Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Thank You, Darren - "31 Days to Building a Better Blog"

A month ago I stumbled upon "ProBlogger.Net" somewhat by accident (the way anyone finds blogs out there....clicking links and following interesting topics). It is a site that is dedicated to "all things blog" and hosted by one of the world's most successful Professional Bloggers (Yes, Virginia, there are "professional bloggers!!!), Darren Rowse. Darren claims to earn over $100,000 per year from his various blogs, which include ProBlogger.

Just days after I discovered this sight, which is full of useful information for anyone who writes and reads blogs, Darren started a series called "31 Days to Building a Better Blog". He asked his readers to post tid-bits of blogging advice, and then he daily posted links to this virtual university for tricks of the trade.

I am a big believer in saying "Thank You" to those who provide assistance to my advancement in this silly world. Too often people take the help of strangers and act as if somehow they deserved the favors that were provided to them. I do not know Darren Rowse, and will most likely never meet him in person (he lives and blogs in Australia), but he has provided me with so much growth in my understanding of blogging just through this one series over the past 31 days, that I must publicly show my appreciation.

First off, this series has some amazing information that was compiled in one location because of Darren's efforts. If you have not seen "31 Days", I suggest you set aside the time and go and read the suggestions of his readers from around the world. There are so many useful tips that your understanding of blogs will jump light-years ahead.

Second, I shared some tips on this blog, to which Darren linked. The traffic on my sight went through the roof on the days that these posts were freshly listed. I have continued to see an up swing in visitors to my site from ProBlogger.Net. Many visitors continue to come back regularly....and some have gone on to pre-purchase copies of my new book: "Some Assembly Required: How to Make, Keep and Grow Your Business Relationships" (available for sale at, and will be shipped by the last week of September). Now that is cool!!!

So thanks, Darren. I look forward to seeing what you will do to top "31 Days to Building a Better Blog".

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


"All people dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their mind, wake in the morning to find that it was vanity. But the dreamers of the day are dangerous people, for they dream their dreams with open eyes, and make them come true."

-T.E. Lawrence, aka Lawrence of Arabia

Dream Big. You know there are things you want to accomplish in your personal and professional lives. There is greatness inside you that is struggling to find the way out. There is something that you can do better than anyone else on the planet.

I know that anyone can achieve big things in their lives. You just have to find the creative outlet that allows you to excel.

Today you are thinking of something that you want to accomplish, but doubt is holding you back. Defeat those negative thoughts and reach for your rightful place at the top.

Nobody can do it for you. Only you can assemble the pieces that make up the puzzle of your life.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Monday, August 29, 2005

Business Success Is Being Present

David St. Lawrence at "Ripples... Blog" (not to be confused with Steve Harper at "The Ripple Effect Blog") has a great observation on his blog about the importance of showing up. We have all heard the famous Woody Allen quote about "80 percent of success is just showing up", and St. Lawerence eloquently tells the story his showing up to market his wares at a farmer's market in the rain. He could have packed up and gone home, but to do so would have meant leaving future opportunities behind.

In anything you do, people want to know they can count on you. They want to know that those whom they buy from, and associate with, will be there for the long haul. When I write and teach the skills that are involved in building a professional network of contacts that will lead to more business, one of the key points is that you must make a commitment to always show up and participate in your business community. Even when you don't feel like it.

One of the best ways to prove you are the real deal is to always be present. Out of sight is out of mind. If you are not actively cultivating your relationships with other business people, you can be sure that one of your competitors is out there trying to win their friendship. Too often people think that they do not need to go out and particiapte in networking events because they already know the "key people". Well don't kid yourself. Unless you are visible, you are forgotten.

I recommend that you make other people a priority and find ways to reach out to those in your database seven to ten times a year. If you are not having some kind of contact at least that many times, then those people are just names in your roledex....NOT MEMBERS OF YOUR NETWORK.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Weekend Blog 10/A - The Book Is At The Printer!!!

"The Weekend Blog" is off the topics of business development, networking, PR, branding, marketing and sales. It is my chance to rant, rave and pontificate about anything on my mind.

My Book Is At The Printer (Yeah!!!)

Four days ago I received a phone call from Leslie Morris, my friend and amazing editor, who informed me that "Some Assembly Required: How to Make, Keep and Grow Your Business Relationships" had been sent to the printer. I was so excited I almost drove into a tree (I know, driving while talking on a cell phone is dangerous).

The long process of planning, outlines, writing, editing, cover design, more editing, typesetting, website design and final approval have come to a close. My life-long dream of completing my first book is done (the rest is up to the printer).

