For many networking entrepreneurs, the journey to success also brings personal and spiritual development. For Cecilia Ortiz of Miami, Florida, that journey started out as an answer to her prayers and developed through her faith, love of family and dedication to others. Today Cecilia is one of the top networkers at the beauty company she represents, responsible for a team of nearly 1,000 representatives who sell more than $4 million annually.

Through networking, Cecilia has survived medical and financial challenges and realized her dream of creating bright futures for herself, her family and many others. Her road to success has not been easy. Like many such journeys, Cecilia’s began with hardship and tested her faith and will power long before she arrived at the Promised Land.

Beginnings

Cecilia began her sales career fifteen years ago, joining a home products company and soon establishing herself as a sales dynamo. She was a top performer there for five years, earning many awards and incentives, including a new car. Then, disaster struck: she caught a bacterial infection that left her bedridden, debt-stricken and without a safety net in sight.

“I couldn’t believe it,” she recalls. “No one from the company called or came to visit me. I realized then that even with my success, I had no support.”

Cecilia, who had no health insurance, suffered for more than a year, watching helplessly as her business died away and the medical bills stacked up in her mailbox. Juan, her husband of thirty-seven years, worked overtime at a dangerous construction job trying to keep up with their mounting debt.

Anguished by her slow recovery and the stress her condition was inflicting on the family, Cecilia did the only thing she could think of: she prayed. She prayed day and night, asking for a way to earn money from home to help her haggard husband. One day, a visit from a concerned friend delivered what appeared to be a response to her heartfelt entreaties. Her friend introduced her to her current company and suggested she start selling the company’s beauty products.

Cecilia’s first reaction was to reject the idea because she thought she was too sick to sell. However, she was touched by her friend’s show of support and felt she had to respond.

“She told me she would support me any way she could,” says Cecelia. “She was so genuine in her desire to help that I said I would try.”

With the help of her friend, Cecilia launched her business while still bedridden by arranging a display of catalogues, samples and order forms on her bedside table. Family and friends visiting Cecilia’s sickbed left behind well wishes—and completed order forms. Her visitors became her customers and supporters of her new business venture.

Building the Foundation

For the next eight months, Cecilia accumulated an average of $800 a month in bedside sales. While her business grew stronger, she regained her health, until at last she was able to get out of bed, revved up and ready to take her business to the next level. By this time, her family’s debt had grown to $45,000.

One of the first things Cecilia did, once she was ambulatory, was attend a regional sales meeting. As she recalls, it was at that meeting that she realized her prayers had indeed been answered. She felt an instant rapport with her upline, Rosa Moya Suarez, and appreciated the warmth Rosa shared with everyone. As she listened to Rosa speak about the company’s multilevel program, Cecilia became excited by the business opportunity, and even more by the pledge of support she received. She gratefully accepted Rosa’s invitation to team up with her to build her multilevel marketing career. The two women met regularly for mentoring sessions in which Cecilia learned the finer points of prospecting and recruiting.

“We went out every day,” Cecilia recalls. “We would get permits to set up tables in malls, at the supermarket, in the post office—any place that had a lot of traffic. We would hand out our cards, brochures and samples from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and talk about the products and the earning opportunity with everyone who was interested.”

One daunting challenge Cecelia faced in these efforts was her inability to speak English. “I looked for people who spoke Spanish, because they were the only people I could communicate with,” Cecilia says, then adds, “as it turned out, that actually paid off pretty well. I soon learned that people from Spanish cultures are well suited to network marketing. They are focused on the home and have large, close networks of friends and family.”

Family Networks

Even in her native tongue, Cecilia didn’t always find the right words to engage prospects. Her upline helped her prepare a script for what to say when approaching people, a script Cecilia continues to use today because it was so effective.

“If you want to make someone smile, tell them you have a gift for them,” Cecilia says, laughing. “It works every time. That simple line usually leads to a dialogue, which can often lead to a recruit on the spot.” Once she captures a prospect’s interest, Cecilia hands over a sample with her card and a catalogue while talking about the product and its features. After introducing the product, Cecilia mentions the flexibility and earning potential networking offers and the many ways to incorporate family into building a successful enterprise.

Focus on family, after all, has always been Cecilia’s prime motivator. “I always prayed that eventually my husband could retire from construction and have an easier life.”

