Saturday, July 31, 2010

Maximize Your Conference (Part 3 of 10) "Have A Plan"

Thom Singer is known as "The Conference Networking Catalyst". He regularly speaks at industry conventions and trade shows where he inspires the audience (and vendors) to maximize their participation at the event. One of the top reasons people attend business conferences is for the "Networking Opportunities", and yet once there they fail to create connections that will have any meaningful impact on their career. Thom sets the tone for the culture of the conference which becomes the foundation for a more meaningful set of interactions.

Maximize Your Conference (Part 3)

Have A Plan

by Thom Singer

Showing up at a multi-day conference without a plan is a fast way to leave opportunity behind. Before you arrive at the conference you should have previewed the schedule of events and determined the "must see" speakers and mapped out which concurrent sessions you will attend.

Most conferences have several breakout presentations taking place at the same time, and this means you have to make choices. If you are traveling with a co-worker or close friend you should work together to examine the schedule and then "divide and concur". By splitting up and hearing from different speakers you can then later re-group and share what you learned.

Knowing when and where the breaks, happy hours and meals are being held will also allow you to plan for getting any other work done that you must do. While I do suggest that you focus on the conference while there, there will be things that need your attention back at the office or last minute emergencies that will require your input. When you are fully aware of the schedule before you arrive you will know what things are your higher priorities and at what time you can tend to other issues.

Additionally you want to determined in advance when the calendar has allotted for "free time". May multi-day conferences have an "off" night when attendees are left to their own plans. If you wait until the last minute to make arrangements you could find yourself eating alone. The best thing to do is to reach out to a few contacts a few weeks before the event and organize a group of people for a causal gathering for dinner or drinks.

You can make reservations at a nearby restaurant a weeks in advance to ensure your group can get a table. I suggest that include a few extra seats in your head-count when you make your reservations to ensure you can accommodate last minute people who you and your dinner companions might meet at the conference. It is always easier for a restaurant to shrink your table than it is to expand the number of chairs.

(*Remember, if your plans do change and your group decides to dine elsewhere, call the restaurant and cancel your table. Common courtesy is always important to remember. Another ideas is to offer the reservation to another group of people at the conference looking for a place to eat. They will be thrilled to have VIP reservations and you will be the hero. A call to the restaurant to tell them that the contact person for the group has changed is also a good idea).

Fully knowing the flow of the schedule will allow you to maximize your time and also prepare for spontaneous opportunities to network. Many vendors and other companies in attendance at the event will be hosting private parties in local bars and hotel suites. Being aware of the schedule and flexible with your plan will also allow you to take advantage of last minute invitations to some cool extra activities that you might not have even known were taking place.

(*If you are invited to any hosted events, remember to thank the executives from the hosting organization and the person who invited you. Too often people take these corporate parties for granted and have an attitude of entitlement. When you are grateful for being included you will be invited back next year!)

The same is true for reviewing the list of vendors who will be exhibiting and planning for whom you want to visit in the trade show area. I will talk more about that in a later blog post in this series.

Your investment in time to study the schedule and plan how you will spend your time at a conference will allow you to accomplish more and maximize your experience while attending.

Have A Great Day.


Friday, July 30, 2010

Maximize Your Conference (Part 2 of 10) "Be Present"

Thom Singer is known as "The Conference Networking Catalyst". He regularly speaks at industry conventions and trade shows where he inspires the audience (and vendors) to maximize their participation at the event. One of the top reasons people attend business conferences is for the "Networking Opportunities", and yet once there they fail to create connections that will have any meaningful impact on their career. Thom sets the tone for the culture of the conference which becomes the foundation for a more meaningful set of interactions.

Maximize Your Conference (Part 2)

Be Present

by Thom Singer

When you decide to attend a conference it is a commitment of your time and attention. In order to receive the most value from participating in the event you must be present and actively engaged.

When you plan your travel arrangements make sure that you arrive in time for the opening and that you do not leave early. Very often people look at the schedule of a multi-day conference and make decisions to shave off part of their time to accommodate a better flight (or other priority). The problem with that is that you might be missing the most important part and you would never know it.

A conference is a mini-community. If you are not attending the opening ceremonies you will miss out on shared experiences that will be discussed, joked about and understood by all the other people. Leaving early could cause you to miss a powerful nugget of information from a speaker or connecting with others at the final social gathering. The "final good-byes" expose you to how others feel about their desire to continue to an ongoing relationship. If you are not there, they will focus their attention on others. You cannot predict in advance when or where you will find the highest value at a conference, thus you need to participate for the whole time to get the most from your investment.

The same is true for the time in between. Very often people review the agenda and make decisions to blow-off large portions of the conference schedule. They either go to their hotel room to work (or sleep), or jet off property to golf, visit friends, or sight-see around the city. The problem is that the purpose for being at the conference (and the reason that your boss is investing the money) is for your education and networking opportunities. When you are not present, you are undermining your ROI. If the conference schedule is not value based, then do not attend in the first place.

Being away from the convention area means you are not an engaged member of the community. This will limit your chance to be invited to off-hours social events, VIP parties, dinner groups, etc... If you are not interacting with other attendees you will be left behind. People spend time with those they know, like and trust. If you are late to arrive, run to your room during breaks, and skipping the happy hour, you will be a conference ghost.

Additionally, when you are there you must be present in your mind. Pay attention to the speakers and be attentive to those you are having conversations. Allowing your mind to wander and being aloof will mean that you will not be approachable to others. Smile, listen, ask questions, and be excited to be there and you will draw other people to you.

You owe it to your company, who is funding your participation, to actually participate!

Have A Great Day.



Next Saturday (August 7, 2010) is ProductCampAustin.

What is ProductCamp?

