Intentional Networking – MLMs Poisoned the Well
For many women, the first introduction we had to business, entrepreneurship, and networking came through multilevel marketing companies (MLM’s) which may have created a tainted perception that networking is about being pushy and sleazy.
In this episode, Sam & Karyn deep dive into why you might feel uncomfortable networking and making sales based on your past experiences, plus steps you can take to reframe how you do business into an intentional, permission-based way.
Episode 23: Intentional Networking - MLMs Poisoned The Well
Karyn Paige, Sam Munoz
Sam Munoz 00:00
If we’re making these like brain connections between that style of marketing and like, that’s what’s required to make sales like No wonder there’s so much fear around feeling sleazy and salesy, and all of those things, because that’s what we’ve been exposed to. And we’ve been on the receiving end of that maybe, and it didn’t feel so good. And so if I’m being told the network and market, I don’t want to, because I don’t want to be like that. But what’s really interesting is that the fundamentals, networking, being about relationships and marketing, being about promoting your services, those are tried and true and important parts of running a business just because the MLM industry has taken those over, morph them, transformed them and then put them out into the world in this very icky kind of way, does not mean that they are still not what is required to run a business, we can just do it differently. We don’t have to do it in that way. And we can start to re connect those synapses in our brain when we think networking and we can start thinking something that feels more authentic and trustworthy and transparent and honest, instead of sleazy salesy, all of those things. Welcome to making website magic where we empower women to step boldly into their web design businesses follow their intuition and claim the success they’re worthy of. I’m Sam Munoz.
Karyn Paige 01:21
And I’m Karyn page, where the tech wizards behind Sam Munoz consulting on the making website Magic School of Business. We’re two women here to talk about what it actually takes to run a web design business that’s aligned with your vision.
Sam Munoz 01:34
Spoiler alert, it probably isn’t what you think it is ready to hear about everything from refining your business vision, networking with intention and creating a magical client experience.
Karyn Paige 01:43
Let’s do it.
Sam Munoz 01:50
Well, hello, hello. Hello, Karyn.
Karyn Paige 01:53
Hey, Sam, how’s it going?
Sam Munoz 01:55
it’s great. It is it is really great. And today’s topic is also going to be really great. And I think we’re going to be busting myths and really shifting perspectives, opening eyes, because we’re talking about how intentional networking isn’t sleazy. It’s just that those darn mlms have poisoned the well for us. Oh, whoo.
Karyn Paige 02:18
Dee, this is a juicy conversation we’re about to get into. I’m actually really excited to go there. Because there’s a lot of little nuances, right, when it comes to running business comm some marketing comes in networking. And I think it’s worth pointing out what we’re doing, what some of the experiences we maybe have had in the past could look like and how we can move forward and really be intentional, authentic, genuine with the types of marketing and networking that we as web designers can do.
Sam Munoz 02:49
Yes, yes, yes, yes. Now before we get into that, let’s read a review of the podcast. If you have not left a review yet, and you love the podcast, we would so appreciate it. This one says that the podcast is nothing short of magical, which Thank you. It says Sam and Karyn are bringing fire with the making website magic podcast. They care deeply about the success of women in the web development industry. And every minute of this podcast reflects their heart for helping women. And I honestly feel like this is such a good review for this particular episode. Because multi level marketing MLM, truly target women in particular, and we’ll get into that in this episode. And so it’s really important, this has been on our hearts to talk about and to maybe open your eyes to why you might be influenced in a particular way so that we can help you move forward, have more impact, grow your business, and all of those great things. So thank you so much for leaving that review. And let’s just start talking about how mlms have kind of ruined this idea of intentional networking and what we can do about that moving forward. So first and foremost, why are we talking about this? And why is this important?
Karyn Paige 03:57
So we’re talking about this, because a huge component of running your business is marketing it like literally letting people know that you have a business promoting your services. And another huge part of what we do as web designers as like one to one service providers is building relationships, which is networking, right? So we have these two, like very basic fundamental principles of business, which is networking, and marketing. And those are required for our businesses. That’s how we get clients. And that’s where it’s required for the longevity.
