Melanie Booher | Using Books to Market, Network, and Build Authentic Relationships

Melanie Booher is an author, publisher, and the President of Influence Network Media (INM), a hybrid book publisher. INM provides publishing and promotional coaching and services to authors and influencers. Melanie is a certified culture coach and a people connector. She is also the author of several books including Conscious Culture and Powerhouse. She lives outside of Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband, three children, and a dog. 

Melanie Booher, the President of Influence Network Media, joins John Corcoran in this episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast to talk about leveraging books to network and build authentic relationships. They also discuss the challenges Melanie faced writing her books, her book marketing strategies, and how she helps businesses improve their company culture.

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Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:

  • Melanie Booher shares her entrepreneurial background
  • Melanie’s experience helping a former company win the “best place to work” title
  • How Melanie helps businesses improve their company culture
  • The challenges Melanie faced writing her book
  • How books promote networking 
  • Melanie shares her book marketing strategies, book medium recommendations, and tips for pricing paperback books
  • How books can grow your business
  • The peers Melanie acknowledges for their support

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Sponsor: Rise25

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Rise25 Cofounders, Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran, have been podcasting and advising about podcasting since 2008.

Episode Transcript

Intro 0:14

Welcome to the revolution, the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, where we ask today’s most successful entrepreneurs to share the tools and strategies they use to build relationships and connections to grow their revenue. Now, your host for the revolution. John Corcoran.

John Corcoran 0:40

All right, welcome everyone. John Corcoran here. I’m the host of this show. And, you know, every week I get to start to talk to smart CEOs, founders and entrepreneurs of all kinds of companies ranging from Netflix to Kinkos’, YPO, EO Redfin, Activision Blizzard, you know, check out the archives, you’ll see some great episodes there. I’m also the Co-founder of Rise25, where we help connect b2b business owners to their ideal prospects. And my guest here today is Melanie Booher. She is an author, publisher, and President of Influence Network Media, which is a hybrid book publisher. We’ll talk about how she got into book writing and also helping others to use a book really, as a calling card to distinguish yourself. Give yourself authority to introduce others to the work that you do, we’re going to break down some of the different strategies that we’re really working well, today, especially if you feel like you don’t have any time to put a book out there. So we’ll talk all about that she’s the author of a number of different books, including cCnscious Culture, and Powerhouse, and she lives outside of Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband, and three children and dog who might be barking just to warn all of you who are crazy about the audio. 

Of course, this episode is brought to you by my company, Rise25, where we help b2b businesses get clients, referrals, and strategic partnerships with done-for-you podcasts and content marketing. And you can learn more about it at All right, Melanie. So first of all, a pleasure to have you here. And I love to ask people about entrepreneurial endeavors as they were, that they engaged in as a kid. And I know you were out there doing paper routes and things like that and trying 100 different things. Tell us about some of the different little stuff that you did as a kid testing around little business ideas. Of course,

Melanie Booher 2:23

I mean, I did have a paper route. I remember my dad making me do that. I don’t know if I don’t know if I love that. But definitely started working at a young age to make that happen. In addition to you know, selling the Girl Scout cookies, and lemonade stands, I think I did all kinds of things like that, as I got older, you know, I kind of had my main profession and on the side I was always doing well, one was called like a jewelry sales thing on the side. One was a like a gift 31 gifts, which was selling women’s organization stuff. I just I loved the connection and building the relationships. At the time. I didn’t know that that was necessarily entrepreneurial, right? I just a lot of those. Especially as I got older, those were more than to get together, have fun nights together and then see if people want to buy stuff. And it started like that.

John Corcoran 3:09

Yeah, like the modern day Tupperware Tupperware party.

Melanie Booher 3:13

Yeah, absolutely, absolutely.

John Corcoran 3:15

Yeah. And you worked your way up in HR, and you are actually working in a company. And and this is kind of a devastating story. But you’re working in a company working really hard at this 90 person company to help them to qualify for best place to work, which is a designation. And it didn’t go so well tell us the story.

