How You Build a Large, Successful Network

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Recently Tony Rush posted an article dealing with the probability of success in Network Marketing.  He related a story about having a conversation with a friend of his about the business.  

“Dude, there is no business anymore!” His friend told him,   “Didn’t you know that?  All the prospects are gone … everyone is a &$*#Y GURU nowadays!”

Funny and definitely a little truth in that.  There are so many people that consider themselves an expert in the business, even though they earn a few thousand or even a few hundred dollars a month.

They consider themselves gurus because they are in a bunch of affiliate programs, are active in social media, or make their money “mining the miners,” selling how to stuff.

I was glad to see Tony pointing this out and explaining that the only thing that qualifies you to be a teacher of how to build an MLM group is actually building a group.  And I appreciate that he included me on the list of some of the people considered “gurus” who actually have built a successful business.

Yes I have made millions of dollars as a consultant, trainer and author.  But I also have made and continue to make millions of dollars in the field, building a network by the building blocks.   My bonus check puts me in the top one percent in the world of income earners across the business.

So what’s the secret of my success?  And how can you model it?

That’s the topic I’d like to address in this post.  And you’ll notice this is much longer than a usual blog post.  That’s for a few reasons.  First I’m on a cruise with spotty Internet and taking it easy this week.  So this is the only post I’ll be doing during the trip.  Also, the topic is so important I wanted to give it the depth it deserves.

I suggest you post it on your Facebook pages, Re-tweet it, email it out, or something similar, to make sure it reaches your whole team.  More people lose the plot in our business because of the issues I’ll discuss here than any other.  I’m writing this to help you assist your team stay focused on the basics of what keeps the network growing.  So let’s get into it.

To begin, we must take a detour and look at a very important aspect of human nature…

There was some fascinating research presented in 2008 by Douglas Rushkoff on the three methods how kids play electronic games.  Which give us great insight into how they approach culture and then grow up to attack work and life the same way.  (For more on this, check out the book “Trust Agents” by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith.)  I believe that this offers us some fascinating insights into the way people approach Network Marketing as well…

In Rushkoff’s research he suggest that kids approach games in three stages:

1)    Playing them
2)    Hacking them
3)    Programming them

Let’s look a little deeper.   Kids begin by playing games.  This is an exploration process, testing out the joystick, controller and buttons, seeing what happens when they do this or that.  They learn how to fly the plane, shoot the enemy, kill the monster, or whatever the outcome of the game is supposed to be.

Once they become proficient at playing a game, they evolve into the hacking stage.  (And by this I don’t mean the negative process of hacking into people’s computers and creating malicious code, but by learning the shortcuts and secret commands that may have been built into the game by the programmers.)

As a Super Mario Bros. aficionado I learned the invisible boxes you could jump up and bump to get extra lives.  If you were a Konami game player, you certainly learned of the famous code of “up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, start” built in to give savvy, loyal players chances to get more lives or power up stronger.

The most popular games get blogs, forums and websites all their own, where devotees share knowledge on how to game the games.  This may include another form of hacking known as “walkthroughs,” which are guides of how to finish games or breakthrough to higher levels.

Finally kids become so good at games, the challenge is simply no longer there.  So they look for applications they can use to tweak games and make them harder.  Or they often become full-fledged programmers and create their own games.

So what does this have to do with MLM?

Everything.  Because unlike video games and many other facets in life, you actually DO NOT want to evolve through these three stages for Network Marketing success.  In fact, evolving into a higher stage here actually hurts your ability to duplicate and thus makes your business more frustrating and requires more work.

Here’s why…

In our business, complexity reduces duplication.  The more difficult an action is to perform, or the more knowledge is required to learn it, the less the likelihood it will be duplicated by the masses.

Simplicity fosters duplication.  Remember the axiom of our business:  It doesn’t matter what works; what matters is what duplicates.

Here’s the problem…

Once we learn how to play the MLM game – the basic things that work and produce duplication – we get bored and want to hack the system.  And then we think the secret to ultra success is to program the system.  Big mistake.  Because Network Marketing may be the only business where we actually don’t want to evolve to the two later stages.

Here’s how you play MLM to win:

You must become proficient at the basic skill sets we’ve discussed before:

1)    Meeting people
2)    Working a candidate list
3)    Inviting
4)    Follow up

These four skills are what all beginners must learn and they will take you to a mastery level of recruiting and producing volume.  From there you can begin to play the game at the advanced levels.  To do that you must learn two additional skills:

5)    Presenting
6)    Leadership development

We could also call number six soft skills or people skills.  These are the skills that allow you to activate duplication on levels farther away from you.  It means you have done your job – which is to work yourself out of a job.  This is how you win the game of Network Marketing.  You simply become proficient at playing the game.

