When my sponsor first presented the network marketing opportunity to me, it was as foreign as asking me if I wanted to make a career out of trading baseball cards. I like baseball cards, but this just didn’t seem viable. I was interested in his health and wellness product, too, but having just started a demanding new job and relocated my family to a new state, I was more than hesitant to step into the unknown waters of networking.

So instead, I became a preferred customer and believer in the product line, and then spent time over the next three years reading up on the products and the business opportunity. This research led me to make some major paradigm shifts in my views on work and money. I became open to building assets in this way—but still, major concerns about the method persisted.

The aspect of the business model that concerned me most was the need to contact friends, family and former colleagues, what I came to know as a “warm list.” As bad as “cold-calling” sounds, wouldn’t it be worse to bug my friends? I remembered conversations with close friends about old high school acquaintances who had contacted them with similar opportunities—usually retold in a derisive tone.

Three years after that first introduction to networking, I had to leave my chosen vocation because of chronic back pain. Needing to find a way to replace a good income while working from home—on the terms my body dictated—I found this business just sitting in my lap.

Products? Great. Compensation? Fair, potentially lucrative. Time demands? Able to tailor to my needs. Method—contacting old friends and colleagues? Less than appealing.

My wife and I have moved around the country and the world quite a bit. Each time we moved, we grudgingly left friends whom we enjoyed and colleagues who expressed the hope of working with us again in the future. We keep in contact with many, but that contact is usually well below the frequency and intimacy we’d like. I often feel guilty when making a recontact, as the communication usually begins, “I’m sorry it’s been so long…”

Drawn to networking now by its vocational accessibility, I regularly get in touch with the old friends and colleagues I once feared contacting to present our product and opportunity. This is what I’ve learned.

1. They Appreciate Your Taking the Initiative

They feel just as guilty as you do about not being in better touch! You are the one making the effort to reconnect—overcoming the guilt and inertia in your relationship—and they appreciate that.

2. It Feels Good

If you had a good friendship or working relationship in the past, they are glad to hear from you! For them (and for you), it’s like finding a favorite turtleneck in the back of the closet that you forgot you had: it fits perfectly, feels great, is warm, and damn, it looks good on you!

3. Give It Time

You don’t need to mention the business opportunity on the first call. Clear a time to talk, and just catch up. Ask good questions, listen, make jokes, laugh and reestablish rapport. “What you’re doing now” will naturally come up.

If it feels right, say, “You know, you’d be great at this business…do you mind if I send you some information about it? This business is not for everyone, but it would be so much fun to work together (again)!” Because this is someone you really enjoy, that is all true, not a “line.”

4. Stay Connected

Don’t drop them if they are not interested in your opportunity. Put them on a call back list and commit to staying in touch.

5. Be a Friend

Take the time to listen and help them with their felt needs.

I reconnected with a former colleague whom I had hired. She had told me I was the best manager she ever had in twenty-seven years in the field. On my first call back to her, I found she had not received or seen my business packet. However, she said, “I could use some counseling tonight.” I put my counselor hat on and spent the next forty minutes discussing and thinking with her about her dilemma.

Another friend and former colleague I contacted is very involved with the progress of his teenage son as a student-athlete. He had virtually no college fund, and time was passing quickly. While it was easy to offer my business as part of his solution, I took time to call a friend in coaching at a college he respected. This started a recruiting relationship between them.

I didn’t do these things to make a sale—I did them to help a friend solve a problem, because we are in the problem-solving business. It is satisfying to be a friend to these people again, in spite of the distance.

In short, getting active in my business helped me to do something I should be doing anyway. What moved me forward was the ability to see it as a vehicle to renew and build relationships that were stalled by relocation and distance. As one successful rep in our company says, you move from feeling like you are standing on the street corner asking people for dollar bills, to realizing you are on that street corner handing them out!

Even if an old friend says “no” to joining your business, you’ve renewed a valued relationship—a true win-win. If they ever see a need for a networking opportunity, your integrity and commitment to them will lead them back to you. If not, you have enriched at least two lives.

STEVE DIEHL has been working his networking
business regularly now for about three months.