Using Social Media to Find a New Direct Sales Opportunity (or, What to Do When Your Company Closes)

A direct selling company closed its doors recently.  This has been an incredibly tough economy to run a business in, and direct selling companies were not immune to it.  Whenever this happens it hurts my heart on a couple of levels.  I know the heartache that consultants who have invested in a company feel when they lose their company.  It’s like losing a person we’ve cared deeply about.  We’ve invested in that relationship, and it hurts to lose it.  And I’ve also been on the other end, as a company owner who had to make the excrutiating decision to close a company, because the sales and recruiting simply could not sustain the operations of that company.  I personally called many people in our field to let them know, and it was truly the hardest day of my professional career.

So for those of you out there who are dealing with that today, no matter which side of the house you’re on, please know that my heart is with you.  But today I also want to talk to those consultants who are now looking for a new opportunity.  Social media can help you with this search, and I want you to be sure that you use the tools available to you, so that you find the very best place to land that you can.  This is such an amazing industry, and once your heart heals I do hope you’ll stay here, and find another opportunity that you can give your all to.

Usually when a company closes, the vultures come out.  These are the ones who will try to snatch you up immediately, more interested in building their own team than in what you need.  Be wise, so the place you land positions you well.

Now of course I’m sure that you already know that you should think about the type of product line that you can fall in love with and wholeheartedly promote.  You need to think about the universal need for the product line, the strength of the opportunity and compensation plan, how well funded the company is, how established you want the company to be, etc.  That’s not what this is about.  Instead, this is about how to find out what your options are, so you place yourself in the best possible position.

So here are some ways you can use social media to find a direct selling position that you love:

  • After identifying specific companies you may be interested in (the Direct Selling Association website is a great place to start looking for ethical companies), do a Google search for the company name.  See what comes up for individual consultants.  This will give you a good idea of the kinds of advertising you’ll be allowed to do if you become a consultant for that company.  The tone of those advertisements will also tell you the way consultants within that company promote their businesses, and how comfortable you would be in that environment.
  • Take a look at the websites of the companies you’re considering.  How progressive are those sites?  Are they simply text-based sites, with or without a shopping cart built in?  Or do they provide engaging applications that will draw in visitors, and provide you with leads?  Is there video and other sales aids?  Do consultants have personal websites?  Can web visitors sign up for the opportunity immediately, or is there a barrier to entry (such as having to go through a consultant first)?  Are a company’s social media presences listed on the home page of the site?  All of these things will tell you how social media friendly a particular company is.  (But if it’s a small company, keep in mind they may not have the budget for a huge amount of bells and whistles.)  Decide what’s important to you, particularly if you hope to build a business using online tools as part of your marketing efforts.
  • Search the bios of people on Twitter who are consultants with the companies you’re checking out by searching the company names on Twellow.  Take a look at the kinds of tweets you see from these folks…are they broadcasting or engaging?  This will give you a good idea of the type of training that the companies you’re considering are providing.  Engage with some of these folks on Twitter, and get a feel for the kind of people they are.  Would you be comfortable building a business with them?  Are they only there for the sale/recruit, or are they willing to build a relationship with you first?
  • Go onto Facebook and search the company names you’re considering.  Check out the company Facebook page (if they have one).  Once you’re on the company page, take a look at who’s posting, and what they’re saying.  Are consultants and other fans generally enthusiastic about the company?  Is the company providing resources you can use to build your business?  Also take a look at Pages and Groups put up by individual consultants.  How well do these represent the company?  What’s allowed?
  • Once you’re considering specific consultants that you may want to sign up under, head over to LinkedIn and check out their profiles.  Do those profiles contain recommendations from people on their teams?  What do others say about how well the person you’re considering supports others?  The more positive comments you can find about a person, the more likely it is that you’ll also be successful under that person.

What other ideas do you have?

And folks, I’m going to IMPLORE you to go easy on these folks who have just lost their companies.  It’s a difficult time, and the last thing they need is for you to pounce on them.  Instead, reach out and lend support, along with a listening ear.  Be a friend first.  It would be awesome if these talented folks decide to join your team.  But they have just been through a loss, and need to get through that first.  Be a friend.  It will make all the difference.

What advice would you give for folks looking for a new opportunity?  What words of wisdom and comfort can you provide?  Been there, done that?  Share your experience!  Can’t wait to read your comments below (but PLEASE don’t pitch your opportunity.  Generic advice only, please!  No company names.  Thanks.)

