Lynn Bardowski—the Million Dollar Party Girl—joins us to discuss the ways that MLM party plans are evolving alongside technological advances. She tells us about the differences and overlap between home parties and online parties; she talks about ways that direct sales software could better serve party planners; she explains the importance of Facebook Events and Facebook Live and some of the benefits of the Facebook party; and she gives us some best practices for direct sellers on social media. Check out Lynn’s blog for more amazing advice based on real data she’s gathered in her own pioneering direct sales efforts in the online space.
Kenny Rawlins: Hello and welcome to the MLM.com podcast. As always, I’m your host, Kenny Rawlins. Today, we are talking with Lynn Bardowski of MillionDollarPartyGirl.com. Lynn has been a successful direct seller for over 25 years and is now a sought after direct sales expert and empowering keynote speaker for direct sales conferences in women’s organizations. She recently released the book Facebook Party Secrets of a Million Dollar Party Girl, which is currently a bestseller on Amazon.com. How are you Lynn?
Lynn Bardowski: I’m great, how are you Kenny?
Kenny Rawlins: I’m fantastic, thank you. Thank you for joining us. I have been looking forward to this. Before we dive into our topic today, I want to give our listeners a chance to know a little bit more about you. I know that you just last week released a book that is number one on Amazon and you have obviously got your website and the mentoring and success speaking that you do. Can you give us a little bit more background?
Lynn Bardowski: Sure. So, I started in direct selling in 1990—dating myself now. I was working fulltime. I was actually one of the probably the few women in direct sales back then that came into the business from a corporate career. You know it was right after the eighties so most of the direct sellers at that time were stay-at-home moms that were looking for extra income. I had a fulltime career and wanted to be home and be a home-based mom—work-at-home mom—and got invited to a home party and just felt that I had found my passion and purpose and jumped right in and was able to quit my corporate career within six months. Got to the highest level in the company in just two years and maintained you know that top level of leadership for over two decades. So, I started Million Dollar Party Girl five years ago, really just to help more direct sellers succeed. I just saw that there was such a need for it. And I know we are going to be talking a lot about technology but the business has changed a lot since 1990. And, you know, so many direct sellers are looking for that guidance and mentoring to figure out how to get from here to there, how to use Facebook, how to do it authentically and, you know, ethically.
Kenny Rawlins: Yeah. I appreciate all of those takeaways. We are primarily going to be talking about the tools but before we jump into that, something you said stood out to me where yeah, your coming from a corporate background is actually pretty impressive and it sounds like you were pretty successful on the corporate side. What do you attribute your passion for direct selling? Why do you think you are so passionate about direct selling versus the corporate side of life?
Lynn Bardowski: You know it was so refreshing for me to be in that direct selling environment coming from a corporate background and I know we say, as women, “we’ve come a long way baby,” but in many ways, we haven’t. You know, here we are over three decades later, we still are talking about women earning less than men in the corporate world, the glass ceiling—you know problems that I thought would have been solved by now, have not. And so for me, coming from a successful corporate career, I was making what would be equivalent to six figures in today’s money, but it was mostly a man’s world. And I haven’t really seen that shift that much, where women are still not getting to those higher positions. So, for me it was really a place where the glass ceiling did not exist. Where women could be and do whatever they wanted to be and feel empowered—and you can probably hear in my voice I get pretty passionate when I think about the opportunities. And of course it is for women and men, but you know my perspective at that point, being a woman in a man’s field, it was like you know the skies open up and I just thought there have to be other women that feel the way I do. And really this is a lifechanging business for women that want to make those higher incomes but also want to help other women get there. And so, that is what really connected with me.
Kenny Rawlins: You know and that, I think, is a really powerful insight and that is one of the things that I do like about our industry, that people are independent entrepreneurs and their—really—the only limitation is themselves. Right? They are able to go out and the comp plan is there, the products are there, the opportunity is there and to the extent that they are willing to go out and do the work, they have that ability. And one of the things that I think I so impressive about what you are doing now with Million Dollar Party Girl is turning around and helping those who are coming behind you. That’s another thing that I have really liked about our industry is that there is kind of an abundance mentality where people are willing to help one another build success and it is really an industry built on teamwork. So, thank you for coming on and thanks for sharing that background because I do think that—you know you talk about dating yourself, but I don’t look at it in that way—you have got a lot of experience that you can bring to this conversation and I am curious how you have seen particularly parties and the way that they are orchestrated evolve over the time that you have been in the industry.
