Top 10 Mistakes in Network Marketing

Having spent more than a decade 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 12+ 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.

For the purpose of this article, I want to share the top 10 most common mistakes made in network marketing.

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

Never, 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.

# 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.

Learn more about promoting a You, Inc. business.

uncle bill meme# 3 Switching Companies Often

Don’t be the person that jumps from company to company every few months.

Don’t be a MLM Junkie.

Find 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 you lose credibility and you lose momentum.

Trust me, I’ve been there and done that.

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!

# 4 Buying Leads

In most cases, buying leads is a waste of time and money.

Yes, there are a few distributors in our industry who build their business with purchased leads, but for most folks it isn’t a very good option (unless you have good phone skills and love rejection).

Instead, you should learn how to generate your own leads.

Take the time to study marketing. Learn social media tactics, pay per click, solo ads, newspaper ads, direct mail, and other lead generation techniques.

It will be money well spent.

Without a constant flow of new leads your business is doomed.

# 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.

Learn more about working the numbers.

# 6 Trying to be a Lone Wolf

This is another common mistake that I see a lot of network marketers make.

Don’t reinvent the wheel.

Follow your up-line’s lead.

Follow their system.

By all means, use your ingenuity, talents and abilities to build your network marketing business.

But if you ever have a problem and need help, consult with your up-line.

You don’t have to figure everything out on your own.

Remember, your up-line works for you, not the other way around.

This business is meant to be a team sport, not a one person operation.

# 7 Trying to Recruit the Wrong People

Don’t make the mistake of trying to recruit the people who NEED the business opportunity.

Broke, unemployed, and disgruntled people are not your best prospects.

They don’t want the business opportunity (or any opportunity) and they couldn’t afford it anyway.

Rather than prospecting your unemployed Uncle Bill, it would be a much wiser idea to prospect successful people, such as successful entrepreneurs, sales people, business folks, realtors and other people who have already achieved success in life.

You want people who are accustomed to merit based pay and commissioned based pay.

These are your best prospects anyway.

These are the folks who are always looking for new money making ideas and income streams.

Learn more about your ideal prospects.

# 8 Not Helping Your Team Succeed

As you sponsor people into the business, you need to take some time to help them get started right.

Not everyone will let you help them, but work with the willing.

Teach your new members the ropes, so they know what to do and can be functional on their own.

Don’t be so busy mass recruiting people that people quit just as fast as you sponsor them.

There is nothing wrong with recruiting a lot of people AS LONG AS you take the time to help them get started right.

Once you have FIVE serious people, spend most of your time working in depth.

# 9 Treating Your Business Like a Hobby

Most network marketers who join the industry don’t treat their business like a real business.

Most of these folks have never owned a business before so they don’t even know that means.

If you ever want to be successful in network marketing, you need to schedule business hours and work your business every day.

If you only work an hour a week, or take a couple 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.

lead with the products meme# 10 Not Being Product Focused

The sooner you realize this lesson the better.

You NEED to be product focused.

Most folks are not interested in joining a MLM Company, but many of these same folks will become paying customers if they like the products.

Lead with the products and you will convert more people into customers and distributors and create more volume in your business.

Find loyal product users.

This will lead to repeat orders and many of these folks will eventually become good distributors.

If you just talk about your business opportunity you won’t do very well.

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, 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.

I look forward to hearing from you.

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56 thoughts on “Top 10 Mistakes in Network Marketing

  1. Britanica

    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.

    Reply
  2. Greg Boudonck

    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.

    Reply
    1. chuckholmes Post author

      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.

      Reply
  3. Jessica

    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.

    Reply
  4. Jolene

    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.

    Reply
  5. Eric

    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.

    Reply
  6. Esther

    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.

    Reply
    1. Greg Boudonck

      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.

      Reply
      1. chuckholmes Post author

        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.

        Reply
  7. Jane

    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.

    Reply
  8. Erin

    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.

    Reply
  9. Joey

    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.

    Reply
    1. chuckholmes Post author

      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.

      Chuck

      Reply
  10. Timothy

    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.

    Reply
    1. Greg Boudonck

      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.

      Reply
  11. Dane

    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.

    Dane

    Reply
  12. Jeremy

    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.

    Reply
  13. Esther

    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.

    Esther

    Reply
    1. chuckholmes Post author

      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.
      Chuck

      Reply
  14. Ima

    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.

    Reply
    1. chuckholmes Post author

      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.

      Reply
  15. Ryan

    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.

    Ryan

    Reply
    1. chuckholmes Post author

      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.

      Chuck

      Reply
  16. Dominick

    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!

    Reply
    1. chuckholmes Post author

      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!

      Chuck

      Reply
  17. Amy Skalicky

    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.

    Reply
    1. chuckholmes Post author

      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.

      Chuck

      Reply
  18. Brian

    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.

    Brian

    Reply
    1. chuckholmes Post author

      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.

      Chuck

      Reply
  19. Lewis

    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.

    Lewis

    Reply
    1. chuckholmes Post author

      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.

      Chuck

      Reply
  20. Ann

    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.

    Reply
  21. Kit

    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.

    Reply
  22. Erika

    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

    Reply
  23. Dewitt

    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.

    Reply
    1. chuckholmes Post author

      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.

      Chuck

      Reply
  24. Maria

    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.

    Reply
  25. Diamond Grant

    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.

    Reply
    1. chuckholmes Post author

      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.

      Chuck

      Reply
  26. Networkmarketing

    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.

    Reply
    1. chuckholmes Post author

      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.

      Chuck

      Reply

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