Melanie Booher 3:35

It’s a not. So for me, you know, we took best place to work very seriously. That’s a thing here in Cincinnati. And we had been working on it for four years doing the employee engagement surveys. And finally, in that fourth year, we got invited, like as a finalist to come to the Santos center, we gave everyone a half day off, it was a huge deal. We had matching shirts and pom poms. And so we showed up at the event, I have this great picture that I often show of me and like 15 of my favorite co workers celebrating, you know me holding the prize in the middle. And we won. But the rewind to that was and if you could, if you can see past the smile that I had there. That morning, the CEO had texted me and said, I’m not coming like I don’t really care. I his exact wording was, I feel like it’s like say soccer and everyone gets a prize, which was painful, right? And so I knew that. We just didn’t agree. We didn’t agree on how we were fundamentally doing things. You know, I wanted

John Corcoran 4:33

to work so hard on for years work so hard. And if I should

Melanie Booher 4:37

have that picture handy. I mean, it’s one of those things where, you know, if you look at that picture now there’s 15 of my favorite co workers of all time, to her left, right. And that was in 2015 2016. So it’s fall of 15 to a lot of turnover after Yeah, good people don’t stay working for leaders that don’t care, you know, and that was it.

John Corcoran 4:55

Let me ask you this. How do you think I’m qualified in spite of the fact that the person at the helm You know, kind of didn’t care. And it seems like, you know, after the fact, a lot of people left that match, you didn’t have the turnover at the time, or else you probably wouldn’t have qualified at the time.

Melanie Booher 5:10

Agree. We just had a really great management team. And so you’re just kind of smoke and mirrors, you know, you can hide some of that for a little while. But for me, that was why I ultimately left corporate America, and I decided to start my own company. And so that was the that was the push, I needed to say, hey, like, I really, really want to try something new. And I have kind of a calling for the, you know, helping small businesses. And so that’s what I did.

John Corcoran 5:35

Yeah. And we’ll get to writing the book, which helped to convey authority for you. But first of all, I always like to ask about this. So was it a hard sell to go to the other companies and say, I want to help you to improve your culture? You know, because it’s a couple of steps removed from the bottom line, it’s a couple of steps removed from I’m gonna help you get more clients or whatever. Was that a hard sell?

Melanie Booher 5:59

It is not an easy sell. And I’ll tell you, it’s because you don’t have something physical, you can put in their hands, right. So in consulting HR world, I can sell recruiting, I can sell a handbook, you know, there’s things that I’m giving. But when you start talking culture, and you’re talking about looking behind the magic curtain, right, let me show you all your let’s talk about your warts and how we make them better. That was hard. Ultimately, that’s why I needed a book, right? I wanted to be able to say, Hey, can I give this away? Can I it was kind of a pay it forward moment, you know, can I get this in more people’s hands so that more people can create great places to work. And we work so many hours, right? If we’re going to be away from our family and loved ones, shouldn’t we enjoy what we do? So ultimately, especially through COVID, the slowdown and COVID gave me time to write. And I got that going. And then kind of a byproduct of that was I created a game which I know you and I didn’t really talk about that much. No, I

John Corcoran 6:50

wanted to ask you about it, because I saw that you have that that’s really it even been an even kind of different format of getting your expertise out there.

Melanie Booher 7:00

It is. I think that it brilliantly maybe came about, I know, it came about Playing Cards Against Humanity one night, maybe we had some whiskey or something like that. But my husband said like, you know, he said, Well, you really need something sticky like that people are going to, they’re going to love this, they’re going to want to do more of it. And so he said, You need a game. And so gamifying is huge, right? So I went down that path and kind of brainstormed it out. And we we do have something launching later this year. But we’ve been beta testing for the past two years. And it is something that one of my CEO said, we got more done in two hours than we have in 10 years, because it gives a really tangible way to move culture forward. And that’s what we needed. So you know, we needed to do that.

