In this episode I talk with Brenda Meller, a leading LinkedIn trainer and influencer. Brenda shares how to unlock the power of LinkedIn, increase your presence on the platform and how to maintain it.
Things we cover in this episode:
- How to increase visibility using LinkedIn
- What to do and what not to do on LinkedIn
- Tricks to creating better content
- How to better use LinkedIn to approach prospects
Resources mentioned in this episode:
Brenda Meller is the chief engagement officer of Meller Marketing, an e-commerce that offers training services for social media marketing and management.
Connect with Brenda
A Transcript of our conversation:
Justin Young: Today’s guest is Brenda Meller. She is the chief engagement officer at Meller Marketing where she helps people unlock the power of LinkedIn. Thanks for coming on the show.
Brenda Meller: Thank you for having me, Justin. Looking forward to chatting today.
Justin Young: Yes, yes. So give people a little background about yourself.
Brenda Meller: Yes, so a lifelong marketer and I developed a knack for digital and social media probably about 10 years ago. And at the time the only network I was on was LinkedIn was my first network. And I had to quickly kind of figure out how to be active on Facebook and be comfortable with using Facebook and then, launched a digital community for the college that I work for at the time. And over time just kind of developed a knack for teaching social media to others and specifically focusing on LinkedIn. I had an opportunity a little over two years ago, the university nudged me forward, if you will. And I had an opportunity to figure out where I wanted to go next. And I just started having people come up to me asking for help with LinkedIn and marketing projects and social media. Then, I decided rather than go back to corporate, find my next job, I would just create a job for myself within Meller Marketing. So it’s been a great ride so far. I’m really loving the work that I do and now what I do is focus on helping people and businesses unlock the power of LinkedIn. I do that through individual coaching team training and frankly, just by being active on LinkedIn.
Justin Young: Okay. And so, I sound like I’ve seen your videos before, like no feather bow and hat today or anything. So when you’re helping these teams and helping these people, is it remote work like this that you’re doing or are you going and giving presentations? Like how does that work most of the time?
Brenda Meller: Yes. It’s kind of a combination of both. Sometimes I’m in Metro Detroit, so I’ll have clients in Metro Detroit that either I know in person, I’ve met in person or have been referred to me or maybe they’ve seen me at an event and we’ll get together at a coffee shop or a co-working space or at their office. Other times it’s going to a business location and that can be anywhere. Southeast Michigan’s could probably my core, my home base but I am doing a lot more work nationally now as well. I’m going out to Cleveland next week to do a team training for an organization there. I’m starting to do more local conferences but also national conferences as well. So my intends to be the track that’s in the marketing area. They’re looking for different speakers in different areas of marketing. I just think there’s a huge opportunity in LinkedIn right now and there’s a lot of people who’ve been on the network for a while but either haven’t been able to figure out how to use it the right way or they see other people getting results and they can’t figure out why their LinkedIn isn’t working for them. So Yes. So it’s kind of a combination. And I do work with some folks virtually as well through zoom training online and a little bit of both.
Justin Young: Okay. So you bring up an interesting point. I think one of the first things that I saw of yours was the list of top influencer, like LinkedIn trainers and then, of course, I go down that rabbit hole to see these people and I’m like, “Man, these people have crazy followings and crazy engagement” and all this stuff. So you bring up an interesting point. What are the things that people aren’t doing or what do people do wrong? That’s not leading to the amount of engagement that they wish they would get from, similar to these other people.
Brenda Meller: Yes, the list you’re referring to, I call it the Meller Marketing LinkedIn Rock Stars. It’s just a list I created. I wanted to learn from others who were maybe more advanced or more active than I was on LinkedIn. Then, I found over time they were really in an engaging audience. There’s a lot of things that we see similar and there are some different perspectives and we learn from each other. To answer your question, what are common mistakes I see people doing on LinkedIn? Probably the most common one is not fully utilizing LinkedIn or not being active on LinkedIn. Mainly it’s out of two reasons: One is they’re fearful that being active on LinkedIn makes it look like you’re looking for a new job. They don’t want to risk their employment or have their employer or co-workers think that by being active on LinkedIn, they’re getting ready to jump ship. That’s not actually the case. There are more people who are using LinkedIn as working professionals for online networking, personal branding and just visibility and kind of tapping into the business network than there are job seekers using LinkedIn. The other most common reason I see in people not leaning into and using LinkedIn, they fall into a category. I like to refer to them as experience-rich and social media apprehensive? The group of salespeople who’ve been doing sales a certain way for so many years and now there’s this thing called LinkedIn and they’re trying to figure out how to use it.