So what does that look like?

Once you learn those six skill sets you can practice the core activities required to grow a strong team.

Begin by making sure you spend the majority of your time in “rainmaker” activities.  Meaning activities that produce volume, because we get paid on volume.  That’s the difference between money games and legitimate Network Marketing.  We don’t get paid headhunter, recruiting or training fees.  We only get paid when the product gets to the end consumers.

And we do that by inviting candidates to presentations, getting them to presentations, and following up after presentations.  We only get paid when people join the business and buy products, or become customers.  So the only real rainmaker activities are those that produce those results.  Everything else is busy work.

A big part of playing the game right is having a strong local event bi-weekly or monthly to feed your candidates into.  I know it sounds easier to stay home in your bunny slippers and build online, but that is trying to hack the game.  Nothing can replace the social proof and other dynamics that occur in a live event.

You need to be bringing candidates through some kind of first look (usually a home presentation, one-on-one, or marketing material) then using the bigger local events to get them off the fence.  The local events determine who isn’t interested, who is a business builder, and who is a customer.

Then you use the local events to feed into the major events.  The majors are the destination events that involve travel, hotel and meals.  These are usually conducted two to four times a year.  (Personally I used to do these quarterly.  Since the cost and hassle of travel have escalated, I’ve gone to doing these three times a year in my organization.)

Major events are things like Family Reunion, Mastermind weekend, Go Diamond, Leadership Weekends and your company convention.  You’ll find these major events are where important decisions are made.  This is where people make the decision to make the business a career and strive to attain the top ranks within your company.

Finally you must practice monthly counseling.  The counseling is what keeps all the rest of the stuff we’ve been discussing on track.  I’ve done previous posts on this, so I won’t go into this in detail.   But summarize it to say this is when you mentor your people and give them assignments for the next month.  It’s based on specific variables you track on the counseling form such as personal use, total volume, attendance at events, average autoship, number of leaders in the group, etc.

This process we’ve just looked at is how you play – and win – the game of Network Marketing.

To encapsulate it, to build a strong business involves learning the basic skills.  Working a candidate list and inviting them to “first look” presentations.  Follow up and feed them into a bigger local event.  Use the local events to build to major events.  Conduct monthly counseling to keep everything on track.

These fundamentals are how you grow a strong network that will throw off residual income for years and decades to come.   This is how it was done 30 years ago and how it will be done 30 years from now.   That’s how you PLAY the game.  Now let’s look at how you HACK the game:

People think they can hack the system by running advertisements, running pay per click campaigns, or micro managing the process.

They try to create a script for every conceivable situation and an action for every possible reaction.  The advertising works, but it doesn’t duplicate very well.  The micro managing turns you into a grinder and makes your team dependant on you for everything.

Now a lot of gurus that Tony mentioned want to sell you leads, pay per click advertising systems and social media programs.  But these things add complexity and thus reduce true duplication.

So how do we PROGRAM the game?

The biggest mistake I see here is looking for the “big deal.”  You know the drill:

You get a call from a new team member and they know the lady that cuts the hair of the guy who walks the dog, for the guy that knows Cristiano Ronaldo.  And he’s convinced that if he can just sponsor Cristiano everyone will want to join the business.

Or your team member is convinced that their contact in the government can get you an exclusive contact to sell your vitamin tablets to the military.  Or get your protein shakes sold at 5,000 fitness clubs around the country.

One of the axioms of the business is this:  “The big deal is the small deal.  The small deals are really the big deals.”  If you have a choice of trying to spend months landing a big deal or sponsoring a school teacher with no MLM experience, go for the teacher every time.

The other mistake I see that would fall into the programming category is people that want to spend all their time “whale hunting.”  They figure the easiest way to build a large group is to find someone with a big group in another company and get them to roll it over into their network.

Here’s the problem with whale hunting…

If someone is already earning $50,000, $80,000 or $100,000 with the company they’re in, they are very unlikely to walk away from that and try to start all over with you.   You will find some whales eager to jump into your company.  But they are usually the “MLM junkies” looking for special deals and positioning.  And you often find that six months later they’ll be looking for another deal with someone else.  So like the other forms of programming, it doesn’t really duplicate and won’t build you a strong team long term.

