"I do network marketing" – help or hindrance?

Millions of times per day across the U.S., people ask each other,

“So Lulu, what do you do?”

“Oh,” says Lulu, “I do network marketing” (or “I’m a network marketer”)

Some people don’t know what that means. So then you have to explain and the stuttering and seller talk comes out (“I’m with this amazing company with these totally unbelievable products…” or “I help people make $300-500 a month extra,” blah blah blah…”)

Others go, “Oh, right, that’s where you try go get your friends to sell for you, right?” Well, uh…

Is defining yourself as a network marketer to others good or not?

Most people want to avoid sales people and marketers, don’t they?

P.S. Going, “Oh, I do COMPANY X!” doesn’t add much to the conversation, either. Who’s heard of it?

Results so far here.

About the author

Kim Klaver


  • Happy New Year Kim,

    Did you write this one to trap me?

    I answered yes, conditionally. I do it for cause and effect sometimes in selected settings.I have fun with it. I find it helps build my belief in what I do and thicken my skin against the nay-sayers. It’s a combination thing though: “I do Network Marketing, do you know what that is?” To me it is sort of like the pyramid thing. I have found it minimizes the objection if you get them to explain to you what they think it is.

    I would not train a new person without sales experience to do this. I like the answer my Candian Engineer friend used,” I find new customers for a company that makes blank and they pay me for every reorder.”

    Or you could do the Kim method which I like a lot. ” I market a product for men who are losing their hair. I used to be completely bald, but look at me now! I’ve got all my hair back and now I am covered with moles…hairy ones! Do you know any one that would like to know about a product like this?”

    Holely molely it’s a New Year,

    Tom Doiron

  • I used to think that if I tell people I am not a network marketer, I am trying to hide myself from other. I may come across that I am not proud of what I am doing. On the second thought, when people ask me what I am doing, if I answer that I do network marketing, that is not so much difference from I am doing IT. I am wasting the chance to spread my message. So I decide to vote it is not useful to tell people directly that I am doing network marketing

  • Tom – funny how we decide to say things even if the other person is clueless about what we’re talking about, huh? Or if it makes them run away.

    I’ve always thought it was really strange that someone talks about the way they market, as their business. Like Steve Jobs saying “Oh I have retail stores and a website and that’s how I market” and nothing else.

    No one normal would have a clue what he does. How can they then be interested? – yep I know your feeling – let’s be proud of it, even though saying those words means little or nothing to anyone else. Or worse, it’s bad news. Maybe because NM has so long been just a recruiting game, that there is nothing else to talk about.

    We’re not positioning our new company as NM for that very reason. I don’t want to lead with the marketing method. It’s like third on the list of things that matter to me or anyone listening. It’s just too hard for the normal people I seek to connect. I want to make the connection quick, easy, and from the heart. A marketing method doesn’t do that, not for me, anyway.

    Just because you don’t describe yourself by your marketing method doesn’t mean you don’t use it. Or are in denial. There are other options, more fun and meaningful, to me.

    I don’t want to spend my time defending a method that is so misused, where I do none of the things I have been railing against on this blog for the last three years. I’d rather seek out the people with the values I want. Those values are not a marketing method, I can tell you that. 🙂

  • Hi everybody,

    Great question, and interesting replies so far.

    Most people looking into my company’s products don’t particularly care how they are marketed — just how they can get some if they want it. Also, most are more accustomed to buying things through brick-and-mortar stores than online or through someone like me, so I have to explain a little about that part.

    I wonder also about the difficulty in self-descriptors when asked what we ‘do’ — especially when one’s ‘network marketing’ involvement is a secondary part of one’s work life. For instance, does an attorney who also happens to market a natural product for people who can’t sleep at night say he does ‘network marketing’, or does he tell instead about his primary occupation? Might teachers, ministers, real estate agents, and others not have similar identity issues when asked this question?

    Does leaving the ‘network marketing’ business unspoken in this way make it more like a ‘dirty little secret’ than it really needs to be? I don’t know the answer, it’s just something I wonder about.

    Happy New Year, everyone. May you all have much happiness and success in 2008,

  • Hi Kim,

    The direct NM approach can stimulate conversation or send them for the door, yes. Not everyone knows about Network Marketiing and already has a bad opinion. If I suspect an individual is a Network Marketer, I like to us it then.

    Like T. Money Ngoh said, it is not always best to hide your marketing method either. Best if wisdom dictates the conduct and not shame.

    I am a fan of leading with personal product benefits and asking past the person, for referrals. It is a great way to promote without making waves, that you have developed, Kim.

    I have seen seemingly interested product purchasers back away from the sale after finding out it was Network Marketing, because of a preconcieved overpriced conception. A few, not a lot.

    Never say never,
    Tom Doiron

  • Hi Pam,

    I network with many of the professions you mentioned. Most are of the opinion that their involvement with NM must be kept confidential. Not so much because it is ” a dirty little secret” but because their success is their name. Bob, an excellent real estate closing attorney, does not want people to think his focus is diluted. His clients might assume that he is just a part-time attorney and devaluate his services. He and others like him that I know personally, usually let their MLM interests come out in casual settings such as the golf course, pool, kids soccer games, etc.

    Dat’s what I knoz,
    Tom Doiron

  • I usually follow Kim’s lead say, “I market health and nutrition products that provide people with extra energy and weight control.”, or just stop with energy…

    or I’ll just say…. I own my own business. Many people would love the opportunity and they ask what type of business. I then tell them I market nutritional products that provide extra energy and weight control.

    Kind of like Tom… depends on my mood and the person I am talking to. Are they really interested or just making polite conversation?

    I like Tom’s engineer friend’s answer. Don’t think Tom’s hairy mole answer works as well for me though.

  • Kim,

    You bring up a good point!

    When someone asks me what I do…I use your verbiage.

    “I market….”

    It works well and leaves the conversation open to have them ask me questions about the product, or how I make money.

    Thanks for the verbiage Kim!

  • I love saying I’m a network marketer!

    Most people have the wrong pre-conceived idea what that means (like I did, for 15 years).

    Here’s a typical reaction:

    (1) They look shocked. (“Oh my gosh, he actually admitted it to me!”)

    (2) They wait to be pitched. (“Any second now, he’ll be trying to get me to sell vitamins.”)

    (3) They are pleasantly suprised when I give them a card and say, “In fact . . . you could do me a huge favor by passing this along to someone you know who is an energy drink fanatic.”

    It’s so much easier this way . . .

    Walter Reade (from Wisconsin)

    I’ve finally found a product I can share easily!

  • I usually say, “I’m a business developer…”
    97% of people have no idea what that means. Curiosity gets the best of them which usually opens the door for me to say: “I help people start their own business and operate their own bookstore from the comfort of their home”


Leave a Comment