Sam Munoz 04:36
Because without networking without marketing, people don’t know that we have services, they don’t know where to find us. They don’t know who we are, they don’t know what we offer all of those things. So these are like inherent like basic principles when it comes to running a business and actually being successful sharing about your work, etc. I think again, like we’ve talked about this so much on the podcast, this idea that like we have to do these things, but sometimes it feels easier. Tonight, but I think that there’s like another level to it right? It’s not that women are out here being lazy. It might be that there’s some fear involved in engaging in networking and engaging in marketing.
Karyn Paige 05:13
Yes. 100 right. And so started to put to connect a little bit of dots, right? Because when we’re talking to women in business, who are very uncomfortable with marketing and networking, the phrase, I don’t want to feel sleazy. I don’t want to do all of these weird things that feel kind of almost like predatory or like annoying or
Sam Munoz 05:33
obnoxious. Or salesy icky, grimy,
Karyn Paige 05:37
icky, like all this stuff. And so it’s like, I started to question like, why is it that so many women associate marketing and networking with like sleaziness, or some sort of trickery, or just like pushy, Miss invasive,
Sam Munoz 05:51
that’s another word that comes up is like, just like intruding? And yes, these things are coming up, particularly for women.
Karyn Paige 05:58
And it’s worth pointing out that most women and as well marginalized people, right, our first introduction to the world of business, and like entrepreneurship, and running our own businesses can come from multilevel marketing can come from our mom’s co worker, bringing in her Avon lady products on a Sunday afternoon, and we had like, cheese and grapes. And we did face masks, and then you know, there’s the pitch to buy the products. And then there’s the pitch to join our mom’s co workers. Avon team, right? And then every month she’s sending you the Avon catalog.
Sam Munoz 06:33
is Mary Kay, another one? Yes. When I remember from my childhood was like all the Mary Kay stuff, How interesting. Like, that’s probably like I was a child, right? That was probably one of my first introductions to business, and especially not even just business in general. But like, networking, and like selling and like being sold to.
Karyn Paige 06:52
And so a piece of that truly comes from historically women and marginalized people, like people of color, not being granted access to traditional forms of entrepreneurship, right, because of discrimination. So it’s like a woman couldn’t just go to a bank and get a business loan, because up until like, the 70s, women weren’t even allowed to have their own checking accounts without a man co signing on it. Right. So how are you supposed to fulfill any entrepreneurial spirit, have any financial independence have a business if you’re literally not granted access to these spaces, right. So that’s where we kind of have this history of communities who are discriminated against finding other ways to do it. And that’s where multi level marketing comes in is like, Hey, you can have a business, on your own terms in your community, on your hours with the people, you know, door to door if you want to. And it’s really social. And it’s fun. You’re like having parties and networking and socializing. So when you put all those pieces together, it’s like, that’s why we’re here in the 21st century. And there’s a whole generation of young women who want to start businesses but don’t want to participate in quote, unquote, like sleazy practices, because it’s been happening for like generations.
Sam Munoz 08:05
Right? Right, exactly. And that being like one of the first exposures or certainly whether or not it was someone’s first exposure or not, I bet you a majority of people that are listening right now can raise their hand and say that they have experienced or been exposed to some sort of multi level marketing in their lifetime, whether they be in it or a part of it, or on the receiving end of some of these practices, and it is very predatory. I think that that’s like, the really important thing here is that by nature, because of the way they operate, and we’re going to talk about what they do, in particular, when it comes to marketing, because of the way they operate, they kind of have to be predatory. Like, that’s how these businesses are run. And so if we’re associated, we’re making these like brain connections between that style of marketing and like, that’s what’s required to make sales like No wonder there’s so much fear around feeling sleazy, and salesy, and all of those things, because that’s what we’ve been exposed to. And we’ve been on the receiving end of that, maybe, and it didn’t feel so good. And so if I’m being told the networking market, I don’t want to, because I don’t want to be like that. But what’s really interesting is that the fundamentals going back to what you said before networking, being about relationships, and marketing, being about promoting your services, those are tried and true and important parts of running a business just because the MLM industry has taken those over, morph them, transformed them and then put them out into the world in this very icky kind of way, does not mean that they are still not what is required to run a business, we can just do it differently. We don’t have to do it in that way. And we can start to re connect those synapses in our brain when we think networking and we can start thinking something that feels more authentic and trustworthy and transparent and honest, instead of sleazy salesy, all of those things. So we’re gonna have to like obviously there’s work that has to be done within our own brain chemistry to help us reconnect those associations. And hopefully we can make a little bit of a dent and progress during this podcast.