The book will in my hands by September 22nd.

Thank you to all my family and friends who have supported me in this process. The book is really a credit to the people in my life who have always allowed me achieve more that I ever could have on my own.

Also, I appreciate all of the readers of this blog who have pre-purchased copies of the book, as buying a book months before the release is a true leap of faith in some random blogger. I hope that you are excited to receive the book and that is inspires you in some special way.

Have A Great Weekend.

Thom Singer

Weekend Blog 10 -Congratulations Christa and Robert

"The Weekend Blog" is off the topics of business development, networking, PR, branding, marketing, and sales. It is my chance to say whatever is on my mind.

Congratulations Newlyweds!!!

Last night we attended the wedding reception of some very special friends. Robert Tuttle and Christa Kleinhans Tuttle were married earlier this month in Napa Valley, California...and yesterday was the celebration with family and friends in Austin, Texas.

Christa has been an important part of our lives for nearly six years, and we welcome Robert to our circle of friends. You can just tell by looking at them that this is one of those marriages that will last for the long haul.

And what a great party!!! Christa's career has taken her from working in a major hotel, software companies, venture capital and now she runs her own marketing empire, Launch it is no surprise that she knows how to host a great event.

So raise your glasses high and toast the newlyweds.

Have A Great Weekend.

Thom Singer

Friday, August 26, 2005

Guest Blogger Friday - Scott Ingram

Today is the first "Guest Blogger Friday" at "The Business Development/Networking Blog". The guest blogger is Scott Ingram, the proprietor of "Network In Austin", an on-line site that promotes networking in my hometown of Austin, Texas.

Networking and Blogging, Blogging and Networking
by Scott Ingram

Networking and blogging really were made for each other. Most good blogs tend to be very personal. Even a good business blog should be personal and incorporate good advice and information with personal content that help the reader feel a personal connection to the blogger. Networking, on the other hand, is about connecting people and building relationships. Therein lies the opportunity. In my own experience the most regular readers of my own blogs are other bloggers. If we make an effort to communicate with each other and support each other we can drive a lot of quality content and traffic back and forth.

Whether he realizes it or not Thom incorporates networking and blogging better than anyone else I’ve seen. This gives him a lot of leverage. He communicates regularly, not only with me, but with other bloggers who post regularly about related topics. Some of these folks I’m sure he’s never met, and will likely never meet. By communicating with the regularly about their blogs and relevant posts he’s been able to develop his own sphere of influence and has taken the concept of a blogosphere to the next level.

I think we can all learn from Thom and work to build our own blog networks. In my case it probably makes more sense to contact other local business bloggers since my business is much more focused on business networking in Austin. This is getting easier and easier to do with the growth of geo blog directories such as: GeoURL and A2B Location. You can find other bloggers who are literally your neighbors by searching from your address. Here in Austin there is the Austin Bloggers Meta Blog where local bloggers can add relevant posts to the site, and read the posts of other local bloggers. They even have a monthly get together where you can meet other bloggers in person. Essentially a networking event for bloggers!

You’ve probably seen the results of bloggers networking and not even realized it. Often the easiest post to throw together is a commentary on another bloggers post. This is a great way to build relationships with other bloggers and to drive traffic to them. Since you’re commenting on their post it only makes sense that your reader would want to read what you’re talking about. This obviously drives highly relevant traffic to the other bloggers post and makes the reader aware of a new blog that they may not have known about before.

Finally, I think what Thom is doing here is pure genius. Having a guest blogger is the ultimate result of two bloggers networking. Plus I’d be an absolute fool not to talk about this post, and my experience on my own blog after it’s been posted. I’ve enjoyed and appreciate the opportunity to be the very first guest blogger on Thom’s Business Development / Networking Blog. Keep up the great work Thom. You’re an inspiration!

Happy networking!

Scott Ingram

Scott Ingram is the founder of, a website that offers a calendar of thousands of business and networking events in and around Austin, Texas. They help Austinites who are using networking as a marketing strategy to leverage their efforts. Scott posts regularly to his own blogs: the Business Networking in Austin Blog and his Austin Business Events blog.

Thanks to Scott for being the guest blogger!!!!

Click here to go to the latest posts on The Business Development / Networking Blog

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Come On, Lighten Up

I have recently had the displeasure of making the acquaintance of a person who could find fault with perfection. My gosh, it is amazing to me how this person finds the crap in every silver lining. And yet she is so self-righteous, that if I wrote her as a character in a short-story every reader would say she was would think I had made her too ridiculous in her holier-than-thou attitude.

