Network marketing internet business: It’s not a hobby

I came across an interesting post the other day called “This is a Business, Not a Hobby.”

[caption id="attachment_276" align="alignleft" width="167" caption="Jim Kukral via jimkukral.com"]Jim Kukral via jimkukral.com[/caption]The piece was written by Jim Kukral, who works with small businesses on web marketing. It cites a post on Copyblogger called “The Three Fatal Diseases that Kill Good Blogs.” Kukral’s article focuses on social media,  email marketing, affiliate marketing and online public relations, but his point applies perfectly to network marketers who are trying to build their business using the Internet.

“We’re doing this to make money, or leads, or get publicity. Not for fun. Not for ‘friends.’ Until you flip that switch in your head where you understand this, you’re going to continue to find it very hard to find success on the Internet.”

Kukral talks about how some bloggers are still not making money even though some have shown that “blogging is in fact a great way to do business.” Despite this, some still treat it as a hobby, he said.

“Here’s why. Because ‘regular people’ are the people who start blogs. They’re not marketers. They’re not entrepreneurs. They are people who have a passion about something and they want to share that passion with the rest of the world without having a gatekeeper tell them they can’t.”

Similarly, most network marketers are “regular people” with little or no marketing experience. They have a passion to share their products or services and opportunity with other people.

Many network marketers promote their businesses with blogs. Kukral points out how things are changing for bloggers.

“We’re no longer bloggers anymore, we’re ‘publishers.’ The majority of people don’t start blogs anymore just to waste time. They want something out of it. It may not be money they want. It may be fame. Whatever it is, they want something for their effort, and that makes them a publisher.”

Think about that the next time you’re writing a post. Make it something worth publishing. Make it worthy of your business.

And in case you’re using other online methods to promote your business, Kukral has these thoughts about how people spoke ill of him when he started using his blog to make money.

“What happened to me in 2004 is the same thing that is happening now to social media. We’re all being told we shouldn’t try to make money with social media. It’s pure, they say. Leave it alone, you’ll ruin it.

“This is ALL a business, not a hobby.”

Guest blogger: Free to choose a better life

NOTE — Today’s blog post was written by Jason Lewis, who gives his thoughts on the power of choosing our own path in the world.

When I think about what makes life so great, my mind always comes back to the same thing — freedom. The freedom to live our lives however we choose is in my mind, without a doubt, the most exciting thing life has to offer us.

Bald Eagle Mid Flight
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We have the power and the privilege to live our lives however we see fit and that gift should never be taken for granted. We, as Americans, live in a world where much is provided for us at a reasonable rate. As long as one possesses a job of some sort, one can have the basic necessities of life without very much trouble at all. A roof over your head, food, running water, electricity, as well as the added luxuries of television, cell phones, internet and transportation can all be afforded, to some degree, on even the most meager of incomes due to the society we’ve built in this country.

While one might say that that’s a good thing, I would strongly argue the other side. I believe that because of this, too many people have lost their drive, their desire to be great and achieve things others thought impossible. The world we live in today was built on the shoulders of great men and women who used their minds as tools to discover ways to make a positive, lasting impact on the world and to help better the lives of those around them. But sadly, that all seems to be changing.

Television, movies and the internet reach the vast majority of the free world and influence our decisions more than ever. We’re consumed by these things and we’ve become slaves to them. They tell us how to dress, how to talk and what to think. Because of this, more and more of us are becoming insecure and fearful, causing us to express our creativity less, for fear of what others will think, and that is stunting our individual growth as well as our growth as a society. Instead of thinking for ourselves and encouraging others to do the same, we’re afraid to express new ideas and we often ridicule those that do.

This type of behavior will be our undoing if we don’t do something to change this terrible culture we’ve adopted and start helping others realize their unlimited potential to be and do whatever it is they want to be and do. But just talking about this won’t be enough to change. Gandhi taught us that in order to induce change, we must become the change we wish to see in others.

