The basis of network marketing is building networks of people who buy and sell products. What better place to build a network of people than on the ultimate worldwide network--the internet? According to Internet World Stats, as of 2006, there were more than 1 billion people online worldwide. It's no wonder that the internet is the place to go to build a network marketing business.

The benefits to building your business online are extensive--you can work in shorts and a T-shirt, you only talk with people who are highly interested, your business is working for you 24/7, your maintenance costs are low, and it's easy to expand internationally. Most important, anyone can do it--you don't have to be a computer genius to find success.

Your first step is to create an online presence. Before you begin building a site, you need a domain name. You could secure your personal identity site (yourname.com), which is always a good idea. Another approach is to pick a domain that relates to the name of your network marketing group or team, for instance, wealthteam.com or prosperitygroup.com. Or you might want a domain that says something intriguing, such as increaseyourwealth.com or massiveincome.com. Come up with a bunch of ideas, then check your choices on a registry site until you find one that's available.

Once you have a domain, you'll need to buy hosting services and then begin to build your site. If you don't know how to design a site, you can either hire a designer or use a site builder that offers pre-made templates through your host. No matter which method you choose, your site should include the following:

  • Information about your company, product and opportunity
  • A system for ordering your product or registering to operate a business
  • Information about training and your support team
  • A list of the advantages of joining your company and team
  • The offer of a free e-book, document or newsletter if users give you their name and a valid e-mail
  • An autoresponder that sends follow-up e-mails to everyone who provides their contact information. Make sure it can also send out newsletters.

Once you have your site up and running, you need to start marketing it. I recommend using two to five different marketing methods and sticking with them for at least a few months before reevaluating them. Marketing tactics you may want to try out include:

  • Free classifieds
  • Pay-per-click advertising
  • Paid banner advertising
  • Writing articles that include links to your website
  • Starting a blog
  • Participating in forums and newsgroups
  • Starting an e-mail newsletter

All these methods will help create exposure and attract prospects, but my favorite marketing method is "attraction marketing." Any time you can establish yourself as an expert, you'll attract people interested in the topic you know so much about. Be sure to include articles or e-books on your site that establish you as an authority.

As you attract prospects, you'll need a database to keep track of them. Outlook has a great contact manager, though if you create something on your own, make sure it has enough room to keep track of a prospect's name, e-mail, phone number and address, and has an area where you can write comments.

Once a prospect's in your database, send them a personal e-mail to see if they found the information on your site to be valuable and to determine their level of interest in your business. Use e-mails to create a rapport with the prospect and move them toward a phone call. If you have an effective web presentation and follow-up system and a prospect agrees to speak with you by phone, there's a good chance that person will join your business or purchase your product.

The keys to network marketing online are a solid presence, consistency and persistence, so get out there and build your system, and stick with it until it produces the results you seek.