iStock_000040077762SmallA couple of weeks ago, I started a new LinkedIn group for entrepreneurs in the Sioux Falls area. There was an individual that I was connected to on LinkedIn, but had never met in real-life, that had joined the group. This person called me out-of-the blue one morning and asked if I was open to “new business opportunities.” I said that I am. This person immediately went into a script for a multi-level marketing company that sells anti-aging products and referred to it as an “exciting ground floor opportunity.” I told this person that I generally don’t accept solicitations regarding business opportunities unless they come from a trusted source. They responded along the lines of “Don’t you know what a ground floor opportunity is?” I hung up on this person soon after.

I’m not writing this post to shame this individual. This is only an example of the many pitches I’ve received to become part of a multi-level marketing organization during the last several years. They almost always come from people that I barely know and pretend to be good friends with me when they make their pitch. I’ve always found these types of pitches offensive because I know that they really don’t care about me and won’t actually listen to anything I have to say. Until recently, I haven’t put a ton of thought about why pitches for multi-level marketing businesses are so offensive.  If you take the time to think about what people who are pitching multi-level marketing companies are actually asking you to do, you’ll realize how offensive those types of pitches actually are. While their pitch will likely be about a “ground floor” opportunity for you to “make a bunch of money”, what they’re really saying is this:

“I want you to come work for this company as an independent contractor selling products that you don’t believe in so that I can make money off of your sales and referrals. Most people that partner with this company don’t end up making any money, but if you do make money, it will be far less than you would be making at your job or in your business. Also, you’ll be required to harass your friends and family members into becoming a distributor of products that you don’t believe in as well, likely damaging those relationships in the process. Oh, and you’ll have to write a check for $250.00 for the opportunity to do so.”

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If you do want to pitch someone that you don’t already know well on something, do it the right way. Try to have a mutual friend or business contact introduce you to the person that you want to pitch. Instead of finding someone’s phone number and calling them out of the blue or pitching them at a party or another event, send them an email introducing yourself and ask if they’d be interested in a phone call or meeting relating to your opportunity. A pitch about a business opportunity should never be a surprise to the person receiving it. The pitch should just be the last of many conversations you have with an individual if you’re trying to get them to go into business with you. If the person you’re pitching says they’re firmly not interested, don’t make a clandestine effort to overcome their objections. You’re likely just going to make the person angry.

I won’t go on about all of the problems with the multi-level marketing industry in detail, since it’s already been done so well by others. If you want to work for a multi-level marketing company as an independent contractor and think that’s your best opportunity, more power to you. Just leave me out of it.