I do not want to go into too much detail, as she would be able to identify herself in my prose. Although I doubt she would spend her time reading my blog (But if she did she would find all the typos and mis-spellings....which I know exist).

People like this make me wonder how someone gets by in the world seeing themselves as so perfect and the rest of us as so flawed? It must be very lonely.

Anytime I have an encounter with this person it makes me take stock of my own actions. I try to make sure I am not guilty of treating others in such a manner. I think it is good for all of us to have a little reality check up on occasion.

Take some time today to look for the good in your co-workers, your spouse, your children. Pay compliments to everyone you deal with today. Say nice things to strangers. Smile. See every glass as half-full....not half-empty. Even if you are busy, over worked, tired and just feel as if you are right and the rest of the world is wrong..... just decide to be gracious.

In the end, you will feel better. Why dwell over all the B.S.? Lighten up, even if just for today.

Your homework: Find five people to praise before you go to sleep tonight.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

100 Blogs In 100 Days

I must admit that I am addicted to "The Blog Herald's" current daily series "100 Blogs in 100 Days". Everyday they select a new blog to highlight. It is only day four ... but they have already shared some very interesting blogs. This is a great way to see what is out there in the blogosphere, and learn new and interesting information along the way.

If you have a blog that you would like to nominate.....they are still taking nominations: Email Duncan at with subject line of “100 blogs in 100 days” with your blogs details (name, url etc..). You also need to include up to, but no more than 100 words about your blog, what it does, what it’s about, or why the readers of the Blog Herald should visit it that will be published as part of the post. In return though they will be inviting Blog Herald readers to provide some feedback in the comments on what they think about your blog.

Take a look, I think you will enjoy all the various blogs. I can't wait for day five.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Networking Boo-Boo's

Liz Ryan at BusinessWeek OnLine had a great article recently titled: "Networking: What Not To Do". In this witty piece she shares stories of people who desire to get to know her better, and then try to set up meetings across town or show up ridiculously late (and seem not to care).

As someone who writes and lectures on networking and business relationship skills, I instantly related to the horrific stories that Ms. Ryan communicates to her readers. Why in the world would someone think that they can ask another person to lunch, then make that person drive 45 minutes across town....only to show up late or stand them up altogether? But it happens all the time.

The trick to building networking relationships is to make it EASY for other people to get to know you. If you systematically make it difficult for people to connect with you, then it is only natural that your reputation become that of a difficult person. And we all know what happens to those who are seen as a "pain in the ankle" (I know, another word really goes in place of ankle, but hey, this is a family friendly blog!!!).

I recommend you read Ms. Ryan's article and examine your own networking habits. Schedule appointments at or near the other person's office, and for the love of up 5 minutes early.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Winning - By Jack Welch

I read a lot of books. I enjoy spending an hour or two sitting in a Starbuck's and sipping a vanilla latte or caffe americano and quenching my thirst for knowledge. My college career was not marked by this type of dedication to hitting the books (I had to make sure that San Diego State kept it's reputation as a "party school". Just kidding, SDSU is a wonderful academic institution, I was just not very focused on my future at that stage), but now reading and learning are among my favorite hobbies.

About 15 years ago I discovered the joy of reading. I also took an interest in business (I had been a political science major), and developed a deep desire to discover better ways to live my life. Since that time I have read between twenty and twenty-five books per year.

Because of this, I know a good business book when I read one. I just finished the latest volume by the former CEO of General Electric, Jack Welch. Welch has long been considered one of America's top business leaders and this book, Winning, is a MUST READ for everyone.

While the whole book is fantastic, I recommend that you do not miss Chapters 19. It is the best advise I have ever seen on Work-Life Balance. Welch's no nonsense advise is what everyone needs to hear. You may not like what he has to say, but he is right on the money as to why some people get ahead in business and others do not. Also he talks about why some achieve the "right" to take time for achieving balance and others do not.

It is not a short book (372 pages in the paperback edition), but every chapter is full of sage wisdom from someone who has reached the top of America's corporate world.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Guest Bloggers Wanted

I want Fridays to be "Guest Blogger Day" at The Business Development / Networking Blog. In order for this to happen, I need your help....and the help of anyone you know who writes about business topics.

If you would like to be one of my weekly guest bloggers, please send me an email ( with your proposed post on networking, sales, marketing, public relations, business development, advertising, or communications.

Once I get your email, I will reply and let you know if and when I will use your post.

The rules:

1. This is my I make the rules. This also means I get to change any and all rules as I see fit.

2. Any links to your blogs or other blogs (which I encourage) are subject to review. (I am not going to link to any sites that are offensive!)

