There is an old adage in network marketing, “Fake it till you make it!”

The interpretation of this outdated axiom, particularly in the area of earnings, varies widely. Carried to the extreme, it can leave an individual (and by association their company) open to serious scrutiny, which could ultimately lead to legal sanctions.

There is an inherent belief in our profession that money is the hook that attracts prospective distributors. That belief has created a tendency, particularly among new, overzealous distributors looking to become financially rich, to embellish earnings statements.

How do you avoid this natural tendency?
Immediately upon first registering a new distributor, I emphasize avoiding income claims, and I take great pains to educate him or her on the legal ramifications of doing so, even if the claims happen to be true.

Most companies’ pay plans are self-explanatory, and individuals can readily ascertain what they need to do to achieve the financial rewards they desire. Success, providing the distributor is diligent, is a matter of time.

However, I further explain, when you fabricate your own results, you create a set of false expectations for the new person, and when those results aren’t forthcoming the person will likely see him- or herself as a failure and bail.

I also let people know that ours is a profession built on credibility, and once that credibility is lost so is the opportunity to maximize one’s success.

Unlike more conventional wage or salary compensation plans, the nature of residual income is analogous to compound interest, and the geometric progression takes time to develop. I use the analogy of doubling a penny every day for a month. Halfway through the month the return is a few thousand dollars—peanuts—but by the end of the month the figure is in the millions. The same principle applies in network marketing.

To keep people in the game during this embryonic period, I emphasize the intangible rewards: personal growth; association with other like-minded, entrepreneurial people who want to take charge of their lives; and ultimately time freedom—all three of which I believe exceed the financial rewards.

Money is the icing on the cake.
As far as product claims go, most companies have excellent products, particularly in the nutritional and personal care lines. However, I teach to defer to a third-party customer as validation for the efficacy of a product.

“I know a person who had a similar problem, and they used this potion or lotion. You might want to talk to them.” Third-party validation is key here. It takes you out of the picture, and since the third party has no financial gain, liability is nonexistent.

The bottom line is to let the products and the opportunity stand on their own. If you feel the need to embellish, perhaps you are with the wrong company or have not yet developed the belief or self-confidence to succeed.

FRANK J. KEEFER is Publisher Emeritus of Networking Times.