Marijke Beerens Long

Network marketing–what a beautiful way to connect with people cross-culturally...

I grew up in the Netherlands, came to the U.S. in my late-twenties, and started a family. I was raised in an environment where young children could stay home rather than go to a daycare center, since there was always a parent in the house. I wanted the same for my own children, and getting involved with network marketing made it possible.

How fabulous that I could work from home and set my own hours! Because of our common network marketing careers, my circle of caring friends in the U.S. grew rapidly and it has been an enriching experience for the whole family.

Different cultures have always fascinated me and as a network marketing leader, I have been very focused on international expansion within our company.  Opening new countries can be a rather challenging and long process that requires a lot of patience. But the result can also be tremendously rewarding. Six years ago I was approached by a small team in India to help them bring our company into their country.  After numerous visits, hard work, and persistence, it is finally happening this year!

I absolutely love being able to offer others the same opportunity that was made available to me when I was a young mother living in a foreign country, desperately needing money and time freedom to care for my three young children.

Respect for others and an open mind are keys to building a cross-cultural global organization. It is essential to deeply listen to people’s needs and not judge what they deem important. For instance, when I organized my first meetings in India, I was amazed at how many men and how few women would show up. When I asked whether network marketing was mainly for men in India, I was told that women are very involved, but that the men initially check out the legitimacy of the company because they want to protect their wives from being taken advantage of.

Ray Flynn Spontaneous meeting with prospects in a teahouse in Indore, India
Ray Flynn Home Meeting in Soweto, South Africa

From a Western perspective, we may see this as a suppression of the female gender, as men appear to be the decision-makers. Or, on closer examination it can be seen as a deep-rooted cultural tradition where women are revered, protected and taken care of. I was told more than once by elated sons that because our product was so beneficial to their mothers, whose welfare is their top priority, it sealed the deal for them.

Juxtapose this to a culture where divorce is rampant, children grow up in broken homes, and old folks get stuffed away in “nursing” homes where they are left to be cared for by others.

Whatever your opinion or situation may be, if you approach a culture like India with the mindset that we are better than they are, chances are they will not understand you and be very cautious about joining your business. You may not even notice their rejection, because they have learned from centuries of suppression by foreign invaders that it is safer to be polite and not argue; rather, they use their developed skills to hold you at a distance in their own way.

Whatever region in the world you approach with your business, familiarize yourself with the local culture and customs, respect and embrace the differences, and share from a place of equality and patience. Then reap the rewards of transforming someone else’s life by having offered them a partnership in the form of an opportunity unique to network marketing. You will make friends for life while expanding your family globally!

MARIJKE LONG is a top earner in an international U.S.-based network marketing company. She immigrated  to the U.S. after completing her architectural degree in Amsterdam. She joined network marketing over 20 years ago and today she has teams on 5 continents.