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How Jamberry and dōTerra Can Screw Up Friendships

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I recently happened across a Scary Mommy article that struck a chord with me. It was about the onslaught of new multi-level marketing companies that have recently hit the market, and how plenty of people (mostly women) are latching onto these companies and going full force into building up their own enterprises.

All too often at the cost of their friendships.

I'll admit, it resonated with me. Because the truth is, as much as I care about my friends, it really bums me out when someone I have known and loved for years takes on one of these ventures, and that suddenly becomes all they ever talk about.

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It doesn't really matter what the product is—3D Lashes, Arbonne Skincare, doTerra Oils—the enthusiasm of those entering into these ventures is almost always the same. And I find myself almost immediately mourning what our friendship once was.

Here's the thing: I love my friends. I support them. And I want, more than anything, for them to be happy and successful. But when it comes to these multi-level marketing companies, it seems that all too often the rally cry becomes to "sell, sell, sell," and those who have become invested lose sight of what their relationships looked like before they became so focused on climbing to the top.

There is always a risk of losing your friendships when you start trying to convert those friendships into clients, and so how you do that matters.

We've all known somebody who has entered into these ventures and become a pod version of their former selves. Suddenly, every other Facebook post they share is about their new business, and every conversation they have is driven back to what they hope to sell. Mention a cough your child has, and they tell you about the oil they have to cure it. Show up with a single blemish on your skin, and they pull you aside and tell you about the cream they have to make it go away. Complain about being on a tight budget for the month, and they try to sell you on joining their team; selling underneath them and working your own way up that same ladder towards financial freedom.

If you've found something you love and are excited about, I'm excited for you! But tell me about it once and then trust that if I'm interested, I'll come to you. And don't—no matter what you do—allow what you are selling to become your identity or put me in the awkward position of having to explain why my budget is just a little too tight to have to buy into your "super awesome, life-changing product." Because that's just a buzzkill for us both.

And it's not an open invitation for you to start pushing for me to join your team as a means of expanding that budget.

I've known people who have found success in these ventures, and I've been happy for them, but it often seems as though that success comes at a cost. Their single-minded focus has them seeing dollar signs in every interaction they have, losing sight of what their friendships and relationships used to be about, before they became transfixed on making it to the next tier.

That isn't to say it happens to everyone who signs on to sell Young Living oils or schlep Beach Body products, but it does happen—more than I think anyone really wants to admit.

Your friends start to think you care more about selling to them than actually being a part of their lives.

On the flip side is those who don't make it up that ladder, the ones who invest and strive, but never really find the success they were originally promised. It's an unfortunate byproduct of these industries that rely on market saturation, constantly recruiting new sales people, usually friends of friends of friends, until everyone has heard of their product, and there are more people selling than buying.

An industry where the sales staff is often the company's best customers.

The sad truth is, for everyone I have ever known who has been successful in these ventures, I have known three or four more people who have lost money and faced the defeat of never reaching the goals they initially set out to meet. These are people who find themselves left with product they can't sell and a team beneath them they can no longer motivate.

Don't get me wrong, some of these products absolutely have value. I am personally a big fan of the Arbonne skincare line, and I will forever swear that their sunless tanner is the best I have ever tried. But I know more people selling Arbonne than I can count, making it difficult to even know who to support when I have the funds to splurge.

I get why people sign on for these ventures. They like the product, they see a way to make additional money, and they want the discount that accompanies joining the sales team. Really and truly, I get it. But there is always a risk of losing your friendships when you start trying to convert those friendships into clients, and so how you do that matters. Which means:

1. Don't auto add friends to groups

This seems to be the latest tactic pushed by these companies: auto adding every friend you have to Facebook groups without their request or permission. I have personally been auto added to six different Jamberry groups in the last six months alone. The first was fun enough. I participated and even hit my friend up for a sample. But by the time that sixth group add came along, featuring many of the same games as the first, and blowing up my newsfeed with the same notifications and updates, I was just annoyed.

I was stuck in the awkward position of either removing myself from the group (which somehow felt like a mean thing to do) or enduring several days of notifications about a product I already knew I didn't want. Don't put your friends in the position of having to opt out of something they never requested being a part of in the first place. Instead, make a single announcement; let people know what you are doing, absolutely, but then allow them to come to you. And remember that there is a strong likelihood they have already heard about the product from someone who isn't you.

2. Don't let the product become your life

When you are excited about something, it makes sense that it may be constantly on your mind. Mothers do this when they have children, and people newly in love are guilty of regularly talking about their relationship. The difference is, those people are genuinely sharing their happiness, with nothing more to gain than allowing you to bask in that happiness with them. But when you are veering every single conversation you have back to your new business venture, even when it is in a positive and glowing way, there is an ulterior motive there. You have something to gain by hyping up your business. And people know that, which makes the entire conversation feel less sincere and genuine. It also makes your friends start to think you care more about selling to them than actually being a part of their lives.

3. Don't push people to join your team

One of the biggest components of success in multi-level marketing companies is building up a team of people selling beneath you. In nearly all of these companies, that is how you advance to the next level or tier, by increasing your own commission along the way. The problem is, not everyone wants to sell your product. And even more importantly, not everyone will be successful doing so. So when you are striving to bring people in beneath you, there is a decent chance you may be asking them to invest time and money into something they will never see a payout from. And at some point, you have to ask yourself if you're willing to be a catalyst to that. Instead of putting in the hard sale for people to join you, trust that your friends know what you are doing, and that they will come to you with questions about joining your team if they are interested.

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I realize that these tips are probably in direct opposition to those most of these companies likely provide to their sales people for achieving success, and perhaps that is the crux of the problem. Very few employment opportunities put you in the position of having to aggressively convert your friends into clients, but for those that do, you run the risk of losing sight of your friendships in your drive toward success.

At which point, you have to ask yourself what's more important: The people you care about, or the success you have your sights on?

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