Listen to the podcast here:
Watch the episode here
You may often hear success stories of people in MLM, otherwise known as network marketing. Behind the glitz and glamor, though, is a lot of persistence, patience, and hard work. Joining the podcast today is internationally acclaimed online marketer Scott Aaron. He is an expert in using LinkedIn and social media strategies to grow his MLM business exponentially over the years. He now coaches entrepreneurs and online business owners to build their network organically and achieve their own success. Tune in to find out how you can find success in MLM online as well.
Scott Aaron: Applying What MLM Taught Me
I’m excited to be with Scott Aaron. I know we are going to have a fascinating conversation. Scott, you are not only a lead generation strategist. You have been in the network marketing space. You learned a lot there. You have spawned several different businesses and revenue streams. We are going to talk a little bit about how the average networker can build the business of their dreams but also protect themselves in the process. I’m excited to have you on.
I’m honored and grateful to be here. I’m looking forward to diving into anything and everything.
Tell us a little bit about your entree into network marketing. How did you get started as a traditional rags-to-riches story? What were the motivation and your transition? Give everybody a little bit of an idea of who Scott is.
I have been an entrepreneur my entire life. I started entrepreneurship when I was around nineteen. I started in the health and wellness industry. I was a brick-and-mortar gym owner, myself, and my family. I was a personal trainer and sports nutritionist, but I got thrown into it in an unorthodox way. My father is also an entrepreneur still to this day. He made some bad business decisions, and he ended up in federal prison for a couple of years.
How old were you at that time?
I was almost nineteen years old. I was a sophomore in college.
That had to have quite an impact. Were you pretty close to your dad?
We are still best friends. I had to go through a lot of healing later on. There were a lot of stuffed feelings. He was my baseball and basketball coach. We celebrated his 70th birthday. I said to him, “The beautiful thing about our relationship is that it has evolved the way that a father and son relationship should, where you go from father and son to friends.” He is my father, but I consider him a friend more than anything else, which is a wonderful thing.
That was the most impactful thing for me because I didn’t have a direction in my life. I was partying my way through college. I was undeclared and undecided. I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I knew I wanted to be in business, but I didn’t have any inspiration. I wasn’t motivated by anything besides listening to Phish, going on concert tours, and hanging out with my friends. That was it.
When this all came, my dad said, “You are going to have to take over the family business.” I left the University of Pittsburgh. I spent a couple of semesters in community college and transferred to Temple University in Downtown Philadelphia, which was down the street from my gym in Downtown Philly. That was my entryway into entrepreneurship.
I didn’t see it as a challenge. I saw it as “This is the hand that you are dealt. Go make it work.” I did. I fell in love with being a business owner. I fell in love with interacting with people, building communities and relationships, growing, and scaling. That was from 1998 to 1999. This is pre-social media. This is pre-internet. If you had a website for your gym, you were ahead of the curve. I learned a lot. With personal training in sports nutrition, I learned about structure, routine, discipline, and consistency. All four of those things are vital in growing any business.
Fast forward to 2013, I sold two of our health clubs for $1 million. We opened a third and final location in 2004, which I had to fully finance myself because, with my father’s incarceration years prior, my parents had no credit. They couldn’t put their name to anything. They were liens from the government. I had to sign off on a lot of things, which ended up amounting to about $1.5 million of liability debt about several years after we opened the gym. This is 2010.
I had to get scrappy as far as finding ways to continue to earn money. I would run boot camps, do grocery shopping with my clients, and charge them for my time. I was always thinking about other ways of making money. I was not a linear person. I was a bob and weaver. If something would get thrown my way, I would duck. I was like, “Let’s go do this now.” I always found a way. I always made something work. I never dwelled on things that didn’t work. I always focused on what I can do better.
It sounds a little bit more like the hustle instead of the entrepreneur, a little bit of paying this bill that is in front of me and figuring out a way to make it happen.