Justin Young: Okay, interesting. You pull up my notes here. You said at the beginning that LinkedIn was the first platform that you got on to. Is that why you started to focus around that particular platform or what are the reasons? I mean, why should people focus their effort on LinkedIn? Do you feel like that’s a thing people should focus most of their time on or is it sort of individual basis or what do you think about that?
Brenda Meller: Yes, that’s a great question. The answer is, it depends because what might work for one user, maybe Instagram and what might work better for another person maybe Facebook, but what I like to explain to people is LinkedIn is a professional networking site. So regardless of where people and where your target audience can be found, people will be looking you up on LinkedIn. It may not be always the case that LinkedIn is the top network that you should be on, but you should definitely have a presence on LinkedIn. Specifically, I would say the people that need to be on LinkedIn are those who work in the professional services or B2B because your target audience is on LinkedIn and you should have a presence yourself, your own profile on LinkedIn, your company should have a page on LinkedIn. You should be kind of aware of how your target audience is using LinkedIn as well.
Justin Young: Okay. What are some hidden things that people wouldn’t necessarily know that they should do on LinkedIn? I mean, you hear people talk about profile pictures and things like that. What are some other features that people can utilize that maybe they don’t know about?
Brenda Meller: Yes, as soon as I tell you, you can’t unsee it anymore type of a thing. But I’m going to pull up your profile. I don’t know if you can see me on video. Justin, I’m going to pull up your profile on my phone so I’m not actually checking my email as I do it. One thing, this is the most common thing and as I’m working with clients and doing profile or views, I’ll pull up their LinkedIn profile and I’ll just kind of look through and there are some immediate things that I see. One of the first things is—
Justin Young: This is dangerous for me now. I feel like—
Brenda Meller: —No, it’s okay. I never criticize. What I’m doing is I’m coming from a place of guidance and coaching and support. So what I’m looking for is your contact info. I’m going on your profile and on desktop it’s really easy to find it. Your contact info is that link at the top and that white box but on mobile. I have to scroll all the way down to the bottom of your profile. So when I go in your contact info, what I’m looking for is if you know LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to add up to three websites in there and each of us is business professionals. We should be maximizing what LinkedIn gives us. As I’m looking at your contact info, you have the three websites that are listed there, and next to your website type, you can designate: Is it a company website? Is it a personal blog? Other. I would recommend you change that to ‘other’ because you can put a description of your choosing in there. That description can be 35 characters or less. Instead of saying, “This is his.com.” I have no idea what that is. I don’t know. It says company. Okay, I get that, but I have no idea. Are you a video production firm? Are you a graphic designer? What do you do? Tell me in 35 characters or less what your company is all about. Things like that, I mean, think about your profile through the eyes of your ideal target audience. Linkedin is not a resume so it should not read like a resume, shouldn’t have the same information in there. You should be thinking of you, Justin. Who is your ideal target audience? Who are you trying to reach? And think about every section you have in your profile. How is this relevant to them? If you want people to do business with you, make it easy for them to do business with you. Include your contact information in several areas throughout your profile.
Justin Young: Okay. The people that have crazy engagement on LinkedIn, let’s just back up and talk about you. Was there one particular piece of content that you started creating or that you regularly did that supercharged things and accelerated things for you?
