The misunderstood case of multilevel marketing and networking


First – a simple message to all people involved in multi-level (ML) and network marketing:

This is not about bashing these legitimate marketing/promotional strategies which can be of benefit to any business; if done the right way.

As always it is about how you use business tools that makes a difference.

So here’s my story…

In the last few weeks I have received several messages from people connecting with me on LI, all about the same thing – inviting me to a networking event in town where you build your business the right way – through developing relationships and not through “throwing the business cards around”

Here is the problem.

When things, strategies, tools get abused people and businesses are taking a huge swing in the opposite direction to an extent, which renders those same tools meaningless.

Here are a few (brief)examples I am sure everyone can relate to:

1.      Workplace health and safety regulation – 20 years ago Australia had very little regulation in this area and a lot of people got injured but the jobs got done; nowadays there is so much regulation, much fewer accidents but the jobs don’t get done.

I once consulted a furniture manufacturing company in Adelaide and the operational manager (a South African) said this to me–

“In South Africa we assess the job for risks and then do it – here, we assess the job for risks to find reasons why not to do it”

This is an extreme case of overregulation, which has already hurt the manufacturing industry badly and has created a secondary black/grey market…

2.      Compliance in business (and in our life) – similar to the first example but it spreads outside of business into our life too – our childcare and school system, in our general day-to-day life where it seems that the systems are there to

“catch us doing the wrong thing rather than reward us for doing the right thing”

(excessive parking rules and fines comes to mind but this a different story I’d write about one day)

I can provide a lot more examples but you are getting the point of the pendulum swinging too far in the opposite direction…so straight back to ML and networking marketing.

Multilevel marketing companies, such as Amway for example, have, throughout the years developed a somewhat negative reputation due to their extreme marketing and sales tactics but also due to these common-sense marketing/business building mistakes:

1. Not everyone can build a multi-level marketing business (not everyone can build a specific type of business, only the business model that suits their goals, personality and skills best)

2. It is a business, not a hobby, and therefore you do not make your friends and family (being the easiest victims) your target market of customers (you risk to alienate them and many have)

3. It takes time, persistence and business-building skills to succeed in any business as well as in multi-level marketing (you have to be prepared for the long-run)

Due to failure to understand these common sense facts unscrupulous marketers were pushing the system to anyone, which clearly hasn’t worked.

As a result ML marketers, just people like you and me, were feeling the pressure to perform and succeed when everyone else, was seemingly achieving success and using push-sales tactics.

 multi level

How has the pendulum swung from those early days to today’s reality of MLM practices.

Today MLM companies are using Linked In and other networks to recruit people; this is actually OK as it is a legitimate marketing tactics for any business.

What is not good is that this recruitment comes with a hidden agenda of selling a MLM business model hidden behind the façade of a profession business networking event; and focusing on developing personal relationships before doing/even talking about business.

Business and personal relationships are built on trust – short-term and long-term.

What is the point of building a short-term trust inviting you to a business even and then exposing the real reason behind the invite – to turn you into a member of a MML team.

I don’t know about you but this is far more damaging to the MML organisation and the person who is inviting you, than revealing the real intention in the first place, so you can make a decision based on facts.

Now moving onto networking.

Networking as a marketing tactic/tool doesn’t work.

At least not on its own.

Just going willy-nilly ?to networking events and hoping to build your business this way is not very productive even when you focus on patiently building relationships.

As a small business owner or manager or a professional you have limited time and resources so you need them to work hard for you.

You need everything you do to contribute to your overall goal of building a business or your personal brand.

And therefore, your networking needs to be subject to your goals and fit a specific strategy/ a plan.

In other words, what you need is strategic networking!

You need a clear picture about the best networks for you, what goals they can fulfil (source of potential clients, source of potential partners, source of education/professional development), what you can contribute there and what you can get in return.

Then you develop your plan of action.

So next time you get approached and invited to a networking event in a pub on a Monday night, ask this questions:

“Who is in your network, What can I contribute, What/how can I benefit from it”

If you don’t get the answers that are right for you, then don’t go.

Focus your resources. Build relationships somewhere else.

I value relationship building – it is a core marketing tactics in my business but it has a business purpose and plan.

I hope this answers some questions to experiences, people or events you have come across and have been wondering about.

Please share.

To your continuous success,


PS – I have never been a Multi-level marketer despite the robust attempts ? of mostly decent people; some of those who have been transparent in their intentions from the beginning I now have as good friends

Denitza Genova: Partner - Strategy, Marketing & Service / Bachelor in Marketing and Management, MBA, certified business consultant and trainer/ I help service businesses clarify their business & marketing strategy and simplify and organise their marketing, sales and service activities into an efficient and profitable system. It drives the most value and money to your business and prevents you from investing in marketing fads or in unprofitable products or markets. To see how this could work in your business book a call with Denitza here.

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