by Laurette Willis, CHC, SVCMD
Relationship-building was not my strong suit when I was first introduced to Network Marketing in 1997.
Following up with friends was frustrating. I couldn’t understand why they didn’t leap at the business opportunity when I told them how much my upline was earning. “Hey, guess what? Mr. Marvelous Upline Mentor is now earning $25,000 a month!!!”
I never took the time to find out what they wanted. People began avoiding me at church and the supermarket.
When someone joined me in the business, they probably felt more like a hostage than a business partner.
And then I found a Leader. Actually, my friend Dianne knew Bob and Susie, two rockstars looking for a new world to conquer. On a Leadership scale of 1-10, they were an 8. Dianne and I were a pair of 2’s…together. Fortunately, Dianne’s close relationship with Bob and Susie made up for the obvious dud-to-stud gap between us (“Love covers a multitude of sins” 1 Peter 4:8).
I quickly called Mr. Marvelous Upline Mentor who agreed to do a meeting for us. Bob and Susie were impressed, and joined our Team, based largely on the charisma, genuineness and leadership qualities of my mentor.
“I got one!” I thought. “Now I’m the Leader!” If only it were that simple, and painless. I soon learned that people, like rabbits, won’t jump into a box just because you expect them to do so, especially if they’re leaders.
Bunny Rabbits and Rockstars
When I was a little girl growing up on Long Island in the suburbs outside of New York City, I dearly wanted to catch a rabbit and keep it as a pet. I envisioned having my own zoo in the backyard. The young entrepreneur even then, I was sure my friends would gladly pay a nickel each to see a stunning variety of rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks and turtles.
One small challenge: I had to find and catch the little critters first. In cartoons, I saw how successful the box, stick and string technique was, so I set out to duplicate this obviously effective method. I chose a tasty, bright orange carrot complete with its green leafy carrot top and placed it under an inverted box which rested on a stick. A long string tied to the stick ensured that when I pulled the string, the box would trap the unsuspecting rabbit and I’d be in the zoo business.
I placed the rabbit trap on the side of the house and hid behind a large forsythia bush about 10 feet away, string in hand, ready to spring the trap and “catch me a wabbit,” á la Elmer Fudd.
Every day I would devote what seemed like several hours to my rabbit trap. Finally, after several days I looked out the window and saw a small brown rabbit munching clover near the trap. As it neared the box and stale carrot, I tried to figure out how I could sneak around to the side of the house in time to pull the string and catch the rabbit.
I slowly opened the side door (*squeak*). The rabbit froze, and so did I. I opened the door a little more and the rabbit cocked its head in my direction, a piece of clover sticking out of its mouth.
“Get in the box…get in the box,” I whispered under my breath. As if it heard and understood my intentions, the rabbit darted across the yard to the neighbor’s lilac bushes. “ACK!!! Get in the box, you stupid rabbit!” I yelled, tears stinging my eyes.
Before I kicked the equally “stupid” box down the hill into the backyard, I jumped up and down on the carrot and broke the stick in half.
Several weeks later, my mother called me to look out the kitchen window into the backyard. There, lined up against the fence was a family of seven rabbits! There appeared to be two adults and five smaller rabbits. We’d never seen anything like that in our suburban backyard.
Funny, I didn’t feel like catching them. I was content to snuggle next to Mom and gaze out the window, just watching them.
Out of the Box
Like the rabbit that did not want to become the first member of my zoo, Bob and Susie couldn’t be put in a box either. I wanted them to look up to me as their mentor, but I was not mentor material yet. They preferred to learn directly from my Marvelous Upline Mentor. Instead of rejoicing, I allowed bitterness and hurt to enter in and darken our friendship.
As the years passed, I learned to examine my motives, pray, and implement what I read in personal development books. In time, I found I could begin to be a mentor myself. I began quoting wise words I’d heard and read. I shared what I learned and experienced. People began to listen to me and they did so of their own free will.
Bob and Susie became close friends of ours, and we later laughed at some of the crazy things we’d done “back in the day.”
Hunters or Farmers?
If you are new to Network Marketing, let your upline mentor or team leader speak to your prospects with you. If your business is not growing the way you had envisioned, speak with your upline leader and ask them to help you.
It’s said that professional Network Marketers are more like farmers than hunters. A hunter’s prey feels hunted. Instead, we cultivate relationships by being good listeners, and planting seeds of education and understanding. We encourage new team members and provide the resources to help them grow into people who can have their goals and dreams come true through developing their own home-based business.
Looking out the window with my mother at the family of rabbits in our backyard all those years ago, I remember how content I was to just watch them. I didn’t want to catch them and put them in a box.
Today, if you have a mentor you admire, let them know how grateful you are that they let you grow at your own pace. Thank them for giving you space to develop into your own leader who thinks best *outside the box.*
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