Are MLMs Too Good to Be True?

Is networking marketing really as easy and lucrative as recruiters make it sound?

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Q: I have had a number of people try to recruit me into network marketing. Each person tells me I can make a lot of money with very little effort. It all sounds too easy. Can you give me some advice?

A: The dollar bill will never sprout wings and fly into your mailbox, no matter what someone promises you. Upon closer scrutiny, you'll find the people who make a lot of money in network marketing have usually prepared for their good fortune.

The best definition of luck I have ever heard is this: Luck is when the combination of knowledge, hard work and opportunity meet in the same place at the same time. Successful distributors who join a legitimate network marketing company work hard to learn everything about the products and the business opportunity. They then apply these concepts in an organized method, working a few dedicated hours each week. Each hour of effort serves as a building block for their long-term business growth. Next, they sponsor other people, teaching them how to sell the company's products or services and in turn sponsor others.

This concept is easily demonstrated and supported in the company's compensation plan strategy. When you sponsor someone, you now have two people selling for you--yourself and the person you've sponsored. Every time that person sells a product, you earn a small percentage bonus. This is best described as leveraging your time to geometrically grow your income. By helping the people you personally sponsor to sell products and to sponsor others, you, in effect, duplicate yourself. As this process continues, you create exponential growth that can lead to hundreds or even thousands of people coming into your business. You leverage your time by helping others succeed and earning a small income from each of their sales efforts.

Now, with all this said, if someone tells you it is easy, they have either not done it themselves, or they are "puffing" the opportunity. Even good, honest people seem to exaggerate the amount of money you can make and the ease with which you can make it. Enthusiasm and passion seem to overtake common sense. It is up to you to filter out the noise and find the real facts. Many opportunities that may come your way will be legitimate and worth a look. In other words, if you are looking for a way to make some part-time money or even for a career opportunity, don't throw the baby out with the bath water just because the messenger seems to oversell. Dig a little deeper and understand that almost everything, including network marketing, is never as easy as it sounds. And always beware. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Michael L. Sheffield is the CEO of Sheffield Resource Network, a full-service direct sales and multilevel marketing (MLM) consulting firm. He is also the co-founder and chairman of the Multi Level Marketing International Association (MLMIA). He can be contacted through

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, not of All answers are intended to be general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney or accountant.

Take our franchise quiz to find the perfect match for you.