How to MLM and Keep Your Friends
Kristin Crites | Guest Contributor | @KristinACrites
Nu Skin Toothpaste, LuLa Roe, ThirtyOne, Lipsense, Rodan & Fields, Arbonne. . . These are but a few of the Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) companies I see pimped in my social media feed.
These companies also represent some of the friends I have blocked on social media for their incessant sales posts and commodification of my friendship.
I am sure we have all seen the uptake in our social media feeds from friends buying into MLMs and desperately trying to get us to buy their products.
The purpose of this article is not (necessarily) to shit on MLMs and the (mostly) women who sell them. No. That’s too easy. You can Google MLMs and you’ll find pages upon pages of search results linking to blogs doing just that.
Instead, I want to help. We don’t need any woman-on-woman crime here, so let’s talk about how to be a person, maintain our friendships, and still sell our products, should we choose to participate in one of the zillion MLMs out there.
We’ve all been invited by a friend to a “party,” and bought MLM products. I have LuLaRoe dresses (I am a sucker for a good t-shirt dress), I have Lipsense lipstick (it seriously stays on y’all!), use BeautyCounter products, and had a massive Tupperware party at my house a few months ago. If you know what you are getting into and set proper expectations all the way around, this kind of stuff is light-hearted and fun! There’s wine! Friends! And of course the obligatory 30-60 minutes of transactional activity.
It’s not unlike going to a timeshare presentation so you can get a cheap vacation (I did that in Cabo once--no regrets). We can help our friends when they start new ventures.
All of this is innocuous until someone has to go and ruin the fun with the dreaded pitch, “You should totally join my company! You can make so much money!!”
Bluh. “It’s fun and easy! You love this product, it’s worked for you and to sell it all you have to do is post about it on Facebook!” they’ll continue. Blech. “Sell it to your friends, they will love it, too! Isn’t this a dream job?!”
No. It isn’t. Having dipped my toe into an MLM or two, I know that to have any degree of real success, you have to spend hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars to get your business up and running, and then you have to solicit your friends, which is gross.
We all have that friend who posts endlessly about her product. They post about how amazing their product is, how people who are signing up under them are already ranking up in the company, making a ton of money for the holidays; it becomes all they talk about in life, on Facebook/Instagram/Snapchat. They’re no longer a friend, but an annoying brand robot who now views you as a profit center. I find myself asking, what happened to the cute pictures of your pets and kids? That was why I follow you, and now, your endless shilling and nonstop chatter about whatever product you’ve sold your soul to is why I will unfollow you.
I know, I know. I said no shitting on MLMs, so allow me pivot to the positive. Or at least, the constructive. Here’s how to be in the MLM world, and keep your friends at the same time:
Create a biz page. How do you do a MLM and not annoy your friends? Have a business page for starters. It is simple to setup, your friends will join and follow you if they are interested. Minimize its presence on your Facebook/Instagram/Snapchat and just post about it every once in awhile.
Party hosting--the more the merrier, and the less the pressure. Host a party at your home with other MLM ladies. I have been invited to quite a number of these for the holiday season. I will attend a select few. There is less pressure, more people are around so if I opt to not purchase anything, I won’t feel hounded about it.
Think about the value. Spend some time thinking about your friends. Seriously. What do they need? Why do they need the product you are selling? No one cares how much you love your product. No. One. We all only care about ourselves and how it can make our individual lives better. Agreed? Remember why YOU got into the business, it wasn’t about the money, it was about what the product was doing for you. Now, ask yourself how this product can help your friends, then you talk to them about it.
Let them come to you. And finally, let your friends be your friends. Don’t commodify your friendships. If you ask your friend to purchase and they say no, leave them be. Don’t ask tomorrow, or the next week or the next month. They will see your periodic posts on social media, they’ll know you still sell the products. And if they come around to wanting it, they will reach out.
I think that’s the takeaway lesson, and it applies to more than just MLMs. We get frustrated with politicians, car salespeople, and friends when they become overzealous and turn from a person into a salesbot. We don’t like people who are always selling themselves. There is nothing real to them. They have stripped away what we liked and we are left feeling used and dirty.
Making money in a MLM is hard. Heck, making money in any industry is hard and I’m happy to support friends in whatever they pursue. But if you are thinking about joining an MLM or are already in one, take a moment to consider how you are marketing yourself. Is losing your friends worth the constant chase?