32 Responses to Using Social Media to Find a New Direct Sales Opportunity (or, What to Do When Your Company Closes)
  1. Kim Hawkins
    July 17, 2013 | 9:56 am

    I’ve been through corporate downsizing as well as the complete shutdown of a company and there is light at the end of the tunnel. The great thing about working in direct sales is there are so many options which give a person a lot of room to grow and work schedules that are conducive to their lifestyle. My advice is be open to the idea of multiple streams of income. You don’t have to carry all of your eggs in one basket with a single job/company.
    Kim Hawkins recently posted..Speak Positive Words Into Your Marriage

  2. Lisa Fehr
    January 31, 2013 | 12:12 pm

    Well spoke, Jen. I cannot believe that anyone could be so cruel to try and “set someone up” the day their relationship ended with a person (death of a spouse, loss of boyfriend, whatever)….but how is it OK on any level then to do that when their company shuts down? People need to look at the needs of others, not themselves. Jen I always appreciate your insightful posts. You are a true leader in this industry, on so many more fronts than people realize.

  3. Sushila Renfro
    July 3, 2011 | 10:54 am

    I know this is a really hard time for those that lost their company but it also can be an opening of a wonderful new door when you are ready. Your experience in the industry will help you pick and chose what you want in your next company. Just like what my friend Lisa Kurtz said about it being like a marriage that has failed when a direct sales company closes, when you are ready to “date” again, you will know so much more about what you are looking for. As a leader in my company, I have made an effort to figure out if the person considering my business is really a right fit and if not I have steered them towards another company that I think better suits them. They value my advice and it’s win/win for both of us. Someday they may have a prospect that they think is a better suit for my company.

  4. Eryn Cadoff
    March 26, 2010 | 2:52 pm

    I think you need to post this one again Jennifer! I’ve probably had 30 people who I don’t even know try to pitch me their opportunity this week. I’m exhausted.

    Eryn Cadoff

  5. Amy Shaw
    March 25, 2010 | 3:54 pm

    Our company recently went through a restructuring and it was not a fun process with the worry of what might happen. We came out of it strong so that was a big relief. I was quite upset by the couple of consultants, who I didn’t even know, who called and tried to bring me over to their company. It was a crazy experience and I feel for those of you going through this right now.

  6. laurel
    March 25, 2010 | 8:21 am

    Hi, I’ve come back to read this post a few times now- its great information and very timely as I was a consultant with one of the companies that closed. It’s been such a shock and your advice is wonderful- so thank you.

    I think one of the toughest things that I’ve dealt with is people from within my own company, who have already moved onto something else, are now “pouncing” on me repeatedly. It just seems desperate and not heartfelt. Some of these former colleagues don’t even know me so it baffles me as to why they would think I would just automatically sign with them (assuming that I am even interested in the opp.). Deciding to start a company is a serious and personal decision- it took me 6 weeks to to decide to come on board with the company that I was with for 3 years. There’s no way I can make a split-second decision to start something brand new.

    I think my success was based on the personal connections I made with people both within my company, and with my customers, and I think it is a key element in DS, so it really is worth repeating that it should be key in dealing with consultants who have just lost their business: keep it personal, listen from the heart, it’s not about your wants or “why”- it’s about relationships….

    Thanks,
    laurel

    • Jennifer Fong
      March 25, 2010 | 8:45 am

      Thanks for your comments Laurel. I’m heartbroken to hear about the loss of such a great company, and I wish you and all your colleagues well as you decide what comes next. You make some great points, and I appreciate you sharing them.

      Cheers!
      Jennifer

  7. Todd Pillars
    March 24, 2010 | 9:48 pm

    WOW. I’m super impressed with the conversation here on your blog, Jennifer!

    With all the “attraction marketing” hype going on I did a double-take at the title of this post – I must say I thought (maybe a wee bit cynically) that it might be a reverse twist with a double backflip into a pitch – and I beg your forgiveness, it wasn’t!

    As my first post I want to say that you’ve made some GREAT points for doing GREAT business. Thank you! We can hope that readers take it to heart.

    You’ve got a follower here! And I have some reading of older posts to do :)

    Have a super day!

    • Jennifer Fong
      March 25, 2010 | 8:14 am

      Welcome Todd! Glad you’ve joined us here. :)

      Jennifer

  8. Debra Warren
    March 24, 2010 | 8:02 pm

    Jennifer, Thank you for such a warm and empowering post. Together, we can embrace and elevate those touched by the challenges as well as our direct sales profession. Thanks for leading the way with your voice!

