I had an unusual business experience the other day. I am not going to trash the company involved, nor the person involved, however I had a meeting about a business opportunity based, apparently, on my significant social media experience and metaverse evangelism.
It turned out that this was not a consulting job, nor even some free advice, and certainly not startup sweat equity.
Instead it turned out to be a “network marketing” opportunity. I sat through the presentation, knowing from the first opening gambit where this was going, and used the experience to observe the selling technique, and to be a little more observant on the mix of actual facts and science blended with emotional pointers to personal greed and aspirational statements.
At the end I pointed out it looked and sounded like a pyramid scheme ( which I was assured it was not as that’s illegal). Of course the answers are there for anyone challenging such a business, at it may have indeed been the best opportunity that I have never taken, but calling it network marketing still feels like a pyramid scheme. The definition of that made me challenge my perception of what we all do across social media. Obviously some people use these channels for network marketing. However where does snake oil, spamming crossover with good moral codes?
It became clear to me that when I am interested in something I will promote it, I will share it and I will help people understand why. However, and this is important to me personally, I do not do that to try and extract cash from my network. I view my network as a varied mix of people who are influenced and influence in equal measures. It is a support mechanism to lead to other business and other interesting avenues of investigation. That mutual support could be said to be what they do in an MLM but they really aren’t that are they?
In thinking that though there is clearly some difference, but also at a certain level of abstraction its the same as any Multi level marketing? I share things, get them passed on, and hope that they come back in a good way. In virtual worlds that was passing on the lessons and opportunities in Second Life initially and then on other platforms. It helped in some small part, make SL’s enterprise demand arise. That experience of growing that type of interest and business through social media and through being in all this together is what comes back to me as the sort of consulting, development and public speaking that I now do to generate further reputation and also money to pay the mortgage as a startup.
The Network Marketing approach seems geared to help others become passionate enough about the product that they persuade others in.
I am, though, still convinced that my personal intent and business ethics have less direct greed, or less apparent preying on others. That may be a naive attitude to some of the more hard nosed business people out there but I think that doing things for the right reason, not solely for the cash, not solely out of pride should be an aim in life, if at all possible. That starts to be a huge moral issue, when is it all right to make enough money that you can than be philanthropic?
For me though, I know that right at the moment I cant see me wanting to partake of any of this network markering gigs, no matter how good I may end up being about it. If was was great at it and lucked out I would be doing so at the expense of others. If I was not then I would just have been suckered in.