When Oprah appeared as the face of Weight Watchers last year, a friend of mine said, “Why is she doing that, she doesn’t need the money.”
Well, “she believes in the product and is living the results,” I said.
I could relate to Oprah. In fact, feeling the benefits from a particular product is how I became a work-at-home-mom. While working full-time in a corporate office, I became a customer of the company that I eventually left my “day job” for. I never intended on making it a business, but like Oprah, I was hooked.
There are days when my newsfeed is full of acquaintances “selling” their product or offering incentives to join their team. On those same days, I typically see posts of others complaining about how annoying these “direct sales reps” are.
As a parent, my income is made solely from working at home. Not only as a freelance writer but as “one of those people” who posts about their company.
Having worked in the hospitality industry from Maine to Lake Tahoe to Hawaii to Saipan I’ve seen various sales and marketing tactics employed by high-volume hotels and restaurants. I’ve seen what businesses do to succeed and it leaves me wondering: what’s the difference between sitting in an office of a major hotel chain, brainstorming and implementing ways to make them a sizable profit while they pay the majority of their staff minimum wage OR promoting my own business that affords me the opportunity to pursue my passions and be there for my 7-year-old daughter?
We rave to our friends about our favorite places to have lunch. We recommend books. We talk about how good exercise and why everyone should be doing it. We share our parenting and pregnancy tips with new moms and dads. As writers (and artists in general) we share links to our publications so everyone will click, read, comment and share.
But suddenly, when we share a product that we happen to represent and profit from, people go bananas.
They claim to be used or taken advantage of, when in reality, most of us just want to help. Of course, we see people get into network marketing who don’t have the best interest of others in mind, but don’t we find that within any business structure?
We support our friends when they enter relationships, have babies, get promotions at their non-work-from-home jobs, buy a home. Why are we not supporting their choice to work for a commission-based company where they are able to earn a living and, lots of times, get to stay home with their children?
Now, don’t get my wrong, if someone is updating social media multiple times a day with emoji-filled pleas to hop on board with their amazing product line, I do an eye roll and often hide the post so I see less statuses with that content. But if someone reaches out to me personally and tells me they think my life somehow aligns with their business, I am more than happy to listen. I did this even before becoming an ambassador myself.
In my mind, it’s like the difference between shopping at a big box store versus the local grocer.
We complain about the chemicals, GMOs, ingredients, unnatural components of the things we use in every day life but when a “distributor” offers an alternate, we balk at that as well.
Next time someone reaches out to you and says “hey, I think this may interest you,” do yourself- and your acquaintance- a favor and believe that you are about to receive information that will change your life. Even if it’s not for you, you’ve expanded your mind and encouraged a business owner by letting them know their story is worth it. Just as your story is important when you share marital problems or your favorite yoga studio or website to buy cheap plane tickets.
Although we are not Oprah, we want you to “live your best life” with or without our products.