Saturday, July 30, 2005

Weekend Blog 7 - A Different World

The Weekend Blog is off the topics of marketing, business development, networking, PR and sales.

A Different World

In 1900 Thomas Hill was 16 years old. Both his parents had died and he found himself responsible for his four younger brothes and sisters; ages twelve, ten, six and four. He sent a letter to his older brother who had left Ireland two years earlier. His brother replied, instructing young Tom to sell the family farm and bring the children to Chicago.

Within a month, Tom and his younger siblings left Castle Bar, in County Mayo, and crossed the Atalantic Ocean to begin a new life in America. A new life that included helping raise his siblings, getting married, and having ten children and twenty-six grandchildren.

Tom Hill was my grandfather. I am the youngest of his 26 grandchildren.

Think for a minute about being sixteen years old and having to take on that level of responsiblity. Although he passed away when I was seven months old (he lived to see all of his children and all of his children's children) I often think about the life that my grandfather lead..... And how in today's world we often feel so burdened by the "stress" in our lives. Is life in 2005 really that hard when you look at it through the eyes of those who lived 100 years ago? Are the pressures of our jobs actually that difficult?

Just something to think about.

Have A Great Weekend.

Thom Singer

Friday, July 29, 2005

Own Your Marketplace

Is your company the market leader? When customers, prospects and others think of your industry, is your brand first to mind?

Everyone has competitors. Some industries have dozens...maybe hundreds!!! But there is only room for two or three companies to dominate a space. In fact, only one can really "own" the space with two others renting some of the mind-share.

Let's think about some big national brands (but this is true for local products and services in any given community):

Book Stores: Barnes and Noble. To a lesser extent, Borders. Did you think of any others? (No, Amazon own the "On-line Bookstore" space).

Microprocessors: Intel. Then you think of AMD.

Personal Computers: Dell. Then Apple or Hewlett Packard (Compaq).

Coffee Shops: Starbucks. A few of you might have some 2nd choices depending on geography.

Business Newspapers: The Wall Street Journal.

So if you are not the dominate player in your arena, does someone own the space? Until someone controls 20% of the market share, then the space is still wide open. Once a company is seen as the "gorilla", it is difficult to unseat them. Perception is very sticky in people's heads.

In addition, once someone owns the top position, the competition will often concede the leadership role. While still continuing to do good work, the smaller company will not challenge the main brand's ownership of the industry.

How about your company? Where are you positioned? Is there a chance for you to become the leader? What are you doing today to help you achieve that role?

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Building A Network Takes Time

On his "Business Networking In Austin Blog", Scott Ingram (who runs the website: Network In Austin, which is full of great information and the best local calendar of events I have seen in years) addresses the question about how much time one should devote to networking.

This is an important question, and one that I hear often. We are all busy. Our jobs are demanding more time than just "9 to 5". Then there are family obligations, religious/church commitments (spiritual renewal), social events, catching up on reading the paper (books, magazines, etc....), fitting in a work-out, watching UT Football, etc... Not to mention having some personal time to relax. So how in the world are we supposed to take this "networking stuff" seriously and carve out more time to meet new people and then cultivate those relationships so they become powerful business connections?

There is no easy answer. You cannot ignore having a network of business contacts if you really want your career to succeed. There are few examples of people who have "made it" on their own, and we all have heard the expression "its not what you know, its who you know". At the same time, you cannot ignore your job, family, physical condition or spirituality either, as you will pay the price for that neglect as well.

The only solution is to make the commit to doing all these important things regularly and then managing your time. (sorry, I wish there was a magic pill for this one....then I could sell that pill with my book on networking).

Scott's blog post has some good advise. One thing I would add is that you need to have support on the home front. My wife and kids would prefer that I was home by 6 PM every night. Since many excellent networking opportunities take place at happy hour or over dinner, it would be difficult for me participate in the local business community if my wife was not supportive. We have an understanding that one or two nights a week I will not be home for dinner.