Brenda Meller: Yes, it was the LinkedIn rock star or the Meller Marketing LinkedIn Rock Star list that I created. It was funny ’cause my inspiration behind this, I don’t know if you heard of John Espirian on LinkedIn, is a relentlessly technical copywriter. I think he’s got another adjective in there. But he was always posting his data and stats on LinkedIn and he would say, “Hey, I tried this and here’s the results of a text-only post versus image post.” And I noticed this technique. He was tracking his stats over time and I was like, “Wow, that’s kind of amazing.” So I started thinking, “Well, what if I tracked my own LinkedIn followers stats?” I compared myself to my local competitors and people who I aspire to be more like. What if I were to start tracking those? I started tracking those in, I think October of 2018 around that time. Maybe it was even earlier than that, but I was tracking it for probably three to four months in just an Excel spreadsheet. We’re looking at my follower count and as it was growing and their follower count. Anytime I felt like I was on par in terms of percentage growth increase, I felt like, “Gosh, I’m doing a great job. I’m gaining more followers.” And anytime I was falling behind, I would start to look at the people who were doing really well and I would learn from them: Techniques like you should be posting every single business day. You should be posting just once every business day unless you have a huge follower count, commenting when people leave comments back, responding back to them. Then, one day I’m like, “Gosh, well, John’s posting his data. Maybe I’ll try posting mine.” And I posted this rock star list and I’m like, “Nobody’s going to care about this. This is just me and people I’m watching.” I posted it and I don’t even remember if, in the first one, I think I did tag the people who I had on the list and it was probably 25 people at the time. And they were all like, “Wow, this is amazing.” I did it again for another two weeks later. And then, I went in to a weekly frequency and it just started growing and I had people coming out from the woodwork on LinkedIn saying, “Can you add me to your list? Can you have me, you know, to your list.” Then, I started putting in minimum follower counts because I was doing a percentage increase. Over time, it was like, this became a thing and people were looking forward to it. The people who are on the list are good people. They like paying it forward, helping others, using their knowledge and they’re not stingy with their knowledge. They’re very open to sharing with other people. So that was it for me. I mean, before then, I was doing fairly well on LinkedIn, but I think both setting the goal to assess myself against others that were racking on LinkedIn, so to speak and then publishing that list, that was for me, one of the things that really—
Justin Young: Yes, that’s interesting. I’m always curious to see if there’s one particular thing. It seems like there’s a lot of experimentation to try to find the things that resonate the most with people. But that’s a really good one. It’s like a network effect type of thing.
Brenda Meller: It’s kind of like, I mean you’ve probably heard of pods, people will post something and they’ll be like, “Hey, can everybody go on and add a like and a comment?” I see the value but I don’t like them for myself. ‘Cause They feel artificially generated. Whereas, my approach has always been post content that is interesting to my ideal target audience that’s either educational, informational or informative. And in the case of the rock star list, I’m shining the light on others. There are people that are on the list that have many more followers than me. There are people on the list that have much fewer followers than me, but I treat everybody on that list equally. Even though there’s now a top 25 and the total list of 71 I still celebrate every single person on that list and I will periodically go through and prune people off that I don’t feel that are showcasing that rock star mentality. It’s like, they say at the awards, just being nominated is an honor. I mean, it really is because not everybody who’s nominated gets added to the list. Even then, if you’re not demonstrating good behaviors and continued posting and engagement over time, I take those people off. I even had one point where I kept the list if you had more than a hundred thousand followers, my philosophy is you don’t really need this list. You’re rocking. You’ve probably got a team you’re working with already. So I don’t know if you know Shay Rowbottom? She’s one of the first people that, she was just exploding. And I think at the time when I first started tracking her, she was around 60 to 70 followers and she just started like gaining $10, $15. I reached and we had a couple of messages back and forth and I reached out and I said, “Hey, I hate to do this to you but I think I’m going to have to take you off the list because you’re going to cross 100,000 this week. “And I said, “No offense” And she’s like, “Oh, totally, none taken. Totally understand it and appreciate all the visibility, you know, we’ll keep in touch.” So it’s been a fun process to go through.
Justin Young: Yes. That’s so interesting. One thing that I’ve found had a lot of value for me is having conversations like this with other people that I know and then tagging them in the posts that I make. ‘Cause It not only gets them in front of their audience again, with some valuable information, but then also everybody’s just sort of like cross-pollinating, you know what I mean? It goes back to what you said about posting every business day. It’s very clear to me—the results of posts. When I post frequently I can see the amount of views of my profile go up and the amount of people that want to connect with me go up. And then when I don’t post for a while, it starts to trail off pretty quickly. So she’s like pumping the Zig Ziglar thing, like pumping the pump, to like get the water to come up. Yes, I mean that’s a real thing and it does take a lot of effort. Now I’m curious about how much time each week do you say you put into creating content and posting them? You probably do a lot more than what the average LinkedIn user would do ’cause this is your jam.
