Belly to Belly or Virtual (Offline or Online)

Here’s a topic that will be debated for a LONG time and with 60 years of history for the belly-to-belly crowd, some may never convert.  I AM a total and complete convert to the internet after experiencing the power and savings that the Virtual aspect provides.  Today (and for years) I generate a totally online MLM income.

I am a big believer that our Industry is all about bringing people together and that means creating community.

All communities need gathering places.  Think of the corner pub, the office lunchroom, the neighborhood bookstore, the local hobby shop, the village church, that hip downtown music club, or the Hotel ballroom – all places where people can gather in groups.

Virtually, a gathering place can be a mailing list, a discussion topic, a chat room, a multi-player game, a forum or bulletin board, a website, or some combination of these.  In fact Social Marketing (via MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Ryze and dozens of others) are the newest craze getting more hits than Google!

Statistics say that Face to Face selling (including home, workplace, temporary locations and other locations) represent 75.2% of the $32.18 Billion sales.  However, Remote selling (including phone, internet and other) is growing and is now 24.8% of sales dollars. (from DSA’s 2006 Growth & Outlook Survey). Now, those figures also refer to sales and not recruiting and to me that is where the real power of Virtual exists!

Belly to belly has many obstacles and in our modern day they are growing.  Time issues are the biggest challenge when your best prospects are too busy to schedule that get together.  People are rushing around so much it’s hard to focus them in on something that could improve their life.  Once you get face to face, personality and skills play a major role in how an MLM  prospect will respond.  Judgment on your appearance and mannerisms is a major aspect to consider.  Having good people skills and great sales skills play an important part, too.  Of course, you can utilize the Company sales aids if you don’t have the talent, yet that can become very costly to your business (and is that really belly to belly).

Clearly belly to belly will last despite its downsides as some people will always be more comfortable working in person instead of on computers.

But does that work for the majority?  Can it create Community?  Could our retention have anything to do with HOW we DO the business?

So how does Community fit with belly to belly…Great if you have regular gatherings and people become familiar with each other.  If they are willing to take the time and participate.  That can’t just be the annual convention each year either.  Community doesn’t exist with one function.  Community is also difficult to establish if your group is spread around the country since the frequency cannot always involve travel.  So the solution has always been to involve the pockets of people in a particular area to establish the Community, but that may take YOU out of the equation.

Isn’t Community all about Communication?  Isn’t it built on social relations and quality interaction?  Isn’t that precisely what we must do to create a permanent income in our profession?

The solution…combining with Virtual.

Imagine, if there was a way to present to 100’s in an hour (without a Hotel meeting), a professional sales presentation was available at all times,  people’s schedules were not an issue, there was a small one-time cost to set it all up and it works 24/7/365!  Would that make a difference to your MLM business?  Could that improve the learning curve for your New distributors?  Don’t you think it would be easier to find targeted prospects for your MLM online business?

Time is our most precious resource; we all have the same amount yet the Virtual World is able to compress it dramatically. No other single aspect of reality relates more directly to basic human needs and desires than does time.  So when we ask people to “spend time” are we making it convenient for them or is it intrusive?

The greatest aspect of the internet world is it’s ability to communicate.  In a profession where Communication is Key this powerful tool cannot be overlooked.  Websites, email, audio recordings, videos, multi-media with graphs, graphics and sound can make a real impact in what you convey.  Being able to rely on a consistent message that drives home the point is the bottom line to exposure and even training.  It’s a natural sorting tool where those who “get it” take action and those who don’t…won’t.  Think of the time saved when you reclaim the hours spent mulling through the disinterested.

Online communities are an international phenomenon. Virtual communities are social aggregations that emerge from the net when enough people carry on public discussions long enough, with sufficient human feeling, to form webs of personal relationships in cyberspace. Communities that cater to each individual person to keep them excited, keep them involved, keep them Coming Back!   Virtual communities are echoed in physical communities, in that all communities are ultimately based on timeless social dynamics that transcend the medium of connection.  In other words, people are people, even in cyberspace.  It’s a natural to create one with your network and that can contribute to incredible retention.

With the internet, you won’t get the personal touch and that eye to eye connection.  Yet no Business owner can be without the telephone and it is the final tool in a Virtual arsenal.  It reinforces the credibility, the emotions, the facts and figures one has already previewed. It establishes the rapport needed to begin a lasting relationship.  It creates the affirmation that there is a true partnership when you take the time to do a one-on-one telephone consultation to support the new distributors decision.  It builds belief when you have group interactive conference calls.  It keeps YOU in the equation, so if what you are building is Community, everyone feels a part.

In the great debate, Belly to Belly or Virtual, Choice is really what it’s all about.  Giving people the choice so they can be the most effective, based on their situation.  So, are you giving and supporting people with the option to choose?

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