Networking Isn’t Multi-Level Marketing


We have all heard of Multi-Level Marketing.  Unfortunately many people approach networking in the same fashion and they think that the networks other people have built belong to them for their marketing purposes.  Just because I am on Linkedin doesn’t mean I have been recruited to sell other people’s products or services.

People find me in various ways.  They see that I am connected to somebody they want to reach for the sole purpose of generating financial currency for themselves.  They reach out by email, phone or introductions and ask me to connect them to my contacts. Often my contacts are senior level people and decision makers.

These people who are basically strangers who I don’t know but they think my network belongs to them.  Sorry, it has taken me decades to build my network often by going to networking events when I wanted to do other things, or getting up to early speak to a group at 7 in the morning.  My network is not a public service.  I am not going to connect strangers to my contacts.

The only people I open up my network to more freely are students, people in transition or if I see a good fit.  Connecting a person in transition to a company when that person is not a qualified candidate is not a high return strategy for anyone.  Fruitless activity is not high opportunity job hunting. These individuals would be better served learning how to fish but they want the quick fix and coming to me is the easier path.

“We are on Linkedin together” doesn’t really create some kind of fraternal bond when there are over 100 million people on Linkedin. All my connections aren’t your connections because we are on Linkedin. Linkedin isn’t a giant Amway.  I feel more connected to the 200 plus people in Canadians in OC because we share similar backgrounds and shared interests like curling.

I often get solicitations from people thru Linkedin asking me to connect them to a second degree connection.  Connecting strangers to strangers is not networking.  I will also not write a Linkedin recommendation for anybody that I have not had a working relationship with.

As I have a very extensive network I also get emails saying that I have quite an impressive network.  They would love to get together and see how we can help each other.  In the past I used to bite but only very rarely did I find that they really wanted to help me.  It was their interest and access to my network that was their primary concern.  If I didn’t follow up I never heard from them.

I often meet people who almost upon immediately meeting me ask “Who are your clients?”  They have a solution looking for a problem.  They get no time.

I have become very skeptical of outreach that says. “Let’s see how we can help each other.”  I have no problems finding people that need help.  It is all around us.  I would rather focus on them than people that want to use me.

Connect with Hank on LinkedIn, Twitter, & Facebook:


Watch my video on the ” Power of Networking“.


6 thoughts on “Networking Isn’t Multi-Level Marketing

  1. I agree completely with everything you said. The term networking is overused and misused all the time. I would never go to a second or third level contact on Linkedin and ask for an introduction. I might ask you for advice and hope you respond, but your network is something you have developed and for you to use to your own best advantage. Some are betters than others at developing networks. I am not great. I am not a great public speaker, my past jobs have kept me in the background and I am something of an introvert. I know my craft and know it well. My problem is convincing people of that. I have also learned, the hard way I guess, that longevity is no longer a positive. I spent 22 years in my last position before my job was “eliminated.” Loyalty to an employer does not count for much any more. I guess the upside is, if you change jobs more frequently, you will develop a bigger network. Something of a catch 22.

  2. I’ve no problem with genuine offers to “help each other”. It’s how this country was built. It also happens to be how a network that I belong to has become famous even though it is private and by invite only. After three decades, the network has produced more hit companies, more best-selling authors, and more break through products and ideas, than any other organization.

    One thing I would love to have seen mentioned in your article are “Mixers” that are nothing more than a guise for a card-pushing contest, and the folks who ask for a business card without getting to know you, and the same who send you a newsletter the next day. That’s not networking either.

    When I’m out and about at a quality function, I’m very happy if I walk away with two or three cards with the intention of sitting down to break bread and genuinely see if I can help them.

    As always, Hank, great fodder for discussion and discussion!

    Dave Phillipson, Master Connector
    CEO Space
    The World’s Largest, Oldest & Most
    Successful Organization for CEOs,
    Entrepreneurs & Visionary Investors

    P.S. Those that know me, understand there’s not much that gets me as excited as helping a fellow entrepreneur. I’m passionate about sharing my resources, knowledge, and elite connections in order to build business cooperatively.

    I do this by receiving referrals from people like you. Who do you know that’s a business owner and wants to grow with strength & velocity?

  3. Another great . I can relate to my days as a network marketing gangster where I thought everyone’s network was mine.
    How do you handle a situation where a stranger asks to connect with someone in your network?

  4. Hank Blank

    Thanks very much. It depends on what the situation is. If it is a total stranger asking me to introduce them to somebody I know because they are on their hit list I don’t do it. If it is somebody in transition and I know them I will forward. Hope this helps. Hank

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