Have you ever been drawn into one of those multi-level marketing meetings that promise to make you rich working only a few hours a week?
The reputation of the industry as a whole tends to stand about two baby steps above scam artist. However, these companies are not necessarily all bad – just greatly misunderstood, according to local business consultant and author Hawkeye Richardson.
In his newly released book, "MLM – Is Multi-Level Marketing Right for You?," Richardson identifies the pros and cons of such endeavors, and why they may or may not be a good fit for each person. His research found the topic is Googled one million times a month, and approximately 99 percent of online information offers only the positive points of MLM.
"In the other 1 percent, they say they're total scams and fraud. There's nothing in between, which is what my book is," explained Richardson.
He defines an MLM as a company that sells products or services through independent representatives. In a majority of cases, the greatest potential to make money comes from recruiting other associates, and the higher one sits among the tiers, the more money there is to be made. Some companies, such as Mary Kay and Amway, offer a good enough product line that it's possible to make a living just by selling the product.
Typically, MLMs put on recruiting events that are flashy, full of hype and talk up the big payoffs.
"I wouldn't mind all that, but when companies advertise that anyone can do it, that's not true," said Richardson. His intention in the book is not to take away anyone's hopes, but to help people decide if they have the aptitude for this type of business. "The essence of the book is, you're not a bad person if you don't have a skill set."
Richardson has four goals for the book: "To cut through the promotional hype; to give a person a set of criteria to self-evaluate the likelihood of being successful; if they're already in, here's what to do to be more successful; and if it's not working, that doesn't mean you're a failure." He found through his own experiences with MLMs that it's important to have realistic expectations going in, and to understand that expectations help define success.
Part One covers items to consider before joining an MLM. It encourages readers to ask themselves questions such as their reasons for joining an MLM, whether they have the right characteristics for this type of work, and what is the product they will be selling. Richardson discusses reasons other than money that may attract people to an MLM, such as social interaction, business training and personal development.
Those already in the business can skip to the next section, where they'll find suggestions on how to be more effective. Chapters in Part Two include: How Do You Feel About Making Cold Calls?; How the 80/20 Rule Applies; and Effective Networking. He stresses the importance of having connections, and he reveals why he doesn't believe electronic social networking groups are a good place to generate business.
If you think there's nothing to lose by trying out an MLM company, think again. According to Richardson, most require buy-ins of approximately $500, and there are the usual costs of running a business, plus travel expenses to attend conferences. The book gives the reader the low down on start-up costs and other important considerations.
"It's almost like religion," Richardson said. "You have to be totally, 100 percent committed and believe in it; it's an emotional buy."
Despite the serious nature of the book, Richardson claims that one of his main objectives in all his work is to get people to lighten up. After all, 10 years ago he dropped his birth name, Randall, because he couldn't relate to it, and legally changed it to Hawkeye, for his ability to "see things in the world."
He uses humor in his books, his speeches, in his blog and on his radio show. "My coaching and consulting, it's the same," he said. "I help people stop and pay attention to what's important and to think and to laugh."
To learn more about Richardson's previous books, "How to Advertise Your Business More Effectively" and "Getting Your 'It' Together," visit www.hawkeyefocus.com. His MLM book is available both on his website and at www.amazon.com. Readers who need immediate help and can't wait for shipping can order the electronic version from his site's bookstore page for $9.95. Download the portable digital file and read the book on your computer or print it out.
Also, listen to Richardson co-host "Taking Care of Business" with Jeff Jones on Saturdays at noon on KVOI-1030 AM.