Karyn Paige 10:08
Yes, Sam. I’m like, I’ve got like goosebumps and shivers right now because of like, yeah, it’s, these are fundamental things, I just got really twisted. And like, they drifted away from just the core essence, right? by mlms. But like, let’s bring it back. Because it’s part of doing business as part of running business. Simple as that.
Sam Munoz 10:29
So let’s talk about what mlms actually do. And things that we have either experienced ourselves or situations that we kind of are associating with mlms and marketing, so that we can kind of make those distinctions between what mlms do and what when we say here on the podcast, and in our programs and stuff. When we talk about marketing, those are two completely different things. So let’s start with like the MLM side thing.
Karyn Paige 10:53
So the first thing that I that comes to mind for me is cold reach outs, like somebody comes up to you, you’re not interested, you’re not warm, you’re not looking. And they’re like, hey, let me talk to you for a second. I have a full on experience with that when I was in college, y’all like I’m talking like, 19, I’m walking to a class and this man stops me this young man, and he gives me his business card for his MLM. And it’s like, hey, Halevy. I have like, What? Who are you? Like? What? Are you trying to flirt with you trying to like recruit me? I know. But we’ll talk about like, the coldest of cold reach outs possible
Sam Munoz 11:29
not even a little dance have a network? Yeah, no. The other thing that is, I think, to me is probably like taking that in person experience. And bringing it online is like the whole become friends with people on Facebook, ask them like some weird personal questions like, Oh, I see, this girl has a daughter. In her profile picture. I’m gonna like ask how her daughter’s doing. And then I’m just gonna like slide in there with my like, super long pitch, being like, you need these oils. And then also join my team like that is a cold that was bugged me.
Karyn Paige 12:02
Yes. So you brought up something key in there, too. It’s a three fold thing. It’s getting to know somebody on like a personal term that has just general like general socializing and friendship building, then try to sell them a product, then try to recruit them to also sell the products for you. So that’s a huge, that’s a huge thing. It’s not just, it’s not enough to just Hey, buy this product that I sell it. The next thing is, you’re really social, you’re really fun. You know, you could do this too, you could start your own business to like planting the seed, this idea in somebody’s mind when they weren’t even there.
Sam Munoz 12:36
That is what the multi levels of the marketing is about. Right? That’s why it’s like called MLM is because you are like, literally creating multiple levels within your quote unquote, network to then sell and you make money when you recruit other people. Like, that’s what makes it you know, have you, I hope that someone listening to this has seen the office because Michael Scott, he like, I don’t know, he joins This is an MLM, right? He joins us MLM. And then he’s like, talking to Jim and Pam, and Ryan, and he’s trying to, like, get them interested in it. And he’s like, to cut out
Karyn Paige 13:13
so much. No, keep it I give it to this, I’m covering my mouth, try not to like laugh and like bleed through the mic, but keep going.
Sam Munoz 13:20
So he is like explaining how it works. And he’s like, oh, when you join me, you’ll be here and like, then the next person will be here. And then Jim’s like, Can I just like, draw this out for a minute. And he’s like, it’s not a pyramid scheme. It’s not a pyramid scheme. And he like draws it. And he writes everybody’s names down. And it makes like, a perfect try. And it’s like, that’s what this is, it is like it is about the people underneath and like making more money from them. And so because of that, you see people as a commodity themselves, not just like purchasing the product. And so it creates this whole weird dynamic with the relationship where it’s like, we’re like friends, you know, like, come over to my house, like, do this party together. It’ll be super fun. Now you have friends, right? And like, Who doesn’t want to have friends that have a common connection? Right? So that’s where it gets really like predatory like the breeding ground, especially for women. Like I saw that so much in like the military community as well. Just like you’re lonely. You don’t have friends, you just move to a new place. And like what a better way to make friends and like other women who are like, you know what I mean, like it feels very much pulling on the heartstrings of like, wanting and desiring community. And then we have things like Lula row that happened.
