Monday, February 28, 2011

THANK YOU - February Fundraiser for "Kate Singer Endowment for Cranio-Facial Research" Tops $3000

This was the 4th year that we celebrated Kate's Birthday with a fundraiser for Dell Children's Medical Foundation.  Kate is now nine-years-old and doing great, but when she was six-months-old she had surgery to rebuild her skull to correct a condition known as Sagittal Synostosis.

A few years ago we established the "Kate Singer Endowment for Cranio-Facial Research".  We donate 5% of all speaking fees I earn in my career as a professional speaker to this fund and a similar fund at Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego. 

Each February we ask our friends to help support this cause with donations of any size.  Donations from $10 to $1000 were pooled together and we surpassed the fund raising goal for 2011 of $3000.  This is the highest level in the four years we have been hosting this fundraiser.

THANK YOU for your support.  The financial contributions and the "good vibes" sent by the readers of this blog help make a difference for other kids born with cranio-facial abnormalities.

(There is still time to donate!)

Have A Great Day

thom singer

"We Just Need A Fresh Voice" (For #Sales #Training and Other Stuff)

I received a call from a local small business owner.  His company is continuing to expand and he is committed to personal growth and improvement for himself and his employees.  Each quarter they have a company meeting to plan, motivate and inspire.  They regularly work with consultants, coaches, mentors and trainers on a variety of subjects, and he is considering me for the March gathering. 

He discovered me via a Google Search (which is happening more often), although he said he already reads my blog from time to time.  The company is preparing for a 2nd Quarter "sales blitz" and he wants someone to work with them on focus and momentum.  They had successfully worked for a year with nationally known sales training program, but believes they have heard enough from the one particular consultant.

He said "I feel we just need a fresh voice".

This statement rung in my ears.  I wonder how often people feel this way about all types of products or services.  He is happy with the results of the current vendor, but knows his team will get bored fast if there is not new points of view brought into the conversation.

In today's fast-paced 140-character world, it is becoming very common for people to want to grab the nuggets of information and then scream "next".

This is why I always tell the clients I speak for that I am happy to come back, but equally happy to refer them to other speakers and trainers for their next meeting.  If folks want a "fresh voice", then I want to help them find the right voice that will have meaningful impact on their audiences.

I had a conversation in Starbucks with a former co-worker about mentoring.  He feels stuck, and wishes he could make a change, but is not in a position to begin anew in his career.  We talked about the power of his working with a mentor and he was excited about having "fresh eyes and perspective" on his situation. He knows that what got him to where he is (which is very successful) will not get him any farther.  To keep the fire burning he needs a new fuel.

I believe that a "fresh voice" or "fresh eyes" are often all it takes to get that spark back into life.  I have often been part of mastermind groups or worked with a coach to help me see what is already plain as day from the outside looking inward.  We all get quickly clouded by the familiar.

If your clients want a "fresh voice" or need "fresh eyes".... what are you doing to help them link up with a new perspective? 

Should you be the conduit for them finding a new vendor or should you hang on tight as long as you can? What do you think?

Have A Great Day

thom singer

The ABC's of Trade Shows and Conferences - L is for Listen

A conference, trade show, convention, seminar or other business gathering is a fantastic place to meet new people.  A common reason cited for attending a large scale business-focused event is because of the opportunities to network within the industry.  Most people hope they will meet someone who will become clients, referral sources, or bring future employment options.

However, this is not an environment to try to "sell".  People do not attend these events to be pounced on by vendors or job seekers.  In fact, it is a major complaint by attendees at conferences when they feel that they are being pitched.

It is not appropriate to hard sell at the "networking" stage or a relationship, therefore it is a waste to try to close business at events.  The first time you meet someone you should listen twice as much as you talk.  Instead of being focused on making sure the other person know all about you and your products / services, it is more valuable if you learn about their situation.

Asking questions and listening will allow you to maximize the time you spend meeting new people at business events.  Most people you meet,while nice folks, are not going to become an ongoing part of your network.  That is okay.  The first meeting is an opportunity for you to gain understanding about others and determine if you should follow up at a later time.

Listening is not easy, especially for those who like to talk.  Being a talker is not a bad thing, but you have to learn to balance yourself, give others a chance, and then hear what they are saying.  When you can gain the information about what is important to others you can become a resource for them. I struggle with this, as I often have information I want to share with people, but reminding yourself to listen first is very important.