These are powerful words when carefully considered. Many of us recognize that something is wrong but lack the drive, determination and thought to actually do something about it. And that brings me to my original point – we all have the power to choose the direction our life goes in and I choose to be a part of the solution, not the problem.

Network Marketing provides everyday people with an opportunity to control not only their own life, but to help others live the life that they deserve as well. In order to succeed at it, you must first work on yourself and turn yourself into the person you desire to be and by your guidance and example, you will help others do the same for themselves. When this happens, not only does it help to create better people, it provides us with the freedom to live our lives any way we see fit.

No other industry on the face of this Earth can provide such a thing to anyone who chooses to reap its rewards. I am proud to be part of that culture and I look forward to the journey that lies ahead. To be a network marketer is to have the power to change lives in the palm of your hand. There is no substitute for that gift and it’s one I will not waste.

Social network marketing: Learn before you earn

NOTE — This is the final post in a series on social network marketing. The complete series can be found here.

Social network marketing can work in multiple ways, but there are principles that increase your chances of success.

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Creative Commons License photo credit: nsaplayer

A few of the principles are personal — knowing why you’re in business and staying focused. But most of the principles concern you’re dealings with other people — building relationships, helping people, starting a blog, interacting with people, showing people how to succeed, not selling, and forming a community.

Perhaps the most important principle brings it all together — creating or finding a system to make it all work. You must have a teachable system. Once you have that, all you need are coachable partners.

So, what might this look like? How might a person journey from stranger to acquaintance to friend to business partner or customer? Consider this scenario:

• A person sees an interesting tweet you sent out on Twitter or became your friend on Facebook and saw something of note in your updates. Or maybe they found you through a blog on which you both comment. When you connect with him or her, you mention a post you wrote that might help them.

• The person visits your blog (or might have found your blog through a search engine or through another site). He or she reads a few of your posts and discovers that you provide relevant, valuable insights.

• After reading your posts, the person leaves a comment or two. You reply. A conversation develops, and perhaps moves to e-mail or another form of communication.

• Along the way, you introduce them to a personal development process that improves their business and personal life.

• During the course of the conversation, the person mentions that he or she is looking for a way to make extra money. Or perhaps he or she has noticed a link in your sidebar. You point them to your web site where he or she finds something that will make his or her life better.

• The person e-mails you for more information or fills out a form with their contact information.

• You call him or her. You talk several times. You decide if the person is a good fit for your business, and the person decides if it makes sense to them. If the answer for both of you is “yes,” you have a new business partner.

Because the person knows you and your business, he or she is likely a committed partner. This type of partnership will be mutually beneficially to both businesses.

This is not the only way social network marketing can work, but it is one way. Success will come to those who attract and interacting with people interested in their business and follow proven principles.

Steve DeVane

Social network marketing: Specialization leads to realization

NOTE — This is the 11th post in a series on social network marketing. The full series can be found here.

Most everybody in social network marketing gets sidetracked because they lose focus in one of two ways. They either try to make money in too many ways or their way of making money gets fragmented.

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Creative Commons License photo credit: chamko rani

Even worse, many people trying to make money using the Internet too often lose sight of the reason they got in business in the first place.

Social network marketing should never be construed as a “get rich quick” scheme. It is, at it’s best, a way to leverage yourself in multiple ways to earn a great deal of income.

But leveraging yourself in a number of ways should not be confused with multiple streams of income. In fact, you should focus on one, and only one, way of making money. Trying to make money in numerous ways only leads to numerous failures.

Tie tour primary business to your blog. When people visit it, they’ll eventually ask or find the links to how you make money. If the interaction funnel is set up correctly, it will lead them to consider whether or not to buy your products and join your business.

Moreover, getting involved in multiple projects only increases the chances of getting caught in one of the numerous scams that proliferate on the web. And it decreases the benefits that come with specialization.

But just concentrating on a single, legitimate business venture doesn’t guarantee success.

