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MLM and Me: My Not-So-Good Experience

by Latifat Abifarin

I walked out of the building quickly, trying to fight back the tears pooling at the back of my eyes… I felt bad. She could simply have included it in the post, I had wasted my time, and my resources, yet I didn’t learn. I forged on because I wanted an all-expense paid trip to anywhere as they promised in the catalogue. 

I joined this network marketing company focused on skincare products and cosmetics from my small staff bedroom in the school where I taught.

I have been presented with the opportunity numerous times. I needed an additional source of income to augment what I was earning as a teacher and I thought this company would be it. I signed up and was assigned to an upline.

Immediately, I got a call from the upline and was added to a group where they shared motivational messages and resources to help us reach our goals. We read books like Go Pro by Eric Worre, quotes related to Network marketing, and stories of successful MLM members who made it - it was like being brainwashed every single day. 

They also talked about prospecting and how it was the blood of the business. I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of prospecting and some of the practices they encouraged.

However, they suggested another option and that was Facebook ads (now Meta).

The trick was to run an ad for one of the expensive products. Then market to those interested that they could buy it at a discount if they registered and signed up to be on your team. I ran ads consistently from my salary which wasn’t enough but I never really closed anyone. All I got were inquiries and comments about how expensive the product was. 

At one point, I decided to focus on the products. That didn’t end well either because it meant I was using my already low salary to stock up on products people around me could not afford. 

My family and loved ones, and close friends around me tried to make me see reason but I’d share quotes they fed us with on our team’s online community about mindset and how having a positive mindset was important.

I would also go on about how nothing good comes easy and that this was the building phase. I accused everyone who tried to make me see reason as not wanting me to be successful and hit the pinnacle of an all expenses paid trip. I’m sure people around me at this point felt pity for me. 

I kept at it this way, I’d make one product sale in a month and nothing for several months afterward. I couldn’t save because I was busy trying to gather points to unlock new levels. 

At a point, I was able to sign on a few downlines. I would reach out to them almost daily, sharing the same information and tips I got from the community. Motivating them and trying to psyche them up about mindset and doubts. It was at this point that I started disliking it all - I felt like a fraud especially after one of my downlines opened up to me that she was a recent widow and she viewed this as a way to get her finances on track. I

wasn’t motivating these people because I felt they would truly achieve some of these set milestones in their path, I was doing it for my selfish reasons - so I could hit some levels and gain some points. I asked myself, “Is it worth it?”

I convinced myself there had to be a better way. And as part of exploring other options, I decided to watch the training materials from the company. I was even more confused at this point - fake compliments, smiles, warm and friendly? All in a bid to get someone to just be a number on my team/list of downlines, that didn’t feel right. 

I knew I had to make a decision - be in or out? I couldn’t be in because the values didn’t align with mine. I was still in this state when my up line posted one day that there was a meeting for leaders at the headquarters, encouraging us to attend. I was at work but to me, it felt like this could be the answer. So, I sought permission, and off I went to attend this meeting. 

On getting there, I met some people at the entrance who asked for my name, registration number, and level. I told them and they insisted there was no way I could be a part of the meeting as I was still way below the required level needed for attendance. After some back and forth, I walked out of the building. I put a call across to my up-line and she said the same thing. I asked why she didn’t include this information in her post and made me waste my time. I can’t recollect her exact response but I knew things needed to change or I’d be stuck in the same place. 

I began to question some of the information passed on to us in the community. What would happen if I quit? What if I put this much effort into my own business? Something that had to do with me and my growth and not some well orchestrated scheme that made it look like I was working my butt off for those above me while I had nothing to show for it? 

I stopped being active in the community and gradually stopped consuming the content altogether. It was easier to cut through the noise with a clear head. I decided to say goodbye to this opportunity that promised to help me achieve my dreams and help me live my dream life. And I think it was one of the best decisions of my life.

Latifat Abifarin is a mom of two boys who has been freelancing since 2018. She has several skills but focuses more on content writing and her book/ebook layout and formatting services. When not tapping away at her keyboard, Latifat can be found crocheting up unique crochet bags and garments as the lead crocheter and owner of her recently launched crochet business, Handmade By Shadé.


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