I recently had a discussion with a person who desperately wanted to build a network, but said his wife (who was hounding him to grow his business) would "kill him" if he was not home for dinner. Can he build a network without going to evening event....YES !!!! But it will take even more effort from other parts of his day.

Like everything worthwhile in life, building a network takes commitment and sacrifice.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Value vs. Cost

Pricing. What a topic.

The amount to charge for your product or service is something that keeps seasoned executives awake at night. Price too low, you leave money (profit) behind. Price too high and you may not get any customers to buy. Settle in the middle and you are just an "average" supplier. If your industry becomes viewed as a commodity, then pricing is even more important. Margins become low and nobody wins.

When I worked inside a prestigious law firm, some attorneys were very focused on their hourly billing rates. They were always complaining that the firm had them priced too high for their clientele. However, I could always find example of lawyers in other firms (who had the same practice area) who were charging even higher rates, and still getting new clients. It was not about the money.

There is more to winning the business than price. It is how you position yourself in the marketplace. If you believe that your product is no better than the competition, then price will be your only tool for differentiation. However if you know in your heart that what you have to offer is light years ahead of anything else, then price is not the issue (to you or your clients). You need to have wild passion that is seen by client and prospect. This excitement will help create the perception that you bring more value.

If the client believes that you bring more value, he will happily pay more.

There is a great story in Harry Beckwith's classic book,"Selling the Invisible", that speaks directly to how you have to view yourself in regards to your pricing:
A man was suffering a persistent problem with his house. The floor
squeaked. No matter what he tried, nothing worked. Finally, he called
a carpenter who friends said was a true craftsman.

The craftsman walked into the room and heard the squeak. He set down
his toolbox, pulled out a hammer and nail, and pounded the nail into the floor
with three blows.

The squeak was gone forever. The carpenter pulled out an invoice
slip, on which he wrote the total of $45. Above the total were two line
Hammering, $2
Knowing where to hammer, $43

If this story does not sum up the value of your knowledge, you may never understand.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Monday, July 25, 2005

One, Two, Three

There are many things you need to do if you want to make, keep and grow your business relationships, but the most important tasks that lead to success are all in the follow up.

Just because you met someone and exchanged business cards does not make them part of your network. In fact, it is this misconception of "instant friendship" that soils the whole concept of networking. It takes time and an ongoing effort to cultivate real connections.

My friend, Bruce Allen, had some interesting advise on his blog recently under the title: "Developing Face-to-Face Networking Skills :: Idea #7". (His other six ideas are good, too!!)

His advise is to select only three business cards from people you meet at any event and follow up with them in three different manners. Person one gets an email, person two a handwritten note, and person three gets a phone call. While I always prefer the idea of sending a handwritten note (because it takes the most effort and will stand out more than an email or phone call), Bruce's idea is great because it makes the process less monotonous, and thus you are more likely to do the follow up. Sending three handwritten notes is a chore, but one email, one note and one call will be perceived easier and more fun (nobody likes to do the same task over and over).

The other reason this idea is intriguing is because you can track your methods of follow up, eventually discovering a pattern of what is working best. If you end up having more follow up meetings (and building closer relationships) with those who get a call vs. those who receive an email, you will soon learn to use the phone as your preferred method of making contact with new people.

However you decide to follow up, just do it. Without follow up, you will not develop a real network.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Weekend (Audio) Blog 6 - Kate Sings

The Weekend Blog is off the main topics of marketing, biz dev, sales, PR and networking.....and will often be about anything under the sun. Like today.....

Kate Sings

This is just a cute clip of my three year old singing "The Turtle Song". Move over Madonna!!! She is a bit of ham, could you tell from the picture?

Click on the arrow to play the audio blog. If that does not work, double click on the MP3 link.

MP3 File

Have A Great Weekend

Thom Singer

Friday, July 22, 2005

Author, Author....

Seth Godin, one of the true gurus of marketing, has a post on his blog this week with advice for wanna-be authors, which is appropriately titled "Advice for Authors". Now here is a guy who knows a thing or two about writing books, as he has written several very good ones (If you have not read "Purple Cow", you should).

