Have you gotten involved with a direct sales or network marketing company in order to take control of your life by earning an income, all the while setting your own schedule and keeping your family in the #1 priority position?
If so, congratulations! Going into business for yourself is exciting! It can be powerful to show your kids what hard work can accomplish. When you are first able to use your business earnings to take your family on vacation, or to buy a new family car, or to send your kids to summer camp, the sense of pride is palpable. Many direct sellers and network marketers consider it to be the greatest perk of all when their children are able to see and feel the benefits of mom’s hard work.I’ve noticed a trend, however, that is a dangerous one. Direct sellers and network marketers have been trained since the inception of the industry to market their businesses all the time, to make their businesses a part of their everyday lives, looking for each opportunity to introduce a product/service/opportunity to someone new.? Certainly, many network marketers have reaped the benefits of this behavior, and while I support the concept, I caution you… Be careful!
I am a mom, a spouse, a businesswoman, a friend, a community member, a daughter, a lover of food and music, a football fan, and a darn good cook (if I say so myself).
Who are you?
Be careful not to let your business identity overpower the rest of you, and put a damper on your friendships. After all, people don’t become friends with businesses. When is the last time you made friends with a corporation? By nature, people make friends with people. It’s the person that you are that your friends love. They loved you before your business began, and they love you for more than what your business offers.
Customers vs Friends
Customers are very important to your business, and friends are very important to your emotional well-being. Yes, some of the people in your life can fill both roles. However, be careful that you’re not only reaching out to your friends with sales pitches. Yes, it’s okay to wear/carry your company’s product(s) in your everyday life. It’s probably safe to assume you chose your company because you’re passionate about what they offer, so of course you should utilize the product(s) as much as possible. And let’s face it, the “business 24/7” model is tried and true. But it’s not okay to open every conversation with a discussion about said company’s product(s) and/or opportunity, or to tie a sales pitch into every conversation.
Turn the tables around for a moment and consider your non-industry friends. Think about your best friend. In my case, she’s a teacher. If every conversation that my BFF started with me were about the corrupt school system in our state, and how the only way to fix it is to write letters to our State Senators and Representatives or donate to the XYZ fund for betterment, I might start to tune out every time she opened her mouth. It’s not because I don’t love her or agree with her assessment(s), or want to support her. It’s because there is much more to her that I love! Even though her day-to-day revolves around dealing with the issues above, mine doesn’t. I am happy to support her because (a) I have kids too, and said discussion affects their school careers, and (b) she’s my BFF and of course I want to support her career. There is, however, more to my BFF than her career. While it is a part of who she is, it is certainly not all of who she is. And if it were, then she wouldn’t be the same old BFF that I know and love!
Compare/Contrast = Relationship Homicide
Worse, if my BFF made a point to compare my career to her career, citing all of the reasons that her career is more important/better/offers more/makes more of a difference than my career, I would not only tune out when she began to speak, but I would be downright offended.
There are many different Direct Selling companies out there. Each has its own product line, compensation plan, independent consultant perks, and philanthropic efforts. With almost 14% of American homes having a direct seller in residence, it’s very likely that your pool of friends contains another direct seller (or several other direct sellers). Of course you think your company’s products, income opportunity, perks, or philanthropy is the best! if you didn’t, you wouldn’t be with the company! There’s no industry like this one, and no group of business people feel more of a personal attachment to their business than direct sellers.
It’s important to respect that your friends are just as passionate about their own companies as you are about yours. Putting down another company to make a point about the benefits of your own is simply not a way to make or keep friends or business contacts. Business-wise, it’s unethical, and friendship-wise, it is offensive. Respect your friends’ businesses, and expect that they will respect yours. Business 24/7 isn’t the only direct sales method that has proven to be successful, after all. Consider teaming up with your direct selling friends from other companies and working together. Keep one another abreast of local marketing opportunities and events. Empower one another, and all of your businesses – and your friendships – will reap the rewards!
The incorporation of social media into our society has made this “business 24/7” model even more of a reality, and yes, there has been much success as a result. But again, be careful!
Just as I would tune out of my BFF’s constant conversation interjections about her education career, I would keep right on scrolling if it were all she posted about on Facebook or Twitter as well.
A Challenge: Visit your own Facebook wall. Has your Facebook identity been taken over by your business persona?
Allowing your business to take over your personal online presence is dangerous to more than just your friendships. This can be detrimental to your business! Think about it… If you think you already know what your friends are posting, are you really taking the time to read their status updates? I scroll past many of my social media friends’ updates, because I’m pretty sure I already know what they’re saying, and it looks a lot like this:
“Wow! [Insert-Company-Name-Here] just keeps getting BETTER! They just announced [This-Great-New-Thing] and I can’t wait to [Try-It/Buy-It/Share-It/Do-It/Show-It-Off]! [Comment-Here/Send-Me-A-Message/Email-Me] by midnight to take advantage of this very special offer, and I’ll [Throw-In-A-Low-Cost-Trinket/Give-A-Discount/Offer-Cash-Back-But-With-Conditions], but hurry, this offer ends tonight!
Look familiar? Even if you haven’t posted update after update like this one, chances are you’ve seen someone else do so. And after a while of seeing posts that look like the one above, you’ve probably (consciously or unconsciously) started scrolling right through without giving it a second thought.
So, how can you avoid becoming a victim of your friends’ scrolling thumb? A 1:8 ratio is a safe bet. Post 8 personal status updates and 1 business update. That’s right, tell a joke, talk about your kids, what’s for lunch, the jerk that caused you road rage, your new pedicure, or the giant spider you found in your bathroom. Then add in a boost for your business- a special, a new product, something huge that your company announced, etc. Feel free to use the example above – it’s okay, as long as it’s not the only thing you’re posting! If you are interesting on your Facebook page, your friends will be sure to read each of your updates, including the ones about your business!
An Industry Like No Other
I believe in what direct selling and network marketing can do. I’ve seen people turn their lives around with less than a $200 initial investment, and I recommend the industry to anyone who is looking to earn extra income without having to start by investing 40+ hours each week, or thousands of dollars.
If you haven’t tried direct sales, I encourage you to research a few companies whose products excite you – you may find a natural fit! Overall, direct sellers do a great job balancing their sales careers and their personal lives. By ensuring that they hang onto their identities, direct sellers will find a greater satisfaction in their career success, and will have a much larger group to celebrate with once they achieve their definition of success!
No Exclusivity in These Behaviors
Certainly the friendship-damaging and business-damaging behaviors that are discussed in this article are not exclusive to the direct selling industry. Everyone – business people, dieters, moms, avid runners, etc., should be careful not to let one aspect of their lives become the only aspect of their lives.
Being passionate about something is a beautiful thing. Sharing that passion in a respectful way is the perfect invitation for support. Finding the balance can be a challenge, but putting in the effort will serve to benefit all of the friendships in your life. Now that’s an example to set for your kids.