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How to Choose the Right Company Don't just go on referrals, research networking marketing companies to find one that's right for you.

By Rod Nichols

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When I was first introduced to network marketing back in 1979, there were far fewer companies doing it than there are today. Back then, people didn't go searching for the right network marketing business. However, today, that's quite common. In fact, to achieve a high level of success in network marketing, you must be with the right company. Since there are well over 3,000 network marketing companies--and more are popping up every week--the task of finding the right one is often daunting.

In the past, most people got into network marketing because a friend, family member or co-worker introduced them to a company. Unfortunately, in most cases, this wasn't the right company for them--and it resulted in failure, or at best, moderate success. Today, you're not forced to go with whatever company is introduced to you. You can do your own research and find the company that's best for you.

Choosing the right company doesn't guarantee success, but it does increase your odds. Ultimately, your success in network marketing is determined by what you do. It's all about building a network of people all buying or using the products or services you're selling. Your job is simple: Provide information about your business, answer questions and objections, make the sale, follow up, sponsor, train and support.

Excitement and enthusiasm will make all the necessary tasks much easier and more enjoyable--and you'll be able to maintain that excitement if you're working for a company you truly believe in. You'll also want to feel secure that the company will be around for many years to come, providing you and your family with financial security.

So how do you choose the right company? Here are the key factors to consider:

1. Carefully research the company. How long have they been in business? If the company is less than 2 years old, the probability of failure is high. If it's more than 15 years old, you've probably missed most of its growth. Examine the management team to see if it has a solid mix of people who've been involved in managing successful traditional and network marketing companies. Search the internet to see if the company has any lawsuits or outstanding complaints against it. If the company is solid, you can assess the next factor.

2. Find a product or service you're passionate about. If not, find another company. Also ask yourself, is this a product or service that's in high demand and will be for many years to come? Is this a consumable product or service people must reorder every month? Is the product or service unique in some way? If it's a product, does the company manufacture it? If it's a service, does the company perform the service itself? You want the answer to be yes. Check to make sure the company will be able to handle rapid growth in product orders or service performance.

3. Examine the compensation plan: Is the plan easy to understand and explain? Does it reward new associates who sponsor a couple of people, or do you have to sponsor hundreds to make a decent income? Check if there are purchase requirements so you can weigh that monthly investment into your decision. Ask for average annual incomes at different levels of the company to get a picture of what people are making, then ask how long it takes to reach your desired level. Also find out if commissions are paid monthly, weekly or daily. Weekly is best--it puts less strain on the company and provides quick and consistent pay for you.

4. Determine the amount of help you'll get with marketing. Does the company offer full-color marketing pieces, DVD presentations and customizable associate websites? Will it train you to market your business? Make sure the company has developed a solid internet-based ordering system so customers can order via the site. Also, the site should allow you to sponsor new associates.

5. Find out what type of and how much training is offered. Does the company offer a reasonably priced (under $50) associate training kit? Is there training available online? Are there conventions and conferences held in cities near you?

When you find several companies that meet your criteria, you then have to use your gut instincts to make a final decision. Does this company feel right? If so, you're ready to begin a career in network marketing.

Rod Nichols has been involved in the network marketing industry since 1979 as a consultant, trainer and author. His articles, bi-monthly newsletter and books can be found at his website, www.RodNichols.com.

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