Karyn Paige 14:33
Yeah, I’m just gonna leave it at that, because that’s a whole other like spiral that I don’t want to get into like the specifics of it, right? Yeah. If you’re curious, there’s lots of content out there that you can look up for how those things play out. But you said something earlier in it’s the the desire for community, which can be very enticing for even like paying attention to mlms right, but also, it’s this persuasion tactic. Like, it’s not enough for me to just sell you the product that I sell, and keep coming back to you month after month and letting you know that I have new products or you know, read up on the skincare product that you ran out of, it’s like, I’m going to persuade you to get started doing what I do, so that I can get a cut off of what you bring in the marketing tactic is go persuade people that had no desire to do this didn’t even know this was a thing. We’re really interested in starting a business specifically weren’t interested in starting a business selling these particular products. But you work them down, you wear them down enough with like these really persuasive like network marketing tactics, where it’s like, oh, yeah, that does sound like a good idea, I can do this, I should do this, I will take your idea and make it my own, even though it has nothing to do with anything that I was even considering for my own trajectory. And now you’re kind of in this thing.
Sam Munoz 15:58
The reason that this is all important is because I think that this is where the lines get blurred between that style of marketing, that style of like reach outs and persuasion, and what we talked about on the podcast about you needing to build a network, because you don’t have to do it that way. And so I can understand why you would feel afraid to go out and network, if that’s what you thought, that’s how you thought you had to do it. And that’s how people would feel when they received your networking, I would understand why you would be like, I don’t want to feel sleazy, I don’t want someone calling me out and saying that, like I like cold pitch to them. I mean, nobody wants to feel like that. But that’s why we’re not doing those things. And I think probably like the biggest thing, right, and to just draw a very fine line between like the differences I get reached out to on Facebook constantly by people I don’t know. But more importantly, by people I do know, that are just like random people I went to high school with and they are like reaching out to me about their MLM stuff. That’s not what intentional networking is about when it comes to running your business, you’re creating in your business, an intentional, purposeful, specific network of people. Your goal with your networking in your business is to create a network of people that are connected to your ideal client that will help you know you reach your ideal client and is filled with your ideal client. It’s not about your sister’s best friend from high school being in your network. It’s about the specificity. And that is so important because it makes everything clear.
Karyn Paige 17:37
Yes, yes. Yes, it’s the specificity. Right? So let’s use the analogy that we love on this podcast about the coffee shop, the web designer for coffee shop owners, the intentional networking around someone who designs websites for coffee shop owners is so cool talk to people who own coffee shops, correct specificity, not go talk to your best friend from high schools, little Bay, because in Utah who’s out here like selling Panera Bread, you know what I mean? Like you try to try to convince her that she should try to open a coffee shop. So you can build a website for her. No, no, no, no, it’s like the people who are already doing the thing. And you want to serve those people that the specificity and that’s the intention, and that removes the sleaziness from it.
Sam Munoz 18:20
And I think what’s important about that type of dynamic is that it positions you as a person in a business relationship, right? It’s very clear. This is not like Undercover Boss, right? We’re not walking into these relationships being like, I’m like a random person who’s like maybe interested in coffee, you’re like, Hey, I’m a web designer for coffee shop owners like there is no if ands or buts like we are not trying to be friends necessarily. Like if that happens organically like great. Love that for you, girl. But like, if we’re going in there into these relationships with very clear intentions, and we’re transparent about that. It’ll be obvious like this is a business relationship. And that is fantastic. And we’re all on the same page. And I love what you mentioned about, they also are in a place to need what you offer now or later, or whatever, or they’re again, or they’re connected to the people that need what you you have, but you’re not like going in saying you should start a business so that I can build you a website, like that would be the same. That would be like what you would be doing in that case, which is not what we’re doing here. Yep. Would that be weird?