Lynn Bardowski: Yes, it’s interesting because in many ways I am telling people what is old is new. You know I obviously share a lot about best practices and how to be successful with parties today. We went from a time period where so much was transitioning into automation and we stopped of course sending paper party invitations and now everything is a Facebook event. But interestingly enough, you know I still encourage people to send a handwritten thank you note. In many ways, you can kind of look at things that used to be effective and bring them back because now that’s innovative. Actually, sending something in the mail is an innovative idea. Because nobody does it anymore and we don’t get mail anymore, right? You know, you open your mailbox and there is maybe three pieces of mail in there. So, I really feel like it is merging technology with some of those old school ways that still work and that are really refreshing to people because nobody is doing it anymore.
Kenny Rawlins: Yeah, and that is kind of an interesting thing about technology. It comes along and it disrupts things and people think that everything is totally replaced and then we kind of settle back into this area where it is like okay you know maybe some of the old ways are good and aided by technology. And it does, very much like you said, I think you used the term kind of “settling back in,” but yeah, merging the old ways and the new ways. So, what are some of the ways that you are seeing technology help in the party-plan world and what are maybe some downfalls of technology or ways that people lean on it too much?
Lynn Bardowski: Yeah, that’s a great question. I mean technology definitely is a huge—at the end of the day, I think it is the best time saver that we have. You know things that used to take hours to do. I used to hand write order forms, tally marks and tally up the quantities that people wanted of a particular item and of course, that is all done online now. Right? Like I said, nobody mails paper postcard invitations anymore. We used to have to do those all by hand. So, it gives you time, but then there are also those time sucks. Technology can also be a big rabbit hole that people fall down where they feel like they are being productive because they are on Facebook all day long. You know it’s like, “I was so busy today.” But are they really getting anything done? So, I think it is really looking to see where you are putting your time, where are you putting your efforts and are those efforts serving you and your customer in the best way so that you are focusing on those business building activities. You know in network marketing we call them IGAs—income generating activities—and yes, Facebook can definitely be an income generating activity if you are doing it correctly and you are doing it well. So, it is definitely a challenge, but it is not going away. You know my daughters are millennials and the phone is just an extension of their everyday life. I joined Snapchat so that I could connect with them in their space and, you know, they are oversharing all day long their life’s little moments and it’s just seamless to them and it’s just part of their world. So, I think it is either be—you know if you really want to be part of the future of any industry and just life in general, it is important to jump in and try it out, but again, do it so that it serves you and your customers in the right way.
Kenny Rawlins: And do you have any tips in particular for the way that might be done? You know you mentioned Facebook and people feeling like they are really working hard because they are on Facebook all day and they’re sharing things, but I am sure we all have seen examples of people who are effective in sharing and generating interest versus those who just feel overbearing and you even start to have the temptation to maybe mute them or you start glazing over what it is that they’re posting. What are some of the tricks for being effective versus maybe turning off people that might otherwise be interested?
Lynn Bardowski: Yes, that is an excellent question. And again, I just think there are best practices out there that people are just not aware of and Facebook—especially your personal profile—is not the place to be blasting those marketing messages that so many direct sellers and network marketers are doing. And if you look at those messages, they rarely have a like or comment on them. And then those are the people that get hidden. It’s interesting because I was with family this weekend and my sister was going through her newsfeed and she was like “oh, I’m hiding this person” and I said “oh, what happened?” And she said “there is another message about her fill in the blank direct sales business.” So, people don’t even realize really that they are spamming their friends and family and ruining their warm market really quickly.
So, you know one of the things I talk about is, that “like, know, and trust” factor. The reason people do business with you is because they like you, they know you, and they trust you and that is one thing that you can communicate really, really quickly on Facebook and that is just by sharing parts of your everyday life that connect you with other people whether it is you know your family photos, a trip you’re on. You don’t have to share those marketing messages for people to do business with you. And trust me, if you have a business page, they will click right on over to see what you are all about without you even having to tell them to. That’s just what people know to do. Like they Google you when they want to learn more about you. So, we don’t have to be talking about our business in order to build those connections. People do business with people they like and that is one thing that you can communicate really effectively with Facebook just by sharing little parts of your life and being a little bit more vulnerable.