Brenda Meller: Yes, it is. But it’s also kind of one of these things like ask somebody who loves to read how many hours a week they read; ask somebody who loves to work out how many hours a week they work out. I mean that might be different ’cause they are trying to get cardio in or something. But ask anybody who has a hobby or something they’re passionate about, “How many hours a week do you do this?” For me, it doesn’t feel like work. It’s effort. One thing I would have you think about is, LinkedIn is a communication channel. Just like once upon a time, we did not have emails so we didn’t check email every day. But now, I always post this to my clients. I’m like, “How often would you go without checking your work email if you’re working?” Maybe not a whole business day, right? You might have certain times of the day that you pull it up and close it, but LinkedIn should be thought about the same way. It’s a communication channel and it’s a two-way communication channel. It’s a way to reach many people. I think that’s really one of the magical things about social media since it’s an app in platform where people are going out there and they want to engage. They want to be in part conversations with you. They want to connect with you; they’re commenting on your posts. It’s a way that we can reach people that’s not intrusive. It’s not like I’m picking up the phone saying, “Hey, Justin, let me sell something to you” and I’m stopping you at what you’re doing and you’re kind of irritated, “How did you get my number? What are you selling me?” Or even email, I don’t know about you, but this past holiday season, I unpleasantly discovered myself being opted into all these email lists for these people that I’ve met throughout the year. It’s one thing to exchange business cards at an event and connect with people on LinkedIn. It’s another to add them to your email list without permission. I mean, yes, a happy holidays email message is not a problem in and of itself. It’s the concept of you’ve added me to your email list and now I’m getting your sales messages and events and I haven’t asked you for that. So it feels like there’s a line that’s been crossed in terms of etiquette, but LinkedIn and social media, there’s not that line. So why, I mean, how many hours you spend? Like I would spend every hour of the day on LinkedIn if I could and get paid for it all the time. I mean, I have to do client work and I do coaching and consulting as well. But I just think it’s such an amazing network. If anyone’s listening to this and they’re like, “Gosh, I’m not even on LinkedIn at all. How do I even get started?” 15 minutes a day and do that every single business day for a month. Start to create that pattern of behavior and create some regularity with it. You will start to see results and you’ll see that by an increase in your profile views. You’ll soon new invitations coming to you. You’ll see people engaging with you, but more importantly, you’ll learn a little bit more about the network by being on the network. You’re not going to learn how to expand your LinkedIn efforts by just listening to podcasts and reading books and things like that. You have to be on the network. So 15 minutes a day. I mean, we can all find 15 minutes a day to do something, right?
Justin Young: Yes. It’s funny you say that it’s really about taking action, right? I mean, you can read a lot of books about riding a bike until you start riding a bike. You don’t really have a good sense of like, “How does it work?” “What does it feel like?” Without actually doing. I’ve come to find, especially over the last year or two, that the more action I take, the more I get. It’s like a thing of like, “Oh, well, I don’t know. I don’t feel comfortable or whatever.” No, like on camera or whatever, like these interviews. When I first started doing this, I didn’t feel super comfortable doing it, but I was like, “Okay, I’ll just do it and I’ll figure it out and I’ll get used to it and I’ll get better at it.”
Brenda Meller: Exactly. Yes, and you’re a human. I think people especially on LinkedIn, they like that authenticity and they like it when people make themselves a bit vulnerable. I mean, I’ve done things on LinkedIn. I’m like, “Well, that post didn’t quite work.” I mean, I can edit it or delete it out or go back later or even these types of things where I’m posting a video. Sometimes, I like to let people know LinkedIn live as an example. My first LinkedIn live—I went out with the same message like everybody else said, “Hey, I’m on LinkedIn live.” And I had no plan. I was testing it out at first day, but I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t apologize for any mistakes I was making. Instead, I told my viewers, I’m like, “Hey if I make a mistake, I’m going to tell you what I did wrong so that you can learn from it and I can remember this for next time.” It’s the same thing you’re doing with these podcasts. You get more comfortable the more that you do these things and you got to learn to be comfortable with the uncomfortable so that learning can occur.
