Monday, April 30, 2007

Honor Your Business Networking Appointments

Your actions do speak louder that your words, and people are listening. Most professionals know that they need to keep their major commitments in business, (hitting delivery deadlines, customer service response times, quality work, etc....), however this rings true for all things, not just the big things. So do not forget that your networking efforts are major commitments. You never know who can help advance your career.

An attorney that I coach on "business development planning" has a bad habit of not following through with those in his network. When it comes clients he is dedicated and focused, but has a two tier system for how he ranks people: 1. those he can bill by the hour. 2. everyone else....and he has a bad habit of letting those in the second category know it!

The other day he told me he had to cancel coffee with the partner of a local accounting firm, with whom I have been encouraging him to build a stronger relationship. They have the potential to help each other develop business, and already know each other fairly well. They are not close "friends", but there is certainly the opportunity to forge a mutually beneficial referral situation (and become real "friends").

When I ran into the accountant and the lawyers name came up, his immediate response was strong and to the point, "Oh, I am done with him!".

Upon some investigation I discovered that this was the fifth time the lawyer had canceled a meeting within 24 hours of their scheduled coffee. FIVE IN A ROW, each time explaining that he has been so busy working deals for his legal clients that he needed to take the next day to "play catch up". The message was loud and clear, "I am a busy, busy, important guy with a JD, and you come somewhere below all the other things on my list...including mundane tasks and paperwork."

He did offer to reschedule, but the accountant heard, "let's try to set this up again for a time when I have NOTHING else to do....or when it is really convenient for me. But even then it will be a suggested meeting, not a commitment."

The accountant went on to point out that he too is a busy man (ahhh, tax season!), and that he is very judicious about spots on his calendar. By making time to meet with this lawyer, he voided the opportunity to meet with clients, prospects or other people in his network at that time.

I felt the pain of the accountant. I too have had situations like this happen to me. I had one friend cancel for lunch by telling me "I have decided to take a 'personal day' off today, just to relax". WHAT? I rank below sitting on the couch and watching The Oprah Winfrey Show?

On the flip side, stuff happens and there are legitimate reasons you have to reschedule meetings. Being in sales, sometimes prospect meetings pop up with short notice and I cannot control the timing. Last Friday I had to reschedule lunch with someone. I had no choice, as a co-worker had set a meeting with one of my major prospects and I needed to be out of town. I felt bad, but the difference was that it was something that could not be helped or the time manipulated. I physically had to be in another city. Additionally, I had not rescheduled four other times on this person.

I also had a person cancel coffee with me last week. This person is very attentive to building networking relationships, and I know he would never "better deal" his time with me. He had a pressing conflict, and does not make it a habit to move meetings. His reputation trumps his moving the appointment.

Treat your schedule like gold. Do not set up networking meetings that you do not intend to keep. Setting an appointment is not filling a spot until something better comes along. Once it is on the books (or in Outlook), make sure you honor the other person's time. That means you show up AND show up on time! (The being on-time thing is a whole other post for a different day!).

If you do need to reschedule, make a note in your calendar along with the new time that you had canceled last time. This way you will know that you had moved the appointment in the past, which should make you less likely to cancel again (unless you really do not care about the relationship, in which case, just do not agree to meet with the person in the first place). While you might not keep track of how often you cancel on a specific person, I promise you that they remember. It is on these types of events that your reputation is built.

You are not obligated to network with everyone! You wont like all the people you encounter in the business world, and they will not all love you, either (yes, it is true. My mother would hate to hear this, but not everyone likes me. So what?). But if you do not value someone, do not put them on your calendar. Regularly canceling on people when you get better offers for your time shows much about your character.

***Special four final notes of clarification for the readers who love to nit pick - 1. YES, there are reasons that warrant rescheduling. Just don't make it a habit. 2. YES, I am sure that I have made this mistake myself (although not often, as I do guard my appointments as serious business), but calendar appointments are important to the other person. 3. YES, the accountant was being very hard on the lawyer by eliminating him from his network....but he gets does get to pick with whom he associates. 4. YES, like it or not, people do tell others in town about these types of things. Constant canceling can ruin your be careful.

Have A Great Day.


Friday, April 27, 2007

Be Fearless In Business and Life

The cover of this month's Selling Power Magazine features political pundit and super-blogger Arianna Huffington with the blazing headline "Have No Fear!". Huffington released her 11th book late last year; On Becoming Love, Work, and Life (Little, Brown and Co, 2006) and the magazine does a great job of interviewing this controversial lady.

It is a short article, but it made me cool to be FEARLESS. Not stupid, but fearless!!! If not frightened by the prospect of failure, we would attempt many more cool things.

Huffington has had an eclectic life lived out in the public eyes. Her high-profile switch from the Republican Party to the Democrat Party (causing folks on both sides to hate and mistrust her) and her dramatic loss in the 2003 California Gubernatorial race would have caused a lesser person to go into hiding. Instead she launched a political blog. The Huffington Post (whose early critics said would flop), that in three years has grown into one of the most powerful politically left blogs on the internet. While she bloviates for the liberals, she actually criticizes players from both parties (and God knows that all the clowns in Washington DC are worthy of critisism!!!).

By being fearless, Huffington has attempted much in her career. Sometimes her efforts lead to massive failures....but she also has racked up amazing successes. That is the lesson....never, never give up and keep trying until you hit the big time. Don't be scared of failure.

