Tuesday, 29 July 2014

The pro’s (and pro’s) of Network Marketing

Network Marketing is to a business what pilchards are to caramel. Okay, granted, that doesn’t sound very good, but I once knew a pregnant lady who ate pilchards and caramel sandwiches and she said they were an “awesome combination”. Can’t testify to this myself. But network marketing I have tried, and I have some thoughts on it for the aspiring, or current, network marketer. I can assure you that you’ll prefer the taste of this one.

I belong to two network groups, and interact on an as-and-when with a couple of others. For the sake of not mentioning names, let’s call my two regulars Group Alpha and Group Beta. Both groups have some general similarities, but some stark differences. Let’s look at some of the differences between these two models.
Group Alpha, for example, meets once a month. Group Beta meets once a week. Once a week means that you see people regularly, you get to know their names, the names of their spouses, if they have pets are not, and you get to learn a great deal about their businesses. In short, you get to know them. And getting to know a person means that begin to trust that person; it makes you happier with entrusting your customers, friends and family to that person, when you refer business. Meeting once a month, I am afraid, really doesn’t carry the same weight. So, score one for Group Beta.

Group Alpha and Group Beta both meet at the same time, and in both cases breakfast is available for a nominal fee. Great. No problem there. Grout Beta, on the other hand, charges an annual subscription fee, while Group Alpha does not. And while that may sound as if it scores one for Group Alpha, thereby squaring the points tally, it is actually not that great. Paying an annual fee (and it ought to be a decent fee) gives you a sense of commitment to the group. You’ve paid for it, after all, and now you’re looking for a return on your investment. Group Alpha membership numbers tend to wax and wane, along with the moon. Group Beta membership stays strong, so score one for Group Beta.

Group Alpha allows anyone to come along and network their business. Nice and inclusive, no discrimination there. But last week there were four, yes four, business consultants. Um. How do you choose one? Group Beta restricts their membership: one person per industry. If you’re an accountant, and you’ve joined Group Beta, then rest assured that you’ll remain the only accountant. I reckon that scores another one for Group Beta.

Lastly, each group has speakers. Group Alpha tends towards external speakers, whether motivational or inspirational, or certain experts in their fields (social media, cold-call marketing, and so on). Group Beta selects its key note person from within the group itself, on a rotation. That means that once a week you get to hear from one of the members, as he or she describes their company, or an aspect of their company, in some depth. This is a good thing; more knowledge for you on how another operates better equips you to refer business to them, which is after all the point. But that said, an external speaker might not be a bad idea. We all know why we are here, and there is ample opportunity to speak to people, visit people, have face-to-face conversations at their premises, so is it strictly necessary? I’ll admit to being on the fence, but if pushed I would tend towards Group Alpha’s speaker model. So in the final analysis, I score one for Group Alpha.
That puts the final score at Group Alpha, one, and Group Beta, three. In my opinion, if you are looking to market your company via network marketing, go with Group Beta. My return on investment would speak for itself; simply give me a shout if you wish to hear more, and possibly want to come along and see for yourself.
A word in closing, or rather a couple of tips if you already network market, or are wanting to:
  1. Bring business cards. No really. At least one person every week or month does not have cards, and it just smacks of bad preparation.
  2. Just for one and a half hours a week, drop the casual attire. Present yourself. You’re a brand, you represent a brand, look the part. Be professional, it doesn’t hurt.
  3. Be genuine. Don’t misrepresent yourself, your company or your abilities. The truth will out, I assure you, and this can only ruin your credibility. There are many ways to make yourself appear larger than you are, if that’s your thing, without outright lying about it.
So do yourself a favour and try the pilchards and caramel. A pregnant woman once told me that it’s a great idea.

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