3. 500-1000 words. Your own original writing that has not previously appeared elsewhere.

4. Topics must relate to the theme of this blog, and I must like your post.

5. You are NOT required to link anything back to me (I hate it when people do that). But if you want to link to this site, that's cool, ....thanks.

6. I will select one or more articles and post them on Fridays. If I get no submissions, then I guess there will be no "Guest Blogger Friday".

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Weekend Blog 9 - Playscapes Rock

The weekend blog is off the main topics of networking, marketing, sales, PR and business development. It is just an opportunity to write about whatever crosses my mind.

Playscapes Rock

Those of you without children may not be able to relate to today's post....but anyone with a kid under the age of ten will understand this one.

I have noticed a new phenomenon that makes dining out with kids much more enjoyable for my wife and I (AND anyone who might be seated near us in a restaurant). More restaurants are popping up that have playscapes for the children.

It used to be just McDonald's and other fast-food chains that had play areas....but now there are family oriented establishments that include fun areas where the kids can go after eating half their order of chicken nuggets. Meanwhile, the parents can continue to sit and finish their meal ... while keeping a watchful eye on the little ones.

In my home town of Austin, Texas, a family dining establishment, Waterloo Ice House, has one location (and another currently under construction) with a great playscape, sandbox and plenty of grass on which to run around. The food is very good, the atmosphere is pleasant, and we actually get to finish our meals when dining out with our two children.

In addition, two local supermarkets, that have restaurants, also have play areas. Central Market (North) and the new Whole Foods Landmark Store are great places to meet other families for a nice meal. The kids can eat, then play, while the parents can share upscale food and adult conversation. (Whole Foods has the picnic area and playscape on the roof with live music on Friday and Saturday).

In today's minivan and SUV dominated world, I think more businesses should have kid friendly activities built in (Hyatt Hotels actually has "Camp Hyatt" at all of their properties) ...... but I know that would annoy the heck out of tons of other people. Let the comments begin!!!!

Have A Great Weekend.

Thom Singer

Friday, August 19, 2005

PR Professionals Beware

While reading a post on a blog yesterday, I laughed so loud that the person in the next office came over to see what on earth could be that funny.

Monica Bay, the editor-in-chief of Law Technology News and author of The Common Scold Blog had a post titled "The Penalty Box". She has decided that far too many PR professionals send press releases abusing the use of the word "solutions" in their text. She now has an actual penalty box on the right hand side of her blog where she posts offending press releases that abuse the term.

The current culprits have twelve and thirteen uses in each release.

As a marketing director, I am cautious not to laugh too loud (when you live in a glass house, you should not throw rocks). I am sure that I have sent many a press release that would cause flags to be thrown all over the field. But I commend Monica for putting everyone on notice for this over use of the word "solutions".

Other offences that are worthy of penalties:
  • Too Many Releases. Some companies put out a press release every time an executive uses the restroom. Make sure that you actually have "news" before you send out a press release.
  • Long Press Releases. You are not writing a book. Stay on message.
  • Too Many Quotes. Not everyone in your organization needs to have a quote in every release.
  • Expecting Coverage. I know a lot of people who get angry at the press when they send a release that is not turned into a page one story. The editors get to decide what gets covered, that is just the way it works.

Thanks to Monica for a humorous way of drawing attention to an important issue for everyone who issues releases to the press.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Audio Blog - Awaken The Sleeping Giant

Is your company a sleeping giant? Do you have the best people and products in your industry....but you still cannot capture a dominate market position? Listen to today's audio blog for tips to get your slumbering giant of a business off the couch.

Click on the arrow below, or double click on the MP3 link to listen to the "Audio Blog".

(Length: 1 minute, 40 seconds)

MP3 File

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Blogosphere Networking

If you are reading this, then you probably know about blogs. However, there is a surprisingly large number of people who have no idea of blogs, blawgs, blogsphere, etc....

I was recently at a social gathering with some very educated and sophisticated individuals. In the conversation I mentioned my new book (soon to be released) and my blog. Everyone immediately understood the concept of a book.....but the idea of a blog created many a puzzled face.

I was asked a lot of questions (some folks had heard of blogging, others had not). The following are the top questions, and my feeble attempt to answer them:

1. Why did you start your blog?

I started it as an experiment to help educate myself about blogs. My company is interested in having an industry focused blog, and I decided to take it upon myself to jump into the blogosphere and get my feet wet. In addition, I write a recurring column for Professional Marketing Magazine, and I thought that regularly writing a blog would give me some good practice and help me uncover themes for future articles. I also felt I could use it to help promote my new book, "Some Assembly Required: How to Make, Keep and Grow Your Business Relationships".

