Thursday, April 27, 2006

The ABC's of Networking: L is for Leading Edge

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, Leading Edge is defined as:

1. The edge of a sail that faces the wind. 2. The front edge of an airplane propeller blade or wing. 3.a. the foremost position of a trend or movement. b. Someone or something occupying such a position.
Are you the leading edge in your company, industry or business community? Do you look for ways to stand out from your competition? Or do you just follow the leader?

If you want to build a strong reputation in your field you need to be a pioneer. Just being like everyone else in your industry is mediocre, and the mediocre rarely finish on top. You must look for ways to stand out from the crowd and deliver increased value to all that you encounter.

*Within your company you need to be a thought-leader and the "go to" person on a variety of topics.

*With your clients you need to be seen as highly capable and dedicated to being a partner in their success.

*With your network you need to be seen as a person who gladly helps others and looks for ways to make connections.
Be out front and others will follow. Or allow your competition be the leading edge. Your choice.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The ABC's of Networking: K is for Knowledge

Knowledge is power. Yes, it is cliche, but it is also true.

If you want to be relevant in your business community and industry, you need to have knowledge. You must be viewed as the "Go To" person on a variety of topics. Yes, doing a good job in your chosen field is important, but only mastering one topic will get you passed over many times.

You need a broad range of interests. You should read newspapers (including the entertainment and sports pages), magazines, trade journals, blogs, websites, and books on a variety of topics.

But wait, you are thinking "It takes a lot of time to read that much". YES, it does. I never said any of this came easy!

Achievement does not happen by accident. You have to prepare for success. And one of the elements in that preparation is knowledge. Time is limited, but once you acquire information it is yours forever. Investing your time in learning new things will always be of benefit.

I once heard it said that "Leaders are Readers". I find that the successful executives I know read and study multiple subjects. They have a natural curiosity about the world and can converse with people from any race, religion, political affiliation, industry, etc....

What have you read today? (Hey, you read
this blog....and "Thank You" for that!!!).

How many books do you read every year?

Can you list the periodicals which you

When was the last time you took a class at
your local university or attended a seminar?

Examine your answers to these questions, then decide if you devote enough time to gaining knowledge.

If you are not doing enough to learn something new everyday, do something about it!!!

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Monday, April 24, 2006

The ABC's of Networking: J is for the Journey

We often forget that our career is not just about getting to some ending point. Too often I find myself looking forward at achievements I want to have in the future, and I forget to enjoy the tasks at hand.

After a speech I gave recently someone came up and followed up about a specific comment that I had made during the presentation. I had said that "those who develop the best networks (those who actually get referrals and other huge business opportunities) spent years...often more than ten years, cultivating the relationships that made up their network of professional contacts." The man said "But I am fifty-years-old. I have never worried about networking, but am now learning it is helpful to have strong business contacts. If what you say is true, then I will be sixty before I see the benefits?". I told him that in ten years he will be sixty either whether he builds a network or not!!!

While it might take ten years to grow a huge network, along the way he will make many valuable connections. He should not be focusing on the destination, but rather on the journey.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The ABC's of Networking: I is for Intensity

"Ultimately, it is your career, and you must take charge of it. Create value, capitalize on opportunity, and always let the world know how great you are!" says new author David Lorenzo (you should read his blog too!!!).

His new book, Career Intensity: Business Strategy for Workplace Warriors and Entrepreneurs, will be released in May 2006. I had the opportunity to read an advanced copy, and it is 216 pages of fantastic advice for anyone who wants to take their career to the next level. It was perfectly timed for the "I" post in this ABC series.

This is not a job hunters guide (the title led me to believe it was for those looking for a new career), but rather a manual for those whose toes are already on the ladder.... and are trying to grasp the success secrets that will take them to the top.

The Intensity Lorenzo wants us all to embrace is that spark that we see in peak performers:

The hallmark of successful entrepreneurs and top executives is the drive for continuous individual improvement known as Career Intensity. This is not a genetic trait; it is a focused strategy. This book is a competitive advantage for today's individual economy.
Regardless of your goals, success does not happen by accident. You need to intensely focus on the little things everyday to reach your goals. To do anything less will leave you unfulfilled.