I was making six figures as a personal trainer, which was a high accomplishment that also meant I had no time to live. I would train people from 5:00 AM to 9:00 PM every single day. That was my life. I became a dad in 2012. That things shifted for me because it was a new priority in my life. It wasn’t me. I had my ten-year-old to focus on, and I wanted to be available.
In 2013, an interesting question was asked me. It was going to be by my enrolling sponsor, which I didn’t know at the time. He said to me, “If you got sick or injured where you couldn’t train, you couldn’t physically get to the gym. You couldn’t physically trade time for dollars anymore. If something happened to the gym, how would you make money?” I said, “I have no clue.”
He said, “You got to start thinking about that.” He didn’t even say, “You got to sign up with me.” He said, “I want you to start thinking about that.” We spent a couple of weeks together working out and catching up. We had known each other prior. He said, “There is an opportunity that you would benefit from being in the gym industry. It was a helpful market.”
It is a traditional approach. You get started in the business. Fast forward, you are building in network marketing. How long were you in that space?
I built from 2013 to 2017. I have earned close to $400,000 in that time period. I grew a team of 5,000 people. I did it leveraging LinkedIn. I started the traditional realm of friends, family, social media, Facebook, and Instagram, but it didn’t feel right to me. I didn’t want my family and my friends in my business. I wanted to continue to have a relationship with my family and my friends being that. I didn’t want to cross-pollinate.
I wanted to create new connections and new relationships. I saw LinkedIn as the best opportunity to do that because it is a social networking platform, not a social media platform. I wanted to network. That is how I grew a lot of my business. I started to grow in scale at the end of 2013. Several months after I started, my business started to go through the roof. I hit $10,000 a month in network marketing in about 22 months, which some people may not seem fast, but under two years, that is good.
Going into that process, around 2014, when I started to get real traction and growth, my business coach at the time invited me onto his podcast. He said, “Can you share some strategies and tips on LinkedIn about how someone in network marketing could leverage LinkedIn to build their business?” I said, “Absolutely.”
I started throwing out all these facts and things that I was doing. When I got off that call, I had eight inboxes on Facebook of people wanting to hire me. They were like, “We pay you.” I’m like, “You are going to pay me to teach you how to use LinkedIn?” They were like, “Yes, what do you charge?” I didn’t even know what I charged. I didn’t have a website. A light bulb went off, and I was like, “There is a gap here.”
People have context. What products and services were you marketing?
Health and wellness nutritional supplements. It was a perfect niche for me because I had been in the industry for several years at the time.
It is decent for LinkedIn. It’s not necessarily perfect, but a lot of people are interested in health wellness.
I realized that the best people that I should be networking with are people that are my mirror image, other trainers, nutritionists, and gym owners because I would have a relatable conversation where I could use that same question on them, “If you got sick or injured, how would you make money?” I did have a strong influence in the health and wellness space because I was doing it in a non-traditional way.
I wasn’t going after the product consumers. I was going after the business-minded people because when I looked at the company that I partnered with their compensation plan, I saw it was leaning heavily towards the money in building a team rather than building it through consumers. I couldn’t do the business by myself. I needed to build a sales team and a distribution channel. That was the thing I saw.
I’m like, “I don’t want to be a sales rep. I want to be a business owner.” The closest thing to being a business owner within network marketing is growing your own team and organization because your influence and your education could help those people. I wanted a team that was built around other wellness entrepreneurs, wellness business owners, and people that understood what it takes to grow a business.
What I learned was this. It was going to take me twice as long to build a business if I had to teach people that had never been in wellness and business for themselves how to be an entrepreneur and how to do something like network marketing. I was able to trim the fat because I was able to connect and build a team and organization around other wellness entrepreneurs and business entrepreneurs who understood what it took to grow a business.
They already had the mindset in place. They probably already had the network and contacts themselves if they chose to go that route.