Have A Great Day.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Never, Never, Never Quit

Keep calling.

I received a telephone call today from the CEO of a company I have been calling for nearly a year. I have mailed him things, left voicemails, all the basic sales-guy stalking a buyer stuff. He never called back.

Today he did. He runs a sales-oriented organization and he called to tell me that he appreciated my calling efforts. Granted, he is on the board of the competition and will not be changing anytime soon...but he called nonetheless. And he agreed, that forever is a long time, and that someday he might need my company's services.

He also encouraged me to call on him quarterly and continue to build our relationship. I had not realized that we actually had a relationship, but apparently he has come to know me from my voicemails and witty mailings.

Just a reminder to never, never, never quit. I have 49 other prospects who do not return calls....and soon they will stop ignoring me as well.

Yes, this story would be more engaging if he had moved all his business....but stay tuned.

Have A Great Day.


Gotta Get Goals - The Ripple Effect Guy Tagged Me

I am a believer in setting goals. Big goals, little goals, goals that grow on trees! gotta have them or you are just adrift.

Steve Harper, author of The Ripple Effect and blogger extraordinaire, had been tagged by another blogger to post his goals. Then in keeping with the bloggy tradition of passing on the love, he "tagged" me to do the same.

I thought about this for a few days, and below I am going to list some of my goals. Not the BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) or my personal goals, but rather some goals for The Some Assembly Required Blog.

Here we go.

1. To have the gumption to continue to write often. I hate it when blogs go stale, but it is not always easy to figure out what to write on a daily basis. I like blogging, it clears my head, focuses my writing efforts, helps sell my books, and I have made a lot of friends in the blogosphere...thus, I want to keep doing it for years to come.

2. I want to improve and empower the impact of my blog posts. I desire to discover how to be BOLD. I long for those who read this blog to find inspiration, to share the posts regularly and to come back day after day.

3. I want to write something profound and important, and be quoted by one of my favorite "uber-bloggers": Seth Godin, Robert Scoble, Tom Peters, Guy Kawasaki, etc...

4. I would like to have day where I get over 2000 individual visitors to this blog, which I assume will be a result of the successful execution of goals 1-3.

5. I desire all who read this blog would buy a copy of my new book, The ABC's of Networking, and share it with a friend. Writing a book is hard work, promoting a book is even more difficult. But having someone read what you wrote is amazing, so it makes it all worthwhile.

There you go. Nothing un-attainable, yet nothing easy.

What are your goals?

I will tag Mike at The Simplenomics Blog, Jason at The JibberJobber Blog, Tom at The Legal Marketing Blog, Monica at The Common Scold Blog, and Seth Godin at Seth Godin's Blog (Hey, why not?). I hope they will participate in the perpetuation of the Gotta Get Goals series.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

"Thank You" For Being You

Tim Sanders had a post on his blog, The Sanders Says Blog, last week about expressing "thank you" to those who impact your life. He says that every Friday he makes a list of three people who have helped him in some way during the week, and then before lunch on Monday he writes or calls that person and let's them know his gratitude about their contribution. If they are "repeat offenders" he ups the anty with gifts, referrals, etc... The point is that he does this on Monday!


I am a big believer in sending notes and saying "thank you"...but I have not made this a formal part of my weekly routine. What a great idea!

I have done something similar, with amazing results. In December I identify five people who have touched my life in some way throughout the year and I send them a note or an email identifying this practice, and thanking them for their actions to better my life. But I think I like Tim's weekly efforts are an even better idea.

Today is Wednesday. Start right now examining your week. Who has helped you in some way, big or small, since Monday? Begin keeping a list. Look for ways to catch others doing things that are of benefit. A fantastic bi-product is that if you are examining how people help, you cannot be spending that exact moment identifying their faults! Discovering the positive in people will make your whole attitude about them blossom into a bouquet.

I would like to start right now and thank YOU....the reader of The Some Assembly Required Blog. I appreciate all the regular readers and the one-time visitors.

Have A Great Day.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Internal Networking

Liz Handlin at The Ultimate Resumes Blog had a great post last week about internal networking. So often we forget that spending time cultivating relationships with your co-workers is just as important as networking with clients, prospects and referral sources.

In Liz's post, "It's Not The Cake", she reminds us that while those constant in-office birthday cakes seem to be a distraction, it is not about going and eating store bought cake - "the get together is about building camaraderie with your co-workers".

She is right. The few minutes that it takes to go to the break room and wish someone a happy birthday is invaluable. If you are the person who always works through these mini-parties, you will develop the reputation of not viewing others as important. Like it or not, you will be seen as selfish. Yes, even if you are busy and have a deadline. Everyone can spare five minutes!

I recently heard a story from a guy, Billy, who volunteered to drive an unpopular co-worker to pick up her car at the mechanic. Since the woman had few friends in her office she was going to have to call a taxi. Being a nice guy, Billy stepped up. On the short drive, they talked and he got to know her a little better. The pay off was that then she considered him a friend (or at least friendly) and was a big help to him on future internal projects. Her knowledge was beneficial to his career, and she turned out to be a nice person.