In the spirit of BarCamp, ProductCamp is a collaborative, user organized unconference, focused on Product Management and Marketing topics. At ProductCamp there are no "attendees," since everyone participates in some manner: presenting, leading a roundtable discussion, helping with logistics, securing sponsorship, setting up wifi, or volunteering. ProductCamp is a great opportunity for you to learn from, teach to, and network with professionals involved in the Product Management, Marketing, and Development process! From ProductCampAustin experience, it is understood that everyone has something they can teach and everyone has something they can learn.

While the original ProductCamp was in Silicon Valley, California, we in Austin, with inspiration and leadership from Paul Young, think we've done a good job of maintaining that participant-centered, creative and fun style, but are expanding ProductCampAustin into a more comprehensive scope. ProductCampAustin conducts several ongoing event series - the original ProductCamp format, and two Austin originals, ProductPotluckAustin and ProductPartyAustin. Planning is underway for other means of building and serving a following around ProductCampAustin. Call it a brand, community, experience or whatever, ProductCampAustin is "the place" for active, novice and experienced Product Managers and Marketers to develop their craft, learn from each other, network in meaningful ways and have a lot of fun.

I have submitted a possible presentation for ProductCampAustin:

Your Personal Brand Is Tied To Your Company

As an early stage entrepreneur you cannot separate your brand from that of your company. People are watching you and judging your business based on the reputation you bring to the table, and the actions you take along the way. Your network is a key tool to expand the success of your business. Many early stage entrepreneurs and their key team members get so busy working on their product or service that they ignore the people who could help them succeed. All opportunities come from people. Those who do the best job of establishing honest, long-term, and mutually beneficial relationships will find people lined up to help them succeed. But if you do not invest in others, they will not care about helping you.

Have A Great Day.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Maximize Your Conference (Part 1 of 10) "Know Your Purpose"

Thom Singer is known as "The Conference Networking Catalyst". He regularly speaks at industry conventions and trade shows where he inspires the audience (and vendors) to maximize their participation at the event. One of the top reasons people attend business conferences is for the "Networking Opportunities", and yet once there they fail to create connections that will have any meaningful impact on their career. Thom sets the tone for the culture of the conference which becomes the foundation for a more meaningful set of interactions.

Maximize Your Conference (Part 1)

Know Your Purpose
by Thom Singer

There are many reasons that business professionals attend their industry conferences, conventions and trade shows: Learning new information, networking, maintaining skills levels, getting continuing education credits, viewing new products, discovering new trends, attending the parties, getting away from office, to present new ideas, participating in trade show, hearing great keynote speakers, building name recognition, visiting with top clients / prospects, meeting competitors, looking for a new job, etc....

Any of these reasons are legitimate, but to get the most out of your participation in a conference, you must be honest with yourself about why you are attending. There is a sizable investment of money and time that is necessary to go to the event, and thus is you do not have a clear purpose, you will never know if you achieved your return on investment.

A clear purpose helps you to make the hard choices that come with attending a large conference. Which breakout sessions to attend become clear, as does the amount of time you spend walking the trade show floor, networking, attending social events, sleeping, etc....

A friend attended his industry's big annual conference with the goal of assessing the trade show (he was considering having a booth in the future) and finding one new idea for his company. He had never attended before and had heard conflicting reports about the value that came from participating at the event.

Before he arrived he had also pre-scheduled meetings with some vendors, friendly competitors, and customers who he know would be present.

His experience at the trade show was a disaster. He did not like the way the booths were arranged and he found no useful ideas that would help his company. He did not meet any new vendors that interested him. His purpose of discovery was achieved, albeit with negative results. However, his pre-set meetings were all successful, and made the investment to fly across the country worthwhile.

If he attends in the future he knows his purpose will be to have face-to-face meetings with existing contacts (having so many people from one industry in a city at the same time is a great bonus). His attending one time before being a booth sponsor also saved him a lot of money and frustration.

I believe that attending industry events are an important part of being successful in your business. But to experience real benefits from a conference you must know why you are there and what you expect from your participation.

Before you register for a conference meet with your whole team (those attending and those staying at the office) and discuss a how you and the company can gain from sending one or more people. Decide who will attend and why they are the best choices to represent the organization. Identify the purpose of participation and define the actions they will take while in the city where the conference will take place. The more clear you are about the "what and why" the more success you will have from the attending a conference.

Have A Great Day.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Marny Lifshen - Guest Blogger

Today's Guest Blogger is Marny Lifshen.

Are Your Networking Expectations Reasonable?

By Marny Lifshen, Author

Some Assembly Required: A Networking Guide for Women

Recently, a colleague recommended me to a prospective client, and I was very happy to be hired as a marketing consultant for their company. I immediately e-mailed the colleague that referred me to let him know the good news, and asked if I could take him to lunch as a thank-you.

During lunch, I filled him in on how things were going with the new client, and then made a point of asking him about his business, and how I might help him. I learned quite a bit about his business goals and made a few suggestions about people he should meet and organizations that might be a good fit for him.

After lunch (I of course picked-up the tab), I followed up with virtual introductions to the people I had mentioned, and the websites of the organizations I recommended.

A few weeks later, I saw him at an event. As we were chatting with some others, he told them about giving me a lead and then jokingly (sort of) said he hadn’t gotten anything back from me yet. I was rather shocked! I felt that I had helped him, and I was certainly looking for ways to give him a direct lead to business.

This led me to think about networking expectations, and how having unrealistic ones can cause you frustration, and eventually hurt your professional relationships and reputation. So, here are some suggestions for how you can keep your networking expectations in line.

1) Networking SHOULD be a two-way street. It must be a give-and-take relationship in order to be successful -- but it doesn’t always happen consecutively or immediately. It can take time to get something back from someone you helped, so be patient and don’t have that “tit for tat” mentality, or you will alienate your colleagues.

2) Networking is not always about LEADS for clients, customers or jobs. The benefits of networking are vast and varied, so don’t keep a narrow focus. Your network can help with resources, advice, access, support and opportunities that don’t necessarily relate to leads – but can be hugely helpful to your career.

