Guest post – The perils of the networking group

I’m a mum of 2. Like so many other mums I wanted the option of flexible working and so started my own (non-MLM!) business last year. It means I can now work from home 3 days a week and the other 2 I get to spend with my 2-year-old and 4-year-old. The flip side is that the majority of my weekdays are spent with absolutely no adult conversation at all, which can drive me a little crazy…

I’d been considering finding a local networking group for a while. Not only for the chance to meet new people and have a conversation that doesn’t involve Peppa Pig, but the possibility of getting more business down the line. And food. One that involved food was a must.

giphy-downsized

My research found that there are quite a few networking groups in my area. Yet one that was at the right time (breakfast groups are not great when you’ve got little ones to get to nursery) and on a day that I work (so many are on Fridays!) was hard to find, but last month I came across what looked like the perfect one. Their aim is to ‘inspire and empower business women’ and they met at lunchtime. Perfect.

I was given the warmest welcome when I arrived. The group organiser handed me my name tag, showed me where I’d be sitting for lunch and then guided me round to a table where a few women were gathered watching a presentation. She said, “Come and find out about this water.”

That was enough to get my spidey senses tingling.

I’m pretty savvy at spotting a network marketing scheme thanks to Timeless Vie, and Kangen Water is one that I’m familiar with. I’d never seen the full demo in person before, and wow! I was blown away. Comparisons of bottled water with battery acid and implications that drinking this water means you won’t get cancer were just two aspects of the show. One of the other ladies watching seemed very impressed, oohing and aahing in all the right places. I later found out she was a Forever Living rep.

Towards the end of the demo the lady next to me turned and asked if I was a new member too, and we got chatting. She was a lovely lady who wanted to work fewer hours, so had switched to working 4 days a week and started her own business to make some extra money. The Forever Living rep overheard and asked what she was doing. Yep, another network marketer, this time with Younique. The Forever Living rep was delighted! “We NEED YOU! Our previous Younique presenter has gone back to her job in HR so we don’t have one anymore!” As it turned out, my business was not so interesting to these ladies and so I went off in search of a drink before sitting down for lunch.

Then followed the 30-second introductions. Only paid members of the group get to speak for their allotted 30 seconds. Fair enough. So we went round the room. 22 ladies in total. Some amazing businesses. Accountant, artisan baker, photographer, insurance broker, legal services, website designer. And mixed in with them were 6 network marketers. In addition to Kangen Water, Younique and Forever Living was also Phoenix Cards, Arbonne and Captain Tortue. During their 30 second pitch, every single MLM rep bar the Phoenix Cards lady mentioned their business opportunity. Some made claims about the income you would make, which I’m sure you know is only permitted when it relates to an identifiable person and is able to be verified…

The more I listened to them the more infuriated I became.

The fact is that the schemes these reps signed up to won’t work for them unless they recruit more people. So they come along to prospect a group of genuine business women. Women who have worked hard to develop a product or service that is their own. Women who strive to ensure they are offering the best they can. Women who have given up precious working time to meet new people and make new connections.

These are women who have not come along to be targeted. To be offered the chance to pay £199 for a business in a box. To be asked to sell overpriced products to their friends and family. To exploit their friendships and relationships for their own financial benefit, and the benefit of their upline. To get them into a situation where they are more likely to lose money than make money.

Timeless Vie’s MLM-free guarantee is a fantastic way of ensuring that you’re visiting an online space that is free from this type of prospecting. I’m just hoping I can find an in person networking group that can offer the same guarantee too…

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One comment

  1. That’s a great idea, a real life MLM ban. I bet these sorts of groups have suffered because of deluded MLM bots. I’m sure some business people don’t join these groups because there might be a load of bots botting.

    Like

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