Having internal relationships is important. Do you have a "best-friend" in the office. Someone whom you often go to lunch, grab coffee and share information (I do not mean "gossip")??? If not, you should find one. Offices where people have close bonds tend to be more productive and have lower turn-over. Be the person who instigates activities. Encourage your co-workers to develop friendships (with you and others).

Start today. It takes time and effort to make, build and keep your business relationships....and you need to do it internally and externally!

Have A Great Day.


******Hiring a professional speaker for your next business event? Let me customize my presentation "The ABC's of Networking" for you law firm, company, or professional organization. Based on my book of the same title, together we can entertain and inspire your audience that building important and mutually beneficial business relationships is as easy as A-B-C.

Monday, April 23, 2007

What Are You Doing To Challenge Yourself?

"At age 40, what are you doing to push yourself?"

I was asked this yesterday.

Shit, I don't know.

The words are lingering in the back of my head like some morning fog over Town Lake. A simple question by an half-century old inquisitive person I met in Starbucks.

On the one hand, I have done a lot in the past year. On the other hand, I had no answer to the man with the grande, non-fat, decaf, sugar-free vanilla latte.

But it is a great question. I want to have an great answer. I desire to push myself. I crave to find ways to accomplish amazing things that before seemed out of my grasp. I need to have a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) that I can freely articulate to the world. It is my calling to, at age 4o, push myself to the next level.

How about you. What are you doing right now to challenge yourself? Spend the next five minutes thinking deeply about this question, and then see if you are haunted by your answer....or lack there of... for the rest of the day.

Have A Great Day.


Have you purchased The ABC's of Networking (my new book)??? It would mean a lot if you read it and told me what you think. Available at

SuperCuts and Inflation

On the news this morning they were laughing about presidential candidate, John Edwards, and his $400 haircuts. I missed the main part of the story, but was thinking about the delta of $386 between my haircuts and this man's grooming rituals.

$400 for a haircut?

Obviously my life is very, very different from Mr. Edwards.


Saturday, April 21, 2007

Your Networking Is Not "Fluffy"

Top executives have networks. Let's face it, you do not get to the top alone. Those who excel in their careers usually have developed relationships with others who help them along the way, and having this kind of support is having a network.

I recently was up for an opportunity to speak to a local business group. One of the members had heard me give a talk at a Chamber of Commerce event, and encouraged the board of another group to use me as one of their monthly speakers. The decision maker asked me about my topic. I mentioned that I wrote two books about networking, "Some Assembly Required" and "The ABC's of Networking"....and his face contorted into a grizzly grimace.

I chose not to react. I just smiled. He finally replied, "We need to have more substantial topics for this group". He felt that networking was a "fluffy" topic, and that nobody in his organization would find it important enough to attend the meeting.

I laughed, the whole reason to attend his meetings is the good networking. I have talked to dozens of companies, law firms, and business organizations over the past two years and always get positive feedback (and invited back to discuss the topic further). This gentleman had some pre-set notions about networking, and nothing I said was going to change his mind.

His final comment was that his audience is "made up of high level executives, and they do not waste their time on networking". Huh? They don't network, yet they come to his networking luncheon? Additionally, it is usually the top executives who welcome reminders about re-connecting with important contacts, and go back to their companies and encourage their teams to cultivate business relationships.

How about you, do you have pre-set opinions about networking? Think it is "fluffy"? I think many people share these thoughts.

I have another opportunity to speak to a group that focuses on "Leadership". They did not grimace at my topic, but instead we brainstormed how to make networking link to leadership. We agreed that leaders have networks, and that having strong business friendships makes you a more effective executive. Sounds right to me.

Have A Great Day.


Friday, April 20, 2007

Friday Parade - Blog Archive Day!!!

Today I encourage you to go back in history. Select a date in the last year or two (your birthday, perhaps) and click through on the archives (look on the left hand side of the page) of The Some Assembly Required Blog and re-read that post.

Come on, it wont take that much time. Who knows, your karma might be just right and you will discover a nugget of knowledge or inspiration that will effect your whole day in some amazing manner.

As encouragement, if you do this, and then leave a relevant comment on this post telling us what your read, I will enter you in a drawing to receive a free copy of my new book, The ABC's of Networking (New Year Publishing, 2007). You must leave your comment by Sunday, April 22nd. The book has only been available for one week, so be the first on your block to read the darn thing!

Have A Great Day


"Some Assembly Required" Back in Stock at Book People

As many who have heard me speak know, I am a fan of independent bookstores. I grew up shopping for reading materials at Vroman's in Southern California. It was a friendly place, and thrives to this day in Pasadena, California. A friend of mine, Anne, who was the most avid reader I knew in elementary school, now works for Vroman's. I think that is cool.

Locally in Austin, Texas we have Book People. This is the creme de la creme of the Indy Book Sellers (2005 Book Store of the Year, according to Publisher's Weekly!). When I released my first book, Some Assembly Required, they not only carried it, but are delightfully supportive of all local authors.

Many had told me that it was out of stock, but they now have plenty of copies available. If you live in Austin, and have never read Some Assembly Required, swing by their downtown location! If you are planning on visiting our fine city, you should experience what is truly one of our local gems. If you are nowhere near Austin, the book is available on

They do not yet carry my new book, The ABC's of Networking, but I am working on that!!! I know that local folks like the ease of having a local vendor. It is available in stock at please order today!