If you find a legitimate connection point with someone there will be plenty of time for you to tell them about yourself.  People will notice you more when they know you have heard them.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Thom Singer is known as "The Conference Catalyst". He works with meeting planners and conference organizers to set the tone for a meeting. His presentations educate, inspire and motivate attendees to engage deeper in the event and make meaningful connections.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The ABC's of Trade Shows and Conferences - K is for Keynote

General sessions at events bring everyone together for large scale information and top level keynote presentations.  These all-group sessions are, for many, an important reason to attend the event in the first place.  Many involve celebrity speakers, industry titans sharing best-practices, core themed topics and thought-leadership principles that inspire.

However, others cringe at the big sessions, and avoid the main hall meetings.  They go to go check email, make calls, or catch a nap during the keynote presentations.  Some attendees who are focused on high level learning objectives (or other reasons for being at the meeting) see these sessions as "fluff", and think the real learning is only in the breakout sessions.

Vendors and sponsors mistakenly believe that the information shared is not for them, and miss out on a great chance to blur the line between sponsor and attendee by being involved.  Since the trade show floor is closed during general sessions they see this block of time as "time off" from the work of being at an event.

A conference, trade show, convention or other industry gathering is a mini-society, and to maximize your investment in attending the event you must participate in the society.  It is the keynote speakers who set the tone for the whole conference.  The best meeting planners invest a lot of time in finding the right messengers to take the main stage, and thus their words become the foundation of what people talk about for the whole convention.

When you do not show up for a general session you are removing yourself from a powerful connection to others in attendance.  When the hallway conversations move to quotes and innuendo from a keynote presentation, you are left out of the discussion. 

People do not expect that others were in the same break-out sessions as them, or that you met the same person at the bar.  They do assume you were present in the large room sessions.  When you have to explain your reason for not being there ("my flight came in late", "I was on a conference call", "I don't do keynotes", "I was taking a nap", etc...) you are telling them you are an outsider to the social norms of the society, and thus not on their team.

While consulting with a company who was attending a major trade show I assigned 100% of their people who would be on site to be present at the general sessions.  The rest of the day they could take turns manning the booth and attending other breakouts, networking, etc....  But everyone needed to hear all the keynotes.  After the event they all agreed that it made a tangible difference in the success they achieved with their booth / sponsorship for this show.  They were able to talk about the interesting points of the keynotes with everyone, and instantly found faster rapport.  In the past they had not gone to these sessions, thinking the information was too technical and focused.  They discovered the messages to the audience also applied to sales and marketing professionals.

Look at the keynote speakers as a leveling tool.  Humans are experiential beings, and when you share an experience together you suddenly have the right to "chit-chat" about what you shared. Skipping the keynote makes you an outsider.

Connecting at a conference is hard enough, do not put yourself at a disadvantage by rationalizing that you do not want to hear a certain speaker. Do all you can to be part of the community from the beginning.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Thom Singer is known as "The Conference Catalyst". He works with meeting planners and conference organizers to set the tone for a meeting. His presentations educate, inspire and motivate attendees to engage deeper in the event and make meaningful connections.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Social Media Makes Networking More Difficult

Before social media networking was hard. People struggled to make meaningful connections, and often looked in awe at a select few who seemed to have the powerful connections that lead to business opportunities. In any industry "fame" and "celebrity" rested with a few who congregated at the top.  Others looked in with their noses pressed against the glass.

Was it family connections, the right college, or just a stellar outgoing personality that gave some folks the advantage in the game of interpersonal relationships?  No matter, they had the power of business relationship and they kept it to themselves.

Then came online social networking.  The Internet was thought to democratize the ability to connect.  The power was shifted to the people.  Anyone with high speed access could play.  The early adopters who had not done well at networking cheered.  Gone was the need to spend time talking to strangers at some industry happy hour, hoping to establish something meaningful.

Instead you could link freely.  People from all walks of life were equalized and excited to make the connections.  Friend requests were granted, and the world was new.

So why is networking still hard?  Why is it even harder to make, grow and keep your business relationships than it was before?