Justin Young: Right. So that brings up another question that I have is, why do you think people aren’t on LinkedIn? Why do you think people avoid it? Or do you think they feel like it’s a hassle; that’s another thing to use or it’s a new thing to learn. Why do you think that people don’t use it as frequently as maybe they should?
Brenda Meller: It depends, again, on the person. It depends on what industry they’re in and the necessity they see for being active online. And I think also for some people, it’s their personal privacy: “How much do I want to put myself out there and make myself accessible?” The average person that I’m having conversations with is they’re active on LinkedIn, but they know they’re not as active as they should be or they could be. And then, the next question is why? “Well, I’m not seeing the results. I only have so many hours in a day. I don’t have any more time to dedicate to this.” There’s a whole litany, and I actually did a blog once upon a time of here’s all the reasons that I hear from people about why they’re not active on LinkedIn. I mean, you can do whatever you want. I mean, you don’t want to be on LinkedIn, don’t be on LinkedIn. You don’t want to be an Instagram or Twitter or Facebook or YouTube. Don’t, don’t do that. But if you have a business need for it and you’re open and receptive to learning, then, the conversation turns into how do you optimize your time and effort on LinkedIn. So we’re not just being on the network and spinning our wheels and wasting the day, but how do we use it effectively and efficiently so that we’re engaging with our ideal target audience.
Justin Young: Yes. That’s something that I think a lot about. It’s like going to the gym, right? When you first go to the gym, you’re not going to get a lot of results. You’re going to have to put a lot of effort in before you see anything. Eventually, you’re able to lift heavier weights even though you don’t necessarily see it. You don’t see the results physically, but you’re like, “Okay, I’m able to lift heavier weight than I was last week.” That’s like the leading indicator of that. There are things on any of these social networks that are leading indicators. I mean, the biggest influencers that are around, they all used to get like no comments, no likes on any of their stuff. So it’s like the thing that I think about a lot is don’t compare your beginning to somebody else’s middle. Right? Yes. You just got to put in the reps. If you want to get the results, you got to put in the reps and there is no other way other than to do the hard work. But the thing too is it goes back to what you were saying is, maybe, depending on the network there. I mean, they all work so differently. That one network might be better for you versus another. So a lot of it is just experimenting and finding your people that you enjoy working with the most.
Brenda Meller: Yes. One tip I always offer people and it’s something I use for myself as well. If you want to become a more engaged, active, successful user on a platform, find somebody who’s doing really, really well and just ask them, “Can you give me one free tip?” I mean, I do that all the time. Every single one of these people I connected with on the LinkedIn rock stars lists. When I first connected with them, I would say, “Hey, can we exchange tips? Let’s look at each other’s profiles and give each other access.” And it was like, I learned things from them, they learned things from me. And I’ve done the same thing on Instagram. I have a friend, Courtney, and she’s super active on Instagram. She’s got a huge network and I’m like, “Okay, I can’t quite crack this nut.” I understand LinkedIn, but I haven’t been able to figure out Instagram the same way. I’m like, “What do I do? Can you give me one tip?” And she’s like, “Just make sure you’re posting once a day.” I started doing that and it was like learning that little technique and I respect independent consultants and freelancers and things like that. I’m not going to say train me for free when you’re paying your clients, but people are usually willing to give you one free tip.
Justin Young: Right. So one of the questions that I see people talk about a lot is reaching out to people on LinkedIn. What tips do you have for making that first connection?
