I remember when the internet was still new and shiny (…did I just reveal my age?) and we used to talk about how it would create a “global village”.
Well, I think it’s here now, that global village.
I have friends on the other side of the world who I see and talk to regularly (thank you Facetime). I order shoes from China without any hassles. I do educational courses with teachers in the US and the UK and I’m loving it.
With the advances in technology, we can have truly global workplaces and global direct selling teams.
But not all direct sales companies agree.
Why is the direct selling industry slow to embrace the global village?
I’ve spoken to many people in the direct selling industry who believe that physical proximity to leaders is vital.
I don’t agree. I don’t think distance makes a difference in the level of support you can provide.
I believe what makes a difference is personal contact and attention. And you can do that either in-person or through other means.
I came into this industry with a Masters Degree in Education and I majored in Distance Education. Which is perhaps why I am biased
It was a real surprise to me when I started in direct sales that so many companies were reluctant to let their consultants expand their team outside their immediate home area or recruit internationally.
I do understand that a consultant’s largest base of influence is usually in their local area, but with social media being such a part of everyone’s life, our influence can be global now.
If I can get a university degree entirely online, if I can consult a doctor or therapist entirely online, if I can be operated on by a surgeon who’s in another country, why has the direct sales industry been so slow to embrace the global village?
OK. Rant over.
If you ARE part of a direct sales or party plan company that allows international expansion or if you support teams within your own country but in different areas, I’ve got a few tips for you on how to do that effectively.
Tools, tips & tricks for supporting a global team
While I was writing this article, I actually sat down to have a think about how many people in my organisation I’ve met in person. And it turns out that it’s only 10 percent!
I have worked with and supported several leaders for some time before I finally met them in person. And there are still several of my “rising stars” (up and coming leaders) that I’ve never met.
And although I’d love to meet them in person, I don’t feel it’s hampering my relationship with them or impacting my level of support.
I do run in-person events with my local team members. And although I really love running these events and catching up with my local team, realistically I only reach a very small percentage of my organisation. If I had relied only on physical proximity with team members in my business, I would not be where I am today!
So, how can you connect with your team at a distance? Let’s have a look at some tools:
I love using Zoom‘s videoconferencing software. It’s a great tool to run training events online or work with individual team members online . You can hold meetings and all participants can see each other and interact. You can also run a training session where all participants see you or see a slideshow you’re using.
I record the meetings and training sessions so that team members who couldn’t attend can catch up afterwards.
Pricing for Zoom starts at $0
Another great tool is Calendly. It’s a scheduling tool that integrates with lots of calendars and sends out notifications. Using Calendly will make your life easier as a leader as it stops back-and-forth emailing or messaging about setting a time for a coaching call or meeting. All you need to do is send people to Calendly where you’ve set your availability and they can pick a slot and ‘book in’.
Calendly can also adjust for time-zones, which is helpful in working out what time suits people in their local time.
Pricing for Calendly starts at $0
I use Facebook to communicate with my team and focus groups. I set up secret or closed groups and invite my team members to the group. I have a few leaders that help me as moderators, answering questions and keeping things positive and helpful.
If you want to use a different communications tool, you can use Slack. This tool allows you to communicate in different channels, which can help to separate topics out. For example you could have a Party channel for questions and ideas for parties, a News channel where you can share company news, upcoming sales, and updates, a Booking channel where you can talk about bookings, etc.
You can share files with your team, have a video chat with team members straight from the app, you can set-up private channels for certain groups only, you can send private messages, and it has a fabulous archive and search feature.
Slack works on your desktop computer and your phone and pricing starts at $0.
These are all great tools…but tools alone don’t make for success.
I’ve recently had an experience of how not to support across the globe. I’m a member of an international association with members from around the world. I absolutely love their training and resources but their live video chat sessions are always scheduled at 4am my local time. And they don’t always record the sessions either.
This means I always miss out live and often can’t even catch up on the discussions via the replay! So I feel a bit left out.
My fabulous friend Rochelle Nicole has also had an experience of not being supported that well and has taken a few lessons from that and shares them with us. Check this quick 3-minute video:
(And if you liked this video, also check the interview with Rochelle on attraction marketing. That interview explains very nicely how to do social media marketing without being spammy.)
The following 3 tips help to make sure your team members don’t feel left out:
When you are scheduling meetings or training sessions, be mindful of time zones. Make sure that you schedule at least one session every quarter that suits a particular time zone. This probably means you’ll have to stay up later or get up extra early but it means the world to people in those time zones. This way everybody will be offered a live meeting or training with you at least once a quarter.
Always record your sessions so you can make it available to the relevant team members for later viewing. Even if they couldn’t make it to the live session, they can at least watch the session later and not completely miss out.
When talking to a team member individually, try to use video chat. It’s so much better to be able to see each other than just having a phone call. There are so many free ways to organize a video chat that there should really always be an option. A quick and dirty list of free video calling apps: Zoom, Facetime, Skype, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger. (And this is of course where a scheduling service like Calendly comes in super handy!)
And finally, don’t forget good old email. A personal message is greatly appreciated even though it sometimes feels that email is on its way out in this day and age.
If you want to truly make someone’s day, perhaps because they’ve just achieved a major goal, use snail mail. There’s really nothing like checking your mailbox and finding a handwritten envelope with a letter or a certificate. It truly feels special when someone has taken the time to write especially to you, it’s an extra bit of attention that is greatly valued.
- You can support team members who are geographically dispersed through clever use of online tools and a bit of planning.
- The important thing to remember is personal attention. But this doesn’t have to be in the same room. A video call will work just as well.
- Don’t forget email and old fashioned post. They still matter and they’re still valued.