Why is there so much social media overload and the lack of meaningful opportunities being shared with the masses.  Again, many are on the outside looking in as a few garner all the attention.  The players have changed, but there is still those who are in the club, and those who are on the outside.  Why when so much has changed has so much remained the same?

The answer is that networking has not changed.  The tools we use to communicate are new, but people are basically the same.  The old adage that people want to do business with those they know, like and trust remains in tact.

However, the definition of the word "KNOW" has changed in our society.  The ease of finding out basic information about each other has become simple.  To "know" someone now only seems to take a Google Search or a visit to a LinkedIn profile.  "Know" used to involve effort, and with that effort came understanding and intimacy.  Along the route to getting to know somebody we discovered if the "liked" and "trusted" them.  Now we never get that far.

Networking is harder because people falsely believed we could take shortcuts to friendships.  But people still only care for you when they decide they care... and once a mutually beneficial relationship is established.  A "Facebook Friend" is not really a "friend", but instead just the name that Mark Zuckerberg attached to a digital link.

With so much noise we now have to work even more to get the attention of others and establish connections.  People are flocking back to industry conferences, Chambers of Commerce meetings and face-to-face lunches and coffee chats. 

You would claim that the Austin, Texas phonebook (yes, they still do print phonebooks) is the equivalent of your network ("Look mom, I have 1.2 million people in my network... I have all their phone numbers and could call anyone of them at any time!"). Strangers, friends-of-friends, celebrities, and others whom you do not actually know are not really your business or personal connections.  If you do not want to look back one day and discover that your social media contacts are leaving you outside looking in, then you need to put in the effort to get to know some of them in real life.

It takes work to establish and cultivate human to human relationships.  Friendships are not based on clicks of the mouse but on clinks of the glasses.  Spending time with people and making memories is key.  People are experiential beings, and when we share our lives together we create bonds.

Networking is never about the number of contacts you have or how you store the information database.  It is always about the establishment of long-term and mutually beneficial relationships between two or more people where all involved find more success because of the connections than they would have without the connections.  Simple, and forever true.

I am sorry that networking is hard.  It is only getting more difficult. But the longer you wait to invest in people, the longer it will take you to create the network that will lead to new opportunities.  We tried to invent shortcuts to meaningful relationships, but there is no app for that!

Have A Great Day

thom singer

The ABC's of Trade Shows and Conferences - J is for Job Search

One of the advantages to attending a business event is that there many people there who work for companies in and around your industry. Regardless of if you are currently employed or seeking work, the chances are good for making a connection that could eventually lead to a new career opportunity while attending a trade show, conference, convention or seminar.

I personally have made many connections at events that lead me to new jobs. This was true when I worked as an employee, and still true now that I work for myself. The jobs did not come right away, but the friendships that grew from meeting at a conference later became the catalyst for a career opportunity.

However, people do not want to be accosted by job seekers while in the buffet line at happy hour. Thus, the best way to conduct a job search while attending an event is to just be yourself. Those who are not openly looking for work are usually the ones who get offered the new opportunities from their participation.

Those who know of available jobs inside their companies are not looking to fill those spots with people who are desperate and pushy to get an interview. Instead they are interested in discovering ambitious people who will contribute to the success of their business and are fun to be around.

Too often people show up at these events with a stack of resumes in their hands. Each person they meet is greeted with the long version of their career needs. Since a trade show style event is not a job fair, this is not what the others in attendance are there to hear.

The best way to maximize your job search needs is to down-play your own career needs while leading with your interest in other people and your passion for the industry. If you are seeking new employment it is fine to let others know this, just do not lead with it in the first five minutes of the conversation. Keep in mind their purpose for being at the conference, not your purpose. If they are there to learn and have fun, getting an ear-ful about your job search is not in line with their priorities.

Put a priority on getting to know people first and build a relationship. If they get to know you, and like you, they are more likely to assist you in getting into their company.

Leave the resumes at home. Follow up later, if appropriate. Be engaged with people.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Thom Singer is known as "The Conference Catalyst". He works with meeting planners and conference organizers to set the tone for a meeting. His presentations educate, inspire and motivate attendees to engage deeper in the event and make meaningful connections.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What Do You Do?