Have A Great Day.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Addicted To Technology

Author Harvey Mackay writes a weekly syndicated column. It appears in newspapers around the country, or you can subscribe and get it by email. Harvey is always insightful, and his writing is easy to read.

This week he wrote about the abundance of technology in our lives. He reminds us of the computer, HAL, in 2001: A Space Odysseyy, and how in the beginning HAL seemed like a benefit to everyone. However, HAL goes haywire and begins to dominate the humans...even killing one crew member on the space station.

Alas, our own experiences with technology are going haywire. We are so dependent on our electronics that we never seem free of our cellphone, blackberries, laptops, etc... Sure, your Trio probably wont kill you, it does possibly dominate your existence.

Harvey recommends three steps to free yourself:

1. Limit your multitasking. You are more efficient when you work on one thing at a time.

2. Schedule your life. Set a time for email and other tech related tasks.

3. Disconnect. Sometimes you just need to take a break from all your gadgets.

All great advice. But that disconnect one? Ouch, it is hard not to grab the blackberry every five minutes and see if there is new email!

It does feel good when you have a day that you control, not one where you are lost in email, web-surfing, phone calls, and speadsheets. The constant feeling of trying to catch up is a result of having too many things going on at once. I know, I live that life!

When I was a kid in the 1970s there was talk about the coming technology. It was predicted that computers would make us so much more efficient that we would have three or four day work weeks by the year 2000. The opposite is true, we are working harder and longer.

While technology is not the killer HAL computer, technology has enslaved humanity...not freed us.

Look, right now you are on your computer reading this blog online or as an email (if you subscribe on the right side of the page, you can get my posts delivered daily into your email!).

Have A Great Day.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Point Out People's Strengths

Leadership guru, John Maxwell, and relationship expert, Les Parrott have a great book called "25 Ways To Win With People". It is a fast read, and full of amazing advice on how to better relate to those whom you encounter on the journey of your life. Nobody excels in a vacuum, and thus the better you can get along with others, the more success you will discover.

Lesson number 23 is my favorite: "Point Out People's Strengths". So often we encounter folks who are quick to criticize. They will gladly talk about all the mistakes and shortcomings of others. However, rarely do these people praise others for what makes them phenomenal.

On page 154 they say "The self-proclaimed 'experts' who spend their time telling others what's wrong with them never win with people. Most people simply avoid them". This is true. If you are always finding fault, opportunities will be missed. People do business with people they know, like and trust. If they do not like you (and do not trust you to support them), they will take their business and their friendship elsewhere.

Rather than being a "naysayer".....go out of your way to encourage the goals and dreams of other people. Praise them. Tell others about what makes them special. Lift them up. Support them. Do what you can to help them find success.

Do not be jealous or petty. Life is not a zero sum game. There is abundance for everyone, and when focus on the good in others, they will reflect it back to you like a mirror.

I know people who have a knee-jerk reaction to criticize. I see them as jerks.

I know other people who wear their love on the surface. I love these people.

Hmmmmmm, maybe there is a connection.

Have A Great Day.


****PS - If you have not yet seen my new book, "The ABC's of Networking"....please check it out at It is a short book of essays that will help you focus on ways to enhance your networking efforts. I would appreciate it if you would purchase a copy, or two! Tell a friend.

Monday, April 16, 2007

PR Giant Joins Blogosphere

Last Friday my friend, John Egan, launched his new blog: The Word on Words.

Let's all welcome John to the Blogosphere! Take the time to visit the blog (although he only has two posts up as of today), and feel free to email him with your advice on successful blogging. ( He did not tell me to give out his email, nor did he ask for your advice, but he is the sort of guy who would welcome helpful input on his new blog. (no spam! He hates spam!!!)

John is a public relations guru and all around good guy. He has his own PR firm, UpWord Communications, and his clients rave about his knowledge, experience and industry contacts. He spent many years as the editor of The Austin Business Journal before striking out on his own venture.

As a professional wordsmith, John Egan understands the value of well-crafted copy, whether it’s a newspaper profile of a CEO, a magazine article about online real estate auctions, a news release about an advertising and marketing agency or Web content for a Realtor.

I look forward to reading John's blog on a regular basis. I have added him to the my blogroll to make it easy for the readers of The Some Assembly Required Blog to click over to him often.

Have A Great Day.


The Kevin Costner School of Business Development

If you are a lawyer or other service professional, by now you know the importance of having a marketing plan (you know about it, but this does not mean you believe in it or that you have acted on it). Your firm needs a plan and you need a plan.

Said plans cannot just be lip-service, you must execute your plan. You must devote some time to thinking about your marketing and business development efforts or you will fail. Strategize, buddy, strategize.

I know many professionals who hate marketing, networking, and business development. These very talented individuals spend hours rationalizing why they do not need to worry about these business disciplines. They proclaim that their practice is "different". They tell all who will listen that if they just do great work, the clients will line up at the door.

This is what I like to call the "Kevin Costner School of Business Development" - If you build it, they will come! (Remember the movie Field of Dreams?) Is your professional career real life or a feel-good movie?

While some prospective clients might find you, others will never know you exist. If they do not know about you, then you are leaving money on the table. I am not sure about you - BUT I HATE LEAVING MONEY ON THE TABLE!!! Someone has to take responsibility for promoting your business...and that someone is YOU!

