Now, don’t get me wrong: most of these bottom-dwellers are very nice people. If you’re in business to make friends and create a social life, that’s fine. If you’re here to build a business—put the minnows back in the creek and start fishing for world-class recruits.

Sound harsh? Then you’re probably better off turning the page right now—this column is not for the touchy-feely or faint of heart. The focus here is to build your business and earn money. Once you’ve done that, you can go save the whales, or the world, or anyone or anything else you wish.

The Problem

Let’s get honest here: are you presenting to prospects whom you would consider champions? If you’re like most people, the answer is, No. Why not? Most of us are intimated by approaching more successful people for fear of rejection—so we call on only those prospects who are at our level of success or below.

This is what I call, “The Networker’s Kiss of Death.” Here’s a typical scenario:

A high school principal sponsors a few teachers, who in turn sponsor the janitor, the crossing guard, and the school cook. These people then sponsor others in the same or a lower socioeconomic status. Soon you have a downline made up of folks who have no money, no contacts, no track record of success—and no self-confidence. People don’t follow people who don’t believe in themselves … unless they are extremely weak themselves.

Each of us has reached a certain level of status and credibility; start wherever you are and reach up as high as you can.

This, in a nutshell, is the biggest problem in our industry, yet it’s rarely talked about—except behind closed doors. This business is sold to the masses (you know: “Anyone can do it!”), when in reality, it should be targeting the few.

The masses are perfect for your retail customers. It doesn’t take a champion to buy products and get great results. Shopping for million-dollar business partners is another game altogether. This is when you specifically focus on sponsoring the most successful people in the marketplace.

As Bob Proctor says, go after the top three percent. Bob even has an international club called “3percentclub.com.” These people think like champions; they have developed their belief systems to the point where they take massive action toward their goals and dreams. If you’re going to fish, don’t just cast your line blindly into the population pool. Think big and go where the winners go. One successful recruit is worth a dozen who have never known success.

A Talking Business—Not a Stalking Business

The days of stalking people at the mall, restaurants, gas stations, and grocery stores are over. Network marketing is finally growing up and getting down to business.

Each of us has reached a certain level of status and credibility; start wherever you are and reach up as high as you can. Among networkers, it’s called “sponsoring up.” My personal rule is to prospect people who are at least 10 times as big as I am—socially, financially, or by any other criteria that matter.

This does not mean you should ignore everyone else as a prospect; but any good marketer will tell you that you need to laser focus your efforts toward a niche market. I am simply suggesting that you make champions your niche market.

I know this market well; it happens to be one I have worked with. The most difficult part of prospecting champions is finding them, because you rarely find them associating with average people. The secret to finding and prospecting champions is to become one. When you think and behave like a champion, they have a way of finding you.

Here are some of the strategies I used to increase my odds of meeting champions:

  • I joined the nicest country club in my town.
  • I bought a place in the nicest neighborhood.
  • I fly first class as often as my air miles allow me to do so.
  • I joined my local Rotary club and co-founded the Bill Gove Toastmasters Club, named after my late business partner and mentor.
  • I hired a professional etiquette coach to train me in how champions conduct themselves.
  • My wife and I learned ballroom dancing so we could attend society fundraisers and meet champions on the dance floor.
  • I learned how to speak professionally in public and sell my ideas to audiences.
  • I took writing courses and learned how to put words together on paper.
  • I wrote a book and gained exposure on radio and television. (I write columns like this, in part, for the same reason.)
  • I attend as many speeches, seminars, and workshops as possible.
  • Not only will you become more of a champion by doing these types of things, but also you will meet more high-level prospects in the process than you have time to follow up with.

    You don’t need a lot of money to attract these people. The most important thing is to start wherever you are, with whatever you have … and begin to build. Make a decision right now to make champions your niche market, and start fishing for them.

    Before long, you’ll be one yourself!

    Steve Siebold is co-founder of the Gove-Siebold Group
    a training organization that helps networkers develop world-class communication skills.