Top 10 Mistakes in Network Marketing

In this post, I want to share the top 10 mistakes in network marketing, as I see it.

Having spent more than fifteen years in the network marketing industry now, I’ve done a lot of things right, and just as many things wrong.  I want to share some valuable tips I learned during the past 15+ years, so you don’t have to make the same mistakes I did.

Most of these lessons were learned through trial and error.  The other lessons were learned from my mentors, by reading books, attending events, and listening to tapes.

The Top 10 Mistakes in Network Marketing

For the purpose of this article, I want to share the top 10 most mistakes network marketers make.  Some of these things are common sense and other things are a little bit more complex.  They are listed in no particular order.  Let’s get started.

# 1 Lying to or Hyping Up Your Prospects

mistakes in network marketingNever, ever lie to your prospects.  Don’t mislead them when you approach them.

Never make them think you are offering them a job.  Never invite them to a party or event and then have a business opportunity meeting instead.

Never lie about how much money you make in the business.  Be honest with your prospects at all times, no matter what.

Never tell them what you think they want to hear.  Do the right thing even if it means you lose some of your prospects.

Do not use hype.  EVER.  Hype might influence someone to join the business, but as soon as the hype burns off, they will quit the business.

# 2 Promoting Multiple MLM Companies at the Same Time

Don’t promote two different MLM Companies at the same time.  For most people this is not a very good option (there might be a few rare cases where it works).

Your prospects and team members will be confused if you promote two different companies at once.

Instead, find a good company you are passionate about and focus on that company.

I’m not saying you can’t have other income streams.  You should.  But let your other income streams be something different from a second MLM Company.

Let’s be honest for a minute; building one network marketing  business alone is a monumental task.  Building two companies at once is practically impossible.  This is one of the most common mistakes in network marketing.

# 3 Switching Companies Often

Don’t be the person that jumps from company to company every few months.  Don’t be a MLM Junkie.  Trust me, I’ve been there and done that and it is a complete waste of time.

recruiting upFind a company you are passionate about and stick with it for the long haul: at least five to ten years.  You will be glad that you did.

When you jump around from company to company, you lose credibility and you lose momentum.  It’s hard starting over.  It’s hard to rebuild the momentum.

Know right now that there is no shiny object or easy company.  Building a successful business of any kind is hard work!

No matter what company you work with, you need to put in the work.  Pick a company you want to have your problems with and then stay the course.

# 4 Not Being Coachable

Of all the mistakes on this list, this is the one I have personally struggled with the most.  This is a business of DUPLICATION.

The beauty of this business model is the simplicity.  Any fool can make it complicated, but it takes a genius to keep it simple.

Follow your upline’s system.  Do not ever reinvent the wheel or try to do your own thing.  Be smart enough to counsel with someone successful in your upline and then be humble enough to do what they teach you.

# 5 Not Working the Numbers

Selling is a numbers game.  So is MLM.

At the end of the day you have to share your products and business opportunity with hundreds of people, maybe even thousands of people, in order to find your customers, distributors and leaders.

If you don’t work the numbers, you will fail.  Not everyone you talk to will be interested in what you have to offer, but if you talk to enough people you will find enough interested people.

Make a commitment to talk to 2, 3, 5, 10 or even more people every day, no matter what.

Do that for a few short years and you will have a huge team.

And remember, what you lack in skills you can make up for in numbers.

# 6 Trying to be a Lone Wolf

Do not be an island or try to isolate yourself.  Remember that this is a team effort.  Network marketing is a team sport.  You are part of a team and you need to build your own team.

When you are isolated it’s easy to get lonely and feel dejected.  When you surround yourself with other positive people who are building their own businesses, it will help keep you excited.  Get plugged in and stay plugged in. Encourage your team members to do the same thing.

# 7 Recruiting Down

You need to recruit up.  Most network marketers do the complete opposite.

Rather than focus on self-motivated, successful people, they approach people at their economic status or lower. They approach people they feel comfortable approaching, rather than approaching people who are business and success minded.

That is a huge mistake. You always want to RECRUIT UP.  That is the key to success in our industry.

Remember that quality people will lead you to quality people.

# 8 Stopping & Starting

Another huge mistake that network marketers make is stopping and starting.  They work their business for a few hours this week, and then they do nothing for the next couple of weeks.

Simply put, their business isn’t a big priority for them.  They let life get in the way and put their business on the back-burner whenever something comes up.

Successful networkers are persistent and consistent.  They set a work schedule and have the discipline to stick with it, no matter what.

