By – Abiodun Giwa

Network marketing, multi-level marketing, Ponzi scheming. Just how many times have you heard this? If you are in Nigeria and have ever dreamt of being rich then it’s safe to guess it’s more than a few times. From Forever Living, to Organogold to Tianshi Tea, how many times have you been sent off in your high-speed Ferrari, cruising round the streets of whatever glitter-littered boulevard which fills our fantasy, the total envy of our friends and neighbours, without a shortfall of valets scrambling at your every beck and call by any one of these names? Indeed, just how many servant filled mansions, mini castles and chalets have we owned, managing our time between the one in Milan and the one in Beverly Hills while the one in Asokoro remains as a last minute reserve as a result of our association and particularly our continued loyalty to any of these soon to be (if not already) household names? Me? More times than I can care to count. I mean, who doesn’t want to drive fine car? And as an average Nigerian growing up on the hustling side of town, the case is doubly so.

However, many case-credits and hard-earned Naira parted with in the name of ‘sign on’ later, no cars are parked, no mansions bear my name and certainly no valets give two cents about what type of cruising I might decide to do with my two legs. So where did I go wrong? I mean, Organogold means- ‘gold’ and  Forever Living means living well forever (or something like that) and Tianshi means….well, I don’t know what that one means. But the truth of the matter is these things, networks, programs, schemes keep spring up every day before you know it. A lot faster than the average Joe can keep up with. They all come up with one scheme and all claim to be the golden ticket to a life of bliss, charm and financial independence but the question on everyone’s mouth is: where are the cheques? Because paint it anyhow you want, garnish in the most health-giving, life extending and sustaining light that you like; no matter how low calorie, organic, earth nurtured, earth grown, bio-greenie the products rank on the charts, the one true motivating reason why a lot of people join or sign on up for these programs is for the rich greenness of the cash they expect to get back in return in the form of monthly payments and year-end profit sharing largesse. And when that’s not happening, as is the case with a majority of these plans, it leads one to wonder.

So what exactly is the problem? Why is it that so many people find themselves holding nothing but the short end of the stick? Typically, four out of every eight persons have had an encounter with network marketing. Of this figure, eight out of every ten persons had a bad time. They lost or ‘donated’ money to the scheme, money they are never going to see again, money written off as a bad investment: cut your losses and move on.

But is this really what these schemes, and by extension, the organisations behind them are all about. Are innocent, unsuspecting individuals just being subjected to superior prowess of some elaborate, clandestine masterminds or is there more to numerous cases and incidents which we have been made to witness more times than we can care to recollect?

Could it be a question of perception, too many people misunderstanding the idea behind the whole thing? People too willing to fly off at the least prompting towards the land of big dreams and financial limitlessness. Or maybe it is a question of proper education. So you find a situation where people not properly taught or educated about what the system is all about and how it all works expect to achieve a different result from the one they find themselves getting.

Basically, how the concept works is that a person (the sponsor) signs up a number of persons (typically, three) directly under himself and then directs these new signees to sign up the same specified number of people under themselves, basically becoming a fisher of men who fish men. But in this case, this fish that is caught is not gutted and cleaned and sold at the market for profit. No, this time the fish that is caught is the profit. Which makes it clear to see how sponsors who get in early and are lucky can cash out and not care about what happens to those coming in below them, explaining the reason for the high volume losers in the scheme.

In advanced countries like the United States, they actually have a government body in place, whose duty it is monitor and regulate such practices. Thereby, ensuring that the members of their citizenry are not unduly taken advantage of.  Back home here in Nigeria, the same is not yet the case, with many Nigerians learning to do the dance with the devil as far as their money is concerned.

So if dancing is your thing. And you don’t mind doing it the multilevel marketing way, then it might stand you good stead to harm yourself with a few tips:

One, be prepared to go fulltime. Most of the masters of the game who make home with the seven, eight figure cheques do it fulltime, they live and breathe it. From one seminar to another recruitment business lunch, the people have the time and insist on the time to make an appearance, not having to beg for leave from the office or calling at the last minute to reschedule.

Two, have a bit of cash lying around. Okay, maybe not so much a bit, more like a sizable chunk. This will go a long way in helping others below you sign up and get your case credits up there with managers and double mangers (and platinum, and diamond and the rest) a lot faster, which is what you want so that the big bucks can start rolling in.

Three, sell the products, use the products. Theirs is no point throwing in all that good money if it is only pile the products in some corner of your room to gather dust. That way you don’t get angry seeing them when the cheques haven’t started coming in. Also, selling helps get good testimonials generating more demand.

Four, read the fine print. You see all those brochures and product jackets that you get bombarded with now that you’ve become a member? You should actually take some time out to read them, don’t just stick to what somebody tells you because he wants you to help push his cause .

Finally, have a target. An objective.  This is what tells you whether the strategy you are currently employing is working or if you should change it.