Karyn Paige 19:24
It would be weird. It would be weird. And yes, so it’s the specificity. And it’s the transparency is like absolutely putting the cards on the table. Like this is why I’m talking to you right now. And then the Yeah, the other piece of it, too, is like the marketing pieces are because you’re trying to expand your friendship network, right? You’re not trying to have 50 people that you can invite to your next party. It’s like if you have a pleasant, cordial, friendly relationship with the people that you’re networking with. That’s great. That’s cherry on top, but you’re trying to expand your business network.
Sam Munoz 20:00
Right, which is why there’s like a difference between like being personable and like having that very kind, you know, warm quality. And there’s like a distinction between that and like acting like your friend so that you can move forward in a business relationship. That’s where we’re going into the MLM territory where it’s like, Are we friends? Are you trying to get me to pay you? I don’t understand, being clear and transparent. So when you’re thinking about networking, and going out and talking to people, it’s okay to be very, very abundantly clear about what you do. And maybe even like, why you’re reaching out in the first place, right? And not coming from a place of persuasion so much as a place of like, I’m here as a resource for you. And like, if you want help, ask me, or whatever, you know what I mean, like that. It’s the positioning of how you, you structure it. And I know, I also want to take this one step further into this idea of it being a permission based.
Karyn Paige 20:53
Yes. So if the sleazy tactic is called reach outs kind of barging in on somebody when they weren’t expecting it, and just barraging them with your pitches and your sales, the opposite of that is permission based, which is asking the questions. Hey, is it okay? If I asked you a question? Hey, I’m a web designer for coffee shops, you own a coffee shop? I’m trying to create services for businesses like yours, is it? Okay, if I ask you some questions,
Sam Munoz 21:21
then the great thing about that is somebody can say, No, somebody can say, you know, I’m not actually interested in that. You know what, no problem. I’m so happy to have met you. I would love if you do in the future. You know, you’re looking for someone for your website, or you have questions, you can reach out to me perfect. There you go. There is no like barging through the door, you are knocking, you are knocking and you’re waiting to be you know, allowed in, you cannot feel sleazy, if you’re doing it in that way, right. Obviously, anybody can receive it, how they want to receive it, because they have their own stories about that. But your intentions are clear. And you are also asking permission before moving forward. And I love that example of like, may I ask you about your website? I’m trying to work on, you know, work to specify in this industry. Can I ask you a little bit about your website? Would that be okay? So I can get to know it a little bit more. And even like it comes up in the discovery calls too, because we don’t advocate in our program and like how we teach about discovery calls we don’t like necessarily advocate for the idea of like, this comes up also in things like discovery calls, because it’s not so much about like making the sale on the call. It’s about like assessing what they need, understanding how you can help them and then asking them, would you like me to create a proposal for you based off of what we’ve discussed today? Not sleazy, not salesy. You’re asking permission. And when you ask permission, you empower the person on the other side to make decisions for themselves, which cannot be predatory. predatory is forcing and persuading, and like wearing someone down to where they’re like, Alright, I’ll say yes, or you stop messaging me versus asking and empowering.