Since I am anxiously awaiting the release of my first book, "Some Assembly Required: How to Make, Keep and Grow Your Business Relationships", I read his article with great interest.

I recently heard that 85% of all Americans would like to write a book in their lifetime. If this statistic is true, then I assume that you would also like to write a book. It does take some effort, but my experience has been a positive one. However, you do need to know in advance that it is not always an easy process.

Seth's points were as follows (I will paraphrase):

1. Authors do not make a lot of money from their books.

2. It takes a long time to release a book.

3. Publishers will not promote your book, you must do it yourself.

4. For your ideas to spread, readers must actually read your book.

5. You may want to self-publish. Publishers want a big return, and will not be interested in you until you already have made a name for yourself, at which point you may not need them.

He is right. But then again, he is a "guru". Like anything in your life, if you want to make it happen... you have to be the one to make it happen!!!

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Questions To Connections

At Tuesday's meeting of the Austin Chapter of the American Marketing Association, board member and former chapter president, Tracy Sullivan, led the "structured networking" segment of the meeting. This is a new edition to the Austin AMA lunches, and I found it to be a quick and useful tool to facilitate introductions.

Before the end of the meeting Tracy told the audience to break up into groups of two, with the caveat that your partner had to be a stranger. On each table she had placed small blue slips of paper with about twenty questions printed on them. Each duo was told to take turns asking each other the questions until discovering something in common. Everyone was left to talk for about five minutes.

The questions included:

Are you originally from Austin?
Where did you grow up?
Have you ever traveled to Europe, Asia, Australia or Africa?
What other professional organizations are you a member?
Do you do volunteer work? If yes, where?
What is your favorite kind of food?
Do you like to cook?
Have you ever had your "five minutes of fame"?
What is your favorite sport to watch on TV?
Who is your favorite actor or actress?
What is the best movie you have seen this year?
What is your dream car?
What is the best book you have ever read?
What is your pet's name?
What is in your car's CD player right now?
How many songs do you have on your iPod?
Can you tell jokes?
Are you a neat-nik or a slob?
What is your favorite restaurant in the world?
What is your pet peeve at the office? At home?
Have you ever traced your family tree?
Are you an e-Bay junkie?
Do you have your own blog?

This was a great exercise. My partner was Danny Holder, Director of Business Development at Business Ink. He was a very nice guy and we did not have to go far down the list of questions to discover we both enjoy really good Mexican Food (for those reading this blog who do NOT live in the Southwest, there is a difference between "Mexican Food" and "Good Mexican Food". Sorry, Taco Bell and Taco Cabana are not in that "good" category!).

He had some local favorites, but had never been to Guerro's or Curra's (the two best Mexican restaurants on the planet, in my opinion). We had a great conversation, and he decided to take his wife to Curra's that night and test my theory about Curra's having the most incredible tamales.

Congratulations to the American Marketing Association for creating a unique way to encourage members making new connections. I hope Danny enjoyed the tamales!!!

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

PS- If your job is related to marketing and you are not currently a member of the American Marketing Association, you should discover the chapter in your community and become involved. You will learn a lot and make many important connections with other marketers. Click here to learn more.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Audio Blog - "Hello, My Name Is..."

Below is an audio blog on the importance of nametags at business networking events. Some folks do not like nametags, but they are useful tool to help initiate conversation.

Click on the arrow to play the audio blog. If that does not work, double click on the "MP3" link.

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MP3 File

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Monday, July 18, 2005

Attitude Is Everything

When trying to build your network and grow your career it is important that you have a positive attitude. If you want to succeed in a sales, marketing or public relations career you have to be the type of person that others enjoy being around, and that means projecting an upbeat demeanor.

Does this mean that you have to be happy all the time? NOBODY has a pleasant outlook 365 days a year. It is not normal without medication. However, that does not mean that you have to wear your sour mood on your sleeve. When at the office or out networking in the business community you do need to be positive or you must pretend. Nothing can help derail your future faster than being labeled as a nay-sayer.