Do you know in your heart that you can be one of the great ones in your industry....but are still wading in the shallow end? Do something about it: Take charge. Focus. Plan. Network. Create value. Engage your intensity.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The ABC's of Networking: H is for Help

If you want other people to assist you in your career, you first must find ways to help them. Very often people will make a commitment to "networking", and after a few months they will sour on the whole process. When asked why networking is not working, they will reply with; "the people I have met do not refer business".

If you think that meeting business professionals and handing them your business card will make them run back to their desk, dive into their database, and spend hours telling the world about you and your are not just are having delusions.

To really inspire others to become a referral source, you need to find ways to help them with their business first (I know, you are saying "that's NOT FAIR, why don't they help ME first?). Most people will want to return favors to those who helped them (not everyone, there are a lot of pure "takers" out there, but they are rare).

I suggest you take one hour every week where you go through your contacts and look to see how you can be of value to others. Review the names of people in your network of professional contacts and think of whom you can introduce them to, or other ways that you can help them.

1. Do you know a local reporter for your Business Journal (or other publication) whom you can have lunch? While at lunch share with them positive and colorful stories about key business people. This is a double win, business reporters love to meet interesting people in the community (one never knows what stories they will be assigned in the future), and it helps those in your network, as maybe the reporter will want to feature their business in a story!

2. If you are going to be attending an interesting business event, forward the information to others who would benefit from attending. Or better yet...invite them to come to the event as your guest.

3. Plan a breakfast or happy hour at a local gathering place and invite the key members of your network (the ones who are the most helpful) . My friend Scott has put together a group called the "Get It Group" (those who "get" how networking really works) which meets once a week. While I had never met any of these other people before, they are some of the most outstanding people I have ever met. Although the group is new, everyone looks for ways to help each other achieve their goals. And everyone appreciates Scott's efforts in arranging the meeting.

If you look for ways to help others you will see results. Plus, it just feels good to be of assistance to someone else.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Monday, April 17, 2006

The ABC's of Networking: G is for Game Plan

I have found that too many business professionals execute on their networking, marketing, business development, PR, and branding without having a game plan. While there is always a time for "ready, fire, aim"...that is not the best manner in which to regularly operate (just ask Dick Cheney!!)

If you want to achieve results, you have to know what success looks like. You cannot measure the outcome if you do not know in advance what you are trying to accomplish. This requires taking the time to create a plan and then reverse engineer the steps involved in getting you there.

I had the good fortune of meeting the CEO of the country's leading "Experiential Marketing" firms. (If you do not know the term "experiential marketing", you will soon!!!). Tim Hayden of GamePlan Marketing understands the importance of knowing what success looks like for his clients. As the name of his firm suggests, it is all about knowing in advance what actions a company or individual needs to take to get noticed over all the "noise" in the marketplace.

From their website:

GamePlan Marketing & Events is an experiential marketing agency that
creates and executes strategies where brands achieve positive, measurable
results through integrated marketing practices and events. Respecting the unique
challenges set before each of our clients, we build winning campaigns and events
that generate demand, gain exposure and create awareness.

Tim and his team will not work with clients who do not clearly know what they are trying to accomplish. While many companies create events, parties and other "over the top" experiences, most do not understand who they are trying to reach, whom are their clients and prospects, and what constitutes successful marketing. This can leave them with big expenses and little tangible results.

Does your company know how to define success? Do you? Do you have a game plan to lead you toward a dominant position in your industry?

If not, then remember: G is for Game Plan. Get one!

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Friday, April 14, 2006

The ABC's of Networking: F is for Follow-Up

When you meet someone at a business event and exchange business cards, they are NOT automatically part of your network. Many people confuse knowing someone with actually being in each other's network.

In order to really build a business relationship you need to have a series of interactions with people. You need to understand their business and who would be their ideal clients. They need to know the same thing about you.

Too often people meet a new business contact and add them to the database, but do not think about the next steps.

Networking is all in the follow up.

