Too few people who join network marketing know this secret: to create success in your business, regardless of your company, product, service, region, or experience, the single most important action you can take is to engage in personal development.

If you came into network marketing, as I did, with no history or concept of personal development, years may go by before you take notice of its acceleration power. Or perhaps, when you do hear about it, you may confuse personal development with business development, such as learning more about sales, sponsoring, and the profession. This is an important area to study, but it’s not personal development.

Personal development means working on yourself: your dreams, goals, strengths, weaknesses, and your willingness to step into your greatness and live your life to its full potential.

As I began my networking marketing business, my mentors insisted that I consider personal development. I’m happy I took their advice. The first book I read was The Power Is Within You by Louise Hay, and her words made an immediate impact. For the first time, I became aware of my thoughts and my ability to direct them.

I suddenly understood that what you think about, you bring about, and this empowered me to design my life. I realized I could transform any area of my life through the power of personal development, including my network marketing business.

When I first got started, I was bankrupt and had recently moved to a small town. I had no experience in the profession, my sponsor lived ten hours away, and I was one of the first consultants in my area. I could have focused on all the reasons why I should fail, but thanks to personal development, I was able to focus on all the reasons why I was going to be wildly successful—and I was! This experience completely changed my life.

The combination of personal development and network marketing redefined me and helped me evolve into the woman I am today. I am confident it can do the same for you.

How exactly does personal development help us succeed on our business? By allowing us to strengthen and apply our feminine traits (hardwired in women but which men can develop), such as empathy, creativity, love of people, social bonding, and consensus building. Below are five ways in which personal development enhances these traits to support our business.

1. Personal development expands our awareness of people’s needs while strengthening our empathic ability. Through personal development, you develop a sincere interest in people. You learn to ask better questions and become a better listener. When you care more, you feel a stronger desire to serve and find out where someone has a need you can fill. Through this expanded awareness, empathy, and desire, you shift from selling your products or service to simply offering them as a gift. When you authentically believe you have a gift to offer, your sales will soar.

2. Personal development strengthens our love of people and community. Have you ever felt as though there’s something more you’re supposed to be doing with your life? Through personal development, you can evolve from where you just want to make a difference, to knowing that you are making a difference in the lives of your clients and community. Feeling on purpose will inspire you to offer great customer service to keep those connections strong, and makes it easy to ask for referrals more confidently and graciously. Strong sales become a reflection of our desire to serve.

3. Personal development expands your ability to be creative with your vision. Without a creative vision, you might be stuck with thoughts such as “I can’t do this,” or “I’m not good enough.” To be effective at sponsoring, you must be able to creatively envision unlimited possibilities based on the belief that you will succeed. Creativity in turn strengthens your belief and acts as a shield so that you become willing to face and overcome rejection, setbacks, and disappointments.

4. Personal development helps you attract people and create social bonds. With self-awareness, you become more empathetic with everyone you meet, and this strengthens your desire to reach out and connect. In my case, it inspired me to attend networking events, which in turn built my confidence and social skills for becoming a better attractor. You’ve probably met people in the profession who have an infectious enthusiasm that attracts and retains terrific business partners on their teams, two results of strong bonding and team-building skills.

5. Personal development strengthens your ability to build consensus. This skill empowers you as a team leader. Leaders believe in the potential of their team members well before they believe in themselves. As a leader, your function is to paint the possibilities for others and coach them to be their best. You build the consensus that “we’re all in this together,” “we are in the right place at the right time,” and “we’ve got each other’s backs.” You create a unique culture in which your team can thrive.

The ability to step into your greatness starts with understanding yourself, whichhappens through personal development. Looking at your business, how do you feel about your leadership potential? Does it scare you or inspire you?

It’s liberating to understand that the most important person you lead is yourself. Personal development can help you to evolve from “Maybe I could be a leader one day,” to “I’m learning how to be a leader,” and finally “I’m a leader attracting followers.” These shifts come through experience and the practice of personal development.

If you want greater success, you can’t keep thinking, saying, and doing the same things.

Jim Rohn said it best: For things to change, you have to change. In order to succeed in your business, you must embrace personal development and become purposeful about how you are evolving as a person.

LESLIE ZANN is a sought-after speaker, trainer, and
personal coach who teaches networkers proven strategies for
increasing sales, sponsoring, and leadership development.
Having built a successful direct selling business herself,
Leslie also has eight years of corporate training experience in
direct selling, network marketing, and party-plan environments.