Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9 pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent interview with Sulaiman Rahman, @sulrah. Sulaiman is the founder of UrbanPhilly.com, or UPPN – Urban Philly Professional Network. He was also an African-American Chamber of Commerce Chair. Sulaiman is a Philadelphia native and Penn graduate. He is also currently a Creative Ambassador for philly360 and long-time entrepreneur.
SmallBizLady: What exactly is a Network Marketing or MLM business model?
Sulaiman Rahman: Network marketing’s business model is simply leveraging the power of one-to-one relationships to market and distribute products directly to consumers. Network Marketing companies empower independent entrepreneurs to monetize the most viral form of marketing, which is word-of-mouth marketing.
SmallBizLady: How do you describe a network marketer?
Sulaiman Rahman: A network marketing professional is someone who leverages his or her social and professional relationships to market, sell and distribute products or services. At the same time, he or she will also be building a team of others who do the same.
SmallBizLady: What are some myths about MLM’s and network marketing?
“It’s a pyramid, where the person at the top makes all the money.”
A good network marketing company rewards leadership, just like any structured business. Most businesses have a pyramid structure where the people at the top, ie. CEOs, SVPs, VPs, are the highest paid people in the company. The unique opportunity you have with a Network Marketing business is that you START at the top of your business, and your income will be dependent on how large of a team you build “below” you.
“You have to join a ground floor company to make the money.”
This is a perpetuated myth used by network marketers who build influence, and jump from company to company, and leverage this myth to recruit people from other Network Marketing companies. No network marketing company has ever “saturated” a market; it’s just a perception of “saturation,” not a reality.
“You have to know a lot of people, or be really good at sales to be successful.”
Many good network marketing companies provide a system and training, so regardless of the size of your network – or ability to sell, you can be successful. Everything else is a learnable skill, and you have an abundance of people to practice networking with.
SmallBizLady: What are the top three principles to build a successful MLM business?
Sulaiman Rahman: You need to focus on helping others to get what they want, and you will get what you want.
K.I.S.S. – Keep It Super Simple!
And remember, everything will rise and fall on LEADERSHIP!
SmallBizLady: I know that successful MLM businesses need a sales force. What is the right way to recruit people to sell for you?
First: Invite people to look at your business proposition with a direct or indirect approach. A direct approach would be to ask them to look at your business for themselves. An indirect approach is asking someone to look at your business to assist you with recommendations or referrals. There are many different patterns of language that you can use based on the relationship you have with the prospective recruit. The invitation process is a very important skill to learn. Your invitation has a lot to do with whether the person will join your team or support your business.
Second: Most people do not join on the first exposure, so fortune lies in the follow-up process. You must help to advance the prospective recruits understanding of your business on each follow-up interaction. Focus on building a stronger rapport and relationship along the way.
Third: Use third-party social proof to validate the opportunity and to increase the prospect’s belief that someone like them can be successful with your company.
Fourth: Do a game plan interview and get the person off to a fast start. How you start a new person has a lot to do with their commitment level and how long they will build the business. Because network marketing is a voluntary business, the retention of distributors is an important skill to learn.
Fifth: Create a winning environment for your team to grow and for them to feed off the energy and excitement of others.
SmallBizLady: What are some effective ways to cultivate a good client base?
Sulaiman Rahman: Of course the company needs to have a product that creates a valid demand in the marketplace. If that’s the case, you leverage your network, and networks of others, to gain an audience of one or more. Share the benefits of your products or services,and share stories. Stories sell and facts tell.
SmallBizLady: How can a network marketer effectively share their new business venture with family and close friends?
Sulaiman Rahman: In most cases, an indirect approach is best for friends and family. Ask them to support your business and vision by simply committing to take a good look at what you are doing and why you are doing it. Make it easy for them to say no and remain your friend. Don’t pressure anyone.
SmallBizLady: How can you avoid ending up with “No Friends Left” as you try to build your business?
Sulaiman Rahman: Don’t become weird. People join some network marketing businesses and get so excited that they don’t separate their business from their personal lives. Don’t redirect every conversation with your friends to try to recruit them into your business and don’t turn your social media pages into an advertising bulletin board.
SmallBizLady: How can network marketers be strategic with their time?
Sulaiman Rahman: The key is to work by a calendar. Plan the times you will work your business. Most Network Marketing companies have tools and events system that allow you to leverage your time by promoting the SYSTEM to do the heavily lifting.
SmallBizLady: What should you do if you hit a rough patch in your MLM business and begin to feel down?
Sulaiman Rahman: It’s important to revisit the reasons why you started the business. It’s also important to commit to personal development by listening and reading inspiring audios and books. Most people feel down because of the negative thoughts of self-doubt that start to creep into their minds.
SmallBizLady: What is one thing about successful MLM businesses that most people miss?
Sulaiman Rahman: I think a lot of people miss exactly how important it is to create a winning environment for your team to grow in. Ordinary people can win in an extraordinary environment.
SmallBizLady: What are the most useful skills you’ve used to achieve the results you have achieved in your businesses?
- Influence – John C. Maxwell says that a leadership is influence, nothing more and nothing less. Everything rises and falls on leaderships, so it’s an essential attribute for success. Influence is also used to effectively and persuasively communicate the virtues of a good product or service, and to get people to say YES! We also know that at sales.
- Skills – There are certain technical skills you need for whatever industry you are a part of, so it’s important to develop those skills. Although, they are a small fraction of what your success will be predicated on. You must eventually learn to outsource the things that make the most sense to outsource, so that you can work on the business versus in the business.
- Focus – In today’s fast paced society, the ability to focus is becoming a rarity. People are all over the place, and easily distracted. Time management is a myth, because time is already well managed into 24 hours a day. FOCUS Management is the challenge for us all. How to stay FOCUSED, and WHAT to focus on is also a topic in itself. It helps to have mentorship to assist you in this category.
- Work Ethic – The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary. It’s important to build up your tolerance for work. If you are doing what you love, you work can become your play.
- Belief – As an entrepreneur, you are a creator. You turn intangible ideas into something tangible, and it requires belief! Not only does belief affect your physiology, but it also has an atmospheric affect that makes the universe start to conspire to that which you believe.
- Faith – The good book says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen.” It requires faith to keep working when the results are not immediate. Entrepreneurship requires faith – the faith to believe even when it seems like believing is not working.
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