Have you ever walked into a room and felt like you were wearing a sign that said, “I Don’t Belong Here.”? Has your stomach ever knotted up because you know someone will figure out you’re faking it? This happened to me last weekend when my mom and I attended a retreat sponsored by the network marketing company she’s a part of. She loves The Product, and I love The Product, too, but I am adamantly against network marketing as a career for myself.
Which is funny because I’m a blogger, and I hope that blogging will supplement my household income someday. More on that later…
Even though I’m not interested in a career with this company, I attended on the promise that this retreat would be less about The Product and more about The Power of the Dream. Mom paid $50 for my ticket (plus my hotel room, meals, and gas), but I still had to force myself to go. For those of you who don’t know me, let me paint you a picture: I am an introvert, I hate crowds, I hate loud noises, I hate surprises, and if everyone is doing something, that’s one more reason for me to not do it. You can imagine my attitude as I walked into an estrogen-filled room filled with 2,000 Type-A, extroverted women.
Here’s where the plot thickens: Remember how I said it’s funny that I’m against network marketing as a career? Besides the fact that I actually learned something (and halfway enjoyed myself) on this retreat, I also figured out that many of the principles behind succeeding in network marketing are the principles behind succeeding in blogging! I really put my foot in my mouth this time, but while I’m still pulling toenails out from between my teeth, let me share three lessons I learned from these network marketers.
1. Apply the Parado Principle (aka The 80/20 Principle)
I had heard this before, but perhaps you haven’t: 80% of all the wealth in the world is held by 20% of the people. That’s the Parado Principle, and it applies to more than just wealth. In network marketing, 80% of all profits are brought in by 20% of the products; likewise, 20% of the consultants are making 80% of the money. More than likely, 20% of your blog posts are bringing in 80% of your traffic, which means something you did on those top posts connected with your audience while you’ve failed to make that same connection with your readers on the other 80% of your posts.
Spend some time looking at your site statistics. Do the math, and calculate the top 20% of your blog posts. You already know something you did worked on those posts. Figure it out. More than likely, you’ve solved some sort of problem and become a resource for your audience. Can you continue to address those problems with other posts? What other problems does your audience struggle with? How can you solve those problems on your blog? Figure out what works for your blog and keep doing it.
2. Make Networking Your Lifestyle
Network marketers are excited about their products and their company, and they share that excitement with others by meeting new people, making contacts with potential customers, and following up with clients. Even though they’re constantly networking, they’re not consciously doing it; networking is second nature to them–it’s an extension of who they are. As bloggers, it’s easy to think that if we write great content, readers will naturally find us. To some extent that’s true, but we must put ourselves out there by responding to our own readers, contributing to conversations on other blogs, and sharing what excites us on social networks.
In the next week or so, keep a tally sheet of how many emails and comments on your own blog you reply to, how many comments you leave on other blogs, and how much material you share on social networks. Once you’ve counted the results, ask yourself where you can step up your efforts. For you, maybe you networking is already second nature, and you just need to increase that end sum by 25 or 50%. For others, maybe networking isn’t yet second nature, so you need to develop a networking habit. For me, I must be very deliberate in my networking (remember, I’m an introvert–even on the Web), so I use a self-made point system where each networking activity has a point value, and I work toward a specific point total every day.
3. Go For No
Yes, this is the title of a book. No, I haven’t read it, but it was mentioned at this retreat, and the next time I stop by the library, I’m going to pick it up. Network marketers hear a lot of nos before they hear the yeses they desire; nevertheless, they learn to love no because it gives them opportunities to learn and improve. As bloggers, we might not hear a lot of verbal nos, but they’re there. We hear a no every time we write a post that doesn’t generate the buzz we expected. We hear a no every time our networking efforts don’t generate the traffic we hoped for. We hear a no every time a guest post suggestion isn’t as well received as we wanted. But we can learn and improve our blogging from all those nos.
Think back over the last week or month of your blogging. If you can’t pinpoint a handful of specific nos, you’re not trying hard enough. You’re not taking enough chances. Use the following few weeks to try a new writing style, comment on blogs other than your regulars, and submit some guest posts to other like-minded blogs. The key is to experiment. If you fail, awesome! Learn from your “failure,” pick yourself up, and try again. Remember the old adage: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
I still can’t believe I let my mom hoodwink me into going to her silly retreat, but like I said, I actually learned quite a bit. BloggersGuide.net is growing, and I’m working to apply what I learned to my practices here. Do you have any experience with network marketing? What have you learned from them that you can apply to your blog?