23: The Art of Non-Scammy MLM

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brian swichkowIs all network marketing a scam?

It can’t be, right? It’s a $176 billion industry, and one of the most popular side hustles on the planet.

In this episode, Brian Swichkow of CatalystMLM.com shares the true recipe for MLM success, how to choose the right company for you, and pitfalls to avoid.

Brian is on a mission to show the world that multi-level marketing is a legitimate side hustle (and main hustle), and help people learn the right way to go about it.

There is a lot of money spent on hype and selling people on an impossible dream; the reality is it’s a long-game and takes a lot of work — but for those who get it and put in the time, it can be a very attractive and lucrative business.

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You’ll learn:

  • How to spot a good MLM company from a bad one.
  • Why some of the world’s most successful people recommend MLM.
  • How to mitigate your risk.
  • The surefire way to fail, and the arduous but rewarding path to success. (The counter-intuitive thing most successful network marketers do that their counterparts don’t.)
  • Why the most important piece of your “network” is you.
  • Why the long-game approach is the proven path to residual and passive income.
  • Brian’s #1 tip for Side Hustle Nation

Links Mentioned:


“MLM is personal development with a check attached.”

What do you think? I know Side Hustle Nation is an open-minded bunch.

Have you tried any network marketing before? The closest thing I’ve done is my college painting “internship,” which turned out OK, though many of my peers didn’t have the same experience.

I’m curious have you been burned in the past or have you had friends try and pitch you on the next big thing? Let’s get the discussion going in the comments below.

9 thoughts on “23: The Art of Non-Scammy MLM”

  1. I don’t believe MLM is a scam although it can come across that way. I am part of one now because I truly enjoy the products. I tried the “making a list of 100 people and pitching them” type thing which didn’t work for me. Now I know why after listening to this interview.

    I enjoy promoting the products online/offline because I use them. Maybe by learning a different way of team building I could become interested in the networking part of the business. I’ll be checking out Brian’s web site. Good interview!

  2. Hey Eartha! Thanks for stopping by!

    I think that’s a key — finding products you use yourself and love. Then it’s not so much a sales pitch as it is a friendly referral.

    Definitely requires a long-term outlook but I love the recurring revenue potential!

  3. This was a remarkable read read&listen!

    I have been in a Network Marketing company for two years, and while I do see and believe in the power behind the business model, there IS a lot of negativity out there revolving around Network Marketing companies.

    I grimaced as I clicked the link to this page, and fully expected to be bombarded with “Don’t you dare fall for that MLM scam”. Thank you for NOT doing that, and for bringing someone in who was able to provide an experienced yet unbiased review on the pros and cons of Network Marketing, and how to go about it the right way so that you don’t come across as a “scammer”.

    I know for me, I started off my business rah-rah-push-push and did very well in the beginning of my business. But as soon as objections or road blocks came my way (and they did), I was completely deflated. *This is the point where most people give up, and smack-talk the industry*

    A year and a half after my startup, I had come to the conclusion that “It takes a certain kind of personality to be successful in this business”. I was beginning to believe that I’m not good enough/strong enough/capable enough of making a business like this fly.

    The truth is that I am. Brian has reminded me that I haven’t put the right KIND of time and effort in. I haven’t focused enough on growing myself, and growing the strength of the relationships in my life and my business.

    I fully expected to be further discouraged away from my business by this post, but ended up feeling validated, encouraged, and armed with new information on how to pick up where I left off, and start doing the things that matter – like creating VALUE for myself and others.

    Thanks Nick and Brian!

  4. Hi Nick,

    Cool video ;) Funny too, because many MLMers have heard this stuff for years. I tell people, if you are uncomfortable about something or think it is a scam, investigate yourself. Then research deeper.

    Lack of trust runs far and wide due to a few scam operations. In truth, most MLMs are legit, and prospering. S-C-A-M is also commonly used by lazy entrepreneurs to explain away their failures. They blame the opp instead of their sloth lol.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Hey Ryan, thanks for stopping by. I agree — so many of these opportunities are what you make of them. Like Brian said, if you go in expecting instant riches — or the company pitches it that way — you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.

  5. @Eartha while it is important to create a “prospect list” to build your MLM it is equally important to remember that people don’t like to be “prospected” to buy or join something. A prospect list should be a list of people with which you should have intentional conversations and be emotionally unattached from the result. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t care about their response, but rather that you shouldn’t be emotionally attached to them saying “yes”. As Ray Higdon shared in our interview, “I’m going to do this with or without you. I would rather do it with you, but I’m going to do it anyway.” Many multi-level marketers (new and old) fall into the trap of passing a friendly recommendation that, when countered with skepticism, turns into a hard sales pitch because they “just don’t understand” the impact of product/service. Remember to detach yourself from that and just continue the conversation. If someone says “not interested” then don’t walk away, change the conversation and continue the relationship you had with them prior (friend, family, etc). The art of the hard non-sell is a much more tool to have in your arsenal than the “perfect one liner” but it takes a mindset of confidence. You will fail, but so what? You just learned a ton anyway ;)

  6. @Kymber thank you so much for the feedback! I certainly know how you feel as many of the people I follow for advice, from affiliate marketers to sales trainers, are very anti-mlm. It has been our entire team’s mission to rally those people together and offer them an opportunity and a vehicle to change the aspects of the industry that have led them to that perspective.

    Multi-level marketers have a unique opportunity to grow and otherwise benefit from the lessons and insight of MANY (if not all) industries. The ability to apply techniques used in Fortune 500 business to business (B2B) sales within your MLM business can rise you far above other in your company or within the industry. Taking advice from someone who despises your industry can be extremely hard on your mindset, but that doesn’t belittle the power of the education. One of our many goals over the coming years is to show both sides how treating MLM like a real business makes it profit like one.

    You spoke of how, after a year in your MLM business, you considered that you might not be one of the people who can succeed in the industry. The truth is, the people who succeed in the industry are the ones that believe they can. I was at a similar place at one point and actually stopped building my business thinking that I just “wasn’t one of those people.” Truth be told, I wasn’t one of those people … yet. I found another company, was reinvigorated with a new opportunity and a much more active team that encouraged me to push myself and that was when I first saw great success in my MLM business. I’m not suggesting that you switch companies, but I am suggesting that you work on your foundation before you try to build upon it. With what I know now I could have built a great organization in my other company, but I wasn’t ready for that at the time. Find your allies, push yourself, and stop for nothing – after all… we’re talking about your dreams ;)

  7. @Ryan you are absolutely right! All too often there will be people willing to tell you what you’re doing wrong without asking what it is that you’re doing. Never get into business with someone in the business of making assumptions. If someone counters you with an uninformed objection and shows no interest to be open to new information then use Jim Rohn’s “isn’t that interesting” line from his “How To Build A Network Marketing Business” audio series. People do have high walls about the industry, but that’s likely because they have yet to meet someone awesome and you can certainly be that person. I have heard MANY stories of people who hated the industry for decades until they were approached by a now best friend who showed them how it’s meant to be grown.

    And yes! You can tell a lot about someone by where they choose to place blame form a failed business, career, or relationship. People who focus on what THEY could have done better are the people you want to connect with. As Hal Elrod shared in our interview, “focus on the things that you have the ability to change and don’t waste time and energy with what is beyond your control.”

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