But is this just important for those who are starting out in their careers? Nope, this advise is universal. In fact, those who are more seasoned business executives.....especially those who have had previous successes in their working lives..... should take a close look on how they behave in regards to their attitude.

For many years I have known a woman we will call "Mary". Mary has had a spectacular career and developed a wonderful reputation in her industry over two decades. She was always considered one of the most upbeat and positive individuals in the local business community, and the was a senior executive inside the company where she worked.

However, over the past few years Mary has seen many changes in her job that were out of her control, and she is not happy with the direction her career is headed. Her company was sold to a large, national competitor and she now has a new manager in a far away city. She openly second-guesses every decision that her new company makes and mocks the people in the company's headquarters.

I feel bad for Mary. She really is an amazing business person, but because of her past successes she feels she has earned the right to become a pre-madonna. At some point she forgot how she got to the top in her career and began to believe that she was better than those around her. It was not really noticeable when things were going her way, but once the economy turned cool and her company was sold, she could not hide her poor attitude.

How about you? Are you like Mary? I think it is a good idea to have an annual attitude check. Much like going to the doctor for an annual physical to make sure everything is working right in your body, an annual attitude check is the time to make sure that you are behaving correctly toward those around you and finding ways to uplift the collective, rather than tearing it down.

How do you emotionally react to your work environment? When others have ideas that you did not think of first, do you immediately see them as dumb or silly? Is your first response to tell enthusiastic co-worker "how it really is" around your company? Do you find yourself rolling your eyes when your boss has a new initiative? Do you think the company would collapse if you left for the competition? If you answered yes to these questions than you need overhaul your attitude.

Instead of immediately finding the negative, be the person who embraces the changes and looks for ways to help other's ideas succeed. Just because you do not agree with an idea does not necessarily make it wrong (unless you see yourself as simply that much better than everyone else, in which case I would be shocked that your read this whole article anyway!!!). A positive, can-do attitude will always be rewarded. Even if the initiative fails, you will be recognized for your efforts. Plus, people like being around those who want to help the company succeed rather than selfish conceited jerks.

Have A Great Day

Thom Singer

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Weekend Blog 5

The weekend blog is off the topics of networking, marketing, sales, biz dev and PR. It is my chance to write about any subject under the sun.

An American In Paris

When my now eight-year-old daughter was four, she announced that she wanted to take a vacation to Paris, France. I am sure that it is not just a coincidence that the movie "The Rugrats in Paris" was released at about the same time, and she absolutely loved the mad-cap adventures of Tommy, Chuckie, Phil and Lil..... and Paris became her desired destination.

At the time I told her that it cost a lot of money to go on a vacation to Paris, and we discussed the value of money and the importance of saving for special things, like a vacation in France. At age four, she took it to heart and began putting her money away into a savings account.

She has since acquired Eiffel Tower pajamas, T-shirts, puzzles, and enjoys all things French (she thinks that French Fries are a product of Paris, and I do not have the heart to tell her otherwise).

This year when we decided to holiday with friends in Italy, my wife and I decided that it was not right to fly over France and not make a stop in Paris. After all, for four years our kid has saved her birthday money and allowance, and remained focused on getting to France. We did not tell our daughter that Paris was part of the itinerary until the last day in Italy. While in the airport in Rome we showed her our plane tickets with Paris as the destination, and told her that we were so proud of her setting a goal and saving her money, that we would be going to Paris for three days (NO, I did not make her give me the money in her bank account!!!). Yes, she almost pee'd her pants she was so excited.

This photo shows that anyone can set a goal and accomplish it if they are tenacious, patient, and want it bad enough....even if they are eight-years-old!!!

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Friday, July 15, 2005

Your Business Card Is A Tool - But Not A Swiss Army Knife

Tom Kane has a good post on his Legal Marketing Blog about business cards. While a business card is a tool, it is not every tool. Your business card should serve to let people know how to contact you in the future. It should have your company name, your name, title, physical address, phone number, cell phone number (optional), email address and website. If you are putting your mission statement and every service you offer on your card, you are trying to make it a brochure. If you need a brochure, then have one printed. Leave your business card alone.