# 9 Treating Your Business Like a Hobby

Most network marketers who join the industry don’t treat their business like a real business. They don’t act as if they have a million dollars invested in their business.   As a result, they accomplish very little.

Most of these folks have never owned a business before so they don’t even know what “treating your network marketing business like a real business” means.

If you want to be successful in network marketing, you need to schedule business hours and work your business every day, no excuses.

If you only work an hour a week, or take a couple of weeks off, don’t expect much to happen in your business.

I like to tell people to treat their business like they do their job.  Show up every day, be consistent and work hard (even if you don’t feel like it) and good things will happen.  You get out what you put in.

This is one of the worst mistakes in network marketing you can make.

# 10 No System

The system is the solution.  That’s a valuable lesson I learned from Michael Gerber, author of “The E-Myth Revisited.”

the system don failla
The System by Don Failla

All successful businesses have systems.  You need to follow you upline’s system or company’s system.

It makes no sense to even get involved in network marketing if you aren’t willing to follow a system.

You need a training system and a marketing system.  There is no right or wrong system, but you need something that is proven, simple and affordable.

You need something that works for the part-timer or full-timer.

Do not think about changing the system, or creating your own system, until you are at least a six figure earner.

If you are new to the business, plug-in to the system and follow it.  No excuses.  If you try to do your own thing you will fail.

Final Thoughts

In summary, these are the top 10 mistakes made in network marketing, as I see it.  Do yourself a favor and evaluate yourself in each area listed above, so you can make improvements in your business.  You will be glad that you did.

What are your thoughts?  What do you think are most common mistakes in network marketing?  To share your thoughts just leave a comment below.  I look forward to hearing from you.

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56 thoughts on “Top 10 Mistakes in Network Marketing

  1. One thing I learned early on is that you want at least one person on your side. You can’t face a whole flock without a pack yourself. Going at something new or hard on your own will be hard. It helps to have someone that will push you up, and you will in turn, have someone to push up as well. We are building blocks. Humans need each other to grow.

    • Definitely. It’s important to have a mentor and a support group to encourage you and to provide the social support you need to succeed.

  2. One of the largest common denominators I see in this post is: time management. As a network marketer, time is important. We do need to spend a little time with our up line, but we should be spending much more with our down line.

    Another top one is lying. Too many network marketers have used techniques that are essentially lying. They install ads on employment sites making the opportunity sound like a job. That is a lie. It gives all MLMs a bad name and needs to be stopped.

    Thanks for all the great info Chuck.

    • I agree. Many people do not know how to manage their time well. By the time people get home from work, eat dinner, spend some time with the kids and watch television, the day is gone! At the end of the day you have to have priorities and you have to make times for things that are important to you. You could even work your network marketing business during your lunch break if you chose to. I suggest you set business hours and have enough discipline to stick with it.

  3. Good to hear someone say “Don’t lie to your prospects.” That has been my biggest problem with MLM people. Not that they straight up lie, but there is definitely a lot of information withholding going on. What’s wrong with saying it takes work to win at MLM? I think that is the main reason most people think MLM companies are scams.

    And switching companies all the time? Don’t get me started.

  4. Working with the wrong company is a big mistake. So is joining new companies. You want to work with a company that has been around at least five years and has your best interest at heart.

  5. People make so many mistakes when they join. The biggest one is having a lottery mentality. Most folks thing they can sponsor a few folks, and then sit back and do nothing and just start watching the money roll in. MLM is a business, just like any business. You have to work hard and roll up your sleeves for a few years if you want to reap the rewards.

    • The lottery mentality is one of the greatest mistakes as I see it.

  6. I think the biggest mistake in network marketing is to get involved in the industry in the first place. I personally believe it is a scam and does nothing but ruin people’s lives.

    • Sorry to hear you feel that way Esther, but I do agree with you that it is difficult for most people to make money in MLM.

    • I can think of many other things that ruin lives much more than any network marketing company would. Our country is full of drugs, crime, sex criminals and more. Starting a business is always a risk, but the good thing with network marketing is the risk is minimal. It usually does not take a lot to get started, and what it does take is work. It is the lies and hype that have people like yourself stating comments such as this.

      Like Chuck said, ” I too am sorry to hear you had a bad experience.” Hopefully in time you will see that like anything, there is good and bad.

      Have a wonderful day.

      • All businesses come with some level of risk. That is what being an entrepreneur is all about. Jobs come with risk as well. It’s your ability to minimize your risks and work smart. The beauty of this industry is that you can typically get started for less than $100. Try doing that in any other industry.