As things started to ramp up, I started doing some coaching and consulting. In 2016, the first hiccup happened, where jealousy is the biggest sign of flattery. There were some people out there that were jealous of the success I was having outside of network marketing. They reported me to compliance with the company that I partnered with, and they froze my account. After investigation, they didn’t find anything wrong. They released my account 30 days later. Several months later, someone else complained, and they froze my account. This time it was for about eight months.
This was my big turn of the mirror moment for me. As I mentioned in my story, I had never been employed and never worked for anyone, only for myself. That was the first moment I felt like someone was controlling my livelihood. That did not sit well with me. If you back me into a corner and you try to control how I’m going to live my life, it is game over. I’m going to bowl right through you and find my own path. I’m going to hustle my way in a different direction. I took that as I wasn’t being supported, but I said, “I’m going to meet this situation where it is, shift my energy, and start focusing on me and assets that I can create that can’t be frozen.”
That is a message you are delivering to other networkers. Much to our dismay, maybe we got CEOs or leaders, but it does remind me of the fact are we are here to serve, whether it is a leader of a company or an organization, but we live in this social world. People can do other stuff. The days of being locked into one company and one single thing. It is got to be about creating value. That is some of the messaging that you are delivering to leaders now.
Network marketing changed everything for me. It helped me understand the skillset I learned in being a brick-and-mortar business owner and how to convert those skills into the online space. I learned about marketing products, teaching and training others, duplication, and social media strategy, but I was doing it for someone else. It was a great learning experience.
I support network marketers because I know what it is like, but I do know the struggle. I know how difficult it can be. This is not a message of me saying, “Put in your two weeks’ notice, quit, and go back to Corporate America.” That is not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is, “Always keep your options open. Always keeps that door of opportunity open a crack.”
“Start to think about, ‘What are the skills and the things that I am good at that I learned in network marketing and how I can monetize that? Not so much from an income standpoint, but do I have a powerful message I can share on a podcast that could help recruit people into my business? Could I write an eBook that I can give to people for free in exchange for their email where I can now start building an email list?’ Can you create a course?”
I’m not sure if people are familiar with Keeli Martinez, but she is the top leader in an essential oil network marketing company. She has done one of the most immaculate jobs of building her personal brand outside of network marketing. She has a deep love and passion for essential oils. She built a personal website, KeeliMartinez.com.
Whether people wanted to join her network marketing team or not, she had a way of monetizing that. She would run essential oil classes where people would pay X amount of dollars to join a 60-minute essential oil class, learning all about essential oils. She was not privy to the company she was partnered with, but essential oils as a whole. The option was there. If you want to join my team and become an essential oil educator, go to my website. There is a link right there where you can sign up. She was able to monetize her personal brand based on a passion that she loves.
Do you read the book Play Bigger by chance, Scott?
I have heard of it. I have not read it yet.
The concept is to be category king. Be the creator of the category, or fulfill the needs of the category versus the product or service. It is such a bigger play. It is what you are describing.
I want network marketers to realize they have more to give and can be doing more. One of the most powerful things I heard at an event that I attended was no matter how little or how much money you are making in network marketing, that could be money coming in each week and each month that you can invest into starting something else.
You can start your own business. You can create your own product. You can create your own coaching program or membership. When I first started, I stopped building in 2017. In 2018, I launched something called The Network Marketing Academy. It has been rebranded since, but it was a $19-a-month membership that network marketers in any company could sign up for $19 a month. They would get a monthly masterclass from me, teaching them about lead gen skills, mindset skills, and things they could teach their teams that helped my team and me.
No matter how little or how much money you’re making in network marketing, you can invest that money into starting something else. You can start your own business. You can create your own product. You can create your own coaching program or membership.
I wanted to give back in whatever way I could. I still support the profession and the people that are in it. I want them to understand that. My wife always loves saying this, “You can’t see the label from inside the jar.” If you are building a business and you are spending too much time in the jar, you can’t see what is going on outside of that. Sometimes, you got to take a couple of steps back, look at the label and see what else can be done. What new tactics can I use to grow and expand my network?
