Kathleen, you are right about the “direct sales” thing. They use it because MLM has the well-deserved bad connotation with pyramid schemes. I try to explain to people that true direct selling would be something like Ebay… there’s no inherent multi-level commissions implied by the term “direct sales.” It almost reminds of calling an illegal dog fight a “recreational gaming event.” It may be true, but is far from an accurate description.
MaryAnne, I would recommend finding a product that you LOVE, a product that you feel can benefit the people around you and who you feel integrity with. You want to find their products useful so that you will feel good about buying them every month and want to share them with other. It is a business, but you also want to be able to have fun with it too
As a last resort, you could try cold calling by phone. This is probably the most depressing and soul destroying activity on the planet. Even if you get past the usual questions such as ‘If you’re selling something – I’m not interested’ and ‘How did you get my number?’ you need a really slick and professional script and the ability to recognize and avoid lonely old ladies who just want to interact with someone, anyone, in fact.
The best thing that I can tell you from years of experience trying various companies is that there is no short cut. There are many MLM lead companies out there and several that purport to 'break the compensation structure' of MLM companies. But stop and ask yourself that if they were making so much money with this 'system' in a network marketing company... so much so that they broke the compensation structure... why are they spending so much time creating and marketing this system?
Recruitment is an integral part of any MLM, but it doesn’t need to be the focus. Whenever MLMs charge high startup fees, require high recruitment for a commission, do not provide sales training, or otherwise value recruitment over product, that’s a clue that it is not a good MLM to join. Network marketing companies should rely on networks to sell products, instead of only recruiting your network.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) states: "Steer clear of multilevel marketing plans that pay commissions for recruiting new distributors. They're actually illegal pyramid schemes. Why is pyramiding dangerous? Because plans that pay commissions for recruiting new distributors inevitably collapse when no new distributors can be recruited. And when a plan collapses, most people—except perhaps those at the very top of the pyramid—end up empty-handed."[45]
MLM restructures the traditional business model — manufacturer to retail shop to customer — such that sales agents working for the manufacturer sell directly to customers, bypassing the retail shop altogether. MLM companies can then convert customers into advocates for their products and possibly even sales agents. Because there is no retail store for the products they sell, MLM agents typically work from their homes, interacting with customers in the community or, more often, over the internet.

Many MLM companies recommend starting with a list of 100 people you know, called your warm market. Although it's not a bad place to start when looking for customers and business builders, the technique could also backfire and get to the point where you're annoying friends and family. You're better off spending your time finding people who are interested in what you've got rather than trying to convince your commuting buddy to sign up when he doesn't want to.
Most prospective clients are going to be found online because they are searching for related information and will make the purchase right away. These are the prospects that should be the main focus of any campaign that is being set-up by yourself in order to garner interest. The online world is where the most accessible market is and you are able to work 24/7 without even having to sit on the computer physically.
4) Treat your MLM business like a business. Despite what you might hear, MLM isn't a get rich scheme. Like any business it requires you to define your target market, reach out to your market, and make sales.You have a sponsor to help you, but she isn't going to do the work for you.Your success in MLM or any business is based on the quality of work you do.
5. Internet. Having a personal Web site linked to your company's Web site is becoming mandatory for the successful distributor. Your Web and e-mail addresses are the technological version of a business card and brochure. Internet recruiting still requires some high touch to entice people to view your page. Because this is of significant interest, I'll address Internet lead development techniques in detail in a future article. For now, view it as a support tool and not as an alternative to personal interaction.

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I absolutely agree you have to be careful when evaluating an MLM. Unfortunately, there are probably more bad apples than good ones. It’s tricky to know whether or not it’s a legal MLM or a pyramid scheme because they can be very similar. I understand pyramid schemes to simply be an exchange of money. There is no real product that’s being sold, or at least not one that’s reasonably priced. I’ve also learned it’s proven that pyramid’s schemes can’t survive long-term because the model doesn’t sustain itself. I’ve had a few experiences with MLM’s and will wrap up by saying it’s not a model for everyone.
7. Ads in local newspapers. Classified ads can pull many leads if handled properly, and weekly newspapers are usually inexpensive. You can use this method to drive people to your Web site as well. But be careful with your investment here. Getting leads is easy. Converting them into productive parts of your organization is hard work, but it's a strategy that will get results as you improve your cold sponsoring and training skills.

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A program with no or a low-quality product, or with a focus on getting paid per recruit, could be an illegal pyramid scheme. However, don't let the term pyramid throw you off. It's not the shape of the organization that makes it illegal. In fact, most companies have a pyramid structure with a CEO at the top, VPs next, mid-level managers etc. What makes an illegal pyramid scheme is the lack of a quality product, or that income is earned on recruiting, not commissions from sales.  

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In April 2006, the FTC proposed a Business Opportunity Rule intended to require all sellers of business opportunities—including MLMs—to provide enough information to enable prospective buyers/participants to make an informed decision about acquiring/joining a business venture with information disclosed about the average likelihood of monetary profitability (and the extent of monetary profitability, if any) of acquiring/joining the business venture. In March 2008, however, the FTC removed "Network Marketing" (i.e. MLM) companies from the proposed Business Opportunity Rule, thus leaving MLM participants without the ability to make an informed choice of entering or not entering MLMs based on the disclosed likelihood of success and profitability:
Considering their products are botanically based with an ingredient policy that prohibits many of the chemicals and fillers Mary Kay and Avon still use in their own products, I’d say they’ve established a business for men and woman who are truly serious about the health of their skin, not just the evenness of their complexion. A little research goes a long way.

Sales agents in MLM companies frequently work for commissions on sales. In addition, MLM agents typically get commissions on the sales of their “downstream.” Sales agents are able to recruit new sales agents into their “downstream,” and those sales agents can recruit new agents as well. An MLM sales agent usually makes money from each sale in their “downstream,” creating a form of passive income.
Then figure out where your target customers can be found—both physically and virtually. College students who need more income can be found on campus or on online forums or websites about learning to manage your money. Athletes and people who lead healthy lifestyles can be found at gyms and online groups or websites about running, yoga, healthy eating, and more.
To find quality high converting mlm leads you need to compare different mlm companies and find one that has proven results from those in the field. You are looking for a company where no matter what mlm or network marketing business you are involved in will be able t give you quality leads. For finding leads on your own you need to advertise, create websites, write articles and some how get more and more people to come to you for information. Creating your own leads is a far more wise decision then spending your hard earned money on people who haven't even asked for what you are offering. You can't even compare that to a person who specifically fills out a form and requests more information about your business. Stop wasting your time targeting the wrong MLM leads for your business (opportunity seekers – people who have only proven that they know how to fill out a form) and target the right leads to your business "proven business opportunity buyers" (other networkers - people who have already proven that they can and will spend money on a business opportunity.
A few noteworthy points on this list… The only companies considered for this list are U.S.A. based; and if you click on each and every company linked above, what you will not find should be as interesting to you (and as revealing) as what you will find. There are no travel companies, only two technology companies (ACN and 5LINX), just one service company (Legal Shield), and 22 health and wellness companies. Even Amway, whose core product line still includes soap, really got started by way of the wellness revolution! Read this book by Paul Zane Pilzer and you’ll understand why nutrition, weight management, and skincare products continue to drive the trends in the network marketing industry to this day.
I’ve been using these leads for over 2 years now and have built large organizations. Not only are the leads of great quality but the support is excellent. I use a simple six-step process to train my team. When you have leads who are all looking to start a home-based business, this is a very simple and duplicatable process. Cal Faber Victoria B.C. Canada –  

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