    Deb

  9. deb bixler
    March 24, 2010 | 6:43 pm

    Research is certainly the most important thing when getting started. Careful thought should definitely put into a new business. DS professionals like everyone else in the world buy emotionally and so at a time when emotions are high it is especially important to take time and make a well researched decision. Wait until the shock is over all and emotions are more stable to make your decision. In a time that home business hype is everywhere and the “ground floor” opportunities are pushed as the best place to be picking a solid company is key. All of the the areas you mentioned are good research tools. I have worked with “ground floor” companies that are solid and ones that are not so solid so care must be taken.

  10. Kim Brunssen
    March 24, 2010 | 6:05 pm

    I can only imagine the pain those who have lost their company are feeling. A dear friend was one of those impacted, it’s just awful and my heart goes out to you all.
    When I first read your very insightful post this morning, something bothered me. Thinking about it all day, I’ve finally pinpointed why. I think that to view all of those calls from acquaintances or strangers, as sharks and vultures would be increasing the pain and adding more drama to an intense situation.
    Despite the fact that I’ve been blessed not to have my company close their doors, I’d like to encourage those impacted to view those calls differently. If your phone is ringing off the hook, you’ve either done a great job promoting yourself or you have an incredible reputation, with your immediate acquaintances or in the Direct Sales Industry. While I acknowledge there are opportunists out there, to give them power or to take on the roll of the victim will not help the situation.
    Everyone in Direct Sales is involved in a relationship business. Most of us are women, and as women, we typically like to reach out to (and take care of) those who are hurting. Every time you hear the phone ring, imagine it is just another hug from someone who cares. If you don’t recognize the number, simply let it go to voicemail. It is OK not to answer, you’re grieving! If it’s really a call you would benefit from, it will be there when you’re ready. (((hugs)))

    • Jennifer Fong
      March 25, 2010 | 8:17 am

      Kim,
      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I’m guessing that you’ve probably never been through a company closing yourself, and I sincerely hope you never are. The point I’m making here is that people need time to grieve the loss of a company they’ve loved (it’s SO much more than business…it’s the relationships we’ve built that we’re grieving). When people (even strangers) pitch a company without first taking the time to listen to those that have suffered a loss, that is “vulture” behavior. I’m hoping to help some folks reading this blog to avoid making that mistake, too. And I believe in calling that behavior what it is.

      No one is playing a victim. But we need to take seriously what people have been through, so we can support them, and hopefully retain a lot of these very valuable, talented folks within this incredible industry.

      Jennifer

  11. Sarita Schraeder
    March 24, 2010 | 4:23 pm

    My heart truly goes to you who have suffered such a loss. I went through the same thing about 3 years ago. I was so devestated! My whole life was wrapped up in that company and I had a team of over a hundred. It truly did feel like a death. It was so sudden and I was in shock.

    I think the biggest thing that you have to remember is that they can take away your product, your team and your income, but they can’t take away the experience and knowlege you gained. Chances are good, you can apply that and build another business in DS. I did! and after 3 years I finally feel like I found a home. It takes a while that’s for sure and there are days I look back and think, wow! what could have been… So, definitely, give yourself time to heal.

    However, if you go back to working in the “real world” * wink, you are also going to have a great resume as a previous business owner. So, it was never time wasted.

    And as for the pouncers… I was pounced on and it felt like geting hit on at my dead husband’s funeral ( just an anology).
    Whatever happens in your futures, I wish you all peace and happiness.

    Sarita

  12. Dawn
    March 24, 2010 | 3:53 pm

    Great article! And, very true. I used to be part of one of the companies that closed their doors yesterday and did not intend to pounce on any of the friends that I called yesterday. There were just a couple, but I wanted them to know that there are safe companies out there if they needed a new source of income right away. I, personally, would have been devastated from the loss of income perspective and would have needed to line up something new right away.

    Nonetheless, let me publicly apologize for offending anyone, it was not intended.

    I would certainly welcome the opportunity to work again with any of the wonderful people that I met at my previous place – they were fun, supportive, professional, and will add value to anywhere they land.

    Good luck to everyone!