In social network marketing, many people get distracted by various methods of driving traffic to their web sites. Instead of trying every new trick that’s recommended by this week’s hot marketing guru, find what works and keep doing it until it stops working.

Remember that your social media efforts are only meant to attract people to your blog – your interactive funnel. That’s where you’re social networking efforts will be most effective.

Most importantly remember the ultimate goal of that interaction. Nearly every marketer started off with some sort of higher purpose. Success in its purest and highest form will only come when that goal is met.

Get the myth of multiple income streams and the fragmentation of multiple traffic-seeking methods out of the way, so you can focus on making a difference in people’s lives. With the distraction out of the way, the process of attraction will start.

Steve DeVane

Social network marketing: Beyond business, build community

NOTE — This is the tenth in a series on social network marketing. All the posts in the series can be found here.

At its best, social network marketing leads to the formation of a community. You have to do more than just provide advice on how to get income. Your worth should be measured in friendship not dollars.

The business objective of making money must be put aside so you can focus on bringing together a committed group of prospective buyers or partners.

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Creative Commons License photo credit: nDevilTV

The good news is that profits take care of themselves as your core group of associates strengthens. As people come together, a community forms.

One of the best ways to build that community is to help those involved to become better at what they do. To become better at what they do, they must first become better at who they are.

To help them accomplish this, a personal development element must be part of your system. In some ways, it will be the most vital component.

Personal development can be blended into your blog or set up separately. Either way it must include at these these elements:

• A set structure. Everyone in the group must be able to understand exactly what they should do to grow.

• A mastermind method. Those in the community must be able to share ideas and what they’re learning.

• A common focus. Everyone should be working together as they each seek to better themselves.

• A way to interact. This might be an Internet forum of some sort but will likely work best if it’s a conference call that allows more personal contact.

Once people start communicating with each other in this way, strong bonds start forming. This makes the difference in being part of just another group and connecting with a life-changing experience.

When people are transformed in such a fashion, they are committed for good.

Steve DeVane

Social network marketing: Artistry in motion

NOTE — This is the ninth post in a series on social network marketing. All the posts in the series can be found here.

Social network marketing is as much an art as a science. Making it work involves learning how to present your opportunity without coming on in a way that will turn off wary readers.

These days, nearly everyone on the Internet — from the solitary blogger to the big corporation — is seeking ways to “monetize” a web site or blog. They’re all finding out that it’s not an easy task.

Making Money by Photos8.com
Creative Commons License photo credit: Photos8.com

The best method of converting readers to customers and potential business partners can be seen in a concept advocated by Lisa Sasevich, who teaches a method called “the invisible close.” Sasevich promotes tele-seminar marketing, but some of her principles clearly apply to social network marketing.

Sasevich urges business people to have an attitude where they are “committed but not attached.” The marketers should be committed to helping people make a decision that benefits them, but not attached to what decision they make.

In other words the person making presentation realizes that it’s their job to provide valuable information that will help the potential customer, but they can’t ultimately determine whether that potential is realized.

In social network marketing, this applies directly to the posts and interaction on your blog. You have to be committed to providing information that will help the person get connected to whether or not your product, service or opportunity is a fit for them.

You provide a place where they can find the clarity they need to make the decision that’s best for them. If you provide that place and if they decide to buy from you or become your partner, that relationship will be much stronger and more solid than it would be if you pressured them into making a decision.

Sasevich futher encourages marketers to be “credible but vulnerable” in their presentations. This, she says, lets people know you are an expert but also allows them to like and trust you.

When you write your posts or interact with people who frequent your blog, be confident in your knowledge. Freely share your expertise, but don’t be afraid to let them know about mistakes you made along the way.

In social network marketing, there are few, if any, precise formulas to duplicate. There are, however, principles that, if implemented, will mean almost certain success.

This is the greatest challenge but the greatest opportunity in doing business on the Internet. Instead of imitating those already having success you apply proven concepts to your business and its web presence.

