It was sometime in late-2014 when I met an energetic, straightforward and poignant 30-something restaurateur who uttered words that ended up changing the way I look at employment. He sat me down and showered me with compliments on my leadership style and the way that I carried myself for my age, compliments that I took to heart as a developing nineteen-year-old assistant manager at a high-traffic coffee bar inside an airport in Florida. His kind words and genuine questions kept me engaged as we mutually shared general information about ourselves regarding our families, career aspirations, recreational activities and goals towards reaching financial freedom. It was then that he said something to the effect of: "You're a sharp guy and a great leader, I have an opportunity to share with you..."
I listened to him as he began to share more information about the type of independent life he wanted and the goals he set to spend more time with his family. He then asked me to take a night to think on an opportunity to work with a company that he was a member of as an independent distributor. With an established rapport and a genuine level of trust, I was open to hearing more about this opportunity in network marketing and what it could mean for my future. He told me he would set up an interview with a VP of the company if it was an opportunity in which I was interested.
For those of you who don't know what network marketing is, it is a unique type of business model that gives people the opportunity to work with organizations as an independent distributor for a diverse set of products and/or services. These type of business models are typically marketed as flexible or part-time opportunities that allow you to make a level of passive income while you maintain full-time positions as either an employee for your current employer or student. The model of network marketing positions is built on the principles of entrepreneurship, subject-matter expertise and the rare opportunity to take control of your work-life balance.
"The Opportunity of a Lifetime"
I immediately went home to do research on the company to find some great information on how people left their jobs to pursue the company full-time, and it was a company that provided some of the best and most affordable products and services of its kind. Within my research however, I came across a few articles that denoted the structure and the model as a "scam" or "multilevel marketing scheme" that only worked for the people that were already in it.
After reading these articles, my faith in the company took a noticeable shift. But, I was still curious in its long-term benefits. So for the next few days, I continued to meet with the restaurateur as he began to go in-depth into the opportunity to be trained to get an investment license from a company in the financial services industry that was described as both reputable and profitable. It amazed me how, in a matter of moments, he was able to transform into a results-oriented entrepreneur, delivering me a series of meaningful and not-so-meaningful facts and figures about the company, its payout model and its team-based structure, including an emphasis on networking and recruiting other people. When asked to write out a list of family members and friends who would be open to the opportunity, there was a transparent level of discomfort that he read in my reaction. It was clear that I had not reestablished a level of trust in the company after reading what I found online.
Understanding that he could only do but so much without putting me in front of results, he invited me to speak with the VP to interview for a representative role and receive information about the company that I would need to restore value in the company. I did what was described as a "bang-up job" in the interview and received satisfactory feedback to my questions that negated the unique experiences and over-exaggerated descriptions of others who didn't believe in the structure.
Deal or No Deal
Another feature of some well-known network marketing firms is a cost of doing business which is typically a one time or monthly fee to get you started in the program. It's a charge that would typically include some type of capital whether it be in the form of tangible supply or in my case a license to do business. From what I've gathered, a common misconception that goes into a lot of agencies is the marketing of opportunities for a passive income as something that is automatically generated. Luckily the right expectations were set for me which influenced my decision to pay about $100 to go through the process of being trained and licensed, for some people the investment may not be something that is the best move, especially if you honestly don't have the time to dedicate to your success in one of these companies. So far, I have successfully completed my training and I now hold a license to move forward with transactions in insurance and investments, I've received heavily-discounted pricing at one of the nicest resorts in Central Florida and have worked closely with a diverse team of movers and shakers who are all working towards a common goal. I would say that I have received a great return on investment, with complete understanding that my situation may be completely different from anyone else.
After being affiliated with the company for some time, I decided to continue my education to pursue the career in which I am passionate about in social work. Since my disengagement, I have been approached by other network marketing and affiliate marketing companies who have noticed my "ideal" set of skills and talent and believe that certain opportunities would be great for me. Would I do network marketing again? I would, after having been exposed to a number of different firms and organizations that participate in this business model, I would say that network marketing works best when (1) it's a product or service you believe in, (2) if there is a fee associated with membership, the company is transparent showing you how to make the cost transform into an investment (3) you have the time to dedicate to your success. I believe that there are valuable benefits to working with Network Marketing firms based on having an opportunity to serve as an individual contributor, being able to receive specialized training in whatever industry you want to be in and the opportunity to network with people who arfe focused in personal growth and development.