3) In order to get the benefits of a powerful network, you have to ASK for what you need! Not everyone is good at proactively looking for ways to help people in their network. So if you need something and you think someone you know can help, ask them – you’ll be surprised how willing people are to help if they just know what you need. Don’t assume they know intuitively what to do.

There is no doubt that a strong network can have a huge impact on your career. If you keep your expectations realistic and reasonable, you will ultimately enjoy better results.

Have A Great Day.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Three Mistakes Made When Giving A Speech

As a successful business professional you will find the higher you climb on the ladder, the more often you will be asked to give a speech. Since you are not a "professional speaker", you might believe it is okay to "wing it" and babble on to the audience without investing the time to craft a meaningful presentation.

Heck you are smart and you have accomplished great things - people will want to hear what you have to say, right?


Always remember, just because someone is smart or they have done something interesting does not mean they belong on a stage talking to an audience. We have all sat through too many presentation where the audience would have rather stick needles in our ears than have to stay in the chairs.

Placing unqualified and inexperienced speakers on stage is a mistake that is made by countless amateurs who are coordinating meetings. Professional meeting planners know that you do not just put anyone on the schedule to fill a "spot", but instead you must vet everyone who will be on the platform to ensure they have public speaking skills.

A bad speaker can ruin your event and make people think twice before attending next time.

Here are the top three mistakes that executives make when giving a speech. Avoid these blunders and your audiences will be eternally grateful:

1. Opening with a joke. Somewhere along the line, about 50 years ago, a fable was told to public speakers that if you open with a joke, you will put your audience at ease. This only works if you are a professionally trained comedian. If you are not, it usually makes you look dumb. While using humor in your presentation is an excellent idea, there is a difference between humor and jokes.

On the flip side do not start by just telling the audience who you are and what you will be talking about. Someone else should do your introduction. The first few sentences out of your mouth will be the most important part of your whole presentation. Make sure you start strong.

Begin with a story. If it relates to your topic, and has the ability to spark interest in you and your presentation, it will have the power to win you the right to the audience's attention for the duration of your talk.

Yes it takes time to prepare a strong opening story, but if your audience is not worth the effort, do not accept the invitation to speak in the first place.

2. Not dressing the part. In our uber-casual society too many people feel they can show up to speak without giving any thought to how they are dressed. But the truth is that what you wear sends a message to the audience. When you dress correctly (and that will depend on the type of event, the venue, and how the audience will be dressed), it sends the message that you considered them before you showed up.

Too many speakers (even professionals) forget that it is called "giving a speech", which means anytime you address a crowd it is your gift. How you dress is the wrapping paper. You would not give your bosses daughter a wedding gift wrapped in old newspaper that smelled like rotten fish, so do not do the same thing when presenting your gift of a speech to an audience.

Many executive that I coach argue that "Steve Jobs" never dresses up when he speaks. My answer, when you bank account matches Steve Jobs' bank account then you can do whatever you want. In the meantime.... think seriously about what you wear.

3. Overuse of the word "I". When we are asked to come share with an audience, we all mistakenly think they want to hear about our accomplishments. Too many speakers only tell stories where they are the hero. Nobody would want to hear you brag about your life while sitting across from you at lunch, what makes you think that just because you are on stage they want to hear you profess your own greatness?

The best speakers provide a mix of their own successes with examples from other people. I suggest you arrive early and get some ideas from people in the audience. When you praise and quote someone from the crowd, the whole audience responds favorably because you are singling out one of them. It raises them all up. If all you can do is talk at them from your own high point, it makes them feel small in comparison.

Take a look at how often you talk about yourself and make sure that it is not the whole presentation. When you do site yourself as an example, have a motivating purpose that helps the audiences. Why do they care about what you did, and how can they learn from your experiences?

Reading books about speaking can help you become a better speaker, but nothing beats practice. If you want to become a talented public speaker then speak often, video tape your presentations, and review them regularly.

Also, every time you get the chance to see someone else give a speech, watch their elements of style in addition to listening to their content. I call this "Speaker's College". Anyone on stage can be my professor (professionals and amateurs), and I always learn something through observation. Never be afraid to try new things. Keep what works, and continue to grow your own unique speaking style.

Have A Great Day.


You can purchase a copy of "The ABC's of Speaking" at

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Attention Sales Managers, Business Owners, and Law Firm Managing Partners - The Time Is NOW To Start Thinking About 2011 Business Development

If I was to ask you if you believed "your organization will have its best year ever in 2011?", how would you answer?

Perhaps you would tell me that you are unsure. You may sight the current economic conditions as a reason for your uncertainty. Maybe you would question the competition's roll out of new technology, and wonder if it would give them a leg up? And it is possible that after two hard years you are concerned about your firm's survival. Your answer might be that you are going to wait and see what the new year brings.

Perhaps you would respond that you were confident that 2011 will be fantastic. The reason for this is because you have no competition and your organization prints money quarter after quarter. Your CFO has never seen any hiccups on the balance sheet. Recession? What recession? You are on fire, and know it will continue into 2011 (if this is your answer - GOOD FOR YOU! Keep it up!).

Perhaps you would state that you are committed to doing just that, making 2011 your best year ever, and you would ask me if I could assist you in discovering the path to more success. Maybe you would share that you have a good team of people but they need more direction to be the great business developers you know they can become.

If the third answer sounds the closest to your response, now is the time to take action. To impact 2011 you have to begin to have the hard discussions with your people now. You have to lay the ground work for creating a business development culture that will bring in new clients and expand your brand in the marketplace. There is now wishing or hoping when it comes to changing the direction for next year. You must have the hard conversations, and the sooner you start, the faster you will receive results.

There is no magic bullet. Waiting to see what the new year brings will just leave you behind. It is always harder to catch up when the year is half over and you are panicking about hitting your numbers.

If you want to grow the visibility of your organization in your business community, and end up on more "short lists" with prospective clients, it takes a commitment from everyone who works with you. You cannot do this alone. Relying on a few "rainmakers" leaves you vulnerable.