John Corcoran 7:44

I just took the culture card game and whisky all your clients, you say it did give your employees whiskey. I know

Melanie Booher 7:52

what and you brought up a good point, like most CEOs, you know, we did a survey 100% had a financial plan. 90 was like 97% had a strategic plan 95% at marketing plan. And when we asked him, Well, how many of you have people or culture plan it was less than 10%? We had also asked them well, how important is that to your business? How important are people in culture to drive in your bottom line? And that question is really important. And that was scale of one to five? 4.8? So the answer was it was wildly important. But less than 10% had a plan. So we knew right? But smart business people, we had to bridge that gap. And that’s what the book The Game, you know, that’s what we were trying to do is give people a tangible plan, and get in that elite 10% That, that plan for company culture.

John Corcoran 8:37

So let’s talk about some of the challenges that you experienced with the book before you wrote it, and how you overcame them. Because you know, the challenge that so many people talk about when they think about writing a book is I don’t have the time or what do I write about or where to get started, you know, talk about some of those barriers that you personally faced? Sure.

Melanie Booher 9:00

I mean, I definitely as an entrepreneur, I had the thought of how am I gonna want to pay for this, like, I could probably just do this all myself. Because I’m so smart. But then you start doing things like well, I don’t really have cover design experience. So because I didn’t know what I was doing. I had more time I spent tons of time researching, finding people piecing it all together. If I had known there was someone who could help me and do all that for me, I would have loved it. Example, I love my book cover. But I spent you know $1,200 Just on that because I didn’t know how to set it up for an ebook and a paperback or, you know, what else what other thing other roadblocks I ran into? I didn’t know how to get on Amazon. I didn’t know how to like, how do I pick what categories that I might be able to be a best seller in. I knew I mean, I’m pretty good at writing. I know how to use Word. I know how to set up margins, but I had no idea how to format and actually get because you think about a book right? It’s front and back pages you got I have it, that I have it, there’s certain formatting, there’s actual software’s that do this for you. So I didn’t know how to do those kinds of things. And I also, I just needed some tips and tricks. Like I thought I had to sit at my keyboard and like, found out your writing. Yeah. When actually, like, there’s a lot of voice, you know, voice to text and things like that, that you can do. You don’t have to get carpal tunnel writing.

John Corcoran 10:23

Yeah. Yeah, yeah. And then what about, you know, I say sometimes that people, you know, they think that to write a book, they have to go into like a shed, like a writer, shed and pound away at the keyboard for six months without talking to anyone. But it actually is an amazing tool for networking. It’s an amazing tool for building relationships, I’ve used it that way, where in the course of writing a book used it to reach out to people that you maybe wouldn’t otherwise have a chance of having a conversation with?

Melanie Booher 10:50

Absolutely, I think so. There’s lots of publishers out there. tons that people could go with, what makes us different is this. We’re doing collective books. So when you mentioned like the network and the relationship, you know, our idea is that we can get about 10 people to All right, and to do about a chapter a piece, and we do all the heavy lifting the behind the scenes, right publishing, formatting, editing, proofing, cover, design, all that stuff. And we just want people to focus on getting their writing done. So we say their responsibility is their chapter, their headshot, their bio, that makes it so much easier, right? It cuts down on time, we help them with the knowledge piece and how to get it done. And it helps with the money piece, because you get to divide the cost, and you’re paying, you know, 1/10 of the cost. So we really feel like we’ve removed a lot of the barriers to help people do that. And then the magic behind it really happened when you get this lift by getting your book into these 10 people’s networks, right? Like they all everyone has a network. And so when I wrote my solo, I had to find my own 300 people that were willing to support me and buy the book and give me you know, reviews. And that was kind of painful.

John Corcoran 11:59

Right? You didn’t have the leverage of others doing it. Right. Yeah.

Melanie Booher 12:02

But that leverage and that lift when you can say, hey, to these 10 people, like if you just need like 30? Like, are you What do you have 30 people that can support us? And you know, everyone has at least that. And so there’s there’s a definite magic behind that. And it not only brings people closer, and when I’m talking to people, we have a we have we’re going to do a culture book this next year. So all anyone that has a passion for culture like I do, I’m only one way to do it. I’m you know, I’d like to fill those out. But the whole idea that, how can we come together and write this amazing book, and you don’t have to do all the heavy lifting?

John Corcoran 12:36

Yeah. And so your subsequent books, you took this other approach where you did a book, collectively with 10 or so other people?