Cecilia’s family has also been her prime source for bringing in new business. Just as they helped her get started, Cecilia’s family members have accompanied her every step of the way and today she has numerous relatives on her team.

Sure enough, after a couple of years, Juan was able to retire from construction to work with his wife. Cecilia’s son and one of her sisters have advanced to high levels in the company’s multilevel program, and another sister and two cousins have joined Cecilia’s team as well.

Developing Leaders

Cecilia speaks proudly of the many members in her downline who are also on their way to making their dreams come true. “I am proud of my group,” she says. “We form a big family and we help each other, always.” She has developed thirteen other multilevel success stories, several of whom are earning at the top levels in her company.

Just as Rosa took Cecilia under her wing and nurtured her success, Cecilia spends the majority of her time working with her top performers. She teaches them the business fundamentals that she learned from her upline: prospecting, recruiting, training and developing leaders.

“One out of every twenty or so distributors takes the opportunity seriously,” Cecilia explains. “You should devote yourself to cultivating those who do, because they are going to be the ones responsible for your growth.”

Cecilia actively manages her downline and devotes herself to nurturing talent and enthusiasm. “I have seen the incredible difference support makes in this profession, and I am committed to providing everyone on my team with the support they need to succeed.”

She encourages esprit de corps by bringing the team together in monthly meetings and analyzing the team’s performance with downline manager software. “Technology makes it possible for me to track activity in my first, second and third generations,” Cecilia says. “I can see who is moving up and who is falling off, and I can pinpoint the areas in which representatives need training.”

In addition to the monthly team meeting, Cecilia brings her multilevel marketers together for a separate monthly meeting. She gathers her top networkers weekly to review key performance indicators from recent campaigns and establish group and individual goals for the next sales cycle.

The Power of Recognition

Every December, Cecilia holds a large holiday party at which she recognizes top performers and everyone in the multilevel program. She makes a video recording of the party as a memento for her attendees and showers them with gifts and prizes, such as fax machines, microwave ovens and giant product bundles.

“Nowadays I spend a lot of money on my team,” Cecilia admits, “but in the beginning I didn’t. I had much smaller prizes and incentives, which also worked well. Never underestimate the power of giving away samples or product demos.”

Cecilia says incentives are important in building a network because it helps your team set goals, which are critical to the business. “You simply cannot succeed without goals,” she says. “Setting out to build this business without a goal is like getting into your car without a destination. You might have a nice time, but you won’t actually go anywhere.”

Cecilia advises newcomers to networking to set small goals for themselves, but to dream big from the beginning. When she began her full-time multilevel marketing efforts, she set goals to reach each level of her company’s leadership program, with her end-goal of reaching its highest level within four years.

“I set small targets for myself, because I knew that they would eventually lead me where I wanted to land,” Cecilia says. With every small victory, her resolve increased. “I still remember the excitement I felt when I received my first bonus check,” Cecilia says with a laugh. “It was for $14. That might seem insignificant—but for me, it was proof that I was making progress, and it motivated me to keep working toward the next level.”

Cecilia’s simple system worked: she joined the ranks of the most senior leaders at her company three years and eight months after emerging from her sickbed—four months ahead of schedule.

Today Cecilia says she has been blessed beyond what she ever expected a decade ago, as she lay in bed praying so urgently for direction. She has made it her mission to reciprocate to the people who helped her by helping others find their way.

She continues to work in partnership with company management, including her new district manager, Patricia Gaitan. When she is not mentoring and training her downline, Cecilia travels the country sharing her story and encouraging others. She has been featured many times in her company’s internal publications as well as in general mainstream media.

“I often think back to that day, long ago, when my friend visited me and introduced me to this profession,” Cecelia muses. “I had just finished a prayer, and suddenly there she was, almost like a guardian angel. That’s not to say my success has come easily. I have had to work hard for every triumph. But at that time, I needed direction, and she stepped in and provided guidance when I needed it most.”

Cecilia says that direction is the most important thing she provides her top performers, and the most important thing for anyone looking to succeed in networking.

“I am proof that anyone can succeed in this profession. When I first started, I couldn’t leave my house, I didn’t have any money and I couldn’t speak English. I had nothing but my faith,” she says. “As long as you are professional and have the drive to do what it takes, you will become successful. It takes patience, persistence and faith that you can do it. Faith is everything.”