As the person in charge of revenue growth you have to lead a cultural revolution that supports the efforts that bring in business. Allowing people to stay in the status quo will mean that nothing will happen.

If you are reading this post and feeling a tug in your soul that you have to take action, then quit rationalizing excuses and just do it. Uncover your path to success and lead your team out of the forest of mediocrity.

Have A Great Day.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

SXSW Interactive On the Road: Thom Singer part 2

In March of 2010 I was interviewed by the captivating Ingrid Vanderveldt before the SXSW Interactive Conference. Here is part two of our chat:

Enjoy the video.

Have A Great Day.


SXSW Interactive On the Road: Thom Singer part 1

In March 2010 I was interviewed by the dynamic Ingrid Vanderveldt before the SXSW Interactive Conference. Here is part one of our conversation.

Enjoy the video.

Have A Great Day.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Recent College Graduates Looking For A Job - The Answers To Employment and Career Success Are Closer Than You Think!

The power of business relationships and networking are not a mystery. If you are in college or a recent graduate you should read "Some Assembly Required: A Networking Guide for Graduates" (New Year Publishing, 2010).

Establishing the foundation for a lifetime of mutually beneficial relationships with other professionals who seek to help each other succeed is key to your career. This book by Anne Brown and myself will make it all easier.

Do not wake up one day at 40 years old and say "Oh Shoot, I should have done this 20 years ago".

Available NOW at

Have A Great Day


PS - Do you like this video? Are you an author looking to create something similar to promote your book?

Contact Paul Durban at
Blazonfire. I went to high school with Paul over twenty years ago. This is proof that this networking stuff works, as when you keep in touch, the right people with the right skills show up when you need them!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Follow-Up Is Key To Networking Success After #NSA10

Many of the 1,200 plus people who attended the National Speakers Association Conference (#NSA10) are probably feeling reminiscent of a fraternity party Jagermeister induced hang-over this morning (not that I would know that feeling first hand).

Even those who did not go to the Hotel Lobby Bar every night or hit the Foundation Gala or the Cigar Peg Party (and Cigar Peg Hospitality Suite) are exhausted from the information overload that the program provided.

From Friday through Tuesday many of the nations top professional speakers and others attended non-stop keynote presentations, break out sessions, "Ideation Sessions", and VIP parties in and around the Marriott World Center in Orlando. Meeting, greeting, and networking prevailed in the crowded hallways.

(Everyone else who reads this... imagine 1200 professional speakers in one place. There is not a lot of silence in those hallways!).

But without follow up, all the mixing and mingling is a networking failure. Missed opportunities to cultivate relationships are a waste for people who put in the effort to meet interesting people in the first place.

Lifelong friendships can be formed at these types of events, but giving someone a business card does not make them part of your network!

One of the main reasons sighted for attending a multi-day conference like NSA is the "networking opportunities", and yet most people are horrible at the execution of creating meaningful connections after such an event.

I regularly present a program at industry conferences called "The Conference Networking Catalyst" (I did not do this presentation at this conference). When I do this program the final piece is always about "Following Up".

Meeting someone once a year only at a conference is not a real relationship. To establish a powerful connection you must continue the conversations, get to know each other better, and become a resource. To be part of someone's network you must matter in their life.

If you want to succeed in establishing this type of relationship with someone you met at NSA (Or any industry conference) you must reach out to them before too much time passes away.

must own the follow up.

While not everyone you met will become an ongoing and mutually beneficial contact, some of the people can have a future impact on your life. To increase the chances that they will remember you down the line you have to let them know you want to keep in touch.

It takes seven to ten meaningful interactions with people before they become a part of your network, thus you cannot assume that a few drinks at an out-of-town conference will bring them to think of you again after they return home.

Here are five tips to enhance your follow up:

1. Be timely. You must make contact within one week. If you wait too long it will appear as if they were not important enough to make it to the top of your "To Do List".

2. Stand out from the crowd. Most people will never follow up, so doing this will make you more memorable. Email is fine, but also very common. Most people get hundreds of emails a day. I suggest sending a short handwritten note to let them know you enjoyed meeting them and are hopeful your paths will cross again in the future.

3. Do not send a Facebook or LinkedIn request immediately. The ways in which people use these tools differ. I do not link to anyone in these two social media communities that I have not had a meal, a beer or a cup of coffee with (meaning approximately and hour long conversation). I call this "The Coffee, Meal or Beer Rule" - and the beer part does not count if we were both in a group setting in the bar!

Ask the other person if you can connect with them in these venues before sending the invite.

4. Read their blog and leave a comment. People who write blogs appreciate comments. To have a new friend from NSA chime in on their discussion would be appreciated. If you read their blog regularly you will get a better understanding of them as a person and lead you to reasons to reach out in the future.

5. Not everyone will want to be your friend. Sometimes there is no "there there" in establishing friendships. If the other person is not reciprocating your efforts to establish an ongoing connection, do not be offended.... just move on. Not everyone will become part of our networks. You have to look for people with whom you really had a "spark", and then work on building the fire. No spark, no fire!

CHALLENGE.... Before this Friday reach out to five people you met this week at NSA, by email or handwritten note (handwritten not is best!), and tell them why you enjoyed meeting them. Avoid having to look back in six months and realize that you killed your networking success by neglecting to follow up.

Have A Great Day.


PS- Thank you to everyone I met at the conference and to all my old friends who I got to see again. I am honored to be part of this community of Speaking Professionals. My connection to NSA is an important part of my career!

*Disclaimer, part of this post came from my March 17. 2010 post immediately following the SXSW Conference.... but the information is still relevant to anyone who attends a multi-day conference.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Your Personal Brand Is A Real Thing

If the world today was such that people were always watching and judging you, what would they see, feel and think about you and your company? Stop and consider your brand. Regardless of if you are actively cultivating your image and reputation, you have one.

