Linda Proctor had already been a successful business woman for many years when she got involved in network marketing seventeen years ago.

Linda's road to wealth began in Atlanta, Georgia, where she worked in the financial department of an international organization and took her first entrepreneurial step: going on straight commission as an insurance agent. In the early eighties, she married Bob Proctor and relocated to Toronto, where she began her own financial planning company. Her experience and dedication, combined with Bob's encouragement and mentorship, made her company an overnight success. Yet despite the financial benefits and continuous expansion of her business, she was unhappy and dissatisfied with her newfound lifestyle.

A few years into it, Linda sold the business and put her imagination to work, dreaming up the perfect work situation. This dream led her to join a network marketing company, where she made her way to the top ranks in record time.

Today Linda loves sharing the success principles she's learned with others who are ready to take charge of their lives by launching a home business. One of the most powerful secrets she teaches is that to build a network of people, you have to approach others in such a way that they can see they are being helped, rather than being sold. — J.M.G.

How did network marketing find you?

When I met Bob, I was earning $25,000 a year selling life insurance. He suggested I tweak a couple of things I was doing, and a little over a year later my income was just under a half a million dollars.

After time Bob suggested I open my own financial services business, because I had a background in accounting and finance, and I took his advice.

Like a lot of people, I loved the idea of owning my business, but Michael Gerber in The E-Myth warns us that if your business requires your presence, you don't have a business, you have a job. By 1994, I came to understand that that's exactly what I had. I did have staff and enjoyed the work I was doing, but I dreaded the long hours, the responsibility, and the stress that came with it.

Bob suggested I sit down and write exactly how I would like to be working. Bob always teaches people to spend their days doing what they enjoy. Most people are trying to achieve balance, but they're going at it the wrong way. They think balance is spending eight hours doing something you don't like, then trying to carve out enough time doing something you do like. He says you should spend your whole day doing things you like doing.

I really thought about what I wanted my career to look like and came up with a number of elements. I wanted high income potential, because at this point I was enjoying a pretty good income. I wanted control over my time, something I didn't currently have. I wanted a high-quality product or service that would make a difference in other people's lives. I wanted a global business that would allow me to work with interesting people all over the world.

After I put all this down, I thought, "I have no clue what it is." The first two items seemed to be contradictory: I could think of careers with high income potential but no time freedom, and vice versa.

And most careers with high income potential come with a lot of responsibility, which frequently brings stress.

Right. I didn't mind some stress, but I didn't want the amount I had owning the business. I didn't want to jump into a similar situation.

"If you can write it, it exists," Bob said, and even though at first he didn't know what it was, either, later he came back and said, "What you've described is network marketing."

I remember thinking, "The man needs a vacation, because it is not network marketing! I'm not doing that." When I shared my feelings, he got in my face saying, "Why are you so negative about this idea?"

I started telling him about friends I knew who were involved in different network marketing companies, most of whom were not making money or enjoying what they were doing. It wasn't working for them at any level.

Bob replied, "You're basing your opinion of a whole business model on a handful of people who have never been successful in it. Is that really intelligent?"

Not when you put it that way, I thought.

He said, "Before you discard the idea, why don't you talk to some people who are successful at it?"

I thought this was good advice, and within a few days I found myself sitting across a table from someone who was earning a significant six-figure monthly income in network marketing.

I soon realized that what this person was doing was very different from what my friends were doing. I became intrigued. It dawned on me that he was building a network through which product moved, while my friends were trying to move product and build a network—which sounds similar but is totally different.

With her husband Bob Proctor.

Sharing the stage with the Boreykos (BK, Karen, and Lauren) at a company event in Arizona, 2011.

With team members who won a company-sponsored contest.

Linda published this book written by the family as a tribute to Bob's 75th Birthday.

With company owner BK Boreyko in Las Vegas, 2012.

Relaxing with team members at company event.

It resembled more what you were already doing.

Exactly. In my financial service business, a lot of our clients were chiropractors just out of school and other small-business owners. Essentially, we showed them how to set up their business, working with people one-on-one, teaching them accounting, and mentoring them.

When I listened to this gentleman's perspective, I realized building a network marketing organization was showing people how to go into business for themselves in a risk-free environment. Even if they were doing it only on a part-time basis and didn't have aspirations for a huge income, if they really got into it, they would learn some significant skills that could improve every aspect of their lives.