2. Has it been worth it?

Yes!!! On all three of the above reasons I have exceeded my goals. I now understand the commitment involved if we create an industry blog. I have already created a lot of positive material that can later be turned into articles for my marketing column. AND.....I have sold a bunch of copies of my new book .....even before it is released.

3. Are all blogs the same?

NO. There are as many types of blogs are there are writers. I have categorized them into three types, but I am sure others would have arguments about these areas:

A. Corporate Blogs. These are hosted by companies to promote their products and services or to communicate with clients.

B. Philosophical / Content Blogs. In this type, an individual (or group of individuals) writes on a specific topic and shares their opinions with the readers. Topics can range from business to sports to politics to religion, etc.... I would put The Business Development / Networking Blog in this category. The blogs from which I learn the most are philosophical/content blogs.

C. Diaries. In these blogs people record their daily experiences the way one would write in a diary. Some of these can be quite entertaining, as they allow the voyeur in each of us to look into someone else's private world. However, reader beware...some of these can reveal a bit more than you want to read (or see).

4. Why would I want to read blogs?

They are a great way to discover information on any particular topic or variety of ideas. Many bloggers have very good sources of information and they certainly have opinions. As with any media source, you need to beware of the authors intent and ulterior motives. Also, blogs can just be interesting to read.

5. What have you learned from writing your blog?

Like the term "World Wide Web" only a decade ago, "Blogs, blogging and the blogosphere" are the new new thing, and are not just a "fad". If people are not yet aware of blogs, they will be soon. More and more blogs are created every day and blogs will soon touch everyone who surf the internet.

Having your own blog, however, is not for everyone. You must be committed to writing on a regular basis, and not shy about sharing your opinions. I have learned that a blog can go stale if you do not make posts on a regular basis.

I also learned that when you blog, you are actually networking. At first it seemed like this was one sided, until I began to hear from people who were regularly reading my blog. I have developed new friendships with many bloggers who write about similar topics. Often one blogger will email another with a compliment or suggestion, and they will begin to correspond regularly. Just like any other type of business friendship, the relationship grows over time. This blog-networking leads to mutual understanding and respect between the bloggers and then can lead to business relationships and referrals.

6. Should I start a blog?

That is a question every person will have to answer for himself/herself. I
would suggest you begin by reading other blogs and getting familiar with what is out there in blog-land. If you believe that you have something to say...then by all means, start a blog. But remember to be patient and persistent. Like writing a book, it takes time and there is no guarantee that you will become widely read. However if you are dedicated, you will uncover many unexpected benefits from your blogging experience.

If you are interested in easily learning a lot about blogs.... I suggest you start by reading the posts and links in the series called "31 Days to Better Blogs" at, hosted by Darren Rowse. This is the best collection of suggestions to the experienced and novice blogger.

To read all my most current posts to The Business Development / Networking Blog, click here.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Friday, August 12, 2005

Find A Niche

I am a big fan of people who have unique businesses. Everytime I meet an entrepreneur who has discovered a unique niche, and makes it work, I am impressed. Often these people have persued their personal passions and found a way to make those interests into a career.

My favorite of these people is my older brother, Bill Singer. I remember being a small kid and listening to him play the saxophone on the back porch of our parents house. He enjoyed playing the horn, and his love of music eventually took him to New York City. In addition to playing the saxophone, he learned to repair his instrument.....and now is one of the top saxophone repairmen in the Big Apple. Yes, you can build a business in "Saxophone Repair" that is a great niche.

His business is built the foundation of excellent customer service, unparalled skill, and a contageous enthusiasm for the general enviornment of the musicians daily experience.

Because the saxophone is such a delicate instrument, and so few people know how to properly do repairs, he also developed a set of "how to" videos on general saxophone maintenance. This is an example of how you can grow your business, even when opperating in a niche.

Bill is an entrepreneur who is living his dream and making his mark on the world. Learn more about his business at

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Corner Market Entrepreneur

Every now and then you encounter someone who makes you step back and say "WOW". My friend, Joe Grant, is one of those special entrepreneurs who is living his dream, experiencing success, and is embraced by his family, friends and customers.

Joe is the proprietor of Grant's Marketplace, which is located on the corner of Beech Street and Date Street in the quaint San Diego neighborhood of South Park (just blocks from the San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park). Three years ago Joe left his job as a school teacher to purchase and renovate this neighborhood corner market, which now bares his name. At the time, the building and the store were not much to see with the naked eye. But Joe, and his wife Kim (one of San Diego County's hottest up and coming architects), saw possibilities. Today, it is a centerpiece gathering place to those who live and work nearby.