Are your actions in line with your goals? Do you "Walk The Talk"? Do you do things that help others achieve their dreams, or are you so focused on finding your own success, that you are blind to the easy things you can do to have a material impact on the people you encounter. You do not need to do a lot to make a difference.

Look around, you are being watched and judged by everyone. Do you care? You should. You have a personal brand and it is screaming out to others. Are you aware of what it is saying?

Have A Great Day.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Entrepreneurs Never Know For Sure They Will Succeed

My blog post from Friday spurred a phone call from a friend who is frustrated with his slow progress in moving his company to the next level. While he is not a client, I have coached him for a long time on building his brand, networking, marketing, PR, and visibility.... and I know and understand his business. He is successful, but has not yet reached his potential.

He could feel my own trials and tribulations and my sense of feeling overwhelmed in the worlds I wrote. It worried him, as his impression is that I do an above average job of juggling all the responsibilities, and if I could see the "wolves at the door", then he feared his own "wolves" getting inside.

We talked for 20 minutes. He is distraught about the amount of work he does "just to keep up" with the information, client requests, family obligations, running a business, growing a reputation, all the while still finding time to keep himself fit (mentally, physically and spiritually). His biggest worry is that he letting down his family, his business partner, and himself.

I had no answer. There is no magic bullet. I think all entrepreneurs have these feelings from time to time. While we would all like a crystal ball, we cannot know what is around the next corner, and success requires a level of faith that you will reach the promised land.

We agreed to talk again next week. He needs to regroup and motivate himself. There is no "motivation fairy" who will sprinkle him with dust. I told him to go close a deal, as I find nothing gets me back on track has signing up a new client or delivering a speech or training program for a company or law firm.

I challenged him to notice those he encounters this week who inspire him, and to let that inspiration sink into his soul.

I will report back as to how he feels next week.

Have A Great Day.


Friday, July 16, 2010

So Much To Do, Read, Learn, Share, Etc....

Stop for a minute.

No, I mean it. STOP.

It seems everything around us is moving way too fast.

We are living in a time when there is seemingly very little downtime. The amount of information that is coming at us is unlike anything in history. Bombarded with important and useless tid-bits at every turn. It makes me want to scream.

In the 1970s when my father left his office everyday for his hour-long commute home from downtown Los Angeles to the suburb where we lived (it was only 17 miles, but with traffic it was a long commute) - he really was away from work. There were no cell-phone calls from his boss or clients, there was no blackberry buzzing with alerts, and there were no texts coming to his iPhone. He had peace (if one can consider Los Angeles traffic peaceful!).

I believe that people had some time to just "Be". I never think any of the people I know just get to "Be". We are all to busy looking at our watch to make sure we get to our next appointment.

When I was a kid and we went on vacation, Dad was not getting up early to keep up with emails or other correspondence. He was on vacation. There were no phone calls being made to "check in". Long distance calls were very expensive and were simply not made if there was not an urgent matter or an emergency. If I do not keep up while on vacation then I would be buried when I got home. When I am on vacation I am not on vacation.

I could not sleep last night (I was actually thinking about my 95-year-old dad!). At five o'clock I decided to get out of bed. I sat down at the computer and began going through old emails, catching up on minor projects that had been ignored, and working on "Some Assembly Required: How to Make, Grow and Keep Your Business Relationships -- 3rd Edition".

Suddenly it was 9:00. I had worked for nearly four hours, and did not feel that I had made any real progress. However every task I had given my attention was important to my career, my family or my life. On top of all the distractions from inbound information, it seems like there is a never ending "To Do List". I believe I could work for 100 straight hours and never get caught up. Plus all the new things that would be rolling in that needed my attention. Grrrrrrrr.

Then there is the media. The amount of things I feel obligated to read, videos to watch, etc... makes me crazy. I worry if I am not keeping up with news, blogs, industry information, and the rest of the stuff out there that I will become obsolete.

I know I cannot be the only person who feels this way. I bet many of you who read this post are thinking "ME TOO!".

How do we get hold of it all?

Have A Great Day.


"Integrated Visibility" Webinar Next Week

Readers of the blog can register for FREE for the "Integrated Visibility Webinar" next Friday, July 23, 2010 at 11:00 Central Time.

Space is limited so sign up today.

CLICK HERE, then go to the "Upcoming" Tab and click on the July 23rd link.

Have A Great Day.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Ten Tips For Networking At A Multi-Day Conference - #NSA10

This week is the National Speakers Association Annual Conference. Thousands of professional speakers and aspiring speakers will converge for a week at a resort hotel. There will be keynote presentations, breakout sessions, parties, pool time, hallway conversations, and lots of networking.

Regardless of industry one of the top reason people attend conventions is the "Networking Opportunities" -- but once they get there they suck at the process of making legitimate, meaningful and long-lasting connections.

Below is an excerpt from a popular presentation that I present at business meetings, conventions, user conferences and other large gatherings all over the country (I am NOT presenting the "Conference Networking Catalyst Program" at the NSA conference, I am there to listen and learn!).

Having a plan, making networking a priority and being focused on how to help others are just a few of the steps that will help people get the most value from attending these types of events. Follow up is the key to creating mutually beneficial and ongoing conversations. - And it is important to remember that successful networking connections never happens by accident.

Below is the handout that I provided to the attendees at the 2010 SXSW Conference:

Ten Tips For Networking At A Multi-Day Conference

1. Have a plan. Know in advance whom you want to meet (directly or the type of people), which speakers you want to hear, and what tradeshow booths you want to visit.

2. Bring plenty of business cards. In today’s digital world some argue against the importance of business cards. But having a card is not for you, it is for the other person. Some people forget names quickly and asking for a card helps them recall you later. Telling someone “Google Me” is making them work to keep in touch. Additionally we don’t all use the same technologies, so using BUMP (or another digital tool) assumes we all adopt the same technologies. Not carrying business cards can be selfish, and selfish is so last year!