I have a pet peeve with people who only list their email address on their card and not the physical address. This is almost always done by those who work from home and do not want to let others know that they office from their house. Guess what??? By excluding your address you just told everyone that you work from home.

Some of those who work from home do not list their address for security reasons. Okay, then invest in a P.O. Box at your local post office.

I once worked with a lawyer who would not put his email address on his card. He did not believe in email as a legitimate form of communication, and felt it was annoying. He actually told me that "real clients prefer to call on the phone". The truth was that he was not tech savvy, and was trying to hide that fact. Guess what??? Everyone knew it.

Larry Bodine had another good post about business cards on his Professional Marketing Blog this week as well. It talked about how to let others capture information about their meeting with you to ensure proper follow up. It is a good post, and the pictures are worth a thousand words.

Remember, you want a professional business card that gets your information in the hands of prospects and others that you meet. It does not need to come with a toothpick and a cork screw (like the really good Swiss Army knives)

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Thursday, July 14, 2005


Hosting a reception for you clients, prospects and "friends of the firm" can be one of the best marketing, networking, PR and business development tools if done correctly. If done wrong, it is a waste of time and money.

The good news is that it can be done easily and without having to spend tons of cash. This is not to imply that it will be cheap, a quality event will involve a financial commitment. However, this investment, depending on the number of attendees, will be no more expensive than running an advertisement in a business publication.

The bad news is that most firms make mistakes that cause them to spend too much money or fail to turn out their targeted guests.

Here are five tips to help you make your next client event a success:

1. Target your local business contacts. Regardless of how many national clients you have, very few people will travel to attend a party, unless you hold in in conjunction with some other type of user meeting or educational seminar (which is a great thing to do, by the way). I have seen many people make the mistake of expecting their contacts from other cities to come to their event. While extending an invitation is a great courtesy, unless they have another reason to be in the area, you should not expect out of town contacts to come to your party. Keep this in mind when planning how many guests you will actually have in attendance.

2. Selecting the venue and day of the week. Where you hold your event has a lot to do with the success of your party. If you are fortunate enough to have a large reception area or nice patio at your place of business, I recommend you hold the party in your own space (as long as you are centrally located to your local business community). It can help keep your costs down as the many hotels and restaurants charge higher rates than a caterer, especially for the alcohol (shop around, you do not NEED the highest priced catering company in your long as the food is of good quality, nobody will notice).

In addition to the reduced cost, having people visit your establishment helps build a closer bond with them. Clients and others like to see your facility and this gives you a chance to show off your technological and other competitive advantages.

If you do not have an office that can accommodate a large party, then I suggest renting a whole restaurant for a couple of hours. If your party is scheduled early (before their dinner rush), many restaurants will gladly give you part or all of their space if you are expecting enough people. The right bistro can have a much nicer feel than a hotel or country club ball room. Also look to museums or other unique venues that are not the "same old place".

I recommend doing a business cocktail party on a Tuesday or Wednesday night from 5:30 - 7:30 . Monday's are too hectic, and the weekend is family time for many people. Everyone will have an opinion on what day of the week is best, but you want a day that is not going to have a lot of other competing events happening. Don't make your guests choose, hold your event on a "free" night. Also, hosting it at an early hour will allow people with young children to come to your event and still make it home in time to tuck them into bed. Again, do not make them choose, because you might lose!!!

3. Your Guest List. This is an area where many professional services firms short change their party before it even gets started. They limit their list to only clients or other VIP's, and then their short list does not produce enough live bodies to have a good party. While you do not want to invite EVERYONE in town, you need to invite 3-4 times your targeted attendee number. I suggest you include anyone at a client company with whom you interact. In addition, invite executives from other companies that server your clients (not your competition). If you are a law firm, be sure to invite the partners from all the local accounting firms, consutlancies, venture capitalists, bankers, etc... I call these people "friends of the firm", as they are not your clients or prospects, but they are your friends. They will also be cherished advisors to many of your party guests, and building relationships with these professionals is vital to your own success.