I do not make it to San Diego very often, but I always look forward to having a breakfast sandwich, a cup of freshly brewed coffee and a glass of the worlds best orange juice at Grant's Marketplace. While it is not located near the business or tourist districts, I like to pass some time sitting on the patio and talking with Joe or his regular customers. It is the type of place where the locals all know each other's names (think Cheers....NORM !!!!), and regular folks can sit for a few minutes and watch the world go past.

Every time I leave Grant's Marketplace I wish that I lived in the neighborhood, or that my sub-division in Austin, Texas had a community market that was equally inviting.

This year the market has added a gelato bar, properly labeled with a sign announcing the "JOE-LATO". The lunch menu serves Boars Head deli meat sandwiches and freshly made salads. The wine selection is far beyond what you will find in most small corner markets, and if you need milk, cheese, bread or cereal, then you will find superb quality items at Grant's Marketplace.

On a blog that is designed to discuss and highlight sales, networking, marketing, business development and PR...... Joe and his corner market are just the ticket. While most of you will not have the chance to visit this delightful establishment....look around your own city and find those hard working entrepreneurs who are living the dream, and smile in their direction. They are exactly who we should admire in this world.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Business Network 2005

Those who are serious about building a network of professional contacts that can (and will) refer business cannot wait and let it occur by happenstance. They must actively plan to grow their network. If your New Year's resolution was to expand your visibility and your network, you might be feeling like 2005 is slipping away.

It is August. How has your network grown in 2005? Have you made new contacts? Have you grown and expanded your existing relationships? Are you getting referrals from your friends?

Even though the year is nearly two-thirds over (scary, huh?), it is not too late to refocus your efforts on networking.

My three tips to jump-start your database for the remainder of 2005 are:

1. Get out to at least two business events every week for the rest of the year.There are so many breakfasts, lunches, happy hours and dinner functions daily in every major city that nobody can
complain that there is no place to network. Search for events that are directly tied to your industry or that draw diverse and high-level attendees. Do not immediately discredit people you meet, as you never know who could become a referral source.

2. Schedule an early morning coffee or a lunch meeting four times a week. Try to have these with individuals or small groups whom you have recently met, or need to get to know better. Coffee is a great way to have a casual chat, and you can easily keep the time to about 30-45 minutes. I was recently in Seattle and set up a meeting with an acquaintance in the legal marketing profession that I have known for over a year, but never met in person. We had a great conversation and expanded our friendship. Fortunately there is a Starbucks on every corner in Seattle, so finding a convenient place to meet was easy.

3. Send eight follow up notes by mail or email to people you already know. Just because you already have developed a strong relationship with someone does not mean you can coast. You need to continue to reach out to the people in your network. Finding articles that are of interest to their career or hobbies is a great excuse to pen a short note. With the vast amounts of articles now on the internet and on blogs (like this one), finding relevant information is very easy.

If you take action now, then you can still grow your network in 2005 and set yourself up for a more successful 2006. Don't wait until the New Year to get back to networking.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Monday, August 08, 2005

Don't Be A Lobster

A friend of mine recently shared with me about a conversation he had about my soon to be released book: "Some Assembly Required: How to Make, Keep and Grow Your Business Relationships" (New Year Publishing) . The other person mentioned having met me and that we discussed my book on the importance of relationships and networking.

This person felt that the topic of building a professional network of business contacts was "WAY OVER DONE", and that it would be impossible for an unknown author to have any real success with a business book.

My friend shared this with me because we were conversing about how there are always people who are quick to find the negative in every situation, and take delight in cutting others down. I just laughed.

This reminds me of "The Lobster Story", which I heard many years ago (not sure of the source, sorry). Did you know fishermen can store live lobsters in a box with relatively low sides and no lid? This is because any time one lobster tries to crawl out of the pen, others will grab it with a claw and pull it back. After a while, the lobsters stop trying to escape because their peers do not let them get away.

That is how many people behave. They are so threatened by anyone else reaching for the stars, that they work hard to pull them back down to earth.

Did you know that over one hundred publishers turned down the book "Chicken Soup For The Soul" (by Mark Victor Hansen and Jack Canfield). They were told that books of collected stories do not sell very well and would not be marketable. LOBSTERS!! "Chicken Soup" and the books in the series that followed have gone on to be some of the best selling books in history.