3. Do not focus on meeting the celebrity speakers. While meeting famous authors, speakers, and other gurus is fun, you are one of hundreds who will come up to them and shove a card in their hands. Instead, place your focus on meeting other people in attendance at the event. It is the other attendees who you are most likely to bond with and create real long lasting mutually beneficial friendships.

4. Talk to the people sitting next to you. When you walk into a seminar, take the time before the presentation begins to say hello to the people seated around you. I call this the "power of hello". Once you have said something as simple as "hello", it will be easier to talk with them later in the week if you see them again.

5. Ask questions of people you meet. Never lead with your "elevator pitch". People are more interested in themselves than they are in you, so ask them questions to help them get to talking.

6. Put your technology away. Do not run to your iPhone, BlackBerry, or laptop at every break. When you are working on electronics you send the message that you are unapproachable because you are busy. Utilize the time on breaks to converse with others. Look around and smile rather than texting like crazy.

7. Do not automatically send a LinkedIn or Facebook request. Too often people immediately send social networking link requests to people they just met. However, different people have different policies about whom they link with. If they believe in only connecting with those whom they have established relationships, you make it awkward if you send them a link too early (which they then ignore). Best is to ask people if they would welcome such a link at this time. Be respectful of the fact that they might use social networking differently than you do. Immediately following them on Twitter is okay, as Twitter does not require a mutual connection acceptance.

8. Read their stuff. Many people are active bloggers, tweeters, authors, etc... If people create the written word, seek out their work and read it. It is a great way to get to know people by reading their stuff, but they will also be honored when you tell them that you read their blog or follow them on Twitter.

9. Introduce others. When you meet cool people, be the conduit that connects them with others who might be beneficial to them. This includes others at the conference, as well as other people you might know back home. If you ask the right types of questions, you will easily spot connections that can help others. Don't ever worry about "what's in it for me", but instead just be the person who helps others. You will over time that others will help you too.

10. Follow up. If you meet interesting people and you never follow up, it makes no difference. Own the follow up after you meet people and send them an email (or better yet, a handwritten note) telling them how much you enjoyed talking with them, and plan for future discussions.

11. Do more than others expect from you. Bring more to a new relationship than the other person expects and they will always remember you as someone who is a giver. Invite them along to lunch or dinner with your group of friends or get them into a cool party. Those who give always get more down the line.

If you are going to the NSA Conference.... or any industry convention.... make your networking efforts count!

Have A Great Day


Monday, July 12, 2010

Young Lawyer Has A Business Development Plan -- Now What?

I completing a consulting project with an attorney, but worry she will not take any action after our time together concludes.

She is an associate in a mid-sided law firm who sought me out because she wants to increase her visibility in the community, begin developing her own business, and cultivate a positive brand inside and outside her firm.

We have had several great conversations and developed a customized business development plan. She identified several areas of strengths and weaknesses in regards to her attitudes about networking, marketing and sales. She is excited to make an impact. But in the end, I wonder if she will really do the things necessary to create results.

I have seen it before in many people (including myself). The enthusiasm of a new plan gets the juices flowing, but the monotony of execution brings all motion to a halt.

There is not a sales culture inside her law firm. The partners are older and are content with their lifestyles. They have enough work to keep themselves busy, and do not show much interest in making new partners for several years. Her goals were to raise her visibility and grow a book of business so that she would be an attractive lateral hire for another firm. But her day to day work load will soon take priority and I assume she will tire of the after-hour efforts when there is no reward for her at the office.

We have one more official "coaching" session. What advice do you suggest I share with her?

Have A Great Day.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Want Better Public Speaking Skills? Join A Toastmasters Club

It has been a long time since I have written about Toastmasters on my blog. However in the last month I have run across ten people who have asked me (directly or indirectly) about how to improve their public speaking skills. There is not better answer to that question that getting involved with a Toastmasters Club.

Toastmasters was founded in 1924 and now has clubs in 106 countries. A local club becomes a friendly and familiar place for people from any profession to come together to learn and practice speaking to an audience. Like many things in life, speaking is a learned skill. We see great orators and falsely think they were born with the "Gift of Gab". The reality is most of the "Great Ones" have worked hard to fine tune their craft.

As a professional speaker who regularly addresses corporate audiences I hopefully have some knowledge on this subject. I have already presented forty-three keynote-style (45 minutes or longer) presentations to corporate, law firm and association audiences in 2010. Each time I try to learn something new. I never give a "canned" talk, but instead customize and personalize each speech. This makes every time on stage an educational experience for me and the audience.

I am sad when those who want to be better speakers never take the stage. Remember: Speakers Speak! They don't think about speaking, wish they were better, or ponder their belly buttons.

I make it a habit to observe. Every time I have the honor to be in an audience I watch closely every thing that a speaker does. This means watching the style, delivery, vocal skills, stage presence, gestures, and poise of both professional speakers and professionals who speak. Each time I am the one listening I am self-enrolled in speakers college. No matter who is on stage I can learn from them. You should do the same thing. Study speakers, don't just listen.

I have also written a small book on the subject - The ABC's of Speaking. This book is a tip guide to help people who do not necessarily desire to be professional speakers, but who find they must occasionally give presentations. Many want to be better when talking to groups, but are intimidated by the whole process.

Having been a member of Toastmasters International since 1992 I have seen countless people, at all different skill levels, discover ways to improve their public speaking skills.

I still participate in my local club from time to time (my travel schedule prevents me from being a regular attendee). I am often asked why, as a professional speaker, I keep my membership with Toastmasters? The reason is you are never too good to learn, and when you help teach others, you improve too. Those who have climbed the ladder have a God-given responsibility to assist others who are working to improve their own skills. The "best" Toastmasters Clubs have both newcomers and seasoned Toastmasters as members.

If you have read this whole post and you are thinking "Yes, I should join a Toastmasters Club!".... then do it. There are most likely several clubs in your area. Check out two or three and find the one that is best for you based on location, time of meetings, and personality of the members.

