In this issue, Ivan Misner offers a valuable piece of professional etiquette:
when you are part of a formal networking group like BNI, its better manners
to present yourself as a representative of your productnot your opportunity.
This is good to know. Careful, though: outside the BNI meeting, that same advice
does not necessarily apply.
Last issue Scott Allen contributed an excellent article [Due Diligence Nov/Dec 06] that was golden in every respectexcept one. His point #5 was: its better to be recruited as a customer of the product than as a candidate for the business. I disagree.
Scott says, The strongest way to build a downline is to bring people in as customers first. Once they grow to love the product, theyll be drawn to become distributors.
Alas, this seldom happens. Indeed, my experience is quite the opposite.
If you try to build a growing, duplicating network by being a product evangelist, hoping you will back-door enthusiastic consumers into discovering their latent interest in building a business well, youll probably have to wait a long, long time. In more than two decades of building network marketing organizations, Ive found it is exactly those people who follow this approach who get stuck in first gear.
Im getting people onto the product, but nobodys duplicating
Of course not. If you go around planting lettuce seeds, its not reasonable to think youll grow carrots. If what you want is carrots, plant carrot seeds. If what you want is people with an interest in growing a business, thats who you need to go looking for.
I appreciate both Ivans and Scotts point of view: they are appropriate to their context, which is the world of formal business networking. In that context, its good manners to focus on your product. Outside of that specific setting, its not the strongest strategy for building your business.
Customers dont duplicate. Most happy consumers of the product stay happy consumers of the product. They dont spontaneously combust into growing networks: growing a large, thriving network is hard work and takes focused intention.
If I had been recruited twenty years ago purely as a product user, I probably would never have joined. I got involved for the same reason as the overwhelming majority of successful networkers Ive ever known: because I saw an amazing income opportunity. Because I fell in love with the multilevel concept. No nutritional product, no matter how exceptional or life-changing, would have gotten my attention the way this brilliant business model did.
You never need to feel apologetic about this opportunity, or that its more legitimate to promote the product first and mention the opportunity only as a whispered footnote. The business itself is your most valuable product. Dont hide it under a bushel.
JOHN DAVID MANN is Consulting Editor of Networking Times.