I recently snapped a photo of the adult diaper aisle at a local store. I took the picture because, as I stood there and watched several women dart in and grab diapers with some hesitation, I realized that there was a link between these diapers and MLM.
Aside from the fact that some people out there think that MLM business builders are loony enough to be locked up and have to wear diapers, what is the one link between adult diapers and MLM?
Many women with urinary incontinence have a serious leakage problem but are too embarrassed to talk to their doctors about the problem. On average, women with urinary incontinence wait 7 years before getting help. Yikes! Chinese water torture! So they wear diapers, limit their activities, and miss out on a lot of fun. If they were willing ask for help much sooner, even if it made them red-faced with shame, they would find that there are solutions that could help, right now!
If we apply the same “adult diaper” model to MLM, we see people who really want the time and financial freedom of MLM, but are way too embarrassed to actually work the business. Here’s what MLM embarrassment looks like offline and online:
+++ Offline MLM Embarrassment +++
Jessica has recently signed up for a great MLM opportunity with an acquaintance. Her first assignment is to make a list of 100 people in her warm market (people she knows). Jessica’s a go-getter so she’s already made the list, but she can’t at all imagine calling them. Calling them with her sponsor would be even worse.
Jessica is sure that her friends and family will think she has lost her mind. She’s afraid that she will “ruin” her relationships by prospecting her warm list. What’s more, she knows a lot of the people on the list through her work, and she’s afraid that if she ever needs to contact these people for regular work that they will treat her strangely. So what does Jessica do? Nothing. She mentions the MLM to her mom and a couple of her mom’s friends, but ends up selling only a few products, never signing up any business builders. Sound familiar?
+++ Online MLM Embarrassment +++
Sam is excited about promoting his MLM business online. He’s been with his MLM company for a few years and has contacted all of his warm market leads already, so he needs a new marketing channel. He’s gotten help from a web-savvy friend, and now has a blog, a company-sponsored website, and memberships to a few online forums. He’s all set to go.
Except he’s not. After reading through a few other MLM blogs and scrolling through the posts in the forums, he’s frozen with fear. What if he posts something to a forum that is completely wrong? Or worse, what is he writes a blog and someone tells him that his point of view is totally bogus? Or boring and useless? Worse yet, what if one his high school buddies does a Google search and finds his blog, and he looks like an online dork? Sam doesn’t type a blog post or write a single promotional article because he is too afraid he’ll be embarrassed.
What to Do About MLM Embarrassment
If you are a woman with urinary leakage, your course of action is pretty clear: get help now. Grab a girlfriend if necessary, but go to a doctor and get the help you need. Get over your embarrassment and realize the rewards of getting help outweigh the fact that you have to talk about your little peeing problem.
Step One: Get Over It
What can you do about your MLM embarrassment? Same thing. Step one is to get over it or get out of the industry. Really. The bottom line is that there are MLM snobs out there, and always will be. There will always be people who think of MLM as a pyramid scheme or a scam, both offline and online.
I recently asked an expert for help with an online MLM marketing question, and he politely shot me down. He said he didn’t believe in MLM, thought it was a scam, and refused to answer my question. No big deal. I asked another online expert the same question and got a warm 3-page email back in response. If I had been too embarrassed by the first expert’s response to keep asking for the help, I’d still be stuck without the help I needed. The bad news is that the question I asked to the first expert, and his answer, are both posted online. The upside is that I’ve learned to live with the fact that I will sometimes look like a dork online.
It’s actually good for your business to look like an idiot from time to time. Social media expert Chris Brogan recently blogged about the fact that he erroneously sent an email to 1,000+ people. Those people were really confused and some wrote back some tart replies. Chris realized what he had done, and sent a second email apologizing. People loved it! They loved knowing that even an expert like Chris screws up from time to time. It made him more human. So go ahead, be a dork. People will know you are human instead an MLM machine!
Step Two: Get Help
Once you’ve gotten over your embarrassment, you need to get help for your problem. Learn the basics of your prospecting method. If you want to prospect in person or by phone to your warm market but are afraid of jeopardizing certain relationships, then pick and choose the people you prospect with care. Remember, you don’t need to work with 10,000 right now. Your job is to find 3-5 top people to work with. That may mean you find one person a year. That’s fine. If that one person is a really great business builder, that’s all you need.
If you want to prospect to your cold market, try placing ads or buying leads. This will cost more, but the benefit is that people will come to you rather than you having to approach them. Then get help from your upline sponsor. Have your sponsor help you figure out how to make three-way calls or how to handle people who respond to your ad. There’s no point in spending money for leads and then not know how to handle them. That’s kind of like a woman finally going to the doctor to get help with urinary incontinence, and then go back to wearing adult diapers all the time.
If you want to use an online approach, find a few “voices” online you really like. Find at least one person who does online MLM marketing in a style you like, then start learning. Just scrolling through this person’s blog or forum posts can give you a lot of ideas of what to do (and what not to do). Find a few more voices to follow. These thought leaders might be in your industry or tangential to MLM. For instance, copywriters, ad writers, bloggers who teach blogging, futurists, search engine optimizers, and small business writers might all have voices worth following.
Read, learn, read some more, and develop a list of questions. Use tools like Google or Backtype or Whostalkin to figure out if other people are asking the same question you have. If so, go read the answers and save yourself the trouble of asking the questions yourself. If you still can’t find the answer, then take a chance and ask one of the people you follow online. Ask carefully, politely, and appreciatively. You might reference specific blog posts or forum posts related to your question just to show that you’re not wasting their time. If you don’t get an answer from one person, then ask another. Someone will send you the answer you need.
Baby Steps, Baby!
There is only one giant step you have to take in this process: get over your embarrassment. Once you have resolved that little issue, the rest is all baby steps. Finding help may take some time, but you can do it in baby steps, like this:
1. Call your sponsor for help. No good?
2. Call someone higher in your upline for help. No help?
3. Attend a company teleconference and see who’s addressing your problem. Call them. No help?
4. Join an online forum and ask your questions.
You get the picture. There are only so many questions you can ask about MLM, no matter if you want to prospect online or offline. Someone out there is answering your questions. You just have to find them. Determination and tenaciousness, applied at the right time, can be the difference between being frozen with fear or moving your business along. Your business probably won’t explode overnight, but you can and will experience steadily increasing growth over time if you keep taking baby steps. And, of course, never, ever let your embarrassment about MLM get in the way.