Do not rely on your invitation (email or regular mail) to attract your attendees. It is the responsibility of everyone in your company to follow up with their contacts by telephone to personally invite them to the party. This is a great chance to connect with them and it makes sure that the person got the invitation (spam filters and secretaries often stop invites from reaching the executive). In addition, if they personally tell you they will come, they are more likely to show up.

4. Speeches and other pontifications. Avoid them whenever possible. Unless the event is a grand opening or company anniversary, do not let your senior executives get up and make long speeches. Too often these talks are ignored as the guests continue to mingle and talk over the person making the announcement. This is embarrassing for the speaker and the audience. If you do manage to quiet everyone to total silence, you have successfully killed the momentum of the networking that was taking place. Following the speech, many guests will make this the opportunity to leave the party.

Your guest already know you appreciate their attending (or you would not have hosted the party in the first place!) and they don't really care about any of the other stuff the speaker is saying.

If a presentation is necessary, make sure that you keep it brief. This is not the time to recognize everyone in your company or show a long video that is really just a commercial for your firm. Make the party about the party. Let your guests have fun. When they interact with other VIP's and make valuable business contacts, you win.

5. Name Tags. Always have nametags for business events. Some executives do not like nametags, and will discourage their use. But nametags are an important tool to help facilitate networking. Just because your employees know all the guests, the guests do not necessarily know each other. You will want to pre-print the nametags in advance to avoid causing a back up a the door. Be sure to put their first and last name AND the company name on the pre-printed tag, and make sure the font is as large as possible. You want people to be able to read the name and company from a distance. And do not forget to have plenty of blank nametags and a good black marker available for those who show up that had not RSVP'd.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

P.S.- Check out my new book, Some Assembly Required: How To Make, Grow and Keep Your Business Relationships, which will be released in August 2005 (New Year Publishing). You can pre-order your copy today at

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Audio Blog - Who Is The Best Networker?

Ahhhhhh, aint technology just grand. Below is an my first attempt using I think it is pretty cool. Just hit the play arrow below and you can listen to today's blog. If that does not work, click on the MP3 File link.

Let me know what you think of the use of audio in my blog. Should I continue to make many of my posts this way? Send me an email and let me know what you think.

powered by

MP3 File

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Monday, July 11, 2005

A Customer Service Triumph

I have been feeling pretty lousy about customer service in 2005 after an minor incident that happened to me in Italy. I don't need to go into the details, other than to say that a restaurant would not let me take my three-year-old to use their "potty" in what was truly an urgent situation for Kate.

Granted, we were not technically customers....but I believe in my heart that if a three-year-old needs to go wee-wee, you let her dad take her into your facilities. Especially when it is early in the evening and you have nearly no patrons in your bistro. Yet this waiter, and the owner, both disagreed with me and sent us running to find another option (most people whom I share this story say I should have had her pee on their sidewalk..... but I didn't).

Anyway, this exchange in Siena left me sad about how people treat each other in today's world.

But tonight I had a great customer service experience...and faith in my fellow man has been restored!!

Back in Austin, I had to purchase some gift baskets for some out-of-town VIP's who will be here for a conference. The plan is to have nice Texas BBQ sauce, salsa and other local goodies waiting for them when they check into their hotel room. I went to the new Whole Foods Market in downtown Austin hoping to find some items that would be appropriate (If you have never been to this particular Whole Foods Market, their "Landmark Store" need to check it out as it is phenomenal!!!). What I found was exceptional customer service and a delightful person who worked very hard to ensure that I got the right items in an appropriate package.

It was after 6:00 PM and the store's concierge was closed, so I was told to talk to the floral department. There I found Gena, who was not only willing to help me, but was very creative in finding a way to wrap the items I had selected. She took the time to help me create seventeen gift baskets and was one of the most pleasant store employees I have ever encountered at any company.

I had been worried about being able to get the items packaged, and Gena took my concern and easily solved the issue. Congratulations to Whole Foods....I will shop there more often.

