Multi-level (Network) Marketing 101: Fake it till you don’t make it

Updated: Jul 17, 2020

Multi-level marketing businesses and vague entrepreneur training using a “sales funnel” method that entices you by presenting the ideal life you want, has been a topic I have been exploring and researching for a couple of years. I get it, things are hard out there, money is tight, and we do what we need to do. Maybe you want to stay home with your kids or quit your 9–5. Perhaps you love essential oils, skincare, make-up, nutrition, and you found something that aligns with your values. MLM’s and online entrepreneur trainings are pretty good at honing in on pain points to get people to buy in.

Full disclosure, in the not so distant past, I too, went down the road of multi-level marketing. I also wanted to bring in some extra money, and what they promise felt tangible and doable, especially if you believe in the product or training, and I did. I was naive when stepping foot into this area, but I quickly realized that the hype of these businesses mimicked an evangelist preaching to a congregation, except this time it was essential oils, vitamins, a makeup line, or a sales funnel entrepreneur training, easily interchangeable, and concerning for many reasons. This was at a time in my life when I was in a large amount of debt, and it is not a coincidence that I was feeling vulnerable and worried that I would not be able to continue as is unless I made more money. I had also just broken up with my longterm boyfriend, and was feeling lost and confused about what to do next. The MLM and sales funnel entrepreneur training offer up the perfect solution, and they do an excellent job of it. Seeing pictures of “perfect” families, lavish holidays, flawless faces smiling into the sun, creating community, six-figure freedom chants. Why not? If they can do it, so can I.

My goal isn’t to shame people who decide to go this route. There are thousands upon thousands of people that pile into convention centres every year with cranked to the hilts hype music, the glitz and glam, and no expenses spared by your MLM business of choice. Usually people are there with the goal to create a community with like-minded people; some people are working through a life transition, or want to get pumped up about selling a product or training that will set them up for a better life, but most of the time people are looking for an alternative way to earn money, sometimes people are in desperate situations, and that clouds their judgement. My goal is to spark a truthful, hard conversation about how these business models can be misleading, confusing, and how despite people’s best intentions for it not to hurt their relationships, and violate people’s boundaries, often, it does.

I see the benefits in seeking out a business model that provides more flexibility, to “be your own boss,” but you are not your own boss, you are a sales rep — an independent contractor for a million or multi-million company making people at the top very rich. I see its glaring flaws, numerous people do. Sadly, people are so desperate to find something to fit their lifestyle that discernment goes out the window. A need for more cash flow, to make things work, that motivator trumps all, and these businesses know that. People have children to provide for and bills to pay. Being sold the idea of financial freedom, to be able to work from home and outside of a standard business structure is seductive. That desire can be used to manipulate people into going all in, and it works.

I have plenty of experience in the realm of online business. You know, “boss babe life” and all that? All jokes aside, I have twelve years of experience being in online entrepreneurial spaces, and in the wellness industry for even more. I created an online lifestyle business, dabbled with nutrition coaching, started up and sold a medicinal tea company, and currently run a writing platform with over 24 thousand followers, all while working as a Massage Therapist. I have been self-employed for most of my working life. I have developed a keen gut response to all of this.

I want to lay down facts so that people who feel a gut response like I did many years ago, have concrete validation. I am unsettled when people sign on with these businesses, throw caution to the wind and spout off misinformation while lacking the educational background to be advising people on critical life and health decisions and offering their products while doing so.

These businesses have a team to masterfully curate the image of their brand, to target certain people and align them with utopian verbiage that is easy to regurgitate. They put out fires swiftly, pay large amounts of money to highly educated doctors, celebrities, influencers, and scientists to preach their philosophies and praise their products, not to mention the lawsuits we don’t hear about that go away quickly and quietly. People are taught to “go all in”, to shoot for six figures or more, “the world is your oyster” mentality and use shame-based tactics when you don’t meet your goals. Keeping people focused on their “why” can make them lose sight of what is really going on.

Desperation and uncertain times breed a rise in being less perceptive; these businesses inspire you to fully trust that this is the right choice because “they said so,” no quest