Using Deception and Secrecy to Get a Business Conversation

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October 5, 2017
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November 20, 2017

If you have to use deception and secrecy to get a business conversation, you might want to rethink your business.

Have you ever had someone contact you and ask if you are open to “new opportunities?” Or if you have experience in an area and interested in growing in something different than what you are doing? They want to meet you in person to discuss if further but won’t tell you what it is until they meet you?
These are typically the deceptive practices that many MLM’s teach their people to use to get them to a pitch about the opportunity. Several years ago I wasted half a day and my peace of mind for a deceptive situation like that. A friend of mine I hadn’t seen in a few years was in town and wanted to meet for lunch to “catch up.” I was looking forward to seeing her. She said she wanted to share what she was up to and hear what I was up to in business. Seemed innocent enough, right?

The day of the meeting she told me a friend was going to join us which was fine by me. I still didn’t think anything about it because she was a friend. When I got there, it was only my friend and her friend would be joining us shortly. The other friend came in sat down and we ordered lunch. I suggested one of my favorite spots because I wanted to take my friend someplace I valued.

However, she didn’t value me. She got me there under false pretenses and deception. As soon as we ordered her friend asked what I did (as if to be interested) and then when I shared, she said, that’s great then fire hosed me with a pitch. When I say fire hosed, she didn’t stop to take a breath for like 30 minutes. I was so angry. I had not been that upset in a very long time. My friend had taken advantage of me to get me to hear an MLM pitch. I thought about getting up and leaving and might have been a better choice but waited until this friend’s friend showed up and they left before I let my friend have it in as kind a way as possible.

As a result of that I will no longer talk to anyone if they do not tell me what they want to talk to me about or meet me about. If it’s a friend I’m close to that’s different but I now must listen more closely to the language to make sure it’s not deceptive. If they say, “it’s better if I talk to you on the phone” I say that’s great but what’s it about. One person refused to tell me and I refused to get on the phone with them. When they said “never mind” I said “ok.”
Yesterday I received a Facebook friend request from someone who I had mutual friends with. I looked at the profile as I always do and she was legit so I accepted it.

Not 5 minutes after that I got this message:

“Hello Eldonna, I came across your page through mutual friends. By any chance, are you studying or have a background in business or marketing?”

Seemed innocent enough So I responded:

Hi (name), Yes I have a background in both and have worked with coaches in the past and working with one now on online marketing. Eldonna

Then I get this response:

“Okay great. What other experience do you have? The reason I ask, is because I am a business owner in the LA area. We do a lot of Business Development work with Fortune 500 companies and are in the process of expanding. At this time we are looking to add a few more individuals to be part of our business team. Are you open to any opportunities outside of what you do?”

At this point I’m starting to get suspicious. This language is vague and sounds like bait for an MLM conversation. So I ask:


‘What kind of opportunities?”


“Essentially, It’s an opportunity to become a potential business partner. What we do is we build online communities and generate business for major stores is like Best Buy, Apple, Target, Starbucks, Disney etc. How familiar are you with current business trends online?”

Still vague and throwing big names around to get my interest and ask questions that have no real meaning or purpose other than to bait you into a conversation with an upline.

So I go right to the direct question:
“opportunity” what does that mean? Is this an MLM or something you have to pay into to be part of?
More vague and secretive language:

If you were to earn partnership, there is a flat rate of $183 to launch you in the business. With that you are provided mentorship beyond the point of business along with a streamline of exclusive products. Are you open to looking for a way to create another source of income?

“Earn partnership” and the “are you open” question. Who isn’t open? This is designed to trick you into a conversation with an upline. They will say something like “you said you were open…blah blah blah”

Again I get direct and to the point:

“So this is an MLM? What MLM is it please?”

They refuse to answer and try to put it back on me as being uncooperative and not answering her questions and now I get the “privilege” to be “mentioned” to her “business coach” which is her upline in the MLM business that is training her to deceive people like this.

“Eldonna, you aren’t answering any of my questions. If you are not looking for other options, there would be no point in giving you more information. If you are open, I am willing to mention your name to my business coach and start by giving you more information in person rather than on social media. Does that sound fair?”

My response was harsh. The thing I like the least is people who won’t be upfront with what it is they are pitching me and wanting to be secretive to peak my interest or deceive me into a pitch conversation by being as vague as possible. Especially after I ask directly what it is and they refuse to tell me.

“No it does not sound fair. Not going to answer any questions designed to get me to hear a pitch for something I don’t know what it is. I refuse to waste my time talking to someone without knowing what it is I’m talking to them about. You are vague on purpose to get me to a pitch conversation. I can’t believe they are still teaching this stuff. This is the worst thing about MLM’s How do I know this is an MLM I’ve been on the end of these kinds of deceptive conversations plenty of times. I don’t know why people are still coaching to be secretive and deceptive. Of course I am always looking for new opportunities. That is a given. However, I don’t want to be involved in anything or talk to anyone without knowing what it is. Since you refuse to answer we are done here. You friended me under false pretenses to pitch me and I don’t appreciate it. Hope one day you realize deceptive marketing doesn’t work in today’s economy.”

Her entire reason for sending me a friend request was to pitch me on an MLM. I was targeted and then she attempted to be deceptive and secretive to get me into a conversation with her “business coach” I’m sure they told her to just move on and pitch the next person. This kind of stuff works on people who haven’t been around it enough to recognize the language and the purpose of these kinds of conversations.

If they won’t tell you what the “opportunity” is up front, ask for more details. If they use language like the above or something else like that, it’s a pitch for an MLM or something along those lines.

Look, I’m in a few MLM’s for personal use Mary Kay for one. While this is an MLM, it’s more product based first and they never taught me to be deceptive in my conversation about joining Mary Kay or sampling the products. I was an active consultant for many years and may return to that one day when I am no longer speaking. I’m also in Beach Body for Shakeology that I use daily and a couple others for the products.

I got caught up in one of those deceptive type of MLM’s that was teaching me to get people to a pitch conversation. It never resonated with me. I felt out of integrity doing it and when someone does it to me, I feel the same way. If you can’t be upfront with me even when I ask you and have to deceive me or be secretive to get me in a conversation to even hear about the “opportunity” then you will expect me to do business that way once I’m in it to get other people on board.  That is not OK with me.

I’ve shared a lot here. I’ve done this so you can look out for these kinds of conversations and make your own decision about it by being informed. Bottom line if you have to be deceptive and secretive to get a business conversation with someone, do you really want to be in that business?

To Your Success


Eldonna Lewis Fernandez
Eldonna Lewis Fernandez
Veteran negotiation and contracts expert Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez, author of “Think Like a Negotiator,” has over 30 years of experience crafting killer deals both stateside and internationally, many in excess of $100 million. She’s currently the CEO of Dynamic Vision International — a specialized consulting and training firm that helps individuals hone negotiation skills — as well as a nationally regarded keynote speaker, session leader and panelist on the Art of Negotiation. Eldonna may be reached online at

1 Comment

  1. Neil Thompson says:

    Great post, Eldonna. I wholeheartedly agree with you. Your friend certainly wasn’t acting like one when she essentially lied about the purpose of the meeting. We all have to have our spidey senses up these days.

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