Good luck and let me know how it goes!

Have A Great Day.


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Do Not Be The "Chef Boyardee" of Networking

Your "Network" is a fine homemade pasta sauce full of fresh veggies, herbs, spices and a dash of love.

It is not a can of "Spaghetti-O's".

Do not take shortcuts.

Have A Great Day.


Friday, July 09, 2010

Doing What You Love?

A career that is fueled by joy in your soul trumps doing a job.

Have A Great Day.


Thursday, July 08, 2010

BACK TO BASICS - For Real Estate Agents AND Any Other Industry!

Today's Guest Blog Post was written by Chad Goldwasser, co-author of "Some Assembly Required: A Networking Guide for Real Estate". Chad is the founder and sales team leader of Goldwasser Real Estate and one of the top real estate brokers in the United States.

Back To The Basics…

The more I learn about my business the more I find that it really is important to remember to always get back to the basics. People often wonder how they can reach the pinnacle of their industry and stay there, I think the answer is to be innovative and creative, but also remember that it always comes back to doing the good old fashioned basics, and doing them well! So, what are the basics?

1. Work Hard- No matter how far along I get in my business, I find that there is one thing that always remains a constant with seeing great success, working my bottom off! I remember starting my real estate career at the age of 24 and not stopping for anything. If someone wanted to see a home on a Friday at 10pm, I was there. Open houses, every single weekend, Saturday and Sunday. Hours, Monday through Sunday open all day-and night! It was necessary to create the momentum that I know get to feel. Even now, as we experience this tumultuous time, I have found that one thing pays great, hard work!

2. Serve people from the heart -If you do not have a servants heart, you will never truly reap the rewards of life. People love to feel your energy, your passion, and they love to feel that you care-ABOUT THEM! I think that you should look at every person you serve, not as a paycheck, but as an opportunity to give someone the greatest experience of their life. To show them that you are a true professional, with a heart. Do this and you will survive in any market.

3. Develop your skills-Be a life long learner, and practice your craft. If you had the great opportunity to watch Shaun White at the Vancouver Olympics winning the half pipe event, you were watching someone who stood head and shoulders above his competition. He made the other competitors look like amateurs, and how did he do it, a huge dose of courage and lots of practice. If you have the opportunity to read about this great athlete you will find a hard working guy who is constantly practicing his craft. Are you in gold medal form? If not, maybe it is time to put in some more practice!

4. Become a lead generation machine!-Let’s face it, no matter who you are or what you do, your ability to generate business will be the main key to your success. Whether you are an actor, a doctor or a real estate salesperson, you need to be able to find leads, and once you do, close them! Business is about sales, and once you figure out how to create lots of sales, you are good as gold. There is nothing of more importance than becoming a lead generation machine, finding and acquiring new leads at all times. What you did yesterday is done, each day you must start anew, looking for those precious leads!

That is it for now, let’s get back to what makes people successful, the basics!

Have an amazing week!

Chad Goldwasser
Founder/Sales Team Leader

Goldwasser Real Estate

Get your copy of "Some Assembly Required: A Networking Guide for Real Estate" at

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Let Your Information Be Shared - AND Wow It Is A Small World (Two Interesting Things In One Blog Post!)

Two weeks ago (June 22, 2010) Chris Brogan wrote a blog post about "The Beauty of Keeping Information Shareable". In this post he talked about how he releases all content on his blog [] under the Creative Commons license, which means that you can share and reuse my information within reason and with some attribution back to the original post.

He went on to site an example of how one blog reader, Paul Durban, created a cool video out of one of his recent blog posts: 50 Power Twitter Tips. I had read the post and viewed the cool YouTube video that Paul made by using Chris's original information on the day it appeared on Chris's blog.

This triggers my own blog post here for two reasons:

1. Chris is right about making your information shareable and being open to others taking it to new levels, as long as they give attribution. I talk with many authors, blogger, speakers and others who are ultra freaked-out about anyone touching their work, or even quoting them unless they are some how compensated.

While I understand the desire to maintain control over a brand, there are advantages of having the power of other people's creativity expand your own product. It is not only famous people like Chris Brogan who put out interesting nuggets of information that can inspire others, and when we are the catalyst of creativity, everyone wins.

Some are so concerned with their control and compensation early in their career that they are missing out the chance to ever make it out of the basement. Letting other people expand on your ideas can take you to new levels. I encourage anyone who reads my blog to feel free to continue the discussion. Nobody needs to ask me if they can quote me, or use my content as part of something new (as long as they give me credit and a link back!). I try not to "step over $100 bills to pick up pennies"!

I find it interesting how myopic some people are about this topic. Too many people are living in the old media world of needing to have total control of everything related to their products. I like seeing some of the creative things that occur when people connect in random examples (such as this video that was spawned by Chris's blog post).

Just like customer reviews for products and services have extreme power online to influence consumer purchases (think Bazaarvoice), having other expanding your ideas into new vehicles (like the above mentioned video, etc...) has more impact than if Chris had created this video himself.

2. Small world. I know a Paul Durban. I read Chris Brogan blog regularly, and saw this post sighting Paul's creative video... but never made the connection in my own head.

I went to high school with a Paul Durban. THIS PAUL DURBAN! We both grew up in a suburb of Los Angeles, California. He now lives in Nebraska, I live in Texas. We had not really had much contact over 26 years (disclaimer, we have been connected on Facebook for a few months, so he was not totally forgotten). Today he followed me on Twitter, and I clicked over to see his website for his eBook and Video company, Blazonfire. WOW.... he does some amazing things. I called him to tell him I was impressed with both the high quality of his eBooks, but even more with his promotional video production.

Turns out our career are complementary and we should have known that. Now it looks like we may be able to refer business to each other, and I enjoyed hearing more about his creative company, his family, and his vision for the future. He mentioned the above discussed blog post on Brogan's blog, and I remembered having seen it. I went back and looked, and realized his name was in big letters (with a link). Duh!