The reason I write about this encounter is because a company can have great marketing, excellent public relations and a strong brand.....but without employees who go the extra mile to make customers feel special....they have nothing. Companies need to remember that everyone is important to properly serving their clients, from the CEO to the person in the flower shop.

Have A Great Day

Thom Singer

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Weekend Blog 4

The weekend blog is off the main topic.

Back From Vacation

My family and I enjoyed two great weeks in Italy and France. I have not posted "live" on this blog in two weeks, but had pre-posted some articles while I was away. I look forward to getting back to writing on the topic of marketing, networking, branding and sales. In addition, my book: "Some Assembly Required: How to Make, Keep and Grow Your Business Relationships" is now complete and on it's way to the printer. I am excited that this 18 month project will soon result in a tangible product. You can pre-purchase copies at

I had never been to Europe, and was amazed by how incredible it was to see all the famous sights. My favorite was Siena, Italy. It was a small town and not as crowded with tourists as Rome, Florence and Paris. The interesting thing was that hundreds of years ago Siena and Florence competed for business. Florence won the battle for commerce, and much of the growth from the renaissance era forward took place there. Florence has much of the great art and architecture of Europe, but Siena was preserved as a Mid-Evil hill top city. The beautiful, BIG church at the heart of the city, The Duomo, was completed before Columbus discovered America. It was amazing to see all of the buildings in Europe that are so incredible and yet so many hundreds of years old. We often forget that not all the great strides in civilization took place in the last century!

Our visit to Siena was during "Il Palio". It is an annual festival, which takes place in July and August, that draws thousands of visitors to the small town to watch a horse race. The seventeen contrade (neighborhoods of Siena) compete for the annual victory. If Italy is ever in your travel plans, you should try to be in Seina during the Palio. The thing I noticed most about this event was that there was no commercialization. No corporate sponsors on the program, no business banners hanging from the buildings and the jockeys did not have dozens of logos sewn onto their silks (think NASCAR). Think of one sporting event you have ever attended in the United States (including your children's little league game!) where there were no corporate sponsors. I was torn by how refreshing this was to see....AND the marketing/sales blood in my veins screaming out "WAIT....they are missing some fantastic financial and branding opportunities!!!!

One last thing, we traveled Europe with our two daughters, ages eight and three. This was limiting in some ways (not all restaurants are kid friendly in Europe....especially in Paris), and we could not always move as fast..... but the kids were great and had a lot of fun. As I told my wife.....if we wanted to travel Europe with our adult children, we needed to wait twenty years!!!

Have a great weekend.

Thom Singer

Thursday, July 07, 2005

What's In A Name

When you are actively networking and meeting new people, on occasion you will run into trouble remembering people's names. While sometimes you can easily fake your way through this embarrassing situation, other times you just feel foolish. If you have previously met them and are put into a situation where it is clear you do not remember their name, I suggest that honesty is the best policy. Appologize and let them know that you cannot recall their name.

To avoid this problem, it is best to learn some memory tricks that will help you remember names and other information of the people you meet in your networking activities.

To begin with, repeat the person's name silently to yourself after you are introduced. Then find a way to work their name into the conversation. Repeating it outloud or introduce them by name to someone else. By articulating their name it will help your future ability to recall their name.

You can also invent a relationship in your mind between their name and their physical characteristics. One example for Shirley Temple could be "her curly (rhymes with Shriley) hair is cut short near her temples". Finding things about them that remind you of other people and them concentrating on that relationship can also be a good trick.

Always get a business card. Getting the person's card is a tool to help you remember things about them. After your intial meeting with someone, take a moment and jot down some information you discussed on the back of their card. If they mentioned their company was planning to go public or their love for modern art, write it down. The act of writing information will help commit the topics of you discussion into your long-term memory.

The following day, review what you wrote on the card, repeat thier name (silently and outloud), and remember any unique connections or rhymes you made about them. Then send them a follow up note in which you recap your conversation.

Immediately add people to you database or file their business card in a card file. Regularly review the names of everyone you have ever encountered. Out of sight is out of mind, by reviewing the information about your contacts regularly, it will stay with you.