Kenny Rawlins: Yeah, and you know that’s a fantastic way of putting it and I hadn’t thought of it in those terms. But I think that goes along with a word that you used earlier in our conversation, which is being authentic. So, I think back to my own personal experiences and people that I know either on Facebook or Instagram or any of these different areas; the people that I am most intrigued by are first the people who cultivate my trust in them and the people that I don’t feel like they are going to be disappointed in me if I am not interested in whatever opportunity it is they are pursuing but that seem authentic in their desire to help people and also to be friends, right? That the friendship isn’t based on “hey, you are my friend, I am doing this opportunity or I am selling this product and I expect you to try it.” And then by—like you say—being a little bit vulnerable and a little bit open, they cultivate that intrigue and that comes across very, very authentic and very true to who they are. And I do think that that is one of the things that you know social media—and this goes back to before social media, I mean we have all heard stories of people signing up for different direct sales opportunities just to get their brother-in-law off their back, things like that and so it predates social media—but it is something where social media can reach into your home so easily, but you can also shut it off easily, right. So, people might think hey, I’ve got 900 friends or 2000 friends, but if they have constructed it in such a way that everybody’s hidden them, then yeah you have soured your warm market, like you say. So, I like that “like, know, and trust.” So, what do you consider to be the best tools out there right now for building a business and executing a successful party?
Lynn Bardowski: Well, you know first and foremost I think we have to just really keep it simple and remember that the conversations we have in real life are the same kind of conversations we can have online. And for some reason, we forget that when we are on Facebook. People say and do things on Facebook they would never, ever say in real life. So, you know first kind of keep that in your back pocket. Ask yourself, is this something I would actually say to somebody in real life? And if not, then think twice about it. But there are definitely some great tools out there for a party online. One of my favorites of course: Facebook Live is an awesome tool for online parties because nothing builds that “like, know, and trust” factor faster than live-streaming and that’s not going away anytime soon. Video content is—we are just going to be seeing more and more of it and Facebook has already said that they are already seeing that within the next two years, the newsfeed will be predominantly video. So, it is not a matter of when or if or should I; it is pretty much happening and it is happening now.
So, that is at the top of the list. Also, Google Forms, are you familiar with Google Forms at all?
Kenny Rawlins: Yeah, a little bit.
Lynn Bardowski: Well I feel like that’s one of the best kept secrets for direct sellers. Google probably doesn’t even know that they created an awesome form for direct sellers. But you know, it’s free. All of these things I am talking about are easily accessible and free to use and that’s really important because, in direct sales, it is all about being duplicatable, right? You have to be… whatever you are doing, your team—that brand-new consultant—has to be able to do it too. Or you’re not going to be able to build a thriving business. So, Google forms is free, it is simple to use and it is a great virtual lead funnel to use on Facebook parties.
It takes the old… what we used to call a door prize slip or a customer form at home parties where they filled out a form for an entry for a prize drawing and we can now do that in a virtual way. And, interestingly enough, I tested this out and of the hundreds of people that have filled out my Google form on Facebook parties, over 62% said yes to booking some kind of party. Which is a much higher percentage than at a home party. And I think because it’s virtual, it’s just a matter of “check this box” versus where people are handwriting, you know, “yes, I want that.” They are more in tune to say no if they have to write it themselves but if it’s like “check the box. Do you want this? Sure.” the results are much higher. So, again, I think that’s one of the little secret sauce that you can implement into your Facebook parties to generate more leads. And you must have some kind of lead funnel to really make that online party and home parties successful.
Kenny Rawlins: So, that is—I mean I’m blown away by that. So, you are basically using Google Forms as kind of a—are you using it as a questionnaire/survey as part of your Facebook Live parties? Is that how you are utilizing that?
Lynn Bardowski: Exactly. Yeah, but I mean I have used it for a lot of things—vendor events, Facebook parties, customer sample requests. There are quite a lot of ways that you can use it in direct sales, but that is, you know, basically you are sharing with a link on a Facebook party, it’s just a matter of a link that you post into the party and anybody can fill it out and Google puts all of those results into a spreadsheet for you. So again, systems are real important in any kind of business, especially follow-up systems. And so, this really is a two for one. It is a lead funnel and a follow-up system and it is free.
Kenny Rawlins: Well yeah, you know that’s impressive. Because, yeah, I have used Google Forms quite a bit myself but that would have never occurred to me and I think the thing that I am so impressed with in the way that you and others are taking these free or low cost technologies and using them in an ad hoc purpose to facilitate this shift. Now do you, when you are doing a Facebook party, are you doing that in conjunction with an in-home party? Or do you treat them as two separate things?
Lynn Bardowski: Well, it could be. So, you know a Facebook party is an online party by itself, but I would say 95% of hostesses having in-home parties are also creating a Facebook event for it to invite their guests. So, there is no reason why you cannot go live on Facebook during the party. That’s pretty fun. You get that whole party vibe. You can have some of the guests talking about what some of their favorite items are. The hostess can share and so the non-attendees that could not make the party can feel like they are a part of it and increase your party results. And they can also fill out the door prize slip with your virtual you know Google Form, so it really helps you expand your reach so much bigger than you know, just doing a traditional home party where you really had no way in the past to share that with people that couldn’t make it.
