Leveraging Trust and Influence
Business networking is about leveraging trust and influence and multiplying your sphere of influence by the influence of others. Attraction is a kind of influence. “Personal Branding,” perhaps synonymous with reputation, may help with attraction and personal direct sales. Sales and marketing have their place in free enterprise, but network marketing provides leverage, synergy, and passive residual income. I certainly don’t want a job on straight commission.
Trading connections with a “tribe” is a good form of networking. Each member of the tribe brings a network (large or small) of relationships acquired in the past by natural reputation building (their “brand”). Sharing our networks with each other expands our contact base.
In a sense, we are all branding, all the time. Everyone who has not been hiding under a rock has acquired a reputation, which might be called their “brand.” However, I am concerned that the popular emphasis on “personal branding online” may have negative side effects for network marketers. In a previous post I mentioned some costs of focusing on deliberate online personal branding–mainly time, effort, and opportunity cost. In network marketing, if we teach our downline to take time to “brand” themselves online before they go “viral”, we could multiply LOST time and effort exponentially.
The time and effort our downline spend trying to “brand” themselves may delay duplication, and the opportunity costs of compounded lost time may actually skyrocket exponentially. Of course we could try to tell them to “do as I say, not as I do,” but they tend to want to do what their heroes do. Most people are “copy cats.” However, that is not the point of this post.
I think we can all agree that people prefer to buy from those they know, like and trust. This has always been the basis of network marketing, which is also called relationship marketing or word-of-mouth advertising. One of the best-selling books of all time is still a best seller 74 years after it was written! More than 30,000,000 copies have been sold–and counting! Its popularity derives from the extreme value of knowing How to Win Friends and Influence People. I credit that book as a major cause of my success in life and specifically in network marketing.
Please pardon me if I mention a couple of credentials to validate what I’m about to say. My specific major in graduate school, within the field of Social Psychology, was “Interpersonal Attraction.” In real life I have been a leader of people in several different fields. In network marketing, I’ve been well above the top one-hundredth of one percent in organization building.
One thing I know for sure is that you are more interested in you than you are in me. If one wants to be attractive, it is more effective to be interested than interesting. People are more attracted to a good listener than to a good talker. Sincere authenticity is more effective than hype. One of the most successful multi-millionaires I have known said, “My mission is for all the people I meet to like themselves better because they met me.”
New prospects for network marketing have three main questions in mind. First, “What’s in it for me?” Second, “Can I do it?” And third, “Will you help me?” The third question may relate to branding yourself as one who can help them. But most network marketers agree that the second question is the issue that stops most people from joining you. They are afraid that, even if it works for you, it will not work for them. Often they think, “Well, that’s fine for people like you. You’re a salesman, or you have an office, or you have a blog, you have a well-known brand, or you have a large list, or thousands of followers, but I don’t think I could do that–so I won’t dare try.”
A 7-figure network marketer I knew said, “I never do anything that anyone else can’t copy.” One secret of my success is that thousands of people said to themselves (compassionately), “If HE can do it, then I could do it!” 😉 Some said I was “dumb like a fox.” I have spent most of the past year trying to brand myself, leaving my network marketing business totally on autopilot. Meanwhile, fortunately, I’ve been able to live on the residual income from past networking. 🙂