Now here’s the fascinating thing…

If you skip the shortcuts of hacking and programming, and just work to play the game right and create true duplication, sometimes a whale will jump into your boat!

Things happen.  People sometimes realize that even though they have a big bonus check and organization, the company they are with won’t take them where they want to go.

They may decide that they need a new home and start to look around.  And you know what is the sexiest thing to them?  Not someone chasing after them with deals.  The sexiest thing to them is finding a leader that works the fundamentals, provides infrastructure and a duplicable system to follow.  They recognize that the best opportunity they can bring their people into is one grounded on the foundational principles we’ve discussed.  So play the game right and you may end up with a whale jumping into your boat anyway.

So that’s it.  That’s how a true business is built.  And once again; sorry for the long length.  But Tony’s article provided me with a chance to clear up a lot of misconceptions and share what it really takes for you to succeed in the business.

Now if you need more specifics of the core elements of playing the game right – things like conducting home meetings, building local events, running major events and counseling – I encourage you to study my Duplication Nation training album.  It’s my complete generic system for building a large network.  From getting started right to prospecting, from making compelling presentations to holding effective meetings, and from working with long distance lines to leading the organization – this is the whole package.

It’s available on audio CDs, or DVD.  Each version comes with a work-along Study Guide, a laminated chart to track your progress, 25 counseling forms, a deck of Flash Cards, and an inspirational poster.  You can find all of the details here.

Let’s discuss one more issue…

It’s boring to do the same things over and over, year after year.  But take a lesson from Jimmy Buffet.

How many times do you think he’s sung “Margaritaville?”  Six million?  But Jimmy knows something important…

In every concert there are people that are hearing him perform it for the first time.  And thousands more that have heard him sing it dozens of times, but want to hear it yet again from the master.

So Jimmy gets into the vibe and has a fun time with it.  If you’ve ever been to one of his concerts, you know each one is a special experience.  And you have to run your business the same way…

Remember each event you do has new prospects and new team members.  You have to view it through their eyes and keep it special.  And if you’re in the business 20 years, you still have to be doing these basic things we’ve talked about and keeping a fresh energy with them.

Do yourself a favor.  Don’t be seduced with some guru selling you shortcuts on how to build the business.  A real business is built with hard work, following the fundamentals we’ve discussed.  Are you up for it?

As always, I welcome your thoughts and insights below.  Hope you’re having a great week,


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47 Comments on “How You Build a Large, Successful Network”

  1. Trey says:

    In other words, stick to the fundamentals!!! You must be bored Gage!!!!! You need to get home so you can go back to work!!! :)

  2. bobby says:

    You are ROCK SOLID Mr. Gage…….have a blast on the cruise and please give the Higginsons, Jensens, Bradleys, and Worre’s a big HUG!!

    Thanks for all you do!!


  3. Lori Ann says:

    Great information. Very, very helpful. Thank you for freely sharing your
    knowledge and experience. I always appreciate reading your blogs.
    You keep it simple, “easy to duplicate” and provide ethical business

    Thank you,

  4. “If you have a choice of trying to spend months landing a big deal or sponsoring a school teacher with no MLM experience, go for the teacher every time.” Love it! That is so true!

    Teachers and coaches can be some of the best people to work with, as they love to teach people and help them develop to their greatest potential.

  5. eletta says:

    What can I say? You are full of reason Mr.Gage! But I looks like Edison…Randy.
    A great week for you too.

  6. Ronald Cheek says:

    I agree with you 100% Randy. You have to use the fundamentals to building your Network Marketing business. Because growth and volume in your organization is the key to receiving the large per month income.

    But I also believe that, and you have been proving the point with this blog and the tools and resources you sell, that the internet and providing valuable resources, (ie cds, books, or online tools)(Duplication Nation) to the network marketing industry is great additional income for network marketers to model from and leverage there business to grow in those slow income producing months.

    To share and recommend things that are working for us that could be of benefit to our prospects. And at the same time get paid to recommend those products, resources or tools and affiliate programs.

    You have affiliate programs don’t you?

    Now being considered a guru does take time and social proof that you deserve to be called a guru. Me personally I don’t want to be considered a guru. I’m not into titles. I just want to be a messenger or teacher if you will of great information, lessons I’ve learned, trials, and success’.

    The internet and social media sites, “blogs”, video sharing sites, etc. allows you to do that. With leverage. And that’s what Network Marketing is all about. Randy you couldn’t come to all of our living rooms to share this post?