Brenda Meller: I’m pulling up your LinkedIn profile again to see how we first became connected on LinkedIn if I did this technique with you. So you sent me, and this was back in November and in your invitation to me, you included a note and it was a personal note. It was directly targeted or intended for me. Your note said, “Brenda, I followed you for a while and loved the content you put out. Would you like to be a guest on the podcast and talk LinkedIn tips? My podcast will send entrepreneurship and marketing. Just say yes and I’ll send over the details.” That’s how we first became connected. You included a personal note that one of the biggest mistakes I see people making is they click on that invite button without including a personal note. And then, you’re at their mercy whether or not they’ll accept that invitation. The other thing that I see people doing, and I’m trying to go back to my invitations right now to see if I have any in here. I’m just going to read one of these off. “Hey, Just found your B2B content. A pleasure to read you.” I’m sure that this gentleman is sending that message out to about a hundred people this morning. That has nothing to do with me. I had one about a week ago and it was a gentleman working for an agency and in his invitation he said, “Hey, I’d like to ask you one question about your business. You know, what’s the biggest hurdle you have to achieving results?” It was obviously not intended to me. It was obviously veiled sales technique. I responded back and I said, “Hey, it looks like you might be using automated services. Is this an automated message?” And he responded and then, I replied back and I said, “You know, just you know, to be very candid, I usually don’t reply to sales messages like these.” And then he came back and said, “It’s not a sales message.” And I’m like, “Okay, we’re done here. At least admit it.” Like be honest and people can see through disingenuous messages and we don’t like to be sold to. In an invitation, we don’t want to be sold to. What appealed to me about your message was you obviously have read my profile and content, and you had a specific need that you saw my expertise could benefit your viewers, your readers, your listeners. That was about me. What I recommend people do is, if you’re inviting someone to connect with you, you want to keep it brief, but you want to keep it personal. Okay? So what I would do, Justin, if you and I hadn’t met is, I would look at your profile. If it’s on mobile, then you can personalize an invite or if I’m on your profile and desktop, I click on the connect button. And then, I would add a note and I would look at your profile and mentioned one or two things that we have in common or one or two things that are interesting to me about your profile or what you’re posting. ‘Cause I want you to know that I’ve actually taken time. This might take 10 or 15 seconds, but it’s worth it because I have a higher likelihood that you’re going to accept that invitation if I’ve made it about you. So it might be, “Hi Justin. We haven’t met yet, but I see that we share several common connections in the content marketing industry. Looks like you’re posting podcasts every week, you know, whatever. Let’s connect on LinkedIn, Brenda Meller.” So now you’re feeling flattered ’cause I’ve read your profile, you know it’s about you. It’s not a mass email that I sent everybody. You have a higher likelihood of accepting that invitation. What we’re a lot of people go wrong is they do two things next. One is, as soon as Justin accepts the invitation, they send them a sales pitch: “Hey Justin, visit this Bitly link and you can sign up for downloading my white paper or click this calendar tool to schedule a call with me or we’ll grab coffee and bloody blah.” They go overly aggressive at that point or the other common mistake, they do nothing at all. Accepting a connection and then, okay, all right, well there you go. There we have it. Becoming a connection and finding and connecting with your target audience and in bringing them through that sales process on LinkedIn is kind of like dating. So when we invite someone to connect with us, it’s like going out on a blind date and we’re trying to earn their trust. We’re trying to demonstrate that we’re not crazy or psychotic. We’re not like, the appetizer comes and you’re proposing marriage. I mean, “Hello, what’s your last name again? Do you have a family?” We need to go a little bit slower on that process. Even if you have a sales quota to meet this month, that’s not my problem as your intended connection. That’s your problem. So what I like to do, I’m a marketer, I’m not a salesperson so— You’ve got a cat behind you or something. Is that a dog? What is that?
Justin Young: It’s a dog. It’s a dog, random dog.
Brenda Meller: I just saw a tail. I was like, “What is that?”
Justin Young: Random dog walking around in the office.