The time has come. Stop rationalizing, and embrace the business skills necessary to enhance your pipeline of future customers. Create a culture inside your firm that celebrates business development. Tell your partners who are neanderthals that the dinosaurs were out years ago, and they need to adapt or die along with the giant lizards.

Have A Great Day.


Saturday, April 14, 2007

More On Being Respectful Of Others

The ten-year-old kid and I went to Starbuck's to read. It is our weekend ritual. She gets a hot chocolate. I get a latte. We both read books for 45 minutes. I think it encourages her to enjoy reading, which will help her in many ways throughout her life. Regardless, it is our "thing" that we do each weekend (when there is time).

A family came in and sat down next to us. Their kids were running around, talking loudly, making a mess and bothering everyone. It was distracting, but I try not to get pissed about stuff like this. I just ignored it as best I could. I am aware there are times when my kids bother people....although I try to limit their crazy antics in public.

I was surprised that the parents were oblivious to the others who were trying to work and read in the area, but it goes hand-in-hand with my earlier post from this morning about being respectful to others.

I would love some blog comments on this topic. Am I alone in feeling that it has become okay in our society to ignore the feelings of other people? Are people entitled to put themselves ahead of others? Is offending other human beings a sport? Do players get points for how insensitive they can be to humanity?

I know I am not perfect....God knows, I struggle with my own actions along my life journey. But I do try. I try hard to be respectful of those around me, yet I do fail. Do others try and I just do not see it?

As a parent I want to teach my children to have gumption, but not to let their self-worth be insulting to others. I want them to be respectful to all good people. I do not want them to belittle others with whom they disagree. I want them to have pride but not prejudice. I desire them to let their light shine on the world, and not have them be the people who cloak people in darkness.

Am I just nuts?


Just Be Respectful

Our culture is messed up sometimes. Serious and important issues are going on around the world, yet Hollywood celebrities and their crazy lives dominate the headlines (think Britney Spears). The wackier and more outlandish they act, the more publicity they receive.

With all that the media could focus on, how people in the public eye get away with some of the stuff they say (think Rosie O'Donnell)....or do not get away with the things they say (think Don Imus) always amazes me. I think the major media outlets manipulate these celebrities to feed their own ratings, and the more disrespectful the words, the higher the ratings. We are rewarding people for being down right mean-spirited.

All these over the top personalities hide behind the constitutional right of "Free Speech", but fail to remember that with all rights come responsibilities. Just because you can say something, does not mean you should say it!

The real issue is one of respect. For our society to function and prosper we cannot only be concerned with every individuals rights to do and say what they please. Rather we need to balance our attention toward a requirement of people to be respectful toward others.

(Please note, this is not about right or left, republican or democrat, religious or is about society being held to a common level of public respect and decorum. Granted, these are "subjective" terms....and people who like to pick fights for the sake of argument will tell me that I am wanting to dictate what is "correct" behavior. This is not my point. Most people can agree on what is socially acceptable and what is not. The contrarians of the world like to push the envelope to get a reaction from others, but in their heart they know what they are doing and don't try to read more into this blog post than I am saying).

Dignified and proper behavior is not a lot to ask from those around us, celebrity or otherwise. This means that you do not call people names, do not exaggerate the facts for effect, do not cuss and swear, and do not be hurtful and harmful. This is what we try to teach kids in school. Robert Fulghum's best selling book "All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten" is right on target for how to behave in society.

I am not suggesting that people should not have heated debate. I love heated debate. However, it is my deep seeded belief that if you stoop to being disrespectful, then it is not debate at is just a bitchy fight. Share your thoughts and opinions all day long, but do not roll in the mud.

Additionally, if you are respectful of others points of view (I know for a fact that I am not always right in my views, and my guess is that you are not the smartest person on the planet either, so face up to the thought that maybe you might be wrong!...this will make for better conversations that can lead to learning), then there are no hurt feelings at the end of a spirited discussion. Egos can't get bruised if both know they are going to agree to disagree.

The point of all this is that you just need to be respectful of other people. This means their political beliefs, religious/spiritual practices, emotional causes, etc.... We are a melting pot, which means we all get thrown in the soup together. It works much better when people are nice.

Have A Great Day.


Friday, April 13, 2007

The ABC's of Networking - Order Now!!!

Although I told you it was coming on April 1st,
printing was behind schedule.

But it has arrived and is ready to ship to

Order Today.

Thank you...and tell a friend.

For those who already purchased a copy,
It is coming soon!!!!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Take The Time To Spread The Word

I got the following email from Susan Baughman, who is a professional speaker, entertainer and business development expert in Austin, Texas. She attended the event where Scott Ingram and I spoke for the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday of this week. We spoke about the importance of "Word of Mouth Marketing" in regards to your personal networking and branding.

Here is the email she sent to Scott and myself....and I wanted to share it with the readers of the blog, as it is a good example of how fast you can make an impression:

Thom & Scott,

This is a story that I MUST share with you for a Word of Mouth Marketing example.

Garry & I went to Casa Chapala last night, after being so impressed by the owner's caring of all of us at the GACC breakfast.We had what is truly the best meal we've had at a Mexican restaurant in Austin! It was fabulous!

