As the husband of my wife’s old friend from her student nursing days, he was a name on a Christmas card – somebody I’d been introduced to. I’ve a feeling they came to our wedding…
We’ve all got people like this in our past and it’s people like this who get put on the list.
If you’re already in network marketing you’ll know all about The List. This is what they make you do when you start – write down all the people you know – all the people in your mobile phone contacts list, all the people in the address book in the kitchen drawer – everyone.
But do you really know them? Could you ring them up and say: “Can you do me a favour? I’ve just started a new business and I’m really excited about it…”
Could you invite them to join your business?
It’s at this point that the embarrassment factor kicks in and you pause over the the name and go on to the next one. And after a while other people join and they put you on to more people and after a while the list gets forgotten as your business gains a momentum all of its own.
For a while I carried the list around with me to show people how easy it was – that I hadn’t even needed to call all the names.
Then two things happened.
I went to see Dani Johnson, the American network marketing guru and she conducted an interesting experiment. She asked all those people in the room who were earning more than six figures to stand up. About a dozen people stood up. Everyone applauded.
Then, a quarter of an hour later, she asked who in the room had called every single name on their original list. She asked them to stand up.
Guess what? The same dozen people stood up.
That day I went home and stated calling people on the list – in fact I’m sure I wrote about it and if there was a way of searching this blog I could tell you when.
The first person I called turned out to be an elderly lady who had just been to stay with her daughter and experienced Skype for the first time. Now she wanted a computer so she could see her grandchildren in the USA – for which she would need a broadband connection (and guess who could provide it).
But the absurdity is that after that one success, I left the list alone once more.
That is, until the other day.
I was presenting a training and encouraging all the delegates to write their lists and I asked: “And how many of these people are we going to call?”
Pausing only for effect, I answered my own question: “All of them!”
And then I explained how awkward we would feel years down the line when we were earning good money and had to explain to someone we meet unexpectedly at a wedding or a funeral why we hadn’t told them about this fantastic industry before – and think how angry they might be with us.
Suddenly I felt this sign light up on the top of my head: A big, red flashing sign saying “Hypocrite!”
Because, of course, I still hadn’t called every name on my own list.
And that was enough: I went home and called a name at random – the husband of my wife’s old friend.
He didn’t seem at all surprised to hear from me. He recognised my name. He knew something about the children. It seemed we had met up sometime in the last few years (although this was a mystery to me).
And then we got to talking about him – how he was involved in an industrial tribunal dispute. About his wife’s new job and how she was finding it really hard…
And so I jumped in with both feet. As I remember it, this is what I said: “Actually there’s a reason I’m ringing you out of the blue and it’s a bit embarrassing. You see I’ve got your name on a list. Five years ago I started a part-time business from home and the first thing they asked me to do was write a list of everyone I knew and ring them. But I didn’t ring you. I don’t know why. I suppose we don’t see each other very often and we live in different parts of the country – anyway for one reason or another I didn’t.
“But in the meantime my business has grown and now I’m the one who tells people to make a list and ring all the names and, because I never called you, that makes me feel like a hypocrite and so now I’m having to make the call after all.”
He said it was OK. Better late than never, he said. He asked what it was all about – and so I asked my question: “Are you in the market for more time or more money … or, perhaps, both.”
“What do you mean?” he wanted to know.
“Well, it’s not something that’s easy to explain over the phone. It would be better if I send you some information by email…”
And that’s what I did.
Two hours later he rang me: “I’ve looked that the information you sent me and I’m really very interested,” he said.
Today he tells me he’s joining.
How am I going to tell him that he could have joined five years ago – if it hadn’t been for me letting my embarrassment get in the way.
I now feel really awkward about this. How long is it going to take him to realise how much my embarrassment has cost him?
But here’s something else to think about: Do you think I am now going to be embarrassed about calling all the other people on the list?
I will feel more embarrassed if I don’t.