Ethics in Online Network Marketing

By: Gobala Krishnan

…build trust and watch the cash roll in!

As you are reading this article, the tide of the world is changing rapidly. More and more people are taking charge of their own lives, taking responsibility of their own future and taking control of their destiny. Security, freedom and unlimited income are the trend of the new millennium. For many, the chosen path to achieve freedom and unlimited income is online network marketing, or online MLM, as some people call it. Even though around the world millions are already in the online MLM business, millions more are just starting out, looking for answers; looking for guidance from people who are already there; looking for success. This puts the people who are already successful in the business, or even people who have at least been in it for a while, in a position of power. They have the power to change others lives, and change their own lives in the process. As Ken Parker’s wise old uncle said in the box-office movie Spiderman, “With great power comes great responsibility".

While rules like the Spam Rules are spelled out, documented and enforced by the government, simple courtesy and ethics, on the other hand, can never truly be defined and enforced. Yet, ethics is one of the key ingredients in determining the success of any online networker. Ethics is the sense of responsibility, integrity and honesty that comes from within. Ethics is very hard to define, and everyone sometimes crosses the invisible border of ethical conduct. Why is ethics important in your online network marketing business?

Trust Earns Trust

Trust is an uncommon thing on the Internet today. For the beginner, everyone selling them something online can either be a genuine pro, or a quick-buck con artist. Do you get tons of e-mail each day, telling you why you should join “this exciting, guaranteed-to-be-rich success system"? Do you get confused just trying to find the right business opportunity, simply because everyone is telling you that if you join their competitors, you’re burning a hole in your pocket and setting yourself up for failure? So whom do you trust in moments like this? Your upline? Your sponsor? The other guy with the “greatest opportunity in the world?" The truly respected Internet networkers like Stone Evans and Jim Daniels will all tell you the same thing: YOU HAVE TO BUILD TRUST FIRST. Ethical presentation of your business opportunity is a must.

In my experience, as long as you present the greatness of your opportunity without burning all the competitors out there, that is a first step in the right direction. People will usually open up to you a little more, and thus starts a relationship built on trust. And that is perhaps the strongest relationship of them all. I never put down the competition. Instead, I simply let people know the strength of my company, and the unique opportunity offered by my compensation plan. I feel that if you’re putting down your competitors, what you’re really doing is putting down the industry as a whole.

Figure this out: why shouldn’t your prospect think that your opportunity might be any different? It is, after all, your word against his. Remember that when you’re putting someone else down, you are building a negative opinion about the industry as a whole.

Reputation is Everything

Every successful entrepreneur knows that a bad reputation is death to his or her business. To build your business ethically means to communicate with your upline, affiliate and prospects with integrity. Sure, misleading your prospects or overselling your products may get people in the door quick, but it will also get them out of the door faster, as soon as they find out that all you’ve sold them is a pack of lies. After that, you can only dream that they will want to buy your e-book, or subscribe to your newsletter, or have anything at all to do with you. Win through integrity rather than exaggeration. Before you promote new software or technique to your affiliates or downlines, make sure that you have personally used it and have achieved some level of success with it. Otherwise, you’re just selling them false promises, sending them out in the dark trying to create miracles with the wrong tools. At the end of the day, guess what happens? They lose faith in anything you have to say, and you can kiss your reputation goodbye. After that, you either change your name, or get a regular job.

What goes around, comes around

It’s a common saying in network marketing that “What goes around comes around". Sometimes, we tend to overlook small things we do that are unethical and does harm to someone else’s business. For example, in my years of experience in the network marketing industry, I have encountered many people who try to recruit me into their business opportunity when they inadvertently find out that I am into networking. They all tell me the same thing, which is that many people are leaving the company I represent to join their “wonderful, new opportunity", and that I should too, before it’s ‘too late’.

Trust me; they all say the SAME thing. After a while, I developed a standard answer for them too. I just tell them “Well, you can have those people. It’s just a matter of time before they leave you for something else!" I never convince people who are already in another opportunity to join mine. If they do so out of their own free will, fine. Otherwise, just look for other people.

As an online networker, you should accept the fact that many people will leave your opportunity in search of something that is easier, faster or newer. Let these people go, for they are the ones who will always be wondering around, getting in and out of multiple companies their whole lives, without achieving any significant results in any one of them. As long as you stick to your decision to work your business, you will always find people who want to do it with you. In their book “Your first year in Network Marketing", Mark Yarnell says that the key to success is to “stop jumping ship and stick to one".