What I also liked was that you benefited from helping the people in your downline. It wasn't competitive, the way traditional business was. You wanted to see everybody succeed in a big way.

It didn't take me long to recognize this was the vehicle for me. Moving forward with it was a different story.

My old feelings about network marketing hadn't completely evaporated just from sitting down with this person. When someone would say, "What are you doing now, Linda?" I would think, Oh my gosh, how the heck am I going to answer that question?

How did you cleanse and strengthen your network marketing blueprint after years of negative exposures?

Every time I felt uncomfortable about that "What are you doing now?" question, I would think back to the insurance industry, when my managers told me, "You really won't be in the business until you deliver a check to a deceased person's family and realize the benefit of what you're doing." I thought the same was probably true in this business, and I wondered what was going to be the trigger that would make me feel good about doing it.

It turned out that as soon as I started seeing the people I'd brought in making money, moving forward, and developing skills, I started feeling proud of what I was doing. I no longer felt I was selling or representing a product; I was making a difference in people's lives so they could achieve time and money freedom.

What did you do to get started?

I sought out business mentors in different areas. One was strong in field leadership, another excelled at training, another was a great upline, and another was very good with stats, trends, and numbers. I spent time with each of them, learning different things so I could become as well-rounded and as helpful to my team as possible.

The field leader taught me how important it was to have a big goal, and I believe that's one of the keys to leadership. If you have a really big goal, others are going to want to follow you, because they want to go where you're going. So, I set some really big goals.

I asked him, "What does it look like to earn a million dollars in this business?"

He replied, "Help six people earn $100,000 a year." He then explained that to make this happen, there were layers and layers of people who would have to be earning money as well.

As I started getting my head around that, I asked myself, "Who do I know who would like to earn a six-figure income?" And then I approached these people about the business, because my background was helping people set up businesses.

I would say, "If I could show you how to create an additional $100,000 a year in income doing something part-time, working with a pretty dynamic group of people, and doing something that is going to be fairly risk-free, would you at least sit down and explore it over coffee?"

I would personalize it to the person's situation. One of the people I brought in was my hairdresser, who owned his own salon. He would always complain about the lease going up. One day I said, "If I could show you how to offset some of that expense, or even cover it, would you let me talk to you about it?"

I would try to identify what a person needed or wanted, or where the business could relieve some stress for them, and say, "If I could help you do that, would you at least sit down with me?" I don't think anyone said no to that question.

What else did you learn from your mentors?

From the man who was a good trainer, I picked up how to convey difficult ideas succinctly and turn them into simple concepts anyone could grasp. Sometimes training in network marketing can be complicated, especially to the person who doesn't have a sales background.

The guy specializing in numbers was a trend watcher. Even with my financial background, at first I didn't really understand what numbers to watch. He showed me that once you reach a certain level of income, recruiting numbers are really important. In the beginning, the only thing I focused on was recruiting, and even today 80 percent of my time is spent in recruiting for either myself or my downline. That's really the business we're in.

I see a paradox here. In the beginning it's crucial to educate yourself, yet you also have to focus on income-generating activities.

I think that's what kept me in the business. If I hadn't seen people around me making money and getting excited, I don't know if I would have really gotten it.

There are a lot of people in network marketing—even in my downline—who know more about the product and could give you detailed information I have no clue about. In many ways they are more educated than I am, but they're not doing anything. They're not getting results. It's not just about knowing things, it's about how you apply what you know that makes the difference. It's about moving people into action.

You can educate people to do something, but if they don't work on themselves to change their own paradigm, they won't succeed. If I hadn't worked on myself to change my thinking about network marketing, I probably wouldn't have stayed in the business.

How soon did you start making money?

Right away. After a full year into the business, I had earned $100,000. It more than doubled the second year, and more than doubled again the third year.

What do you attribute this to? Most distributors don't make anything close to that kind of money so quickly.

Most people don't recruit enough people, and they don't really have a goal to make money. They're running around hoping something is going to happen. They're not taking responsibility for making the money themselves. They're hoping they can recruit someone, so that person will make them successful.

A lot of people come into this business that way. Sometimes people call me and say, "Will you do a three-way call for me? I know I could be so successful if I just get this person." This is the wrong tone for the call.

Did your sales background help?

It did, even though this is a different type of sale. This is more counseling selling than transactional selling, which is what we do in the insurance industry. It requires a different mindset. A lot of people come into this from real estate, and this is totally different. It's team-building.