They started by making the salsa at the table! fresh! - impressive. The menu is extensive, with lots of very interesting and unusual (for Austin) choices - lots of meat stews, lots of cactus dishes (the cactus salad was delicious), and their "house specials" are intriguing. I went with Enchiladas Verde sauce (from the healthy section of the menu) and Garry had the Molcajete (a house special). Both were just perfect! and to top it all off: the margaritas are huge and yummy!Overall, it was truly spectacular, and we now will be heading less to East Austin and our usual El Azteca, El Mason and Los Comales, and way more to the west side of I-35 and heading to Casa Chapala again (and again and again....).

On the way back home, we drove past a walker in the neighborhood - it was Marc Miller, who sat at my table that morning! We stopped the car and filled him in on the greatness of Casa Chapala for dinner, so Word of Mouth Marketing kicked in within MINUTES of our meal!


The restaurant got a good review, but more importantly, I am reminded as to how treating your customers well (like Casa Chapala did that morning!) can instantly start the word flowing about your business.

Thank you, Susan, for telling us about your experience. This is a great example of someone taking the time to share a great experience...and how it benefits everyone!

Have A Great Day.


Buy The Audio Book!

The Audio Book CD-ROM version of Some Assembly Required: How to Make, Grow and Keep Your Business Relationships is now available at

It had been available only at my speaking events up until now, but can now be ordered on line.

Buy is today and listen to me read the book.



Readers are Leaders

Readers are Leaders. I don't know who said that, but I do know it is true. If you look closely at those who are successful, they are not the ones who sit on their butts watching TV and playing video games all the time (that does not mean they NEVER watch TV or play games, they just balance it!).

Seriously, if you are not investing time every day to read and learn, then you are just stuck in a rut. You must advance your knowledge. To assume you already know enough is arrogant.

Great, you read blogs (we know that, because you are reading this). However, I am still a bit "old-school" and think you need to read books on topics that can educate and inspire you to achieve greater levels of success in your career.

You become what you think about. Reading business books (or books on any topic that interests you), will focus your mind. Letting your mind drift without direction will produce no results.

I know, you don't like to read. You don't have time to read. You judge all books by their cover.

Get over it. Make reading part of your daily habit. Carve out 30 minutes each day and sit and read. You will be amazed at how it will effect your life in the long run. Get up early, stay up late, or turn off the television after dinner.

My father is 92-years-old. He is active, sharp and still has control of his mind. People ask him all the time what is his secret to staying so active. He claims it is that he exercises his mind all the time. He plays cards, does puzzles, and he READS EVERYDAY. He tries to learn something new. He likes business, golf and religious books. If he has nothing else he reads a few passages from the Bible (regardless of your level of religious belief, the Bible is actually worth reading, as it is full of useful advice that transcends religion). The trick is to learn something and get your mind thinking.

I don't know if Dad's commitment to reading is the reason to his being active into his nineties (he also physically exercises daily), but if he is right, you need to start now. Once you are dead it is too late to begin.

My goal is to read 25 - 30 books each year. I have already read ten in 2007.

Have A Great Day.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Word of Mouth and Networking

This morning Scott Ingram of and I were the presenters at the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce "Breakfast Club Meeting". Over 80 people participated in this interactive facilitated networking discussion at Casa Chapala Restaurant (3010 Anderson Lane, Austin, TX).

Great time had by all.

We spoke about the importance of "Word of Mouth" in your personal networking and marketing efforts. Scott said, "Talk is cheap, unless you want people to be talking about YOU!"

Every person then shared experiences of great experiences they have had with companies with others at their table. Followed by stories about their own business - and why it is phenomenal. The passion that the participants had in their voices rang loud and clear.

Quoting from the Word of Mouth Marketing Association website, we reminded everyone that the voice of the customer is the best advocate that a company can have. It is honest, unadulterated and pure communication.

Buzz about a product, service or person does not happen by accident. Plan for your word of mouth. You need to give people unique and exciting things to talk about. Nobody will talk about a bank that just has a drive through (so what, everyone does). But when the teller at my local bank sends candy suckers out the the kids every time....that is worth a mention!

I have to praise the restaurant owner and his team. The food was delicious, and they were friendly and helpful. If you live in Austin, I want to give my "Word of Blog" endorsement for Casa Chapala!

Have A Great Day.


Follow Up Alert

We all meet interesting people, but rarely do people follow up properly. Thus we miss the opportunity to build on that initial meeting and create a new friendship. They just drift away. Poof, they are gone.

Think hard for a moment about someone cool that you have encountered in the last two weeks. It does not matter where you met them, just that you had a conversation and you feel they would be goodto know better, and that you would like to have them in your network of professional contacts.

Now, do something about it. Send them a note, and email or call on the telephone. The manner in which you follow up is up to you and depends the specific situation, but if you do nothing you have no chance of advancing the relationship. If you schedule breakfast, lunch or might discover a new friend.

Don't be shy, just do it. In most cases they will be honored to hear from you and welcome the chance to know you better. If they are not, oh tried!

Have A Great Day.


***Have you purchased a copy of my new book, The ABC's of Networking??? Now available on It is an "Airplane Book" (which means it is a quick read, something you could finish on a business trip)....and full of great tips and thoughts on things you need to think about when building and cultivating your professional network.

