A couple of years ago, I signed up for an MLM (multi-level marketing) program. If you don’t know what that is, let me give you some examples: Rodan & Fields, Lularoe, Juice Plus, Beachbody or (old school) Avon. Basically, it’s a business in which you sign up to be a representative, sell products for the company and receive a commission. You also recruit other people to sign up and receive some sort of bonus for that. MLM’s are sometimes called “network marketing” or “direct selling.” Some MLM’s are reputable, some are not.
I got involved in Beachbody, because I loved their workouts and products and I really liked my local team. I enjoyed the camaraderie, group exercise aspects and getting to know new people. That’s what kept me active as a coach for several years.
But then, I started to feel stressed. I felt pressured, mostly by the more centralized leadership, to sell more, recruit more people. Not only is the structure set up to encourage that with discounts and incentives, I felt the pressure on conference calls and company-wide videos. I have never been the sales type, but I stuck with it because I loved my local team so much, and I believed in the product.
It wasn’t rewarding anymore. I felt pressured to post on social media three times a day, call or message people every day; it made me crazy. I hated trying to recruit people. I know there are people out there who make it work for them, but it just wasn’t me.
I took a step back. I had gone out of my comfort zone and tried something new. I was glad I gave it a chance but had to admit it wasn’t for me. I then remembered something a friend told me once, when I approached her about becoming a Beachbody coach. She said, “I told myself I’d never do another MLM.”
It’s not that I think they’re terrible; they’re just not something I can be successful with, at least not without compromising my principles and making myself crazy. Having been approached about several others, I now can’t help but thinking it feels somewhat akin to “drinking the Kool-aid.”
I buy MLM products from several of my friends, because I want to support them and because the products are high-quality. But I can’t in good conscience get more involved, partially because I’m not really your “rah, rah, make it the best day EVER!” kind of person, and MLM leadership seems to be comprised of a lot of those people.
MLM’s can be great for some people. They allow people to be their own bosses to some extent, work out of the house, and sell quality product without high overhead. If you do want to participate it one, be sure to do your research so you know the in’s and out’s of what you’re committing to beforehand.
For me, though, the tradeoff — having to adhere to the MLM structure in order to be successful — isn’t worth it. If you’re like me, maybe do your own thing. Take what you need, leave the rest.
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