My sales background did help in that it gave me people skills and the ability to present. But we've all seen people come into this business who don't have these skills and yet become very successful, because they're so excited about what they're doing and they have some natural ability that works very well for them. That's the beauty of it.

I've also seen people who I didn't think would make it become huge successes because they were persistent and had big goals, and because others respected and followed them.

Team-building ... how did you learn that, especially in the beginning?

I recruited a lot of people quickly. I remember someone saying, "You want to get your team together fast, because then you have more time for that team to start working."

I recruited twenty-five people my first three months in the business. There was a gentleman in my company who recruited thirty people in his first six weeks. His income was almost double mine.

In order for this business to work, your team has to work as you move forward. Some people come into network marketing, recruit one person this month, another person the next month, and one after that. You can't get any momentum or make any money that way. You've got to get your team together quickly.

How many people did you approach to recruit twenty-five?

Probably not even fifty. In sales management, I was used to recruiting to a profile. I went to my leadership mentor and asked him, "Who is successful in network marketing? Can you give me a profile?"

He said, "You're looking for someone who is mature, in their late thirties or early forties; someone who has had success in their life, whether they've currently got it or not, so they at least know what it feels like and are looking to do it again; someone who is already fairly accomplished, so you can help them develop a part-time income, which is easier to move to a larger amount.

"You're looking for someone who has a big network, someone who has great communication skills, someone who's either in sales or self-employed.

"Most importantly, the person has to have a desire to do more and be more. Anyone who fits this profile is a perfect candidate."

Things have changed a lot since the nineties. What profile do you focus on today?

Many Gen Y-ers are looking at network marketing because they're having such a difficult time getting jobs and starting their careers. They don't come into network marketing with that profile, and they don't have some of the preconceived notions that some of us who are a little older had about network marketing.

They come in wide-eyed and excited to be able to own their own business and control their own life. But they're not able to find people with that profile, so the profile I give them is, "Who do you know who is ambitious and wants to make things happen? Who wants to pay off their student loans quickly and zero in on a way to do so?"

I coach my team not to pick up the phone to talk to someone about the business until they know how it will help them—whether it is to pay off their student loans or allow them to stay at home after they've had children. Don't pick up the phone until you figure out how it will serve them, because otherwise you'll just be pitching and you won't feel good about it—and neither will they.

You are an accomplished trainer. How do you train your team?

The first thing I do is train my leaders. I help them understand what they're trying to build.

Usually we sit down and I say, "What is your ultimate objective? Let's break it down into pieces and see what you need to get started—how many people you need to recruit to get the ball rolling, and how quickly you need to recruit them.

"Then let's look at the structure of your organization: how many leaders earning what amount of money do you need?"

When I was working in my first company, where I spent twelve years, I had a model of the business I was building and the leaders I needed in different spots. Every day I looked at this map on my wall, and I didn't stop until I could fill in the spots with names.

My goal was to keep seeing those leaders move up in rank, and this goal drove my activity—where I worked, who I worked with, and what incentives I came up with.

Any books or generic trainers that were formative?

The first book I read was by John Kalench, Being the Best You Can Be in MLM. I read The New Professionals by James Robinson and Dr. Charles King and all the classics of network marketing.

I recommend Good to Great, by Jim Collins. I read my husband's books and studied his material, obviously. Another book I've enjoyed was Stella Adler's The Art of Acting. She teaches how to act like the person you want to be.

There's one book I have kept picking up for years, and that's What to Say When You Talk to Yourself, by Shad Helmstetter. I think we constantly need to monitor our self-talk.

And of course I read Networking Times, cover to cover for the first five or six years. Now I tend to skim the articles, but I highly recommend it to new people.

What makes you jump out of bed in the morning? What do you enjoy most about your business today?

Probably the same thing that spurs my husband on: we love working with people who are excited about changing their lives.

Bob loves seeing light bulbs go off in people's minds and seeing the changes that occur. So do I, just from a different perspective.

I think network marketing is a business whose time has come. If you look at what's happening economically and globally, it's clear the governments are not going to be able to rescue us. People are slowly coming to the realization that they need to take responsibility for their lives.

One prediction here in Canada is that young people coming out from college aren't going to have multiple jobs, they're going to have multiple careers, and that's because of changes in technology.

More than any other sector, network marketing prepares people for what's coming. It gives people the opportunity to learn skills, to expand their mind, to be around positive people, to get creative input, and to build an income that can sustain them through the ups and downs.