I am not comparing my book to the Chicken Soup series (not yet!!!), but the point is that you should not let the naysayers get you down. If you have a goal or a dream, go for it. Luckily for me, I am allergic to lobster.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Weekend Blog 8/A - Better Blogging

The weekend blog can and will often be off the topic of business development, marketing, networking, PR and sales. Today we talk about blogs.

Better Blogging

At a wildly fun dinner party last night I had a conversation with a dynamic entrepreneur about blogs. This guy is successful, well-traveled, witty, edgy and a leader in his industry. He is the perfect candidate to start a blog that will help promote his company, his charitable work, and provide readers with very interesting stories. We talked about the possibilities of his taking on a blog and I gave him some advice that I thought could help him succeed (not that I am a "pro", as this blog of mine began as an experiment, and continues to be a learning experience).

This morning I stumbled upon Darren Rowse's ProBlogger site. Now, Darren is an "pro" at this blog game, with over 17 blogs under his belt, and many years (see THREE....a lifetime in the blogosphere) of blogging for business and profit.

Darren is currently seven days into his "31 Days to Building a Better Blog" campaign. He and his extensive stable of readers are posting the best suggestions for the seasoned and novice alike on how to improve their blogs, and thus raise the whole community of bloggers. It is worth checking out if you wish to expand your knowledge about how to write a successful blog. Be prepared, it could take you a lot of time to read all this useful information!!!!

Here are my top five suggestions to more successful blogging:

1. Post regularly. I have discovered that I lose interest in blogs that have grown stale. If you are not posting four or five times a week, you run the risk that people may stop making regular visits to your blog. While it takes a commitment to find the time to write a post, anything successful takes dedication.

2. Link to like-minded sites, but not too many. My blogroll has currently has about 27 links. I think that having more than thirty makes the list too long, and will discourage people from exploring the links you have chosen. I have not made it a requirement to link to those sites that also link back to me, but most have returned the favor. (Check out the great blogs linked on my blog will find a lot of great information!!!)

3. Tell others about your blog. For the first few months I was stealth about The Business Development / Networking Blog. I was afraid of negative feedback from my friends and co-workers. I began the blog to help develop material for the regular column I write for Professional Marketing Magazine, and to help promote my new book. But now that I have some regular readers, my motivation has changed. I now write to help provide information about business topics that I am passionate about. I gladly tell people about the site, and welcome all feedback. (Please, feel free to tell others about my blog!!!)

4. Keep your posts short. I am not so good on this point. Most of my posts are probably around 1000 words. I think 500 words is probably a better length, as it allows those who read the blog to quickly scan your thoughts and ideas, without having to invest a too much time.

5. Add some personal color. A blog is not like reading Fast Company Magazine or Business Week. I have found that people who read blogs expect a glimpse at who the blogger is as a person. My Weekend Blog posts include stories about my dad, my wife (she is an amazing full-time mom, who also co-authored The Mad At Martha Cookbook), and my well as other personal topics of interest. I have gotten a lot of positive feedback about these stories. (Monica Bay of American Lawyer Media is one of the best at this. She shares her passion for baseball - and many other things - along with her highly informational posts on the legal industry at The Common Scold Blog)

Best of luck to everyone who has made the commitment to writing a blog.

Have A Great Weekend.


Thom Singer

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Weekend Blog 8 - Off To The Gym

The Weekend Blog is off-topic from business development, networking, PR, sales and marketing. It is my chance to write about other things in my world.

Battle of the Bulge

In November 2004 I noticed that I had gotten fat. Up until that point I had always been able to justify the few extra pounds that had begun to appear around my middle as part of getting older. I had always been tall and thin since high school (I was a bit of a fat kid in elementary and jr. high school), and could eat and drink anything I wanted with no consequences.

Somewhere around my thirtieth birthday my metabolism moved out and didn't leave a forwarding address. The creep of the expanding waistline was slow, and at 6'3" it was easy to put on 30 pounds before anyone started to notice (okay, my wife noticed, but she loves me anyway).

Once the 38" pants (ideally I would be a 34) started to get snug, I decided I would do something about it. I set the goal of losing 25 pounds by April 30, 2005. That would mean about a pound a week, which sounded reasonable. I began reading and researching about all the different methods of how to lose weight, and I must admit, there are is a lot of advice on this topic (low fat, low carb, grapefruit, cabbage soup, etc....).

In the end I took the counsel of my 90-year-old father. He has lived almost a century, through two World Wars, the great depression and all the other stuff I only read about in history class. At his age he is very fit; he lives alone, drives, bowls, golfs, goes dancing, and had four I figure he must know some stuff.