I have another thing that I want to hone in on here quickly. Every network marketer or online business owner, I don’t care what you are doing, selling, pitching, or what you have. Social media is rented land. If you get kicked off of Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, TikTok, and YouTube, you lose every possibility of connecting with people.
A big focus that is not taught in network marketing, and I feel it should be taught in any online business forum, is building your own personal email list. That email list is yours. It is your email list where you can connect with people. You can talk to them offline. That is where the real value of owning a business is. You may not own that downline. You own that email list that people opted in for.
What is extraordinary is people don’t realize like YouTube and Facebook and all of them not only it is rented land, but they are generating interest. You are generating interest with the prospect in a specific product service, and they are selling advertising to a competing product that might cost less or be inferior. They know the needs of your clients sometimes better than you do because of the algorithm, and you handed them the lead.
I don’t want to say that the education that a lot of network marketers are getting is stunted. What people need to understand, no matter what the company, network marketing or not, whether you are in corporate, is that the company is always going to have things and systems in place that ultimately benefit the company. If you are going to want to get paid, the company is got to be making money first and foremost before anything happens.
You have to understand. When you start looking at things as a business owner and not a partner of that company, to your point, you start realizing, “I got to start doing things a different way.” Something that I always talk about whenever I’m giving speeches or training is being a salmon in the world of fish. A unique characteristic of salmon is they swim upstream to spawn.
Instead of going in the same direction that all the other fish are going in, doing the same thing that everyone on your team, your company, and everyone on social media is doing, what can you do differently to stand out in the crowd? What can you do to go against the grain, to go against the current, to carve out your own space, and start thinking outside the box?
Many people that get into network marketing are inspired, motivated, and driven at the beginning because it is fresh and new. You settle in. It gets comfortable. If you are not having fun doing it, it is not that it is not working anymore. You have stunted your growth. You got to start challenging yourself in different ways.
One of the greatest and most beneficial experiences of my life was the time I spent in network marketing because it primed me for growing something outside of it. All along, I was building trust, rapport, and relationships with people. When I did decide to pivot, some people blew me off. They were like, “Screw him.” A lot of people supported me because they loved me for me. They knew that no matter what I ended up creating or doing outside of network marketing, I would still support those individuals, but I would create something that would still support and benefit them in the business they had.
What is interesting is I can look back at my own several years of career. I earned a fortune and all that, but it is addition and not subtraction. I can say this in hindsight. What you are suggesting is, the truth is, I could have stayed and built my network marketing business and still been more effective because there were times I got bored.
I lost the passion, the juice, and the enthusiasm because I was doing the same thing. Had I taken the blinders off, there was a little bit of, “I’m going to do this thing. I’m going to execute this thing.” It is an addition. It doesn’t mean they have to leave the business, and there is security in it. If something goes south or something happens, they are protected.
You have assets of your own. I’m a big believer that if you want to take any business seriously, why not start a podcast? Why not write a book? Why not have a free course or a monthly workshop where you teach people a certain aspect of something? Do something different. That is why I started using LinkedIn. I’m like, “I don’t want to do this monotonous before and after postings on Facebook and Instagram. I don’t want to piss people off. I don’t want to annoy them.”
“I want to build relationships. I don’t want to have to pitch and sell people. I want to connect. I want to know that I’m here as a resource for whatever I’m offering, whether it is a product through someone else’s company or something I have created myself, which is to be different, think differently, and do something different.”
The easiest way to say this is if you want something to change, you have to change something you are doing. If you change nothing, nothing will ever change. If you are reading this and you are not happy with where your business is, it is not that you are doing anything wrong. You are not doing something different. We are in an age where there are many resources out there for you to leverage and plug into.
