Bill and Julie Toth are perfect examples of that fundamental networking principle, timing is everything. As a doctor, Bill admits (a bit sheepishly) that over the years he kicked more than a few networkers out of his office—with delight.

Bill was proud of his professional accomplishments, which were noteworthy. For a doctor specializing in sports medicine, to be one of seven doctors chosen to travel to the World Cup was ample proof of success. He also had a daughter who was asleep when he left for work and asleep when he got home.

Looking back, he sees his reaction to networking with new insight. “I was hiding behind my professional title because I was afraid they might be right,” he says now. “It boiled down to timing—getting to the point of finally admitting that what I was doing was not working.”

That time came after he’d been in practice for twelve years. Rather than things getting easier, he’d seen his patient load increase and his income decrease due to the impact of managed care on his profession. In short, he wasn’t having any fun, and he decided to look for something else.

With a more open mind, he now looked into network marketing and quickly found a company and a team he was excited to work with.

“I knew this was what I was supposed to be doing,” says Bill.

Julie, on the other hand, learned about the network marketing concept in college as a marketing major.

“It made a lot of sense to me and I gravitated toward it,” she says, “but my goal in going to college was to be a fashion buyer, so I didn’t consider it seriously.”

After graduation, she landed her dream job in retail and it was everything she hoped for. Once she started a family, though, the rigorous travel schedule began to feel burdensome. As she hustled through the airport one day it hit her:

“I was building someone else’s dream. It was time to get out.”

Julie left the position and tried her hand at a traditional business. She hadn’t been at it long when an acquaintance called her about the same networking company that, unknown to her, Bill had also joined.

“I was busy and ignored the call,” Julie says, “but a year later, my life had changed. I was on the verge of becoming newly divorced, a single mom, and thinking I needed to downsize my lifestyle substantially. I looked up the woman’s number and sought her out. I said, ‘What was that you were trying to tell me about? Because I’m all ears now.’”

A Networking Partnership is Born

Being sponsored into the same team and working with the same mentors, Bill and Julie began crossing paths at a number of company events and soon became friends as they worked at building their respective businesses. Both did very well, but not without attendant challenges.

“I’ve always been a big thinker,” says Bill, “and I did what a lot of people do. I started out following a coach, but once I started making some money, I decided to do it my way. My business tanked.”

Julie had the opposite problem—she wasn’t thinking big enough.

“I was going through the motions but had never set real goals for my business,” she explains. “I didn’t want to move out of my home into a small apartment, but I’d hired a realtor to sell the house anyway. I hadn’t yet embraced the reality that I could use my business to get me out of my financial situation.”

It was a call from Bill that stopped her in her tracks. When he found out what she was about to do, he pressed her by asking: “What has to happen for you to keep your house and your lifestyle?”

By this time, Bill had been following his coach again for a year and was well on his way to the top of the company. He knew without doubt that Julie could succeed too.

“They say change happens in an instant,” reflects Julie. “My decision was immediate. I fired my realtor on the spot—and got to work.”

Soon both Bill and Julie qualified for the same company trip and their romance began.

“We ended up on a mountain competing like crazy on snow mobiles, sparks flying,” says Bill. After a year of long-distance dating—Bill in Dallas, Julie in Houston—they both reached the top of the company. They ended up at the same company event, on the same mountaintop, and Bill proposed. He joined Julie in Houston, where they were married in the back yard of the house she was able to keep, thanks to her networking business.

Leading by Example

Working together as a couple proved easy for Julie and Bill, in part because they had both been following the same plan and the same mentors to succeed. This, they believe, has been key to the strength of their organizations.

“For us, commitment is number one,” they agree. “We have a commitment to each other, to our business, to our dreams. When commitment and purpose come together, there is abundance. Once you have commitment in place, you need coachability. Being coached and coaching others gives you a much greater respect for your own strengths and the individual strengths and weaknesses and how to use those to the benefit of the team.”

Indeed, Julie and Bill continue to seek coaching from their mentors, connecting with them at least once a week. It’s part of what they call their team’s “culture of accountability”—they ask each networker to commit to a plan of action. And if a networker doesn’t keep her word?

“We match energy with energy,” Bill explains. “We go back to that person and simply say, ‘You’ve given us these goals you say you want, and we’ve given you a plan to reach those goals—but you haven’t done the steps. One of two things has to happen. Either increase your actions or decrease your goals.’ We let them decide, and either choice is okay. It’s important to meet people where they are. Sometimes people say they want something, but don’t in fact want it bad enough to do the work.”

Although they haven’t changed their basic approach, they observe that networking as a couple has enhanced their ability to present the business. Some people relate better to Bill, and some to Julie—and they love this.

“It’s great to be married and have two perspectives,” says Julie, “because one of us can pick up where the other leaves off.”

In fact, in working together—and modeling how the business can work for couples—the Toths started attracting many more couples to their team. And when one spouse is serious but the other is neutral or even unsupportive, Bill and Julie still treat them and coach them as a couple in business, respecting the fact that both are involved in communal financial decisions. An essential component of their coaching style is to help new reps develop not just an action plan but a “family plan.”

“If we learn that any other person will be involved in a prospect’s decision, we make sure that person is also involved in the evaluation process. If it’s a couple and one or both get on board with us, we design a business plan that’s really a family plan. We want to convey the clear message that this business can fit into your life. A lot of people use the things that go on in daily life as an excuse not to do their business. We show them how the business is a reason to have a life and can support it—by example and by encouraging them to plan accordingly.”

From the Toths’ perspective, making prospecting calls on their cell phones from the stands at the ball field or in the grocery line is one way of modeling how integrated their home life and business really are. They welcome chances to demonstrate their commitment to family for prospects, but also to show their children that work and play don’t have to have clear lines of demarcation.

“We’ve always included our children in our business, and it teaches them a great lesson,” Julie says. “They wonder why their friends’ parents have to leave home to work.”

New Goals for the Future

Now that the Toths have staked out a solid position at the top of their company, their goals have changed—something they consider a natural evolution to which every developing networker needs to remain open. For the foreseeable future, their focus will be on helping people on their team reach their goals. In addition, they’ve established a “wellness ministry” at their church, which they call Faith Family Focus. The program incorporates what Bill knows about physical health with what they’ve learned through networking about emotional, intellectual, spiritual and financial health.

“I’m probably the healthiest I’ve been in my whole life,” says Julie, “and it’s not because I’m married to a doctor! It’s because my life is aligned with my core values.”

Bill agrees. “I’ve been able to assist more people with their overall wellness through my business and this ministry than I did as a physician through my medical practice.”

He’s found the wellness outreach so rewarding that he recently began offering the program in other Houston-area churches, YMCAs and similar organizations. As a result, though it wasn’t their purpose, the “ministry” is naturally feeding back into their business.

“When your light is shining brightly through you, people naturally want to know who you are and what you’re doing,” says Bill. “It leads to endless possibilities for what you can do with who you are.”

To that end, the Toths have stated their shared vision this way: “We’re attracting a global organization of extraordinary individuals dedicated to loving, learning and connecting with grace and abundance.” They knew that by acting on this vision, they will be able to increase the size and quality of their organization and to make a difference in the public’s perception of network marketing.

“By our example,” say the Toths, “we aim to show people that they’re in the number one profession. With our team’s heart, passion and integrity shining through, that claim is hard to argue with.”