Kenny Rawlins: You know that, like I said, this is a fascinating thing to me. Just—I consider myself you know very technologically savvy and it drives my wife nuts that I want to get all of the latest and greatest gadgets, but this idea of coming together and using these technologies for a party, I just find so impressive. So, in your opinion, you know we have got a lot of people in this space who are trying to create tools specifically for network marketers and direct sellers, yet I see people gravitating a lot towards you know, you mentioned Google Forms and how Google probably has no idea what a useful tool they have made for direct selling. What do you think it is about the tools created within our space that are lacking and what do think would help consultants if somebody were to create a tool for them?
Lynn Bardowski: Well it is interesting because you know for all of my two decades plus in direct sales, I have seen so many direct sellers find a way when there wasn’t one. You know we have always been kind of the innovators in our marketplace to see something and go “oh wow, this would be great for my business!” You know, “how can I use this?” And so, there are so many companies out there that probably have things that they have developed that are not even aware of how direct sellers are using it. But yeah, I mean I think the online party is definitely a really key space that hasn’t been served yet in order to bring the best of all of these best practices together into one platform. Like I said, you know direct sellers will figure it out and find a way. And I have been using other tools to go live on Facebook parties and test other ways to have that experience, but it is still a little clunky you know to bring all the scheduling, the schedules that the post’s going live, having that virtual lead funnel. Imagine if somebody created something that brought all of that together in one space, it would be pretty awesome. But that has not happened yet.
Kenny Rawlins: Yeah, well, and I have always been impressed with leaders and direct sellers. The fact that they… you know it is kind of like water finding its way downhill. It is going to find a way and I think it is the mark of a really keen mind within direct selling to find these tools and find ways to utilize them. So, we are getting a little bit short on time. I want to thank you so much for the time that you have already given us and I would like to end by asking you to answer two questions. One: in your mind, what are some ways that corporate offices can be more supportive of the field and the tools that they could possibly provide and just support in general? And then two: what would you say to people starting up who are a little bit nervous? I mean you start talking about Facebook Live videos—that can be a pretty intimidating forum, I would think. And maybe it’s just me because I am a little bit introverted. It took me a while to really gear up to do a podcast and Facebook live I consider a little bit more intimidating. So what bit of advice would you have for someone who is maybe just starting into the space?
Lynn Bardowski: Well, to answer the first question, from the corporate perspective, I have talked to a lot of different corporate direct sales companies and it seems like there’s two camps. There’s the companies that are embracing the new and technology and teaching their consultants how to use it and then there’s the companies that are kind of still stuck in the old ways—to the point that their consultants are not only intimidated but feel bad that they are doing a Facebook party, that it is just not embraced. So, I think my message there is just to—from that corporate level—you’ve got to lead the way and have the vision to see where the future is and I just think be open to everybody and all the different ways there are to serve our customers in the space that our customers want to be served, which might not be the way that we are used to or the traditional ways. So that’s the answer to the first question.
To the second, practice makes perfect, right? And absolutely Facebook Live can be intimidating. Doing the first home party is intimidating to most direct sellers. I was scared to death to do, not just my first home party, but my first month of home parties. They offered me a glass of wine and I was like sure because I was so nervous. So, anytime you try something new, it is okay to be nervous, that’s normal and that’s just natural, right? You’re learning something you haven’t done before. But there is a way to learn that you can feel comfortable so that you can practice until you build your confidence and that’s when you succeed, right? You build your confidence—your belief that you can do it. So, the easiest way to do that is to create a secret group on Facebook, maybe you and your best friend or you and your husband, or you and your sister and you are the only two people on the planet that know about that group that can see it and see the content in it. And honestly, that’s what I do. I have a secret group that I use for trying new things out, so that I am not trying it out in public. I am testing it first until I am comfortable and then I am ready to share it maybe with more people. So, practice makes perfect and then you will feel more confident that you can do it.
Kenny Rawlins: Those are two wonderful answers and we will end there. I appreciate so much you taking the time to share your expertise and perspective. And we look forward to having you on again in the future. Thank you, Lynn.
Lynn Bardowski: Alright, thanks Kenny.
Kenny Rawlins: That’s it for today’s episode of the MLM.com podcast. Again, we want to thank Lynn for her time. You can find her book, Facebook Party Secrets of a Million Dollar Party Girl, on Amazon. You can also support us by rating us on iTunes or reaching out to us through MLM.com. We would love to hear your feedback and the topics you would like addressed. Finally, thanks to the MLM.com staff and especially Jana Bangerter and Adam Holdaway for their production support. I am Kenny Rawlins and look forward to you joining us next time.