The question of "what do you do?" is common. In our professional interactions we are often faced with describing ourselves through our careers. I am taking this space to answer the question about what I do:

My career began in sales and marketing for Fortune 500 companies, law firms and entrepreneurial ventures. I now consider myself an observer, teacher and strategist. What I am really passionate about is being the catalyst that helps others discover their own path toward success. I recently mentored a group of professionals and assisted them to re-define their interpretation of a business development culture, and to embrace the sales process. It is sort of like being a sculptor, chipping away at the layers until something new is uncovered. I think what is unique about my "Some Assembly Required" and "Cooperative Significance" processes is the simplicity. Some of the ways I share my message with clients is through speaking, training, mentoring, and the nine books I have written on the power of business relationships, networking and presentation skills. The way I see it is that everyone wants to feel connected to the greater good - yet in today's "social media crazy" world we are more isolated than ever before. The point is nobody can achieve success alone. I lead people to fully engage in their professional community experiences and encourage them to make a difference.

What do you do?

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Scott Ginsberg to Speak Next Week in #Austin

Scott Ginsberg (That Nametag Guy) will be speaking at the Austin Chapter of the National Speakers Association on Tuesday, March 1, 2011 (11:30 AM - 1:30 PM at Norris Conference Center).

He will be speaking on writing and branding to build your business.

This meeting is not just for professional speakers, but any entrepreneur who thinks having a brand is a good idea.

Scott will share strategic writing tips and techniques that will help you engage the people who matter most to you and your business. You'll hear his step-by-step system for customizing your own content generation, content management, and content deployment system. Bring your laptop! And be ready to start turning thoughts into things and things in to money.

More information at the NSA Austin Website. Sign up TODAY!

***Just last week Scott was the keynote speaker for the NSA Winter Conference (and did a great job!). You do not get selected to take the main stage in front of 300 professional speakers if you suck!

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cooperative Significance

Corporate employee groups and individuals with whom I work are all facing the same issue: Everyone is seeking to be significant. People want to matter. We live in a world of "noise" and few people feel they can stand out from the crowd.

Adrift and alone in a sea of people is no way to live.

Social media originally was seen as the great equalizer. No longer did you need money or fame to be part of the conversation. Your company pedigree and resume were less important than your ability to contribute your part to the conversation. In the early days this allowed the average person to garner a platform and build community. Three cheers for the masses.

Then it all got congested.

Today social media is the problem. As the magnitude of naysayers who originally ignored the channels have changed their tune, now everyone has jumped in the pool. While the barriers to entry have been democratized, the sheer numbers of people have returned us to the status quo.

Hello, can anyone hear me?

But the world has changed. The rules that existed in business yesterday, are not the same path to success today.... and they are certainly not the way to navigate the future.

To achieve we need to find "cooperative significance". We need groups of people with whom we can establish long-term and mutually beneficial relationships. It is not enough to have "followers" or "likes". Without a reciprocal understanding there are only one way relationships.

To have 100,000 followers on Facebook or Twitter and to follow nobody back is not a badge of honor. It a narcissistic celebrity worship mentality. This works for those who are truly celebrities, as that is the social contract we have with those who live in "Fame". However, for the rest of us there must be give and take.

Getting to "cooperative significance" does not happen without intention from all parties. Too many people hide behind a "schtick". Masked by gimmick and titles we find false security, but are void of meaning. It is hard to strip away to the real vulnerable core with others, but when we do this, we create the real value of a network.

Who wants to continue this discussion deeper?

Have A Great Day.

thom singer
thom (at)

The Conference Catalyst (The Meeting Planners Favorite)

A main reason people attend conferences, trade shows, conventions and other business gatherings is to make connections with industry professionals. However, once at these events they fail to establish meaningful contacts.

The Conference Catalyst Program is designed to transform the traditional meeting into a place where real business opportunities emerge.

Meeting planners know that when people have a better experience at a conference they are more likely to return the next year.

For more information on The Conference Catalsyt, contact Thom Singer at thom (at) or (512) 970-0398

Have A Great Day

thom singer
(The Conference Catalyst!)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Matt Church and Scott Ginsberg ROCK the National Speakers Association Winter Conference!

I spent the weekend at the National Speakers Association Winter Conference ("The Un-Conference") in Atlanta.

One word: WOW!

I have been active in this organization for several years, and have always enjoyed my experience, but this event was the one people will be talking about for a long time.