Have you ever gone on a clicking spree in a PPC search engine to check out the people who are bidding on home business opportunities, clicking on their ads to get their contact details, and then send them an e-mail about the wonderful opportunity that you’re in? These people are paying money for that! You just helped them waste their advertising budget, while you’re doing it for free. Remember that what goes around comes around. How would you feel on the receiving end of that scenario? If you don’t want others to recruit your downlines, stop trying to recruit theirs by promising a better opportunity that you are not sure you can give. Stop this unethical habit today, and move ahead with a clear conscience.

You Represent the Brand

You are often the only contact the prospect has with the company, the products or the system. What you say to them is to them is the holy truth. You have the responsibility of ensuring that you represent the principles and level of integrity of your MLM company and its range of products.

So, remember the importance of ethic in conducting your online network marketing business. If you intend to reach the highest levels in your compensation plan and achieve great wealth on the Internet, think long term. Trust, reputation and respect will get you further in this industry than any sophisticated software or program can.

Remember, it pays to do the right thing!



I really hope you have understood this by now. The online community hates Spam. The government hates Spam. I hate spam. YOU hate spam. Most spammers have bad English and don’t bother running a spell check. So please, don’t spam. Spamming is the act of sending unsolicited e-mail promoting products, business opportunities or just about anything people did not ask you about.

2) Use Opt-in E-mail Lists

Opt-in lists, on the other hand, are legitimate, intelligent ways of creating your network. Opt-in occurs when someone subscribes to your newsletter or e-zine by sending you their contact details through your website or sending an e-mail to your auto responder address. All the top “Internet Gurus" have one thing, at least, in common; they have spent time building a large opt-in list for themselves. This large list enables them to promote their product and services to a targeted audience, making sales and repeat sales effortlessly. Use your mailing list with a good auto responder like the Smart Responder for maximum success.

Opt-in lists create a bond of trust between you and your affiliates, customers and prospects. If you have not done this to date, then PLEASE DO IT NOW! It is also important to give your subscribers an easy way to opt-out, or to stop receiving your newsletter. Most auto responder and mailing list software have an ‘unsubscribe’ link automatically inserted at the bottom of e-mails. If yours does not, then you need to do it manually. Not giving your subscribers a way to opt-out, in my opinion, is very unethical. Besides, then they’ll most probably report your e-mail as spam. You DO NOT want that to happen!

3) Use Your Name

It amazes me how few people actually put their name or signature on their website or product. If you are using your own website to promote your networking opportunity, then by all means let people know your name. Oh yes, and make that your REAL NAME. It may be fun or cool to refer to yourself as El-Diablo or Fat Jake or angel_eyes20 in chat rooms and discussion boards where anonymity is preferred and encouraged, but for heaven’s sake please use your real name when doing business online. The more people see your name, they more they will grow to trust you and listen to what you have to say.

If your name is difficult to pronounce in its original spelling, then simplify your first name, maybe from Yasmene to Yasmeen, but retain your last name.

Remember, people want to know that they are dealing with honest marketers, and putting your name and complete contact details in every business dealing is the way to go.

4) Let People See You

Besides having your name and signature everywhere on your website, include a picture of yourself if you can. They say a picture speaks a thousand words.

Putting a face to the name can help people remember you better. Make sure its not random picture from your 21st birthday bash or of you and your buddies in a high school band competition, I mean a serious, studio-quality photo of yourself, smiling, dressed elegantly, saying “Hi, how can I help you?" Try this and see the difference for yourself.

When a businessperson approaches his customers with a paper bag or ski mask over his head, he will be mistaken for common thief or a con man. When he approaches them with a smile and sparkle in his eyes, they stop and listen. People will trust a face they remember.

5) Provide

This is actually easier than most people think. You don’t have to be a big success to be able to write useful content for your website. It’s just a matter of sharing your thoughts and beliefs with others. Whether others like it or not, is a whole different story. Remember that there are always people who know less than you do in any subject.