***Oh, and you can still get my first book, Some Assembly Required. It is good too!!!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Learning Along The Path

I enjoy the journey of life. I have so far to go and to grow on my own path. Things to learn about myself....and others. But I love the human experience. I enjoy the ups and downs of living a life. I discover so much from interacting with people of differing views, thoughts, points of view. I like to see how people respond to the world. How I respond. It is fascinating.

I am aware that I am just one person in a sea of many. I desire to help others in some way, yet not clear on how I can have an impact. I try to learn something new everyday and hope that I can make a difference.

My friend Loretta told me the other day that she once heard that: "We are all born with a sealed envelope that contains our instructions from God. However, we are not allowed to open the envelope until we are fifty."


Have A Great Day.


A Well-Rounded Approach Toward Business

While I am a big proponent of the importance of networking, I am always amazed at those who think that networking (or any one effort) is the magic button.

There is no magic button.

In order to be successful in any area, you need to have a well-rounded approach.

Think about your romantic relationships. What if you ONLY brought your spouse/significant other flowers and nothing else? No talking about things, no dinners out, no movies, no vacation, no backrubs, no sex, no love notes, no supportive words, no encouragement, no looks across the room, no respect....Nothin. Would that relationship flourish?

The same is true in your business life. If all you do is network, you will fail. If all you do is cold-call, you will fail. Only wait for referrals? Failure. Good customer service but not attention to product quality? Crash and burn. Total focus on positive affirmations of your attitude. KA-BOOM.

A well rounded approach utilizing all business skills will lead you to success. This means that you have to embrace networking, cold-calling, referrals, customer service, high quality products and services, continuing education (business knowledge is sooo important!), positive attitude, etc...

It also means that you should not discredit actions and skills that will help you succeed (just because you do not like them).

Use all the options available to you and create more than you ever imagined.

Have A Great Day.


Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter

I am up early on Easter morning.

Yes, there were eggs to hide....and I could not sleep for fear that my kids would wake before the Easter Bunny could properly do his duty.

Mission accomplished!!!

I wish, to those who celebrate Easter, a wonderful and spectacular holiday.

I find all religious holidays a great chance for peace and harmony amongst people of all faiths and beliefs. I think all people should embrace tolerance and look for what we have in common....rather than focusing on differences. Any holiday is an opportunity to surround yourself with joy.

I also think that those who do not have spiritual beliefs, if they are truly open to "all", can embrace religious holidays as a chance to honor those with different points of view.

I was in Starbucks yesterday and overheard the conversation of two teenage girls. They were mocking their grandparents "belief" in God. They felt put out that they had to go to family gatherings on Easter. One was disgusted that her dad would make her go to church! Here were two teenagers who obviously came from families that had some level of comfort, and both were dreading having to "celebrate" a holiday with those who love them. They had little appreciation for anything beyond themselves (except for their expensive handbags).

I like to see people celebrate their faith. I find the traditions of all religions to be fascinating and inspiring. It does not have to be my religion, I just like the spiritual side of life.

Regardless of your faith, I hope that your day is filled with love, joy, peace, renewal, and a sense of the amazing.

Happy Easter.


Thursday, April 05, 2007

A Little Gratitude

Tom Chiarella has a great article in this months Esquire Magazine called "A Little Gratitude: How to change the way the world sees you, one thank-you note at a time".

It is a quippy and clever article, in the Esquire style. The best point he makes is; "Every verbal thank-you, even a sincere one, risks being forgettable."

WAMMO. Write your thank-you's on paper and mail them to those with whom you are grateful. It will stand out.

I was at a conference a few weeks ago when a woman, challenging the speaker on the importance of hand-written notes said; "hand notes are creepy....I would feel like a stalker for sending one to a prospect after a first meeting".

I know the woman who made the comment and she also won an award of recognition at the conference. When I got back I mailed her a hand-written note telling her it was great to see her again, and congratulated her on her award. Her reaction..... she was pleased to hear from me. She did not find it "creepy". She also got the point about the power of hand-written notes!!

Have A Great Day.


The Networking Carnival - 6th Edition

Hey, Welcome back to the Networking Carnival. There are some good submissions for April.
Do you want to host May on your blog? Send me an email.
Here is the great posts that you should read for this month.....

From Charles H. Green at The Trusted Advisors Associates Blog: "Trust and Social Networking"
From Bill Bradle at The Wise Bread Blog: "Why A Bad First Job Is Good For You"

From The Positivity Blog: "Do You Make These 10 Mistakes In A Conversation?"

From Broc Copeland at The Existential Ventures Blog: "Underground Blogosphere"

From The Great FX Business Cards Blog: "Business Card Etiquette for Entrepreneurs"

From Susan Velez at The Secret to Life Blog: "The Power of Intention"

More from Susan Velez at The Secret to Life Blog: "Not Promised Tomorrow"
From Edith Yeung at The Dream Think Act Blog: "The 7 Rules of Networking Made Easy"
From John Peter of the Blog: "Business Networking Techniques"
From Laura Young at The Dragon Slayers Guide To Life Blog: "Social Networking: Trolling for Friends?"

Have A Great Day.

****Have you read my book, Some Assembly Required,? You can buy it on I would like it if you would read it and tell me what you think. Thanks. Also, the new book, The ABC's of Networking, is also available. Read it too!!! Double thanks.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Do The Jeans Make The Man???