  7. A big mistake in network marketing is having the employee mindset. When you get involved in MLM you have to start thinking like an entrepreneur. The biggest difference is getting paid off your results, not getting paid just to show up. You also need to understand the big picture, formulate an action plan, and be disciplined. It’s hard to do. That’s why so many folks fail in our great industry.

    • The employee mindset is definitely something that a lot of people struggle with.

  8. I think a big mistake is information overload. There is so much contradicting advice online, it’s hard to know who to believe and trust. I think it’s better for new distributors to team up with their successful upline for their first year and block everything else out. That will help keep them focused and on track.

    • Information overload definitely holds lots of people back from achieving success in MLM. Thanks for the comment.

  9. The biggest mistake in network marketing is hands down treating your business like a hobby. Not having a business plan, a marketing plan, an operating budget, set hours, or the discipline to finish what you start.

    • That is definitely one of the biggest mistakes in MLM, Joey. You have to treat your business like a real business if you want to succeed. Thanks for the comment.


  10. The biggest mistake is leading with your company first. Most folks want nothing to do with your company. Lead with a system or training program first. And then offer your business opportunity after you do that. That is my best advice.

    • I totally agree, but I believe you should lead immediately with your products or services. Once you have a customer, it is much easier to turn them into a distributor. Now, of course, it does depend on the type of MLM you are in, but using the approach I mention works much better than leading with a business opportunity. Usually, you make more money off the commission of product sales anyway, so it behooves me why network marketers don’t follow this.

      • Lead with the product and then upgrade your happy customers into distributors. I couldn’t say it better myself.

  11. The biggest mistake in MLM is lack of focus. So many distributors try to do so many different things at once. As a result, they accomplish very little. If you focus on what you want, and pick one strategy to do it, you will be much better off.


    • Lack of focus might be one of the top 2 or 3 causes of failure in the network marketing industry.


  12. The most common mistake I see in network marketing is chasing the money. If you choose a company only because you want to make money, you are doomed from the beginning. It makes much more sense to pick a company with products you are passionate about it. Start out as a happy customer and then become a happy distributor.

  13. I think the biggest mistake in MLM is to join the wrong company at the wrong time. Timing is crucial. You need to join a company before it gets to big. Get on the bandwagon before it becomes a bandwagon.


    • Joining the wrong company at the wrong time is another common mistake that network marketers make. Yes, you can succeed or fail in any company, but when you join the right company at the right time, it’s much easier to build your business.

  14. I think the biggest mistake in MLM is not getting customers. Without customers you will really struggle. Every distributor needs five to ten personal customers so they can get their products for free and have immediate profits. Sponsoring distributors is good but it shouldn’t be your only focus.

    • Good point, Ima. Customers are very important, especially in MLM. They give you immediate profits in your business, that you can reinvest in your marketing efforts.

  15. As I see it, the biggest mistake in network marketing is not managing your time properly. Whether you are building the business part-time or full-time, you need to spend your time on the most important things: prospecting, showing the plan, following up, getting customers and training your team. You need to schedule these things into your day planner so you do something productive to build your business every single day.


    • Time management is very important, for part-timers and full-timers. Most people who get involved in our industry don’t manage their time well. And when they do work their business, they focus on busy work, but not things that actually produce revenue. As a result, they fail.


  16. I think joining the wrong company is one of the worst mistakes a new distributor can make. So many MLM Companies are out of date and out of touch. They have horrible internet marketing policies that make it next to impossible to build your business online. If you can’t mention the company name or have your own unique distributor website my best advice is to find a new company!

    • This is so true. Companies like Amway, Herbalife and Melaleuca should be avoided if you want to build a business online. Their internet policies suck!


  17. I have found that a big issue with consistency is the lack of discipline. The transition from working 8-5 in an office to being at home and in charge of your work hours catches some people by surprise. Little distractions crop up all day long, and you have to be able to push them aside and deal with the personal situations another time, barring urgent matters. I schedule my entire day, right down to blocking out my time with my daughter, errands, laundry and reading time. That’s the only way I’ve been able to maintain balance, preventing neglect of important matters as well as minimizing being overwhelmed.

    • Most people are definitely lacking in this area, Amy. Discipline is the foundation for success in any endeavor. One of the quickest ways to fail in MLM is to be undisciplined. You have to manage your time and schedule closely, so you can be productive and get the things done that you need to. If you don’t manage your time it will manage you.