It’s just the way the world works. Some people know more on certain thing and less than others. I used to think the Internet operates something like this:

Internet Guru sells e-book > Broke Chef Buys it Because and Wants to Make Money Online > Internet Guru Makes Even More Money

Well, it might work that way in terms of learning how to make money online. But what if, on the other hand, the Big-time Guru wanted to get recipes on making a great-tasting chocolate cake or apple-pie? He would look for someone who knows something about baking, because he obviously does not! And the chef, even after reading the guru’s e-book, thinks that only successful people can write useful content, and never gets his ‘home-made apple pie" recipe written and distributed freely on the inter net, with a link back to his website, where the guru can buy the chef’s whole cookbook for a reasonable price!

Well, that was just an example of how everyone can write free content. YOU know something that others may not. You just need to brainstorm a little to get ideas out and start working on them. In terms of network marketing, even writing articles about mistakes you have made, can be useful to the guy who just realized there’s this thing called the Internet. A least he knows what he must avoid, from a guy who has been there and done the mistakes before just a couple of months ago. He might even a p proach you, eager to start a network marketing career on the Internet, because he knows you’re an ordinary guy who will not try to sell him something he does not and will never need.

The possibilities are endless!

6) DO NOT Give Wrong Advice

Don’t be too eager to recommend a new software or tool to your downline organization. That is, at least, until you have achieved a reasonable amount of success with it. Giving the wrong recommendations is a sure way of killing trust in your organization, especially if people start to lose money.

If you have no solid advice to give, then give no advice at all. Simply refer people to your company’s website to get more information. This is especially important when you already have a large number of affiliates under you.

7) DO NOT Sell Junk to Your Affiliates

If your objective of building a large organization is to repeatedly e-mail them your whole collection of affiliate links and products to make a quick profit, then welcome to the club of around 1 million other quick-buck artists. These people don’t last very long in our industry, and I would generally put them in the same category as spammers. I’m really sorry if I sound a bit too harsh on this, but I really HATE this type of people! The last thing I need is my upline team sending me coupons and discount offers on flowers and kids toys. Why would I need all this? If on the other hand, they are recommending a lead generation source that they have used and provides good results, I would thank them a million times for saving me all the effort, and would gladly join, even if I know that they would be earning money when I do. Hey, after all, it’s a fair exchange!

8) Sincerely Help Others

You are often the only source of reference for your affiliates. It can be really daunting and scary for people new to the world of online MLM, and sometimes the only person they trust is you. Therefore, it is your duty to make sure that they get all the help they need, even when it might not be directly profitable to you. I once had a guy from Algeria join my organization. This guy was really motivated and contacted me several times. I told him to upgrade, as it will benefit him in many ways.

As it turned out, his country apparently did not have a credit card system. It wouldn’t take a genius to figure out that without a credit card, it would be rather difficult to do effective advertising online. In fact, it would be rather difficult for him to do almost anything online. This is a case of a non-profit situation, and it would have been all too easy for me to abandon him to his own resources. Instead, I gave him extra attention, some free leads, motivation and requested help from ou r support team. To his credit, he did a great job of keeping himself motivated. Sincerity can touch a person’s life, and I feel that the reward in this case is in the satisfaction, not the money.

9) DO NOT Use Hype

You might disagree with me on this one, so let me clearly state why I say it. The Oxford dictionary defines hype as “To exaggerate how good or important something is". Assume that I tell you my network-marketing business opportunity is a “100% automated, guaranteed money-making machine. No sales and effort required! Make $10,000 in your first week, only if you join NOW!"

Did that turn you on? Maybe it did. If indeed my business can do that (which is rarely the case), then wouldn’t it be great? Everyone in this world can fire their bosses and work at home, earning thousands of dollars a day. But what if it does not? What if it actually required effort on your part, sales, a big advertising capital and know-how to make it happen? What if you don’t actually earn anywhere close to $10,000? Obviously you’ll have one affiliate less to worry about.

Keep this up, and you’ll have a networking business that works like an unplugged sink. The more water you pour into it, the more get drained out. Dropouts will occur faster than new opt-ins, merely because you mislead people with information that is inaccurate. This can cost your business a lot, especially if you’re using PPC advertising as you main source of lead generation. Real networkers use reasonable excitement, not hype, to recruit. There’s a lot of difference in that!

10) Think Long Term

Always think of your online network marketing business as a long-term project. Set long-term goals and look for mentors who can teach you. Work your business slow and steady, and you will definitely get there. Seek to build trust with affiliate members and your upline team. This may concepts more popular in 'offline network marketing’, but I honestly believe it to be true in the online version as well.

I wish you all the best in building a large network for yourself. Never give up!

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