Karyn Paige 23:01
And like, let’s be real with that. Okay, so permission based networking, and marketing equals consent, persuasive, predatory tactics, remove consent. And as women, we are very aware of having consent and feeling empowered to say yes or no. And we probably have experiences where our consent was removed from us, and we felt coerced. And we felt persuaded. So in honor of empowering ourselves as women. And also if we decide that the people we want to work with are also women, it is in service of consent, that we lead with the transparency, we ask permission, so we don’t feel like we are being coerced and persuaded. Right, and
Sam Munoz 23:47
then we feel honestly, when you when you sell in that way, and when you network in that way, and when you market in that way, you show up more authentically. And you also know that you are building trust with your community with the people that you’re speaking with. And you can go into a future project knowing like this person really wanted to work with me, they chose to work with me, I didn’t have to force them and pressure them and make them feel bad for saying no, and you know, make them feel bad for not responding to me right away. Like I really lead from a place of empowerment for my client and for myself. So I get to go into this new client relationship feeling excited, and that they they also want to be here. And that’s amazing. And truly, like when we’re starting to unlearn these ideas, like it’s there’s a lot there. And so I definitely think we should talk about like, where do we go from here like now that we’ve kind of laid out this issue and and really drawn some very specific differences between mlms and intentionally networking for your business, like where do we go from here to start unraveling the connection and then re connecting our brain chemistry
Karyn Paige 25:00
So it fully starts with awareness. It fully starts with noticing, right? Like the awareness of your experiences when it comes to networking, sales, marketing, right? And then understanding like, why you might be feeling sleazy. Okay, that’s fair. That’s legitimate. So the awareness of somebody telling me that the way I need to market my business, go talk to people, but I associate talking to people with this like, sleazy experience that I had with somebody who’s trying to sell me MLM stuff. So I don’t want to do it. Okay, that piece right there is very important just for like, foundational start,
Sam Munoz 25:35
right? So like, maybe there’s like an exercise there of like, think of a time when you felt like you were being sold to in a sleazy way. And just like, I would say, like, write down how you felt experiencing that. What was the situation Did you ask to be sold to? Did you give consent for that conversation to happen? Did you know this person, you know, like, think about all the things all the factors that contributed to the way that you felt when you felt like you were being sold to in a sleazy way to kind of like, make it very clear that like, Okay, well, so we don’t we just don’t do that thing, right? Like, we don’t do it that way. And instead, maybe you can even think like, well, what, what would I have liked to happen? Like, how would I have liked this conversation to go, because then you can embody option two, you can embody intentional networking for your business instead of predatory marketing tactics.
Karyn Paige 26:25
Another piece of the awareness and the understanding on the flip side is like, ask yourself, if you’re doing some of these persuasive tactics, like are you not operating from a permission based place? Are you the person who is sending out the cold pitches? Are you the person who is not asking for consent? And then somebody says, No, and you’re not taking no for an answer? Are you the person who’s like side swiping somebody who’s not expecting to hear from you, and who’s completely unrelated to your services, or your your ideal clients and your ideal projects,
Sam Munoz 27:01
it like you’re doing a little bit of self analysis and saying, like, maybe the reason that I’m feeling sleazy is because maybe I am being sleazy. And this is just a great lesson and reminder that like you get to change course, you get to correct course, you get to do things differently and better and do things in alignment and operate from a place of true trust in yourself. And allowing you’re honestly like trusting the person on the other side to make a good enough decision for themselves. Like that’s where the permission base really happens is where you can trust that the person on the other side of the conversation knows what’s best for them. So you don’t have to coerce them, you just give them the facts, and you allow them to make a decision for themselves. And again, it feels better when they do that anyway. And so if you are feeling a little off or feeling maybe a little bit exposed in this conversation, you’re like, oh, that stung a little bit. I think it’s because I might be engaging in some of these practices, you get to decide to change your mind and how you operate and flip it because you’re the owner of the business, you’re not in an MLM they don’t get to decide for you what you do, you get to decide for yourself. And that’s, that’s the beauty of this, right?
Karyn Paige 28:07
Yeah, I’m gonna wrap it up there. But it makes me think of this Nina Simone song, where she says, I’m just a soul whose intentions are good, Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood. If your intentions are good, and you’re transparent, and your permission base, you will never be misunderstood and your marketing and sales tactics.
Sam Munoz 28:25
And if people do misunderstand you, then they’re not the right people. For you anyway, like, that’s the whole idea of like, people can have their opinions. But if they’re not people that matter to you in terms of not necessarily in terms of like a business transaction, but if like, they’re not your ideal client, then like, their opinion is great. But we’re focused on this particular network. And so it’s okay.
Karyn Paige 28:47
Yeah, like you can rest assured that your conscience is clear, because your intentions were good,
Sam Munoz 28:51
correct. Thank you.
Karyn Paige 28:52
You got it.
Sam Munoz 28:55
Well, I think this was a great episode. I love those calls to action to just do some deeper thinking and really explore how you are engaging in your networking and marketing. And if you feel like your eyes have been opened a little bit, I would actually encourage you to go back to some of our older episodes that have to do with intentional networking and marketing and really listen to those with the lens of Oh, so like, I don’t actually have to be sleazy and salesy. I can do these things and feel good about it while I’m doing them. That is your secondary call to action after you do some of that thought work.
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