When I first got involved in network marketing eight years ago, I lived in a rural cabin at the foot of Mt. Rainier. Today, I've learned a lot about the business, made a lot of friends, had a huge amount of fun, and done really well and I still live in that same quiet cabin. I love the freedom; I love the income and my lifestyle hasn't really changed all that much.

I am an ordinary guy. Everyone in this business says that; in my case, it's true. I'm not a brilliant speaker; I don't do suits or front-of-the-room well. I don't have a photographic memory or advanced product knowledge; I'm not especially charismatic; my IQ is normal (they'll never make a movie of my life, starring Russell Crowe as me).

Oh, and one more thing: I have absolutely no Internet skills. None. Email? Autoresponders? Replicating Web sites? These mean as much to me as MTV and prefab housing to the Amish.

Don't get me wrong: being ignorant of the Internet is not something I'm especially proud of but I'm not especially apologetic about it, either. I know people are using the Net in powerful ways, and I think that's a great thing. It's just that I don't think it's all that important.

What's Important

Any success I've enjoyed in this business I owe to two things: I take my business seriously, and I work hard for my people. This is a work ethic than anyone can duplicate and when I say anyone, I am talking to you. This is a people business. Clearly understand that two-word term, and you're 80 percent there.

People: The core value of network marketing is relationships. Success only happens when you care about your team. If you don't care about your people, you're just playing a money game. Money games are always temporary, like musical chairs: at some point, the music stops, and someone's left standing. (Usually a lot of someones.)

Business: At the same time, this is a business: people have to step up and take responsibility. I've seen many people leave the business saying, My sponsor didn't do it for me. Your partners need to step up and partner with you, or you can't help them. It's like tennis: I'll serve the ball to you a dozen times but I need to know you're at least trying to hit it back.

I work this business with one tool: my telephone. I start my work day with this thought: If you need help, I'm here.

Be Accessible

Excitement drives this business. There's only one way to generate that excitement, consistently and reliably: you have to be there for your people. My #1 rule for business is, Be accessible.

It amazes me how many people in this industry are not accessible how many big leaders don't pick up their telephones! The single most damaging thing you can do to your business is to be inaccessible.

I know people in this business who don't return a call for two, three, even four days or never. Eventually, people stop believing in them. The most valuable resource you have in this business is your reputation. If you don't return calls from your network, if your people can't find you when they need you, you're burning your reputation faster than a '59 Ford guzzles gasoline. If I were a restaurant owner and kept my restaurant closed, how much business would I do?

My doors are open for business 80 hours a week. I'm not necessarily talking the entire 80 hours, but I'm accessible. When my leaders call me, they don't get voice mail or a busy signal; most times, they get me. It's a great life: for those 80 hours, I'm taking walks, being with my three-year-old all day, talking with my friends. And when I vacation (which I do a lot), my team covers me. I have more fun in one month in this business than I did in years in my traditional business.

Working the (Low-Tech, High-Touch) Phone

I work this business with one tool: my telephone. I start my work day with this thought: If you need help, I'm here.

I strategize with leaders every day, looking over the whole organization, seeing who's running fast, who needs more help, how the whole structure is shaping up, making sure everyone is building an organization that will maximize the compensation plan and not leave money on the table.

The rest of the time, I'm doing three-way calls, asking, Who do you know? Who do they know? Who do they know? Talking with people and their people and their people, generating excitement, sharing information, and making friends and always three-way, so the sponsoring person is trained at the same time we're enrolling.

My system is simple: make a list of 20 people, call them all and tell them what's exciting about your company, then see which three are really interested. Go with the three you trust. Never burn bridges; always build your list for the future. Your list is your gold.

Remember What Works

When I first tried my hand at this business, it was confusing. I complicated it. Once I understood that the key is helping other people achieve what they want, I knew I could be successful.

Technology is amazing. I don't devalue the Internet. It's just that people misplace their emphasis. If you really want to build a network of strong, committed relationships, you need to talk.

Everyone who treats it like a business has success. The success stories in this business are real and they are not stories of brilliant business whizzes or Internet virtuosos.

Here's what works: Being accessible. Team-building. Loyalty. Developing a long-term attitude.

If you're wondering if I know something you don't know hear this: you can absolutely do this. It works. As our industry continues to grow (and to grow up), more and more ordinary people, people like you and me, are becoming successful in this business. I'm proud to be a part of it.

Bart Woodcook
is a veteran networker; he lives
with his wife Alona and son Brandon
in a cabin in Buckley, Washington.