My dad said that, in his opinion, people forget the two basic truths about fitness: "MOVE MORE, EAT LESS". My downfall is that I like to eat...A LOT. And have a wicked sweet-tooth on top of that. Bad combination. Couple that with my enjoyment of a cold beer (or three, four...five...)....AND my lack of exercise, and it is surprising I only had gained 30 pounds.

With that in mind, I began my new diet and fitness program the week before Thanksgiving (yes, I know, I was nuts to start at the holidays). I examined the things in my diet that were full of useless calories. The biggest culprit was Starbucks. I would have mocha or vanilla latte everyday, and often add on a scone. What I discovered what this was over 800 calories per day, just from Starbucks. (I gave up the pastry and switched to black coffee, which only has 10 calories). I quickly discovered if I made some wiser choices in my other meals (as I loved to eat the burger with fries....not the salad, etc...and I followed most meals with dessert) I could cut out over 1300 calories every day, while still eating enough food to not starve myself.

The other trick was to say good bye to beer. I found that if I drank red wine I could enjoy one or two glasses. With beer I could easily have three or four (I can't put the wine away like that!!!!). This helped in my consuming less calories and less alcohol, which slows my already tardy metabolism even more.

The final piece of my health triffecta was exercise. I already belonged to Gold's Gym, but only went on rare occasions. Plus, when I did get to the gym I just lifted a few weights, I did not do much on the cardio machines. My new routine had me at the gym four days a week. I had trouble at first, but worked up to running two miles on the treadmill and then doing another 25 minutes on the elliptical machine at each visit.

I hated the whole thing at first, but I did see progress. Once I began to see the weight come off, I began to get more dedicated. By April 5th, twenty-five days ahead of schedule, I reached my goal of 198 lbs. (now at 195 lbs.).

The bad news is that keeping the weight off takes as much effort as losing the pounds in the first place. I have come to the conclusion that this diet and exercise are going to a permanent part of my life, every day.....FOREVER. Kind of a bummer.

Oh well, it is Saturday, and I am off to the gym.

Have A Great Weekend.

Thom Singer

PS- (added August 9th).....After writing this post I reconnected with a business friend who has a sight about fitness for busy professionals. It is a good read if you want to undertake a fitness plan in your lifestyle.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Audio Blog - Marketing Strategy

Is your company's marketing strategy proactive or reactive? Are you just following the lead of your competition or are you leading the way in your industry?

My latest "Audio Blog" addresses this topic. Please click on the arrow below or double click the MP3 File link. (Length: 1 minute 53 seconds)

MP3 File

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Competitors As Friends

Very often people despise their competitors. They say bad things about them and find ways to make prospects uneasy about doing business with the other firm . They wish evil to fall upon the lives of those with whom they compete. I knew one guy who would arrive early at networking events and tear up his competitor's nametags and at trade shows he would steal brochures when booths were left unattended. YIKES. If you are spending that much time thinking about your competition, maybe you need to refocus and spend more time promoting your own company. (AKA, get a life!!!)

When you and your competitors are hard working and ethical, with good products and services, having positive relations with them will lead to you being able to create an "eco-system" inside your field of expertise. All industries have some bad apples, but when the good businesses band together, you can push aside those that lack proper character.

I have found that knowing the individuals who work at competitive firms is a good thing. It is always advantageous to have a "face with the name", and most of the time these are very cool people who can become your friends. Just because you compete for business does not mean they can't join you for a beer after hours.

Having friends in your industry is also good when you go to look for a new job. I know one guy who is highly respected in his industry and has twice been recruited to higher paying jobs by people he has gotten to know at competitive companies.

Likewise, if you need to recruit good talent to your company, you will already know who are the best of breed.

And don't forget, competition can sometimes give you business!!! What? It is true. Very often one company who competes in one product line will partner with the competition in another area where the two can be mutually beneficial. By not having good relationships with those in other firms, you might just be leaving money on the table (I hate to leave money on the table).

I even know a married couple who used to sell semiconductor equipment for rival companies. The man had always heard from his clients that his competitor was a "knock out" and that she was going to take all his business (good product and she was hot....that was hard for him to beat). When he met her, she took his heart. I am convinced he married her to stop her from selling against him!!!

Finally, I know that George W. Bush and John Kerry were never seen fishing together at a secluded lake near Crawford, Texas during the 2004 presidential campaign (Karl Rove would never had allowed that to happen).... but maybe if they had been friendly competitors more Americans would not hate the political process!!! Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill used to knock back a cold one from time to time after the business on Capital Hill had adjourned for the day.

Spend your time making people your friends rather than tearing up their nametags. You will be more successful and have much better karma!!!

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer