Who makes whom?

Do you lead with “I’m a Company X rep”?

Or, do you try to persuade them by talking up the company?

“My company is worth a gazillion dollars; everything they do is cutting edge. Their CEO (or management) is from Harvard and lives in a mansion on the biggest hill in town…” blah blah blah.

This tells the prospect that you think the company makes you.

Without the big company to talk about, you’re not important enough for them to listen to about whatever you’re selling, much less buy from you.

One recruiter told me that’s how he likes to bring people in – that after they sign up, they’ll be part of something that’s bigger than they are.

In other words, identifying yourself with a big successful company helps make you a more credible person.

OK, yes, perhaps if someone has no confidence, that might help get them going at all. However there are some risks with this approach.

1) Big is the new bad.

CitiBank, Bank of America and Chase are all big banks – hated by many today. People are changing to smaller banks, including me and my little company. Big pharma, big food, big government, big business. All bring up bad associations today.

2) When is the last time you bought anything that mattered to you, based on how big the company was?

Say you want a new car. Do you ask first how big the car maker is, and then go shopping? Or do you look at cars you’ve seen that you like, first? Or perhaps, look for hybrids first? If you don’t buy stuff based on the size of the company making it, or whether the owner is a billionaire, do you think anyone else does?

3) The specialty products most network companies offer — priced 3 to 10 times more than the Wal-Mart variety (think organic skin cream at $39 versus Ponds at $6) — are boutique type items. Not for everyone. Not for the masses.

Compare buying food at Wal-Mart versus a local farmer’s market. Farmer’s market lovers like me expect to pay more. I happen to believe I’m getting healthier produce and 100% grassfed beef, pork and wild fish (not farmed like in the big stores). I LIKE paying more because I know fresh costs more than chemical-filled foods that last forever. I like fresh non-toxic, so I pay more.

The products and philosophies behind good network marketing companies are like farmer’s markets. The good NM companies offer specialized products for people whose values are aligned and who therefore do not whine about “it costs too much.” E.g., people who care about non-drug alternatives are always ready to pay more for effective non-drug pain remedies. Or whole-food based multis versus cheaper synthetics.

So, if your personal values and beliefs lead you to alternative NM products and an NM business, you will make the company.

YOU will add value to ANY company you join. Because. You. Joined. Your contacts know how you live and what your values are (or are becoming).

Network marketing companies do not have good reputations anymore. So it has to be you, living your values, who will give your NM company credibility to your friends and contacts.

Two weeks ago, an old customer emailed me that she was looking into some weird product solely because, she wrote, “you like them and I’m impressed by that.” She disliked ‘the MLM thing’ dontcha know.

She bought a big package, too, to get the bulk pricing.

This weekend, an acupuncturist told a nutritionist friend of mine, “Since you are using these things, well let me get some and check it out.” Because,” she sighed, I’d “never want to be involved in one of those yucky MLMs.”

So who’s making whom…?

About the author

Kim Klaver


  • Kim,
    As usual your comments have hit the ball out of the park. I love the products I sell, I'm not in love with the CEO's house- I don't care where he lives. I just want him to continue making the high quality, effective products that I use and sell. If I don't use them I'm not selling them. I attract people like me who want the best products and understand the value. Being and staying healthy is inexpensive, it's getting sick that is expensive!

  • "Network marketing companies do not have good reputations anymore. So it has to be you, living your values, who will give your NM company credibility to your friends and contacts."

    Thanks to you, Kim, for all your coaching in the past! – you helped me several years ago in my realization that I needed to "brand" myself because it is I who does the interacting with people, and when they know, like and trust ME they are more likely to be interested in what I'm involved with or recommending.

    Thanks for another great post!!

  • I think you're right, Kim. You never know what associations the potential customer has with the company you represent. Good or bad.

    Interesting, too, to hear the negative impressions about MLM still linger, even though it has so much potential as a safety-valve in this economy.

    Could it be that smart people have so many more options with the 'Net today: day-trading, forex, consulting, freelance writing, affiliate marketing, who-knows-what?

    It's probably wise to keep it simple. We can't control what the company has done or may do; we can just recommend the product based on our good judgement — so, in the end, it's still a relationship business.

  • Hi Kim,
    You've got the biggest and the smallest; the fastest and the slowest, the best and the worst in every niche. When you take the subjective hype away and only focus on merit and third party accolades, you approach the reality.

    Sometimes I introduce myself as a Professional Network Marketer and sometimes I am a Manufacturer's Rep. But whoever I am, I damn well better be my own best customer and be convinced enough of my product's value, that I would buy it at retail as a consumer. Please don't try to sell me an Acura when your ride is a Pontiac.

    Finally, I find no fault with MLM, just the way some people chose to do it. So when people ask me, "is this MLM or Network Marketing?" I repond with "not as you know it!" I can say this because of the way I present it compared to many of the others.

    Wishing You Plenty To Live,
    Tom Doiron

  • Hi Kim,

    I have learned over the years not to promote my company anymore but promote myself instead. Reason being (among others) that network marketers don't stay with the same company forever. They move on. So I want to build my own brand and be know as ME instead of "Ilka Rep for XYZ Company"

    Best to you always,


  • Hi Kim,

    I couldn't have said it better than what Ilka just commented!

    I am in total agreement that WE are the message; not just the medium.

    Thanks for this affirmative message!

  • Kim,
    This is so true! Thank you for your candor and expertise! I think it also addresses the why behind sharing our products with others… when I lead with "me" it is because I have had a product experience that compelled me to share it with others. This is people and product driven business, not money hungry hype.
    I am a wellness seeker and curious about the natural products you are mentioning. Can you contact me?

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