If you happen to have a conversation with someone at a business event, the best thing to do is to follow up a few days later with an email, phone call or handwritten note. This simple gesture is a way to remind the other person of you, and allows you to instigate the next step of having lunch or inviting them to attend another business event.

Keep in mind that to really add someone to your "network of professional contacts" you need to have seven to ten times where you personally interact. Less than that and they are just a person you slightly know. By proactively following up, you will move them into your network at a faster pace.

If you just wait for the other person to follow up with you, you may wait for a long time.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The ABC's of Networking: E is for Evangelist

In his wonderful book, The Human Fabric, author Bijoy Goswami tells us that there are three personalities in the world: "Mavens", "Relaters" and "Evangelists". Then he cuts to the chase and tells us the "evangelists make things happen"!!! He is right.

When we talk about networking, we usually think about relaters (those who are experts in relationships), but relationships alone will not produce results. Successful networking requires people to take action. You have to know what you want, how to get there, and be able to get others excited about your cause.

Evangelists are not shy, they will tell anyone who will listen (and a few who wont) about what is important to them. They have the ability to persuade those around them to be believers. We want to follow them....we want to help evangelists succeed.

Goswami tells us that evangelists have changed the world by believing deeply in a cause bigger than themselves. His examples include: Saint Paul, Ronald Reagan, Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King, Michael Dell and General George Patton. If you want to make your world a better place, you must never slow down, never accept defeat and never stop believing.

If you are serious about building a network of professional contacts that can and will refer business, you cannot be shy. Carry your banner high, and keep working toward success.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The ABC's of Networking: D is for Determination

To create a strong network of professional contacts that can and will refer real business, you must have determination. To build true connections takes time and effort. If you think that a networking just happens, you will be instore lack luster results.

The commitment to making, growing and keeping business relationships takes dedication. It is not something that you can only do on those "slow days". Networking is not for part-time.

I recently met a woman who was impressed that I had developed a strong network. She questioned why I still attended networking events after ten years of building contacts. When I told her that I had not even begun to scratch the surface of building a successful network of professional connections, she was shocked. She thought that once you had built a "brand" you could slow down and stop with basic networking activities.

Nope, you never get to stop. Out of sight is out of mind. Networking is never ending. I have seen many people get burned out and fade away. To win you have to keep going.

You have to focus to build a network. Be determined and stay determined.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Monday, April 10, 2006

The ABC's of Networking: C is for Creativity

Best-selling author Tom Peters said it best; "You are either distinct or you are extinct!"

If you want to stand out from your competition you have to be creative. Too many people think that if they just do a good job they will be rewarded. These days doing a good job is just the price of entry.

To be distinct you need to look at what others in your industry are doing, and then do something DIFFERENT.

Many years ago there was a regional law firm who garnered national attention with their successful print advertising campaign featuring the managing partner's bull dog. It was so good that everyone inside and outside the legal industry knew about this firm and their not so cuddly mascot.

The response of their competition? Dozens of law firms immediately began having pets in their media. One firm announced they wanted to do something different with their ads. They wanted to feature the managing partners cat!!!

Do not just do what everyone else does. Look for new ways to entertain your clients in a manner they will always remember. One successful sales person who routinely brings clients to Broadway Shows always mails the tickets to the client with a copy of the musical CD. Lot's of sales people send many add in the gift of music? Who will be remembered?

Punch your way out of the box and find ways to be creative.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Friday, April 07, 2006

The ABC's of Networking: B is for Brand

Coca-Cola has a brand.

Nike has a brand.

You have a brand.

It's true. In the old west they burned a brand onto the cattle so that they could instantly be identified to anyone who saw them. The same is true of you in your business community. Everything you have ever done and said is part of your brand. Your past actions are now part of how others instantly see you. Today and in the future.

I know a woman who claims that she does not have a "personal brand". And if she does, she says it does not matter what other people think. I beg to differ. Much like we discussed yesterday about "Attitude", your image in the business community is very important to opportunities that will come your way.

Major corporations spend millions of dollars and employ professional "brand managers". They do this because they understand the value of having a positive image to the outside world. Yet individuals often ignore the importance of managing their own brand.