Brenda Meller: —So We’ll go slow on the process. As a marketer, I am never overly aggressive in my sales approach. And I think that’s one of the things that works really well with me on LinkedIn. I might send you an invitation to connect to you, accept it, and then, I will message you back and say, “Hey Justin, thanks for accepting my invitation. If you ever have any LinkedIn questions, let me know. And also tell me how you’re using LinkedIn. If I can ever send referrals your way.” I’m going to be reciprocal. I’m putting a couple of my cards on the table. I’m like, here’s what I’m selling or what I’m good at. If you have questions and I’m offering it in a free sample type of a format. And I’m also saying, “Hey, how can I help you? How can I be a resource to you?” So if you do have a guard that comes up, it pulls the guard down and it lets people know you’re human being. You want to help and you want to be a helpful connection. At that point, you might not respond to me for six months, a year, whatever, which is fine with me because you’re in my connection list which means I’m probably going to be in your homepage feed. My guess is, I’m probably one of those people that’s always up on your LinkedIn timeline, right? ‘Cause I’m super active on LinkedIn and part of the reason that’s happening is, I’m posting every day; I’m trying to post content that’s informative, educational, inspirational. Very rarely do I sell in my posts. My profile is where I do my selling. My posts are for telling. So if you’re trying to sell, focus on your profile. Don’t focus on your posts because people will tune your posts out if you’re selling, selling, selling, selling there. So following on that invitation strategy, it’s step two after I’ve sent you that second message says, “Let me know if you have any LinkedIn questions and tell me what you’re doing.” Depending on your response at that point, some people will reply back and they’ll say, “Actually, I do have a LinkedIn question or I’ve always wondered about this.” At that point, they looked at my profile, they vetted, “Okay. She does some LinkedIn coaching, consulting. She knows what she’s talking about.” I might get a question and then, I answer it for them and then I’ll follow up and just say, “Keep me in mind if you ever need additional coaching or strategy assistance. I do offer this as a service through Meller Marketing.” That’s it, and then, I walk away. I still don’t send you a link, I don’t send you a proposal, I’m not doing anything until you initiate that ask. And then you might say, “Actually, I’m interested. What are your rates or something?” Then, I take it offline. I don’t usually put that in a message saying packages starting at X. I say, “Why don’t we set up a 15- minute call? We can discuss.” That’s my marketer’s guide to non-selling selling.
Justin Young: Yes, that’s a great sales process. It’s very well thought out. I’m always curious to see people’s different sales processes. So how long did that take for you to initiate that and build out that whole process? ‘Cause I imagine this wasn’t like a two-day thing.
Brenda Meller: No, it was gradual and a bit is, I see what my audiences’ response to this technique and then, I modify and tweak and move on from it. It’s also a bit of who I am as a person. I’m a marketer, I’m very uncomfortable with selling. I am very squeamish when it comes to being overly aggressive in that approach. That’s one thing I’ve heard from people; they appreciate that I’m not aggressive and that I’m not pushy as a salesperson. I’ve even had a couple of people say, “It’s almost like, not quite, but almost like you’re playing hard to get, like, I’ve got to chase after you if I want to do business with you.” I think that’s part of the appeal because I know you’re busy. I know that your training is seen as valuable and I know obviously, you’re talking about your client engagements and speaking. I know you’re busy. So if I want to work with you, I’ve got to work a little bit to reach out and ask you that question. I’m creating a little bit of that supply and demand. I’m creating a little bit of that in the process, which to me, it feels more natural in terms of, if you want what I’m selling, I’ve got to demonstrate my value. It’s always keeping me on my toes. And what I find is every now and again when I’m not, I’m getting probably on average probably three to five leads or inquiries a week coming to me on LinkedIn. This is not me cold calling and my close rate. This is, in mail messages coming to me or dialogue that I’m having with new invitations and connections coming back to me. But when I find that those start to slow down, I start to assess my efforts and I start to realize I’m going too heavy on the sale or my posts feel like a sales post versus an inspirational, educational post and then I got to throttle it back and then things start working again.
Justin Young: That’s it, right? Yes. Listening to the feedback, I guess, from the engagement you’re getting. Yes, that’s interesting. What you said reminds me of what I heard somebody say one time, everybody wants to buy, but nobody wants to be sold. That soft sell. I could see how that would really work well. So tell people a little bit about your team training program.