Part of my reason for this great meeting is that my three years of participation has lead me to establish real and ongoing friendships with others who were in attendance. The first time you go to an industry convention you are alone, but over time the events become reunions with people whom you cherish.

Two of my friends, Gina Schreck and Neen James were the co-chairs of the event... and they did a great job of putting together the program and orchestrating high level learning and a lot of fun! 318 professional speakers, staff and vendors were present at the Loews Hotel in Atlanta for this winter conference (making it the highest attended winter gathering ever!)

The opening session was dual keynoted by presentations from Scott Ginsberg and Matt Church. Both of these professional speakers are internationally successful, and they brought their "A-Games" to the table on Friday night. Speaking in front of speakers can be a tough assignment.... as we are extra critical of our peers messages and speaking styles.

Scott Ginsberg is "That Nametag Guy", but it is not just a gimmick that he wears a nametag 24 hours a day (yes, "Hello, My Name is Scott" is tattooed on his chest). Scott lives and breaths the importance of approachability and he is genuinely committed to his message. Additionally, Scott is someone who has also become my friend over the last few years, and it was great fun to watch him deliver they keynote!

***Scott Ginsberg will be speaking in Austin on March 1, 2011 from 11:30 - 1:30 at the NSA Austin Monthly Meeting. The topic will be about writing and branding to build your business. This is open to anyone (not just speakers), and a unique chance to meet this nice guy!

Matt Church is famous in Australia and is one of the top ten convention speakers "down under". I had never heard of him before this weekend, but I an not likely to forget him after his presentations. In addition the powerful thought leadership message, he also goosed me on stage (long story!). He had the whole room on their feet singing along to Bono in the end, and to get speakers to sing is quite the accomplishment.

Matt also lead a full day workshop at the conference as part of the "Thought Leader Track" at the conference. I attended most of the program, and was impacted by the curriculum. His new book, Thought Leaders, is a must read!

The rest of the weekend was filled with breakout sessions that delivered on the organizers efforts to create a conference that would provide more value than the money invested to attend. I have already made changes to my own business plan, and am excited about how to follow through on the 41 action items I listed on the flight-flight home. Attending educational events is important, but execution is the key!

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Industry Trade Associations And Why I Think They Are Important

A professional speaker asked me why I am active with the National Speakers Association. He had never participated in a local or national NSA event, but had two reasons why he was not active -- although he admitted had never investigated the benefits of membership.

I hear these same rationalizations for not participating from people in many walks of life. While there is validity to parts of any excuse, I do not think that anyone should throw the baby out with the bath water. Look at the three excuses and see if they sound similar to reasons you are not supporting your own trade association:

1. "Competitors don't hire me... I only go where prospects are". While time is limited, and going where the clients are is a good plan, one cannot spend their whole life being a "Pork Chop Man" (A pork-chop man is someone who sees everyone else in life as if they have a pork chop hanging around their neck and themselves as a hungry wolf who has not eaten in a week). Everything you do should not be orchestrated around maximizing who can become your next client.

You should not view everyone in your industry as competition. In most industries your competitors can become valuable resources once you have built friendships and established understanding. Other speakers (or whatever your industry) can refer you opportunities. I have had this happen, and I do this regularly. I tell all my clients that when they need to find other speakers I can help identify options. My membership in the NSA is a resource for them. I know they cannot hire me for every event, and if I can be the conduit to help them find other professional speakers, then I remain a valuable resource (and more likely to be hired again in the future). There are many times that prospective clients are

2. "I was told that the best do not participate and the meetings are mostly attended by amateurs". This statement was a bit arrogant. He admitted he had not investigated the statement, but he was sure he was "better" than others. There are many speakers who are active NSA members who have personal incomes in excess of $300,000. While it is true that there are many up and coming professionals in trade associations, educating newcomers is major purpose for these organizations. To discredit the organization group for it's dedication to all who work in the vertical is selfish.

I believe that everyone should surround themselves with people above them and below them on the ladder of success. Look for the hand to pull you up, while also reaching below to boost up others. Mentoring those who are aspiring to reach your level of success will almost always make you better.

I sat next to Brian Tracy at a recent National Speakers Association 2 day meeting. Brian is a legend, but was still an active participant in the gathering. He said that no matter where you are in your career path you can always learn something by attending these types of events.

