Whether you’re starting to build a network marketing business or reviving your existing business, never underestimate the power of that first step you were taught when you entered our profession: making your contact list.

In the late nineties, as the Internet and ecommerce entered the homes of the majority of Americans, many networkers moved away from the more traditional methods of getting started in network marketing, and specifically from the long-taught tradition of “making your warm market list.”

You might be wondering why an Internet marketer such as myself, having focused on online business-building methods for the past ten years, is bringing this up. Read on and you will understand.

Expand Your Contact List

Many prospects I meet online tell me, “I want to build my business exactly the way you do.”

I’m always happy to teach my system; however, what these prospects don’t know is that my network marketing career started in 1994, before any of us had Internet at home. Each step I have taken since that time has helped me develop the business skills needed to succeed in our profession.

I was fortunate that the business-building fundamentals I learned included “making your first list of 200 names.” Today I still recommend this as the most important practice for anyone getting started in the business.

To build your list as wide as possible, use a memory jogger: for example, go through your check ledger or credit card statement and write the names of everyone you pay money to. Don’t edit that list by prejudging anyone, and keep adding new names daily as you think of and meet new people.

Once your list is made, contact people using the methods and tools your upline or sponsor taught you. This is exactly what I did, and like most budding networkers, I struggled with picking up the telephone: I worried about what my friends would say and procrastinated making calls as much as I possibly could. Once I realized that the only way to succeed was to talk to people about my business, I forced myself to face my fears.

With each call, it became easier. With each “no,” I developed a tougher outer shell and refined my communication skills. As those skills developed, I ventured out and joined a business networking group: my local Chamber of Commerce. I went out into the community to make connections. All of these steps expanded my warm market and, most importantly, they further developed my business skills.

Engage Your Warm Market

Success in network marketing requires developing skills through “practice, drill and rehearse.” The best way—in fact, the only way—to develop your skill set is simply to take action and talk to people.

When people tell me they want to build their business “exactly the way I do,” I teach them that the best place to start is to develop their warm market list and notify everyone on it about their new business. You don’t have to ask people to join or buy from you, just invite them to take a look and be aware of what you are doing, in case anyone crosses their path who might be right for your product or business.

What most of my online contacts don’t know is that I was fully six years into my network marketing career before I began using the Internet. I had talked to probably more than a thousand people by that time. I had built unshakable belief in my profession, my company and my products. My posture was solid and I was equipped to deal with whatever a prospect might throw my way.

If you want to venture out into the online world, building skills and belief by working with your warm market is critical. If you have not first taken those baby steps, then you are not prepared to run. I have seen firsthand how, when people skip those baby steps and venture right into the Internet, they are at a loss as to how to “work with people.” And no wonder: they don’t understand how to develop relationships, contact, invite, present or handle objections, or even the simple fact that a “no” today may turn into a “yes” down the road.

I regularly talk to distributors who are trying to work lead lists and the cold market because they are afraid to talk to the people they know. They somehow think that because the lead came to them, things will be easier and fear will go down.

While most people on our warm market list will not be interested in our business, there is typically an ace or two on everyone’s list. If you don’t talk to your warm market, you’ll never know who those aces are. Why walk past a fortune by not at least letting your friends, family and acquaintances know about your opportunity?

We often make the assumption that no one we know will be interested in our business, but here is the truth: all those people who are online looking for an opportunity are in somebody’s warm market. Some of those people will go on to build a network marketing empire. Too bad for the poor fool in their warm market who is looking for prospects and didn’t contact them first!

The Internet is a great resource for expanding your warm market. Social media sites make it easy to reconnect with people from your past as well as build new relationships with people who fit your target market. However, prospecting online is not a starting point for inexperienced networkers who have not yet taken that proven step of contacting their warm market list.

So get together with your sponsor, grab a notebook and a memory jogger (your sponsor will have one) and begin notifying your warm market. Work to find out who are those one or two aces on your list. Don’t walk past a gold mine right in your own backyard.

JACKIE ULMER is an offline/online network marketing
veteran and coach. She is the author of
Power Recruiting:
How to Sponsor Your Dream Team. Having built a solid
business while being a mom and wife, her passion is
empowering others to follow their dreams and aim high.