    • Jennifer Fong
      March 24, 2010 | 4:00 pm

      Dawn,
      Thanks for your comment! I guess the point here is that is can be approached well, from the standpoint of the needs of the person that just lost their company. For those that need to replace income quickly, you may have offered a solution. I guess the point is just to listen first (isn’t that always the advice???) so that you know what someone needs. Don’t start with the opportunity. Start with the heart.

      Cheers to you for your honesty and transparency!
      Jennifer

  13. Shanna Hatfield
    March 24, 2010 | 11:59 am

    Hi Jennifer,
    Thank you for sharing this wonderful article and great advise. Researching the options is the very best way to make an informed decision!
    Shanna

  14. Janica
    March 24, 2010 | 11:48 am

    Thanks for this post Jennifer. And thank you to all the people who are being compassionate to those of us who have lost our company. It is like loosing a spouse — and those who are looking up people and calling them are like people who show up at the funeral to hit on the widow.

    Your advise for choosing a new company is very good. I will be forwarding it to many of my friends and downline.

    Thanks for your sincere support.

  15. Andrew C Sargeant
    March 24, 2010 | 11:39 am

    Sorry to hear such news…
    My heart goes out to all who has experience this recent challenge.

    I totally agree with Jennifer and all who commented here. Take some time off – “Time to regroup” as Diane Smith said.
    To thoes who are going through this – Don’t jump into anything right now – I don’t care how good it looks.
    You will know when its time to get back in.

    All the very best to you and the Heavenly Father bless you and yours always.

    With love from a fellow DS
    Andrew C

  16. Mary Irwin
    March 24, 2010 | 11:33 am

    Oh Jennifer…I could so have done with reading that 10 years ago! In 2000 my company (a publisher) was sold and the buyers closed down the direct selling arm of the company immediately. I Had spent 4 years building a team of 500 people and I vividly remember spending a whole night driving around South Wales putting notes through my leaders’ doors so that they would hear the awful news from me rather than just through a letter which had been posted before I had the phonecall. It was heartbreaking and I almost walked away from direct selling – not just because of the closure but because of the aptly named ‘vulture’ behaviour – much of which I believe was driven by pure desperation. I did decide to give it another try but I waited until the dust settled…ignored both the enticements and the character assassinations and then started again from scratch. I was confident in my own skills and understanding of the business and felt that – for me- the best thing was to move right out of the frenzy. I found a great company – researched it well then started building a brand new business. Many of the distributors in my team had decided to follow my uplines into a variety of companies and it just did not feel right to me – so I held firm – taking a fair amount of abuse in the process. What I did not realise at the time was that I had built up huge personal credibility in my original company so that people were watching to see what I did. Many of them became my customers and a couple eventually came on board my new venture – but they approached me.

    10 years later I have a business I love – with 5 times the traders and almost ten times the volume of my original venture. I am so pleased I tried just once more. It was heartbreaking and I had to work myself through the various bereavement stages ..which took some time. I struggled to trust my situation for a long time (even though, as an accountant I understand that all of our direct selling companies need to operate in a commercial environment and make commercial decisions).
    I now train my team members to build their own personal brand within their company framework + to build their own credibility / strong relationships etc..skills in the industry etc…because I know that , should they ever find themselves in a similar situation…these are the things which will carry them through.

    I’s not what happens to us that counts – it is how we respond to what happens to us ..and…I find myself really grateful to my original company for opening the doors to my awareness of the opportunities available in this great industry!

  17. Lisa Kurtz
    March 24, 2010 | 11:28 am

    My heart is just breaking for these consultants, and their loss. A few years ago, a friend of mine, also in Direct Sales went through this same kind of loss and I remember her saying at the time, that she felt like her marriage just ended. As Direct Sellers we invest ourselves emotionally, physically and financially in this business and it IS just like a marriage in many ways. If your friend just lost her husband, would you be trying to ‘set her up’ with someone else, or would you be consoling her and giving her time to grieve her loss……..

    • Carrie
      March 24, 2010 | 11:51 am

      Lisa – you and I think alike. That’s the same analogy I was thinking of!

    • Sushila Renfro
      July 3, 2011 | 10:47 am

      Oh Lisa, how insightful! Thank you!

  18. Eryn Cadoff
    March 24, 2010 | 11:08 am

    Jen – this is a great article! As you and many others know, I was a part of one of the companies that closed for over 5 years (along with Fabulous Carrie – the previous poster) before deciding to recently join Stella & Dot. I have had a ton of people I DON’T KNOW call and email me in the last 48 hours pitching their company to me. I’ve been in direct sales a long time…I don’t need people pouncing on me with product X – it’s unprofessional. Especially since my phone started ringing with people I didn’t know within 1 hour of finding out the company had closed.

