Tim & Debra Edwards When Tim turned the video off after just seven minutes, his brother-in-law braced himself for the rejection. As the successful owner of a 24-hour-a-day courier service with 60 employees, Tim was one of those long-shot prospects...right?

Wrong--Tim had switched off the video because in those seven minutes, he'd seen enough to be convinced: network marketing was for him.

"If this is true," he announced, "I'm in--I'm going to sell my business."

Right Timing

The timing was right both for Tim and for his wife Debra. They'd both been putting in long hours, and while they had a great income, each was feeling regret at how little time they had to spend with their young daughter Brittany. It had been five years since their last vacation.

Tim recalls, "I knew my business really well--much better than I knew my own daughter!"

For Debra, the introduction to network marketing was even more timely, though it took her a little longer to be convinced that they should sell the courier business. Debra had been doing some soul-searching; having just recently lost her mother, she was also looking for ways to cut back on her hours and spend more time at home.

"I had a five-year-old I dropped off and picked up every day, just like all my friends. She was in private school and we had the 'American dream'--but when I lost my mom, I started thinking more about my daughter. I started to withdraw myself to work at home and saw what it could be like to be with Brittany."

"Work on Yourself First"

They began building their network marketing business together and, sure enough, sold the courier service within the year. Tim encountered an unexpected challenge, however: despite his prior business success, he was handicapped in networking by his shyness. And while outgoing Debra was more naturally suited to networking, she was devoting most of her time to being a mom, and only part-time hours to the business. Tim worked at it full-time--but wasn't getting the results he envisioned.

"I'd been in business for myself since I was 19," he explains, "but I always hired people to do the selling, the collecting, the phones. I sheltered myself and limited my contact with people. In this business, I suddenly had to face people--and my people skills were terrible."

Tim now tells people, "If it's not your nature to do be a networker, work on yourself first"--and that he did, full out. Debra says it was like watching a 180-degree shift happen before her eyes.

Once he'd made the commitment to change, he took the task seriously. "I wrote down everything I had to do to become better and change my personality," he says. He pasted them on a sheet of paper with pictures and affirmations, laminated it at Kinko's, and stuck it on the wall of his shower. For 30 minutes every single day, he meditated on it until he "became" what it stood for.

Leveraging with Technology

Once they reached the top of the pay plan, Tim wanted to solidify his organization. He realized there were many people out there just like him.

"We were teaching 100 percent of the people to do what only about five percent actually could do. It became my mission to make a system that would allow the average person to do a really good job."

He turned to technology to tackle what he saw as the biggest issues for shy people: presenting, asking for a decision, and getting good training without a strong local leader. He came up with a system of carefully orchestrated e-mail messages with embedded links; the links lead prospects through a series of Web sites that comprise a complete presentation--the leverage concept, his company, trends, and testimonials. While a prospect views the site, the shy networker gets a message that the presentation is in progress. If the person is interested in speaking live after seeing everything online, the shy networker arranges a three-way call with his upline, who answers educated questions and asks for the decision.

For training, Tim and Debra developed "team calls"--top reps do prospecting and follow-up calls live on a teleconference line; anyone in the organization can call in and listen. The benefit of this, says Tim, is two-fold.

"When you're trying to learn the business, it's hard to get a feel for what's going on without hearing a leader do it live. The team calls let people hear how it's done. At the same time, it builds their confidence because they hear first-hand that the business works."

Tim loves the fact that he has found a way to let even new people work exclusively from home. Their early days involved meetings and face-to-face presentations, but today, Tim says, "We never leave the house. I drive the car down the street every couple of weeks so the battery doesn't go dead."

Lead with Trends, Follow Up with the Basics

We gear our presentation around four or five trends: most people will find at least something that interests them; but that's just the beginning. Imagine if you owned a movie theatre: you'd use the newest, biggest, blockbuster movies to get people into the theatre--but once they're in, where do you make most of your money? The concessions--popcorn and Cokes.

That's our approach: we lead with the latest, greatest, exciting stuff, and then once people are involved, we show them everything the company sells and help them redirect their spending on all of those items. Whatever their passion is, we say, "Pick the product or service that fulfills that passion the most--and go get customers with it."

-- T.E.