"I love network marketing. There is no writing involved—we just have to talk," Cynthia told Mike while stirring her cappuccino at Starbucks. Mike had introduced network marketing to Cynthia two years ago after she had her second child.
"Not anymore," Mike said. "These days, writing is as important for a networker as presenting and selling."
"Are you serious?" asked Cynthia. "I hate writing. It reminds me of school assignments."
"This business is all about communication," Mike explained. "We build our personal brand and reputation by communicating with prospects and teams in every possible way—from one-on-one to group meetings, through emails and Facebook, to blogs and tweets."
"I write emails and Facebook messages," Cynthia replied, "but that's not real writing. I would be no good at writing articles."
"Cynthia, that's a common mistake networkers make," said Mike. "Writing for the purpose of communication is nothing like college assignments. Take blog posting, for example. It's easy and fun."
"How can writing a blog post be fun?! It's just like you're writing an essay—and that's hard, time-consuming, and boring."
"It is fun," Mike replied, "if you don't treat it as a college assignment. Here's how writing becomes easy and cool.
"First, write the way you talk. If you record yourself talking and write it down, you have the start of a pretty good blog post. Don't think about sentence structure, grammar, and other school requirements. Just speak your ideas in short sentences. Use simple words. You don't have to impress anyone, and you're not going to be graded. Just communicate. Talk."
"Hmm," said Cynthia. "That sounds doable."
"Second," continued Mike, "write as if you are talking to only one person, regardless of how many people will read it. That makes it feel conversational. Ask rhetorical questions and then answer them, just as if you were talking to a friend. That'll make your writing more casual, interesting, and personal. Can you do that?"
"So far, so good," Cynthia said.
"Third, show your personality. Be yourself. Don't pretend to be someone else. You have to sound like Cynthia to the point that people who read what you write will know it's you, even if they didn't know that when they started reading it. Use the same language, the same slang, the same expressions you usually use when you're talking."
"That sounds easy," Cynthia mused.
"There's one more thing. Fourth, tell stories. Story-telling is always more interesting and more engaging than just doling out information. Tell the same stories you'd normally share with the people in your network. The only difference here is that writing is a documented talk: it can be kept forever."
"Is that all there is to it?" Cynthia asked.
"Yep," said Mike. "That's it."
"Thanks for the advice," said Cynthia. "I have to leave."
"What's the rush?" asked Mike.
"I'm going home to write my first blog post right now!"
DAVE OSH is an international business leader and the COO of a multinational direct selling company operating diverse product lines. Dave writes regularly for his blog Thought Leadership.