Have a great day.

Thom Singer

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Bloggedy Blog Blawg - Part Two

The following article is one I wrote that appears on the site, Network in Austin. The article is currently on their "Resources" Page.

Bloggedy Blog Blawg – Part Two
By Thom Singer

Why blog?

With so many people starting blogs, it is clear that this form of communication is here to stay. But why would anyone want to read blogs or write one of their own?

To begin with, I recommend that you find five or six blogs that interest you, and read them on a regular basis. This could be business, personal diaries, politics or any other of the hundreds of themes that exist in the blogosphere. Blogs can be a great way to get news or discover specific information. One word of caution, you need to remember that unlike a newspaper that has editorial standards (or at least is supposed to have them!), a blog has no rules. Therefore the information you receive is not necessarily factual. Reader beware!

However, you will also find blogs that provide you with different prospectives than you might find in more traditional publications. I have about a dozen marketing/business blogs that I read regularly, and a few more just for entertainment, and I appreciate all of them for what they provide.

Writing a blog is not for everybody, although if you search the blogs that exist on the web, you might feel that everyone on the planet does have a blog. There are many online services that offer free or inexpensive tools with which you can create and publish a professional looking blog in just minutes. The website where this article appears,, also has a service to host blogs for its members.

The hard part about writing a blog is making the commitment. Many great blogs get stale if the blogger does not post regularly. In order to be appealing for readers to return to your site, you need to continually offer them fresh material. I try to write a short post every weekday before I go to work. Many seasoned bloggers tell me that this will be hard to keep up over time, and that I may wish to move to posting twice a week. I am not sure what I will do for the long term, but I get to make the rules, so therefore, there are no rules for my blog. I even recently introduced the “Weekend Blog”, where I write about or link to things that interest me that are not about marketing, biz dev or networking.

Another advantage of blogging on a regular basis is that you will create a body of written work that can later be used for industry articles, company newsletters or a future book. I have heard that those who have widely read blogs are often featured as sources for the traditional media who produce stories that coincide with their field of expertise. The reporters found them on-line through their blog. If publicity for your product or service is one of your goals, creating a blog that is full of useful information will help you raise your visibility. Another feature of a blog is that readers can freely add comments to what they read. If you allow this on your blog, you do need to be prepared for some not-so-positive feedback.

A blog can become a community-gathering place for your readers. If you create a business-focused blog, your customers and others can regularly come to read about what is the going on inside your company or industry. This can be a much more personal type of communication than an annual report or standard press release. Many large companies have begun having their CEO, or other executives, post daily messages. Although most companies do not open up these blogs to reader comments, some have found that it allows customers to freely comment, and they can learn from the positive and negative responses.

If nothing else, you should familiarize yourself with blogs and blogging because they are becoming a real part of today’s society. Hopefully if you are at a cocktail party and you are asked; “Do you blog?” you will know what the heck they are talking about. Your answer might even be, “YES, I do!”

Have a great day.

Thom Singer

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Weekend Blog 3

The Weekend Blog is a time to be off the main topic of this Business / Networking Blog

What Is Your Favorite Color????

While vactioning with some friends and their family in a villa in Siena, Italy I encountered many things that could fill the pages of this blog. However a quick and funny story came from watching my three-year-old daughter (who I have nicknamed "The Human Tornado", but that is a story for a different post).

The family we were with on this Italian Holiday also have a three-year-old daughter. Since we do not get to see these friends as often as we would like, the kids have not spent much time together during their young lives. So this was a first meeting, of sorts, for a pair of girls who seem destined to be life long friends. They immediately hit it off and began to play together. Both are outgoing and a bit on the wild side (for three-year-olds). At one point while deeply involved in some serious playing, Victoria looked at Kate and said, "Kate? So what is your favorite color?". Kate enthuiastically proclaimed, "RED!!!! What's yours?".

Then playing resumed.

It made me our busy grown up lives, how often do we take the time to ask those around us such profound questions?

What is your favorite color?

Have a great weekend.

Thom Singer