You need to pay attention to how you behave under stress. I know one professional who thinks that his staff views him with admiration. His heart is in the right place, but when he gets over-worked, he becomes very difficult, irrational and mean-spirited. His brand is that he is an awful person with whom to work. He has paid no attention to his "brand" and allowed his reputation inside his company (and outside) to become tarnished.

Here are seven things you can do to improve your "brand":
1. Treat others with respect
2. Volunteer for business and charitable organizations
3. Always do a great job for your employer
4. Mentor others
5. Learn to be a better public speaker
6. Write articles for business publications
7. Refer business to those in your network

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The ABC's of Networking: A is for Attitude

Attitude. There is no replacement for having a positive attitude.

This post will be short, because it goes without saying that those who find the glass half full will always be better off than those who whine and complain. People like to be around others who have a positive attitude and can discover solutions to problems.

Those who just complain and point fingers at what they don't like are just annoying.

An example is comedian Bill Maher. Back when he hosted the Comedy Central show, "Politically Incorrect" I thought he was the funniest guy on television. He had a great knack of lampooning everyone in Washington, and his own opinions were secondary. These days all his humor is based around how much he hates the President (not that there is anything wrong with that!). He is not nearly as funny as he used to be. His jokes are cynical, mean-spirited and filled with negativity. My guess is that his audience is smaller than it was five or six years ago.

In your company you know who are the negative souls. If you discovered the cure for cancer they would walk around saying, "But what about diabetes?, You didn't cure that, did you???". These folks rarely have solutions, and often miss new career opportunities because nobody wants to be around them (then they blame everyone else for their lack of advancement).

Better off are the people who display a positive attitude and look for ways to make things better for those around them. Looking for the bright side and providing solutions will always serve you better. Opportunities seem to follow these people around!

In this crazy world there are many things that you cannot control...but you can control your attitude, so have a positive one!!!

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer

My Blog Goes International

Apparently a website in the Netherlands quoted my blog and linked to my site, as I have gotten dozens of hits from there....However I cannot read what is said in the post:

"Thom Singer weet het, aan netwerken heeft iedereen een hekel. Want u kent toch al genoeg mensen om zaken mee te doen? Niet dus.....,"
For all I know they say I am a stupid idiot (would not be the first time someone said that in a foreign language!!!....or even in English!!!).

Click here to read the whole post


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Business Professionals HATE Networking

It's true. Many people hate to network.

They know the old saying "People Do Business With People They Know and Like", and they believe it is true. But they still wince at the thought of going to conferences, seminars and networking events and having to make small talk with other people.

But the smart ones do it anyway.

You are not reading this blog because you necessarily like to network and getting past that awkward stage of getting to know those you meet. You might even feel that you know enough people.

You are reading this because you know that you need to improve you networking skills. (or you were searching for something else and Google accidently pointed you to this blog!!!)

So what can you do to start networking if you really do not want to?

1. Do it anyway. Regardless of if you like networking events, get out and attend business and industry events anyway. If you stay in your office like a hermit, you are guaranteed NOT to have a network. Out of sight is out of mind. In the business world that means out of business.

2. Be interested in others. Remember that you are there to make first connections with people. You will not become best friends or sign a new client at the Chamber of Commerce "After Hours Cocktail Mixer". You goal is simply to meet people in the business community. Be interested in others and ask a lot of questions. Get their business card and after you leave the event, write some notes on the back of the card to remind you of what you talked about (do not take notes in front of people!!!).

3. Finally, Follow-Up!!! Meeting someone does not make them part of your network. Building real relationships takes time. Call, email ....or better yet, send a handwritten note to them a few days later and tell them that you enjoyed meeting them. You wont follow up with everyone you meet, but if you think that in the long run you could do business together or be mutual referral sources, then should plan for the next step. Lunch or coffee is always good.

Does it sound a little bit like dating? (Maybe that is why people hate networking so much!!!!). The principles are the same. You have to go meet a lot of people to find those few that will be a permanent part of your business network. But a good network of professional contacts who will refer business will make you more just do it.

Have fun, even if you secretly hate networking!!!

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer