Something that has always amazed me about the network marketing industry is that it is a never-ending contradiction in terms.

On the one hand, we are told from day one that we must treat our business like a big business. We must be efficient with our time and invest it in productive activities that bring results. We must be strong with the distributors we sign up and let them know what we expect of them. After all, we are devoting our precious, limited time and energy to them.

On the other hand, we also know this business is about building relationships and nurturing and caring for those in our groups; this certainly takes time and doesn’t happen overnight. It can be very difficult to be so “bottom-line business-like” with someone one moment, and warm and friendly with them the next.

So how do you balance the two?

The majority of people join the networking industry for one compelling reason: to improve their financial situation. But here’s something you hear over and over again: although most people first join for the money, it’s the life-changing friendships they make that ultimately keep them in the business long enough to help them experience success.

It’s certainly not included in any network marketing company’s policies and procedures that “you must develop relationships with those in your organization and treat them as part of your family.” Yet, if you look around at most successful leaders, it’s pretty obvious that this is exactly what they do.

Leaders often invite their organizations into their homes for social get-togethers; they become intimately involved in many aspects of their distributors’ lives; they remember birthdays and special interests. They fall in love!

As a good leader, you also need to know where to draw the line. You need to focus your energies proportionately on those who are most productive in your group. After all, your first responsibility does need to be to your own family. It’s a difficult day in a leader’s life when you realize that you are spending too much of your “business time” on an unproductive distributor whom you truly love and care for. In the “real world,” that person would be fired—but not in network marketing!

What does love have to do with it? Everything—and nothing—all at the same time!

Laura Kall is President of Gabriel Media Group, publisher of Networking Times.