This means that instead of telling someone how to succeed you need to show them what success looks like and openly reveal how it happens.

(NOTE — If you’d like to find out more about Lisa Sasevich, you can go to her web site. I am not affiliated with her organization.)

Steve DeVane

Social network marketing: Teach what you know, show what you do

NOTE — This is the eighth post in a series on social network marketing. Previous posts can be found here.

When someone joins your business through social network marketing, they’re going to want to use the same method to attract more people. So, you need to be ready to show them exactly how to do it.

In other words, you need to show them a simple system that they can use. Moreover, you need an easy way to teach them how to use it. They need to understand what you do and recognize that they can do it, too.

Network marketing expert trainer Tom “Big Al” Schreiter likes to point out that anyone who gets a new job receives training on what to do. Network marketers need skills to succeed, he says.

That concept is even more important in social network marketing. Your system needs to cut through all the hoopla on the internet. Those who join you need a “step-by-step” guide, a recipe of sorts.

The recipe
Creative Commons License photo credit: Bill HR

A key component of that system has to be a non-confrontational way to meet new people. The easiest way to accomplish this is something that potential prospects can look at without pressure.

One of my mentors told me about an article written by Gary Bencivenga in his “Bencivenga Bullets” newsletter. Bencivenga talks about “The Secret of the Monkey’s Fist” based on a story told by legendary salesman Frank Bettger.

Bettger tells of seeing the huge ropes used to ties ships to docks. Knowing that noone could pull such a rope he watched as a ship docked to see how it was done.

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Turns out a crewman on the ship first throws an iron ball called a “monkey’s fist” to the longshoreman on the pier. A small rope attached to the ball is then pulled over. That rope is attached to the larger rope which is used to secure the ship to the dock.

Just as the big rope was too big to throw at first, marketers cannot immediately convince cold prospects to make a purchase. The process has to be broken down into small steps that make it easy to say, “Yes,” Bencivenga says.

Your social network marketing system should include such a step. One good option is to give away something of value, something that potential prospects can use to make their lives better.

That gift can be a vital part of your relationship-building efforts. It can help your prospects first see how you’re willing to help them, then understand how easy it is to build a business based on such support.

Steve DeVane

Social network marketing: Be who you are

NOTE — This is the seventh in a series on social network marketing. The whole series can be found here.

We know that if you want to be good at social network marketing, you can’t hype your business and try to sell people. But at the same time, you have to have a way for people to know about your product or service. After all it is social network “marketing.”

So, how do you find buyers for your product without selling it?

First, you have to find a non-intrusive, yet easily seen, way for people to find your product or service.

Second, you have to answer truthfully, but without hype, when people ask what you do for a living. And you have to be ready to clearly show them how you make money and how they can, too.

All this is part of what some have taken to calling your “sales funnel.” I don’t care too much for the characterization, but the concept is sound. So instead, I prefer to call it your “interaction funnel.”

Creative Commons License photo credit: Michael | Ruiz

Your blog, of course, is your funnel. What you want is a number of people actively commenting, participating and interacting on your blog. Some of those folks will ultimately find their way to join your opportunity, buy your product or use your service.

This will happen in one of the two ways mentioned above. They will either see the link to your opportunity or they will simply ask you about it.

The link to your product or service should be in the sidebar in your blog. Seldom, if ever, should you mention it in your blog posts.

When people are interested in your blog, they’ll take time to look around. They’ll notice the items in your sidebar and, if they think the items in the links will help them, they’ll click on them.

I prefer simple links to buttons or graphics that look like ads, but try a variety of methods to see what works best for you.

During the course of your conversations, there will occasionally be opportunities for you to discuss your opportunities. For example, someone might simply ask what you do for a living. When they do, you can give them a quick overview and simply refer them to one of the links in the sidebar or just give them the link yourself.

Some folks will also mention challenges they have. If you have a product or service that might help, you can point them to it. Make sure that you don’t include any hype or pressure. Also, be sure that what you’re offering will help them.