    Now I know there are tons of so called new gurus out there using these forms of media and making the industry look bad, but you can’t discount the fact that 400 mil people don’t lie on Facebook, YouTube, and MySpace.

    Having webinars and putting a post or video on your blog that can share your message to millions at a time is genius. Now events are still important because like you said the personal interaction is key to keeping a solid team.

    The fundamentals are still strong, maybe they are just shifting into high gear..

  7. The computer games you mention never attracted my attention to play much less advance a stage. Maybe the mindset called into play makes the most adept at computer games the least likely to fit into MLM successfully.

    If the four basic skills were called ‘steps in learning how to ride a bicycle’ learning each step like an answer would not have you riding the bike. Being proficient in even three will not have the bike working. The struggle with the explanation, that at best points to what is needed, and the actual bicycle operating, even wobbly with you on it lives in the unexplainable. I think it’s why people get ‘it’ up and working for a while to only crash and burn, often many times and then in an instant. There is growth, fun, exhilaration, cash flow…. And you cannot explain to anyone who isn’t doing it what “IT” was that did it. No explanation is good enough to have you riding.

    As much as I am tired of the crash and burn I know that when I really catch ‘it’ I will not lose it. Far too often I have given up on one style of ‘bicycle’ and moved on to another that promised it was easier to ride only to experience the same challenges. “Hard work” like digging ditches is simpler and easier. This reminds me more and more of the long summer I spent learning how to ride a bicycle. I really hated that red Schwinn and let it sit in the garage for days at a time. For months I fell and scrapped a knee, an elbow or something just after I thought I caught ‘it’ and in the thinking lost ‘it’ to crash and burn again.

    In an instant the efforting, struggling with all the upsets, the questions what was wrong with me vanished into I was riding. Let it be soon.

  8. Jose Lopez says:

    Masterful. One can make 100K a month just following this advice.
    Thanks! Jose

  9. Nam says:

    Awesome post Randy! Hope you’re enjoying your cruise…and thanks for thinking of how you can help elevate our profession while you’re on vacation…true leadership!!!

  10. Mai Teerawut says:

    Great post again.

    Hope you enjoy Mediteranian.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Randy, you are so right! Thank you for the practical, step by step information. And thank you for being honest about the process being boring when it’s done the right way. It’s a trap that I’ve fallen into various times when I get bored and stop working. But I deeply appreciate hearing this from you again and again to help me keep focused. This is an article I’m going to print out and tape to my desk wall as a daily reference.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Randy, any chance you can do an article specifically for all the aspects related to “working a candidate list?”

  13. Rachel Henke says:

    There is as always much sense in what you say. I do wonder though if you truly believe that NM can be the same in 30 years? How can it be that NM is the only business that will not develop with technology?

    It seems very unlikely Randy even if it may not be for the best in your point of view. The only thing we know for sure is that everything changes right?

    • Randy Gage says:

      Technology is good and new technology will develop and help us do the business. But I believe the fundamentals mentioned above are timeless.


      • Clyde Keep says:

        I agree Randy. I was in Real Estate & Mortgage business for 12+ years, and as the internet & technology grew there was fear that would “replace” the professional. Now, it did change the role, but if focused on that and prepared for that it was in a good way. And ultimately, the majority of the customers, even those that did all of there research ahead of time online, etc, they still wanted the face to face, touch a real person transaction. I believe NM has & will continue tofollow the same way over time.


      • Exactly Randy. Kind of like values… if we are in the “people business” we have to accept this for what it is. As I understand, people’s basic instincts, characters, feelings and emotions have not changed in hundreds or thousands of years and learning to shepherd the sheep, will never change.

        I love the basic principles you listed here which I will put in front of my computer everyday.
        1) Meeting people
        2) Working a candidate list
        3) Inviting
        4) Follow up

        5) Presenting
        6) Leadership development

        But my favorite quote from you is one that I just used with someone actually as we are building our team: “It doesn’t matter what works; what matters is what duplicates.” If it doesn’t work for the guy in the 9th level who just got started, let’s not use it!

        I choose to take your advice, learn and accept that this is all you’re trying to do – just to “teach.”

        Thanks Randy!

  14. hirbod says:

    thank god that you exist!
    We use your ‘live your drams!’ speech as one of our follow up materials here in Iran! We really appreciate all your efforts to develop NM!

