The other day I gave a talk to a group of college students, about books, business and writing. Just as we were closing our Q&A, one girl raised her hand. “I was just texting a friend, about your talk,” she said. “And he wanted to ask a question about writing.” Okay. “He says, how do you get started? I mean, are there one or two critical, essential things to do, or to avoid doing?”

Yes there are, and it later occurred to me that these two critical things apply just as aptly to getting started in your network marketing business.

First: do something. (This answer was actually supplied by the day’s other speaker, who was sitting next to me. Good answer.)

For a networker, this means, make things happen. Take initiative. We like to say this business is very systematic: we develop our simple, duplicable systems of clear, concrete steps everyone is meant to follow alike. And that’s good, right and necessary. But the truth is this: those who are ultimately successful in this business are not those who docilely follow the directions in the manual, they are the people who make things happen.

There is a paradox here. The biggest error new networkers make is to run out and start yapping all over town. Get on the phone, shove CDs into people’s hands, effect a frontal assault on the Sunday congregation or gym club membership—talk, talk, talk. This, of course, almost never ends well, which is why we often start out trainings by saying, “Please do not go out and present!”

The paradox is you do want to learn how to do this right—but truthfully, learning how to do it right is secondary to doing it. It is an entrepreneurial business. Here is the definition of an entrepreneur: you make things happen. You rely on you. You are the source of action, the origin of opportunity, the reason things start to shake and move.

So that’s the first thing: make things happen. Don’t get stuck in learning-following mode; do stuff. Take risks. Aim at big targets and then pull the trigger like it’s a foregone conclusion that you cannot miss.

Which, of course, you will. Hence step two: wholeheartedly embrace correction. This may be the biggest single success secret for aspiring writers. Those who cannot stand being corrected or critiqued will never learn to write well. E.B. White said, “The best writing is rewriting.” Hemingway put it this way: “The first draft of anything is crap.”

Succeeding at writing requires having the courage to put pen to paper and write that misguided first draft—and the humility then not to quit, but to keep reworking it until it gets better. Succeeding at networking is much the same thing.

JOHN DAVID MANN is Consulting Editor of Networking Times.