But think about this folks: 26 years have gone by.... we live thousands of miles in opposite directions from where we grew up, and yet our paths crossed on a blog like and yet we missed the connection (well, I missed it, Paul missed nothing, as I was not mentioned!). How many other amazing people are we just missing? To quote Maxwell Smart; "I missed it by THIS much!"

Just because you have a link to someone on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter does not mean that you are really connected. So much of these social media communities are just over crowded and we do not really mesh with the available opportunities. We are often not looking deep enough at the people with whom we are connected (regardless of how well we know them... or knew them!). Here is someone whom I should have had a conversation with months ago, but I did not see it. Then his name crossed my path in a highly public way, and I did not see it. Sometimes the universe is sending messages and we do not listen.

I do not think it is just me (am I the only moron?). I think "Social Media" (whatever that really is any more) is so filled with BS, that the real gems are right there and few people can see them. We need to take a collective deep breath and look at whom has crossed out paths in life and look for ways to create mutually beneficial relationships where everyone succeeds more!

Have A Great Day.


Saturday, July 03, 2010

Thom Singer's "Some Assembly Required" July Newsletter

The July "Some Assembly Required Newsletter" was published earlier this week.

If you are not on the email list for the monthly newsletter you can sign up on the right side of the blog.

Additionally, I am looking for guest columnists to write short and informative business articles for future issues of the newsletter. If you are interested, please let me know at thom (at)

CLICK HERE to see the current issue.

Have A Great Day.


Friday, July 02, 2010

The Lust To Link - Fewer People Want a "One-Night-Link"

More and more people are feeling slutty when linking to strangers on LinkedIn and Facebook. As they mature in their use of social media they are realizing that links without the love, while fun, can just leave everyone with little to show for their connections.

Additionally, social media does not scale to the whole world. Eventually if you have too many contacts it just becomes noise. The people who you do know, like and trust become lost in a sea of status updates from random people who are rambling about things that do not matter.

At the "Social Media Day Tech Karaoke" event the I joined a conversation with two highly known and respected members of the community. They were talking about my "Coffee / Meal / Beer Rule" for accepting connections on Facebook and LinkedIn (I only link to people in those two social media communities with whom I have had a real conversation. There are exceptions, as there are other ways to get to know someone, but I do not link upon the first meeting). One of them had gotten so many strangers into his social media world that he was finding it necessary to "cut back". He was dumping the strangers.

Interestingly, that same person had sent me a LinkedIn request the night we met over a year ago. I never accepted it. However, over the 12 months I have seen him in person and online several times and I have grown to know and respect him. Thus, I was ready to accept the link. Meanwhile, he is dropping all the others who he did not develop a mutual understanding over the past two years. He agreed that while he did not originally see the power of a social media linking policy, he is now creating one of his own that will be similar to the "Coffee / Meal / Beer Rule".

When social media was new many users were horny to use it to connect to anyone. While there are some who will forever argue in favor of their orgy of useless contacts, all they are creating is a Phone Book. Sure you have names and contact information, but so what? You would not pick up a Phone Book and randomly begin dialing people to talk and calling them your "Friends", why is a link to a stranger any different?

Contrary to what some believe social media was never about numbers, it has always been about relationships. While the tools we use to communicate have changed, how we are wired as human beings and relate to others is not different. We long for connection, but it must be based on real emotions, not bits, bites and links.

Get past the lust to link to as anyone and everyone. Nothing beats a relationship. Keep it real.

Have A Great Day.


Another Rant on Social Media Linking Policies - Job Search LinkedIn Mistake

I got the below question from a friend who is seeking to hire a few people for his growing software company.


Here’s one for you. I currently have two jobs posted on LinkedIn and I’m in the process of interviewing candidates. Shortly after posting the job, I started receiving “join my network” invites from potential candidates applying for the job. I’ve also received “join my network” invites from candidates within hours of conducting their interview – kind of like a follow-up / thank you letter.

I have not accepted any of the requests as of yet – and certainly will not accept those I’ve never met.

If I were to follow your rule of ‘coffee/beer/meal’ – technically I’ve sat down and “talked” to the candidates I’ve interviewed. On the other hand, I will not be hiring all of them. In fact, I might not hire any of them. So, should I accept their request? I’m leaning towards not.


Joe (Name Changed To Protect The Guilty)

Come on people.... do not send social media links to people you do not know. I could scream it from the rooftops, and still people think social media is "Speed Dating" for business. It is not that shallow. There has to be a reason to be connected to each other or it is just more noise.

Being interviewed by a person for a job does not necessarily create a legitimate business connection (it might, if you really hit it off with the person. However, if that happens you will most likely get the job!). I do not think a job interview is equal to the "Coffee / Meal / Beer Rule". Plus it can be awkward if the person hiring thinks you are a loser.

There are many who think it is smart to link like crazy to every stranger on the planet. Their foolish linking lust makes LinkedIn and other social media is a great big phone book full of strangers. It makes them feel good as they collect large numbers of "fake friends", but with no real foundation, it is all a fraud. Grrrrrrr.

The folks who are sending LinkedIn requests to hiring managers who they have never met, or to people who interviewed them (and do not select them for the job) are hurting their chances more than helping. It is ridiculous.

A LINKEDIN REQUEST IS NOT A THANK YOU NOTE. I told my friend never to hire any clown who sends a social media connection request instead of a real "Thank You Note" (oh God, here come the zealots who will attack me for my opinion, only seeing this issue from their own point of view. Leave comments on this post telling me how I "don't get it", but I warn you, if you are nasty and do not leave your name and a real link to your own blog I will not publish your mean spirited comments).

Remember, building real relationships is not about YOU and your social media policies / beliefs. Instead it is about how the other person wants to cultivate the relationship. Moving too fast is proof you are an amateur.

What do you think? Should my friend link to these job seekers who are hungry to be his buddy?

Have A Great Day.