Old School vs. New School MLM

I thought it would be good to write a post to compare Old School vs. New School MLM.  I’ve been in the industry eleven years now and I’ve done fairly well using both of these methods. In the paragraphs below, I want to take some time and educate you about each concept, AND provide what I believe is the best strategy to follow.  Enjoy.

What is Old School MLM?

Old School MLM is the way the network marketing industry was taught and built from the late 1950s up until the late 1990s.  It’s still used today by most network marketers.  Here are a few of the core components of Old School MLM:

  1. Building Your Business via Your Warm Market – Distributors were taught to make a list of everyone they know, when they first got started in the business.  The bigger the name list you could build the better your chances of success. 
  2. Utilizing the Three Foot Rule and Prospecting Strangers – Distributors were taught to prospect everyone they came in contact with.  
  3. Advertising Your Business Opportunity – Distributors were taught to advertise their “business opportunity” in magazines or in their local newspaper. 
  4. Utilizing One on Ones, Home Parties, Three Way Calls and Hotel Meetings to Build Your Team – Meetings were the lifeblood of the business.  Distributors used hotel meetings and home meetings to build their teams and keep their teams motivated. Presentations were shown face-to-face, either one-on-one or in a group setting. 
  5. Keeping Things High Touch – The business was built around human interaction.

Please keep in mind that this concept was taught for almost 40 years and it WORKED.  All of the MLM Companies used this strategy, and most still do.

What is New School MLM?

New School MLM gained popularity in the late 1990s and really took off in the mid 2000s when the concept of Attraction Marketing became popular. It’s still a new concept, and in my opinion, it is not a PROVEN strategy to build a successful network marketing business.  Here are a few components of New School MLM:

  1. Branding Yourself as a Leader (Attraction Marketing) – Above all else you are taught to promote YOU, to establish yourself as a leader, and to focus on providing value to your target market. 
  2. Leveraging Social Media to Grow Your Business – Rather than actually talk to people face-to-face or on the phone, you are taught to utilize social media such as YouTube, Twitter, Linked in and Facebook to grow your business. 
  3. Building a List – We are taught that the money is in the list, which is true, so we should focus 100% of our efforts on just generating leads. 
  4. Generating Multiple Streams of Income – Rather than just promote a business opportunity, we should promote a wide variety of products, such as leads, systems, and training courses, so we have a way to make money even when our leads don’t join our business. 
  5. Building Your Business Online – We are taught that the internet is here to stay, there are billions of people online waiting to buy from us, and that we can build a business from our laptop computer anywhere in the world. 
  6. Making Things High Tech – We are taught that we can hide behind our computer and not have to interact with anyone, and still build a successful business.  

What You Should Know?

Neither of these methods are good or bad as I see it.  You can succeed, or fail, using either strategy. HOWEVER, when you study the successful companies and successful earners in our industry, one strategy really stands out.

When you study the top 10 biggest network marketing companies, and just about any successful leader in our industry, you will quickly discover that they teach Old School MLM. For every 100 leaders in our industry, I’d bet that at least 95 of those 100 leaders still focus on Old School MLM,  not New School MLM.  To me, that speaks volumes.

What makes Old School MLM work is that it is simple.

After all, learning “online” MLM requires a HUGE learning curve.  It took me several YEARS doing it full-time to figure it out.  Most people don’t have the patience, time, money or skill-set to build a business online, but ANYONE can talk to their warm market and strangers!

And it doesn’t matter so much if a strategy works for you.  It’s whether or not it duplicates in your team!

My Advice

My advice is to combine the two methods.  By all means, have your own blog or YouTube Channel.  Use these resources to brand yourself and build your list.  But keep in mind that these strategies are “long-term” strategies that might take several years to produce any type of “big” results.

Maybe you could set aside an thirty minutes a day to build your online business, and while you are doing that, focus a majority of your efforts build your MLM Business offline.  Talk to friends and family, leverage in home meetings, attend hotel meetings and events, and utilize the Three Foot Rule.

Keep your business high touch!  Remember that the business is built on relationships.  Few people are just going to visit a website and join a business.  There has to be a like, know and trust factor.  And the only way to build the know, like and trust is to look the other person in the eyeballs or talk to them on the phone.

You might even decided just to IGNORE all the online hype and stick with the Old School approach. I don’t think that would be a bad move either.  After all, it’s much easier to succeed when you focus on ONE thing, rather than try to do a bunch of different things.

What do you think about Old School MLM vs. New School MLM?  Please leave a comment below to share your thoughts.  I look forward to hearing from you.

chuck holmes


Chuck Holmes
Network Marketing Professional (since 2002)
Author, Blogger, & Entrepreneur

P.S. Level up your life today! FREE resources to help you improve your health, finances, business, and relationships. I'll even give you FREE leads and a free business plan template. Learn more.

7 thoughts on “Old School vs. New School MLM”

  1. I personally like the mixture of both. You will find that not all people are the same way. There are still quite a few people who do not use a computer or have never used one and using their phone to go online is challenging.

    I don’t want to leave anyone out so I connect with people based on that. I find the people that I connect with face-face have been more productive. The people that I have prospected online become more productive once the relationship is built with them.

    Trying to get to the point where they communicate can be challenging; however, once you get that good back and forth conversation going it should fall into place.

  2. Chuck, this is a very thought provoking post. I must admit, deep down I like the new school method much better than the old school, but I have to agree that the old school method is tried and true.

    I would have to go along with mixing the two together. Emails are great things, but people do hit delete very easy, or send them to the spam folder. The phone is harder for people to just push you away, and even better is face to face. I have always believed in using every resource to your advantage.

    Find what works and use it!

  3. You’re dead on. I believe the 3 most effective ways to not only build a mlm business fast, but to build it with the objective of stability is by:

    1. Make the phone your number one method regardless if you’re marketing old school or new school. Many pitch their business to me via Facebook, but when I share my phone number it’s amazing that very very few actually call me… they forgot the basics, which is to get on the phone to connect with people.

    2. Look in your own backyard. Sometimes we attempt to run away from our fears of truly connecting with people, that we hide behind computer monitors with pictures, post, and even videos. However, I learned that the highest conversion rate comes by talking to someone face-to-face. In other words, I would argue that its better short or long-term to connect with people face-to-face, so why not look in your backyard?

    3. Videos rounds up my top 3 most effective ways to build a mlm business fast with stability. Since I believe that by leveraging the speed of the phone to connect with people and face-to-face to build instant relationship with people, I think videos is the next best thing to express who you are, why your product, and the benefits of working with you as a partner… simple videos are awesome. A

    lright Chuck, why did I go on and on when I typically don’t do this… because I’m on your email list and you are always providing valuable information and even when I want to delete all my emails, I find myself skipping over yours. Again, good read on old vs new school mlm.


  4. I think you have it right to combine the two approaches. They both have their merits and they both can help you build a strong business. I really think the new school approach of adding the internet compliments getting out and meeting people. But just using one over the other can only get you so far in business.

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