Q: I just joined a network marketing company as a distributor. I'm a good salesperson but not sure of the best way to build a sales team. What is the best way to start building my sales organization?

A: Most network marketing experts would still agree that to be successful, you don't need to sponsor many distributors-just a few good ones. Finding five or six serious distributors should be your initial goal when getting started. Your upline sponsor should be willing to help you accomplish this.

Most of us aren't so naive as to think everyone we sponsor will be as committed to the business as we are. Don't be surprised if you need to recruit as many as 10 or 20 before you find your first winner. This is a business of "sorting." Remember the old saying, "You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a prince." Don't get discouraged. Your sponsoring skills will improve as you gain experience. But initially, I recommend you concentrate on quality, not quantity.

When most new distributors join their first network marketing company, they become excited about the product and opportunity and want to tell everyone right away, even before they've experienced the products or proven the business model. While this is typical, remember that "selling" is premeditated and "sharing" is spontaneous. You'll do better to find a special need for your product and business program before you spill your guts to a prospective sales team.

You should just assume the majority of the people you approach already have decided they can't sell and certainly wouldn't even want to try. If you've just sold them your product and immediately attempt to recruit them, before you utter another word, they will just assume you want them to sell something to their friends. Most likely, they already have preconceived notions about network marketing. These preconceived notions can hurt your building effort if you don't manage them in advance.

Even though the basis for long-term success in network marketing is the right product at the right time, during the building phase, network marketing is more of a people business than it is a product business. Distributors making large monthly incomes in network marketing have learned the importance of the sorting process: to find the right people to involve and understand why to involve them. While I believe this is truly an art, it is a learned skill. People aren't born knowing how to build a sales team.

You want everyone, but not just anyone in your program. Inexperienced network marketers are usually taught to work with their "warm" market--their friends, relatives and work colleagues. This is fine if you're receiving strong initial sponsor support and your company's training programs are adequate in this area. But if you have to go it alone, you better have thick skin, since you risk profound feelings of rejection from the very people you know and trust. Friends and relatives know you all too well, or so they think! They know the ventures you may have already tried before and failed to achieve or complete.

In the early phases of your business growth, you'll find many people who are charter members of the "discouragement fraternity." They want to keep you in their own comfort zone. It's not that they don't want you to be successful. They just don't want you to be more successful than they are. You need to seek out prospective associates who will judge the opportunity first rather than judging you. As you can see, you need to be selective to be effective.

So as a new participant to network marketing, what else can you do to enhance your ability to build your organization? The easiest and most effective thing for you is to let your enthusiasm show. Be energetic. When energy is undirected, it's called excitement. When it is directed, it's called enthusiasm!

Each person exhibits energy in a different way, depending on his or her own personality and style. Focus your energy where it will do the most good, and keep it genuine. You can be enthusiastic about the potential of your program long before it pays off financially.

Having the right attitude is another key. Protect that attitude by only associating with positive thinkers and doers. You're looking for a few "energetic people" with a twinkle in their eye and a bounce in their step. They will attract energetic people who will duplicate the process, creating geometric growth in your business.

And keep in mind that if you continue trying to sponsor "warm bodies," you will eventually become frustrated. Don't sponsor them just because you found a pulse! You don't need to sponsor an army; just keep an eye out for a few good salespeople.

Michael L. Sheffield is the CEO of Sheffield Resource Network, a full-service direct sales and multilevel marketing (MLM) consulting firm. He is also the co-founder and chairman of the Multi Level Marketing International Association (MLMIA). He can be contacted through http://www.sheffieldnet.com.


The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, not of Entrepreneur.com. All answers are intended to be general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney or accountant.