  18. Another common mistake in network marketing is teaming up with an amateur. You need to find a sponsor who is (1) serious about the business, (2) knows what they are doing, (3) has systems in place and will share those systems with you and (4) has achieved some success in the current company. Don’t team up with a newbie or an amateur who will just quit within the next 90 days. Who you join is more important than the company you join.


    • Good points, Brian. I agree that teaming up with the wrong sponsor is one of the worst things you can do. Look for someone who is successful and knows what they are doing. Of course, that still isn’t a guarantee of success, but it should help improve your results and learning curve.


  19. I think the biggest mistake most new network marketers make is that they don’t treat it like a real business. They don’t act as if they spent millions of dollars to get started. They don’t work their business consistently either. Instead, they treat it like a hobby (if that) and then are surprised that they don’t make any money.


    • I couldn’t say it better myself, Lewis. If you study people who fail in our industry, you notice trends. Quite perhaps the biggest trend is for people to sign up, do nothing and then quit. Yet, when you study successful distributors you will quickly discover they worked hard with the same company for a period of a few YEARS before they achieved success. There’s a big difference between the two groups of people.


  20. I think the biggest mistake in network marketing is lack of vision. Most people who get involved do not understand that all businesses take time, money and effort to grow. You have to invest several years of hard work, making mistakes, making adjustments as you go and never giving up. I’ve never met any distributor who built a successful network marketing business in less than two years. Yet, most people who quit the business do so within 90 days. And you wonder why so many people fail in MLM? It’s because they quit.

    • Lack of vision is definitely a common reason that so many people fail in network marketing Ann. Thanks for the comment.


  21. Without a doubt the biggest mistake in network marketing is “never getting started.” Of all the people I’ve had on my team, at least 90% of them never really got started. Yes, they might have signed up, but they never starting using the products, getting customers or building a business. It’s as if they thought they were buying a lottery ticket and by signing up they would just start making money. That’s my experience for you.

  22. I think the biggest mistake in network marketing is for people to get involved in the first place. Many of my friends and family have tried it out, but I don’t know a single person who made even $1 profit. Personally, I think the industry is nothing but a scam and should be shut down by the FTC, before more people get hurt and lose money.


    • Erika,

      I’m sorry to hear that you don’t know anyone who made money in MLM. I can assure you that many people have.


  23. I’ve been in the network marketing industry for just over 20 years now. I’ve made more mistakes than most people, especially in my first five years. But I’ve found that if you stick with it, and make it a point to keep learning new skills, it isn’t all that difficult to do. Success in our industry boils down to prospecting, showing the plan, following up and training your team. You just have to spend a majority of your time doing one of those four tasks.

    The biggest mistakes that I see most network marketers make is that they don’t treat their business seriously. They might be excited for a month or two but once they realize there is work involved, they quit. I don’t know of anyone in my company, ever, who got started and stuck with it for the long haul that didn’t become successful. But I know a lot of people who tried it for a month or two and didn’t make it.

    • Good points, Dewitt. Sticking around is half the battle. The other half is taking the time to develop the right mind-set and right skill-set.

      Not treating their business seriously is very common mistake. Most people half ass and dabble, but they never sell out to it. Those that do normally end up doing pretty well though.


  24. The biggest mistake in network marketing is to team up with an amateur. The person you pick as your sponsor is your single most important decision. Once you know what company you want to join, find the most successful person you can and join their team. This will really make a big difference in your business.

    • Good points, Maria. I tell people the same thing.

  25. Budgeting and financial tracking are good skills to practice. Budgeting allows you to set limits for how much you want to spend so that you are exercising some type of financial control. Financial tracking allows you to see exactly where your money is going so that you know when and where you need to make readjustments. If you don’t know where your money is going you won’t see when you are wasting it which is a huge problem.

    • I know very few network marketers who do a monthly financial summary tracking their income and expenses in their MLM Business. Personally, I do this for all my businesses. I think it’s one of the most important things I do. I can track areas that are working well and determine areas to improve upon. If it works for me, I know it will work for you too. Best of all, it’s free and easy to do. I simply use a MS Excel Sheet and input all my numbers for my business. Once I do that it calculates a profit or a loss for the month.


  26. You want to find a MLM coach that is already successful in the MLM industry. If you hire a new coach not quite successful yet, you may get caught up in his training period rather than him coaching you. There are alot of people willing to take your money no matter how experienced that they are. The idea is to have the coach train you not you training the coach.

    • Finding a good coach is definitely important if you want to achieve success in MLM. That can be a sponsor, someone in your upline, or even someone from another MLM Company. Look for someone that has fruit on their tree and has already accomplished what you are trying to accomplish.


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