  19. Diane Smith
    March 24, 2010 | 10:45 am

    Jennifer, Thanks for posting your article today. I, too, have been thinking of those whose companies have closed with a heavy heart. I can’t imagine that happening, and yet it’s been happening all to frequently lately. I’ve struggled with calling some ladies I’m acquainted with because I did not want to be a “vulture”, but wanted them to know that I am thinking of them and wishing them well. I, too, say, don’t give up on direct sales; remember what you love about it — setting your own hours, meeting new friends, earning those incentive trips, the income, working as hard or as little as you want at any given time and the product that you are passionate about…. Take tiime to take a breath and regroup, new doors will open when they’re ready to go through.

    • Carrie
      March 24, 2010 | 11:07 am

      Diane-
      That’s the right way to handle it! (From my emotional perspective right now. ;-) I had one person that expressed her sincere condolences, asked me about my upcoming wedding… Got personal. In a later correspondence, she mentioned that she belonged to a direct sales company, but would wait to talk to me about it after I was done with wedding plans… Didn’t even push the name, product, nothing. I thought that was sweet. She knew what I was going through and took interest in my personal life. She showed it wasn’t just about her…

      Thanks to everyone for all your suggestions on how to do our research. It’s much appreciated.

  20. Melissa Laverty
    March 24, 2010 | 10:31 am

    Jen- Ugh. I can’t even imagine. So, like you, my heart goes out to those who have built teams and businesses and made deep connections to their respective companies.
    I suggest you do the research you’re talking about to find the right company, one that fits you best. Then, you need to find the right sponsor – one that truly understands that they best way to grow their business is to help you grow yours. Find a business builder and in this connected world of social media, it doesn’t matter if she is three towns over or across the country (that might almost be better). If your sponsor is connected on Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, etc, she will be more apt to be connected to you.
    Best of luck and please, don’t be afraid to come back and join us in this DS world. Those customers you had with your old company were YOUR customers and I would bet good money that they’ll follow you whereever you go.

  21. Nina Anderson
    March 24, 2010 | 9:51 am

    Hi Jennifer and thanks for posting such a compassionate note. As all direct sellers know, we pour our hearts into what we do; we work very hard to build our customer base to grow our businesses. My heart also goes out to all consultants that have recently lost their company.

    But moving forward, if I chose to continue to stay with in the direct selling field, I would go back and revisit my initial goals, and determine my “why”. Why did I enter into direct selling to begin with and what did I want to accomplish. I would look at what interests me and how I could take the hard earned clientele that I have grown and transition them into my new business venture. I am sure that each of these consultants has a strong customer base that is loyal to them and will trust their decision moving forward.

    Additionally, this could be a blessing in disguise for many consultants; maybe this is the jump-start they needed to take their direct selling business to that next level. A new opportunity for everyone involved.

  22. Linda McCormick
    March 24, 2010 | 9:35 am

    Great article Jennifer. The advice I would give them is to not give up on direct sales. It is a great business vehicle. Many of us have gone through multiple companies until we found the right one for us.

  23. Carrie
    March 24, 2010 | 9:28 am

    I belonged to one of the Direct Sales Companies that closed. I am grieving right now. The last thing I want is to be bombarded by others who want me to join them. Jennifer is right, the vultures do come out and the only thing they show is that they are only interested in building their own team.

    If I do decide to get back in Direct Sales, I will not be signing with one person who has just pounced on me. This was the life I lived and the concept I had a passion for for 6 years. It’s like I’ve lost a spouse and everyone is trying to set me up with someone else the next day. What’s sad is that it has come from strangers as well as people I consider friends.

    Thanks for the advice, Jen, on how to find what best meets our own needs. And also, be a friend. Be there for us, don’t just pitch your company as the next best thing. We’re hurting!

    Thanks.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks
  1. uberVU - social comments
  2. Tweets that mention Using Social Media to Find a New Direct Sales Opportunity (or, What to Do When Your Company Closes) | Direct Sales and Social Media -- Topsy.com
Leave a Reply


Wanting to leave an <em>phasis on your comment?

CommentLuv badge

Trackback URL http://www.jenfongspeaks.com/using-social-media-to-find-a-new-direct-sales-opportunity-or-what-to-do-when-your-company-closes/trackback/