Be different. Think different. Do something different. If you want something to change, you have to change something that you’re doing. If you change nothing, nothing will ever change.
The other thing that people need to remember is that leadership is earned, not given. There are a lot of people that are considered leaders in network marketing because of the money they are making, and it doesn’t mean they are great leaders. Some of the best leaders in any industry aren’t making that much money.
When I was building a network marketing, I was not tooting my own horn, but I was an amazing leader. I was an amazing trainer and speaker. I was never invited up on the big stage because I wasn’t making the money that a lot of the big people were making. If you are reading this, be your own leader. Sometimes you have to step to the side to see what is going on and what you want to create.
You have to sit back and say, “Am I building what I’m building in the way that I would want to build it? Am I building it to appease this person? Do I not want to upset them or hurt their feelings because I want to go a different way?” There is no one clear-cut way how to build any business. For a leader to say, “You have to do it this way, or you are blackballed,” I would turn around and run. I have heard these stories time and time again, Sometimes going it alone is better than trying to blend in with a pack that you don’t feel like running with.
I want people to open their eyes, hearts, and minds to other ways, methodologies, and systems that may be out there. It may be a system you can create yourself, but don’t stop growing and challenging yourself. You start pushing yourself to be in that aspect of having that growth mindset where you are willing to be uncomfortable. This is the big thing. When being uncomfortable is comfortable, you know you are doing big things.
You are not afraid of it anymore because on the other side of fear is everything that we want. Complacency is one of the worst places you can be because that means you are running on the treadmill of life. If you are running on a treadmill, you are not moving any further ahead. You are not moving any further behind. You are staying in the same exact place.
Scott, how do people reach out to you? Who do you work with primarily on the consulting and coaching side?
We do work in the capacity. Some network marketers do work with us have their own personal brands. They want to launch a podcast, write a book, or create a course or a membership outside of what they are doing. I have general courses that could help any online business owner, including the category of network marketing. It is called LinkedIn Accelerator. It is about an hour and 45-minute course that teaches an online business owner exactly how to leverage LinkedIn to build your business without being spammy, without message blasting people, and building the personal branding side of what you do.
People can go to ScottAaron.net. You can find my podcast and my book there. My most recent book, The LinkedIn Book For Sales and Marketing, will help anyone in sales, or in marketing, for that matter, leverage the platform the right way again. You can find me on all social, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. You can start with Scott Aaron. I will pop up in some ways.
Scott, it has been great spending time with you. I know that people find inspiration from those words. It is an important message that you got to pick your head up and see what is going on in the world. It will only help you grow your business and offer a little bit of insurance as well. That is not a bad thing.
You have to do more to be more to become more. Opportunity is out there for all of us. You got to go and grab it.
You have to do more to be more. Opportunity is there for all of us. You just need to grab it.
That is awesome. It is great being with you, Scott. Thanks for joining us.
- Scott Aaron
- Play Bigger
- The Network Marketing Academy
- LinkedIn Accelerator
- Podcast – Apple Podcast
- The LinkedIn Book For Sales and Marketing
- Facebook – Scott Aaron
- Instagram – Scott Aaron
- YouTube – Scott Aaron
About Scott Aaron
Internationally acclaimed and award-winning online marketer, 3x best-selling author, top podcaster, and speaker, Scott Aaron, is the go-to specialist when it comes to converting traffic, establishing connections, generating leads, creating sales, and building personal brands all using LinkedIn.
Fully immersing himself in learning LinkedIn and social media strategies, Scott quickly gained traction as a leader in generating big results for other entrepreneurs, online business owners, and business coaches. Scott is passionate about helping fellow entrepreneurs achieve
success while building their own network organically and without complicated and costly marketing tactics.
His program has helped thousands experience explosive growth following his proven system and strategies. People-focused and result-driven, Scott’s strategic approach to teaching others how to create wealth online and organic traffic is the game changer when it comes to competing in a saturated digital world.