  15. Tara Ellerbe says:

    Thanks Randy! This post was “right on”! Thanks for always telling the truth on how to build a thriving business in our profession. I have to fight off the fake authors and GURU’s all day every day on my team. It’s a headache and a big distraction and you are soooo right when you say that it slows down your team and lessens duplication. As soon as they start doing those things, their organization stops growing and production ends. What I don’t understand is why they keep doing it? But I guess that issue will someday reveal itself too. Many thanks!


    • Tara Ellerbe says:

      I’d also like to add that I began to build my business in 2008 and I did it the
      so-called “old fashioned” way by going from living room to living room and sitting down in Starbucks doing one on ones, and now, in exactly 1 1/2 years, I am earning close to 100k per year. The people on my team who have gone the technology route are stuck! They are earning less than 2k per month. The ones on my team that are duplicating the basics are earning 4k-5k per month and growing at a rapid rate. So for all who think technology will change our business, I’m inclined to think that it will help, but will not be the end all to be all.

  16. Lea Sedan says:

    Hey Randy Gage.
    MLMis a category of game.all the functions and the way of our life is a game.
    Like the saying of William Shexper “our life is a play, we are th actors, and the world is the our stage.In a game we have rule,target’way to go on’ some obstacles,partners, esttategy,mutual interactionand communicaion,win and lose.
    The rules of life and the MLM, and any other business, profession,status or any role in the society, are very similar to any game or play.
    When someone want to win in a game, he has to be better player, with more abilities, and first of all to control on all the rules, to know when he can broke the rule-” to Hack”,
    to use estrategy-“PROGRAM the game”, for to win the game.
    In the life when someone wants to be succesful-winner, he has to be more able to get self development, in MLM, to elaborate his ability la leadership and communication.
    As the saying of Jim Rohn:”Success is somthing you attract by the person you become”.

  17. alejandro salazar says:

    I am agree with you Randy 100% keep it simple, MLM it is the way to a new way to do business and I strongly believe that the reason is because we have to build one on one instead of sitting on the computer all day trying to enroll people. MLM goes back to the basics of all.

    Thank you so much for this blog Randy as always very eye opening, looking forward to the next one, have fun on the cruise.

  18. KH Koh says:

    Thanks for yet another reminder of the fundamentals, Randy!

    The best way there is what appears to be the long way around.

    Takes training and discipline to see through all those tempting shortcuts and easy promises out there!


  19. Love your stuff Randy. Seriously. It just doesn’t get any more straight forward no B.S and just get your butt out of gear and do it. Would love to send you a little something as my way of saying thank you for everything you do. Cause no one does it like you.

  20. Karl Hummel says:

    Hi Randy,

    Great Article,

    As an Internet Marketer and Network Marketer myself, I could really relate to what you emphasized in this article. I am by no means a GURU nor would I ever claim to be, regardless of how successful I am at either of these. I just enjoy helping others reach their goals anyway I can.

    Your points are well received and very refreshing,. Thanks for sharing this knowledge with the rest of us who are not yet where you already are!

    To Your Continued Success,


  21. armando says:

    Shut up….take off your stuff down. Stop selling your “tools” and get off the dam internet.

  22. Elsa Mendoza says:

    I still feel the excitement of the Mastermind event I attended 3 weeks ago. I think you have a great advantage above the majority. Now you are using “the fundamentals” you have practiced successfully for so many years and also this media which validates your thoughts. For somebody-like me- with ZERO experience and little knowledge is of great value to read not only your words but all the comments above written. I am learning a lot from you and some of those famous “gurus”. I respect all of you…Take care!

  23. brett shearing says:

    good article

    how did u get over the hump when it seems like no one wants to use the products they all like the products but u cant get them to sign up it seems like they all are just waiting to see how i go first before they jump in and have a go.

    thanks brett..

  24. Peter Tham says:

    Very true, stick to the ‘boring’ fundamentals … hey Tiger Woods used to hit a thousand golf balls a day to get where he is today, and he still hits a thousand golf balls a day in practice.

    This is called Simple Discipline, not doing that is Simple Error in Judgement !!!

  25. Beatrix says:

    Rock solid information Randy.Keep it simple, stick to the basics , You covered the whole gamut for a succesful networkmarketing experience.Thanks so much. Will follow this going forward.God bless.

  26. jude t. says:

    Solid reminder of sticking to the basics!

    Thanks Randy!

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  28. Tony Scarcia says:

    Same old same old. Yep, it can get boring but it sure does duplicate and duplication means results. Happy days.

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    I have read this post and if I could I want to suggest you some interesting things or suggestions. Maybe you could write next articles referring to this article. I wish to read even more things about it!

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    One of the best postings I have read in a long time,

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