As people make their way down your “interaction funnel,” just be sure they don’t lose their way. A gentle nudge is OK, but don’t push it. Let people move at their own pace.

Eventually, the ones who get to the point of joining your business will know you and you’ll know them. That relationship will form a partnership that will make your businesses stronger and your lives better.

Social network marketing: Get to know those who need to know you

NOTE — This is the sixth in a series on social network marketing. The entire series can be found here.

Since relationships play such an important role in social network marketing, anyone planning to use it successfully must learn how best to interact with people.

Me, Myself and Eye
Creative Commons License photo credit: A Silly Person
The proper interaction will go a long way to helping people get to know, like and trust you. As with any relationship, the initial contact takes on added importance.

Whenever you meet someone on a social network, make sure your first impression is a good one. One way to do that is to know the person to whom you are talking. You can do that by looking at their profile, their blog postings and comments they make.

For example, a few weeks ago, I was responding to folks who are following my Twitter stream. I usually go to their Twitter site, find something interesting and write them a direct message about it. I don’t spend a lot of time on this, because I’d rather interact with people on my blog. But I know that taking this step sets me apart from all those who use automated programs to send a message to people who follow them.

While on one fellow’s site, I noticed a Tweet saying that he was going to a funeral. I sent him a message telling him I was sorry for his loss. I left off the link to my web site that I usually include on similar messages.

A couple of days later he sent me a message thanking me and saying that I was one of only a few who had expressed condolences. Others were just hyping their web sites, he said. Last week, he recommended me to his followers as someone to follow.

To me it was a no-brainer. If I met someone who told me he’d just lost his grandmother, I’d never say something like, “Let me tell you about my business opportunity.” That, in effect, is what happened to this fellow.

You also have to be careful that your efforts to build relationships don’t get so automated that it doesn’t do any good.

For example the other day I got a comment on my blog that said simply “its cool.” Now, I’ve gotten similar comments that were clearly spam, and this one might be. But I clicked on the person’s link. It’s a blog written in Spanish, but it looked legit. So, I approved the comment and replied, thanking the person for the encouragement.

The point is, I nearly rejected it without a second thought. Then I decided that for whatever reason, the person had taken the time to leave a comment, no matter how short, on my blog. That deserved enough of my time to check the link.

Keep in mind that you can’t form relationships with too many people. Most every day I get e-mails touting the wisdom of “building a list” in order to grow my network marketing business. Seems there’s numerous folks who think that having such a list is the ticket to success.

On the surface, there appears to be  wisdom to the strategy. After all, the more people on a list, the lower percentage of people you need to convince to join your team.

In other words if you want 10 new people on your team and have 1,000 on your list, that’s only 1 percent. If you have 100 on your list, you need 10 percent. Easier to get a 1 percent response than a 10 percent response, right?

Not necessarily.

List-building works great if all you need is a one-time customer. If a sale is what you want, the list-building strategy is a grand idea.

But network marketers need more than one-time customers. They’re seeking business partners.

The list-building strategy is a variation of the old “get a lot of no’s so you can get one yes” tactic. The main problem: it doesn’t work.

Network marketing is a relationship business. People join people they know, like and trust. If you have thousands of people on a list, there’s no way you can ever let them get to know you, but less like or trust you.

The relationship aspect of the business is the reason some trainers teach network marketers to make a list of their friends and family members. The thinking was that people who already know, like and trust you will be more likely to go into business with you.

Unfortunately, the profession was not up to the challenge. Presentations made the business sound much too easy. Broken promises of quick money led to hurt feelings.

Veteran network marketers soon came up with an acronym for their predicament — NFL, which stands for No Friends Left.

So, you can’t form close enough relationships with a lot of people in order for them to become business partners. And turning existing friends into business partners doesn’t work either.

What you need is a way to find potential business partners who will become your friends. You do that by genuinely interactioning with them. For that a list of dozens works better than a list of thousands.

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