Nautic Jeans is having a contest to win a trip for two to Los Angeles, New York, Miami or Chicago. You can enter and win a trip. I entered. I enter many contests. Don't seem to win many of them. But as they say, you can't win if you don't play!

I know about this contest because I got offered a chance to review their jeans and write about them on my blog. I am not sure why they picked me, as I am over 40 and married with kids. I am not sure, but I am thinking, from viewing their sorta hip website, that I am old enough to be the father (or really cool older brother) of those in their target market.

That being said, I like blue jeans. I am a jeans and t-shirt kinda guy. And a good pair of jeans is a great thing. So I will accept the chance to wear a pair of Nautica jeans and report to the world how they impact my life. Again, I am not nearly as hip as the image of Nautica, but maybe that will change overnight!!!

Their ads picture hip, handsome, young people. Hmmmmmm, I don't think that these are what Ponce de Leon had in mind..... but I do not want to pre-judge the product.

Stay tuned.

Have A Great Day.


Wedding Anniversary

15 years ago today I married Sara!!!

Marriage is not always easy, and raising kids is a hectic full-time job....but somehow we have made it work. She is an amazing person, with a loving heart.... A wonderful mother..... My friend and the love of my life.

Hard times? Yep, we've had 'em. So what, everyone does.

Fortunately, the good times are more plentiful. We are building a family that is washed in unconditional love.

Today I celebrate my family. Look at that photo...and I lucky or what!!!

Happy Anniversary, Sara. I love you.


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Don't Worry - Be Happy!

"People are just about as happy as they make up their minds to be" - Abraham Lincoln

How happy are you? I know, life is difficult. Bad stuff happens in the world. That is a given. It is tough for everyone. So what?

When I was growing up my dad told me that my attitude was up to me. He added that how I react to situations will determine my happiness, or lack there of....not the situations. He was right.

It is all a matter of your perspective. If you try to place blame on everyone and everything around you, you will forever be upset. If you whine about everything, you will just be a person who is miserable. Better to look for solutions than just bitch constantly. Do not allow jealousy or hate to take over your psyche.

A few days ago I was at the gas station behind a beautiful brand new Mercedes S550. This car sells for around $80,000. It was beautiful! On the rear window it had a small sticker that read: "F The President". Politics aside, I felt very sad for the person putting gas in this car. He had obviously earned a lot of money, but he just looked miserable (no smile, just a snotty pucker of a mouth). The sticker on his car proved to me that he was full of bitterness and venom. Even if you don't like the president, you need to have a lot of hate in your soul to put such a sticker on your luxury car. It would have been a better thing if he was "for" somebody, rather than just being "against" someone.

Rather than focusing on the things you hate, direct your attention to the good things in your life. I try to teach my daughters to be happy for the good things they have, and not to constantly be thinking about the things they do not have (or situations that make them sad). People spend too much time directing their energy toward the negative.

There will always be problems. There will always be people who have new and better toys. There will always be politicians with whom you philosphically disagree. There will always be stuff that pisses you off. Why focus on that all the time?

Let you mind concentrate on the blessings exist in your life, and put your focus toward how you can use those blessings to better your situation (and better the world around you!).

Here is your homework. For the rest of the day, only think about the good things in your life...OR, if you must think about negative situations,....concentrate on how you can be part of the solution. Do not focus on the bad stuff in your life (or in the planet). Focusing on the bad stuff will make you feel bad all day.

If you concentrate on the good, you will find that you will have a better day. If you have a better day, then repeat this all week, all month, all year!

Have A Great Day.


Sunday, April 01, 2007

One Of The Smartest Things I Ever Did

One of my favorite bloggers is Mike Sigers of The Simplenomics Blog. I discovered a link to a nice post on The Self Help Blog that I think is a great idea. The author encourages bloggers everywhere to write a post titled "One Of The Smartest Things I Ever Did" (you must leave out getting married or having kids, as that is a given for many).

I like this idea. There is a lot of negative crap on the internet, but this is I'll play!

One Of The Smartest Things I Ever Did was.... join a Toastmasters club. It was about 15 years ago, and I was nervous. I did not like to speak in front of large groups, and I was always nervous that I was not prepared. I feared saying something stupid. I was terrified of what other people might think of me and the message I delivered.

Toastmasters is an organization that allows people to practice the craft of public speaking in a safe and supportive environment. I timidly attended my first meeting of the Balcones Toastmasters Club in Austin, Texas (I have since changed clubs and am now a member of the West Austin II Club).....and discovered that I was not alone in my fears. Over the next few years I improved both my abilities and my confidence in delivering presentations.

In 2002 I entered my clubs speech contest. I won. I then won at the area level, division level, and district level. I went on to take second place in the Region III contest, barely missing a chance to go to the international finals. That accomplishment put me in the top 18 Toastmasters in the world that year (nine people went to the finals, I was runner-up to one of them). That gave me confidence!

I now speak regularly to businesses, law firms, non-profits and other organizations. My career has been boosted by my speaking skills....and I owe it all to one of the smartest things I ever did....join a Toastmasters Club (and participating!!! FYI, just joining wont help!).

****NOW, if you write a blog....and you read this.....I challenge you to write a post about one of the smartest things you ever did!!! Within this there is good advice to share with the world.

Have A Great Day.