Brenda Meller: Yes, so I have a variety of different offerings for organizations that are looking to train their team on how to use LinkedIn more effectively. When someone reached out to me, it’s usually either the head of the organization or head of marketing or head of sales and it’s somebody who was in a decision maker role who knows the power of LinkedIn, but they can’t get their team to come around and start using it effectively. They’ll bring me on and I’ll come out to their business location. Sometimes, they do it by webinar and the best way is in person. I have people bring their laptops and their phones in with them and I do a two-part workshop where it’s two hours and then I come. I give them homework and then, we come back a month later and we do a second two-hour training session and we focus on going through on starting with LinkedIn profile optimization. We go through privacy and settings. We go through profiles from top to bottom, building out, making sure they’re there, everything is filled out and doing a great job of representing and selling the organization. Then, we talk about network engagement, your homepage feed, invitation strategy and messaging strategy. We talk about posting techniques and we talk about using their company page using advanced search. We go through just a variety of different things and it’s really kind of a combination of, I don’t want to say lecture but sharing information with them. At certain points, I’ll say, “Okay, now pull up your computer. Let’s look at this area of your profile. Now let’s go into this section and make these modifications.” At the end of session one, I give them some homework and it’s not something difficult. It’s not like, “Write a 30-page term paper,” but it’s “Practice these techniques in-between session one and session two.” Because what I found is, you probably know this too. Adult learners—we learn by doing. We don’t just learn by listening or watching. And what I find is that in session two, maybe about half of the group will come back having done their homework and the other half, “She facilities like, ‘Don’t make eye contact with me.’ I don’t want her to point out.” I’ll point out the good examples. I won’t like embarrass people, but I’ll point out, I’ll put them up on screen. Good examples of efforts that I’ve seen from session one and that creates a little bit of that peer to peer competition, “Oh, I want to do what Marsha’s doing or Johnny’s doing because they’re getting results. Why can’t I? Oh, okay. They actually do the homework. That’s why.” Then session two, we go through a review of homework and some additional techniques, but we walk out of there and people are feeling, they’re feeling like, “Okay, that was a lot. I have a lot to absorb,” but they’re feeling empowered and they understand where the gaps are. Whereas before the training, they didn’t know what to do differently. So now, at least they have a road map that they can follow. Yes.
Justin Young: Yes. That sounds like a lot of information that you would cover in a pretty short amount of time.
Brenda Meller: Yes. It’s a lot of fun though. I’ve gotten some really good feedback. And one thing I do, and this is something I would offer to you and to your listeners as well is, whenever I get a client or a participant in one of my trainings as well, “This was amazing, Brenda. Thank you so much,” that’s when I know, okay this is the type of person who I should ask for a LinkedIn recommendation right away. ‘Cause It’s at the moment that they’re loving the response. They’re loving the results and they’re usually more than willing to give a recommendation because they know that it will help other people who might be evaluating me for services. So this would be something like after being on your podcast today, I might go and give you a LinkedIn recommendation that explains, “My experience of working with you as a podcast interviewee and how you’ve been professional throughout the process. You’ve guided me through it. You’re great to work with.” That might help convince other people when you ask them to be on your podcast. They might look at your profile and they see this recommendation from this Brenda Meller gal. And she talks about, “Yes, Justin’s legitimate. You should totally do it.”
Justin Young: Yes, that would be awesome. If you want to do that, I would greatly appreciate it—
Brenda Meller: Sure. Absolutely.
Justin Young: —That’s all the questions that I had. Is there anything that we should cover that we didn’t cover?
Brenda Meller: No. I would say, I guess, just in closing, if anyone in your network would like to visit my profile, I’m one of the individuals now on LinkedIn. My network’s growing at a pretty good clip so I’ve changed my default button to follow. So if you follow my profile, you will receive my updates. If you are interested in connecting with me, click on the ‘more’ button and there’s an action to either connect or personalize an invite and just mentioned that you heard me on today’s podcast and I’d be happy to accept your invitation.
Justin Young: Okay, Brenda Meller, thanks. We’ll link all this stuff up in the show notes. If you’re listening to the podcast or if you’re watching this on YouTube or you’re seeing on LinkedIn, there’ll be some show notes underneath that will link to all of Brenda’s profiles. And basically, a link to everything that we talked about within this show. Again, Brenda Meller, thank you so much for coming on the show. I really appreciate it.
Brenda Meller: Thank you, Justin. It’s been a pleasure. Have a great day.
Justin Young: It’s great to talk to you.
Brenda Meller: Thanks.