I love my industry and support the purpose of my trade association. But I am a person who deeply believes in the power of association and engaging with people. If I was a locksmith I would be a member of the National Locksmith Association. I think that membership and participation in groups brings more success. Surrounding yourself with others who are living the same life as you exposes you to new ideas and best practices. Trying to reinvent the wheel alone will often have limitations.

Many people look to the uber-successful celebrities in their industries who are not involved and site that as the purpose for not joining their associations. Emulating those on the very tip top is not always the most realistic path to success. What those people do today is not the same thing they did in their early days. Someone in entertainment who only does what Oprah does on a daily basis might not have the same reality of success that Ms Winfrey had... as what she did daily "way back when" is not what she does today! When we try to skip steps in the path we can easily get lost.

Finally, giving back is an important part of success. When you are fortunate to have a career that you enjoy, I think that you owe it to the universe to mentor others who are coming along behind you. Being active in your association is a great way to give back to the industry that has allowed you to enjoy your life.

The interesting thing is this professional speaker who sparked this discussion regularly speaks at other trade and professional association annual meetings and conventions, where he praises the attendees for their support of their industry. (Sort of hypocritical? yes? no?).

What do you think about industry associations? Are you a member of yours? Have you found value?

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Networking At A Multi-Day Conference (#NSAUN)

Ten Tips For Networking At A Multi-Day Conference – NSA 2011 Winter Conference (The "Un-Conference")

1. Have a plan. Know in advance whom you want to meet (directly or the type of people), and which speakers you want to hear. Do not leave your schedule to chance or you may miss out on things that are your true priority.

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. Focus on meeting the other attendees, not just the "Stars". While meeting the top speakers in the industry is cool, you are one of the many who may come up to them and shove a card in their hands. Instead, place your focus on meeting other people in attendance at the event. Find your peers and make them your "stars", as they are the ones you will grow up with in the business.

4. Talk to the people sitting next to you. This should go without saying in a room full of extrovert speakers, but very often people get side-tracked and do not make the effort. When you walk into a general session or break-out 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 conference when 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 first. There is plenty of time to tell them about your business.

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. The hallway conversations are legendary at NSA, do not miss out because you are tweeting!

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 speakers 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 when you read their stuff. They will also be honored when you tell them that you read their blog or follow them on Twitter. The bookstore at the conference will have many books by your fellow speakers. Buy at least one book and then read it! (I plan to buy several).

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 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 at every turn. You will, over time, develop the reputation as one who assists others .... and then you will find more people 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. Creating ongoing and meaningful connections with others in the industry will bring you more success.

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. Speakers can always help each other with key introductions, bureau introductions, and other shared connections. Those who give always get more down the line.

Have A Great Day


The ABC's of Trade Shows and Conventions - I is for Introverts

In the world of "introverts" vs. "extroverts" most people think that success in attending business oriented events falls to those who with more outgoing personalities.

"I'm a people person" is the chant those who love the crowds.... and trade shows, conventions, seminars, conferences and other industry gatherings are full of people. The break out sessions, happy hours, dinners, and parties are all geared toward the mix and mingle folks. Alas, most people mistakenly believe those who self-identify as extroverts own the day (and the night) at these types of functions.

But introverts are better networkers.

What?!? Yep... it is true. I know first hand.... as I am an extrovert. But many of my friends self-identify as introverts and they are much better at networking.

The extrovert has to be careful. We can talk over people and dominate conversations. We get going, especially after a glass of wine, and we can talk until we are blue in the face. But that is not networking. Networking is NOT talking about yourself. Networking is NOT selling.

Talking does not do the trick in establishing connections. Listening is the key.

Networking is about establishing long-term mutually beneficial relationships with others. It is discovering an understanding of how to help each other find success. You cannot learn about the other person while you are talking.

Being a great networker is about listening to others and searching your mind for ways to connect the dots to lead them closer to their hopes and dreams. Of course you desire they will do the same for you... but it is not about keeping score. The best networkers (regardless of if they are introverts or extroverts) find their success in helping others succeed.

Introverts are better at listening, and thus when they are engaged in the real process of establishing a relationship, they will always find more success. You cannot really serve others unless you know what they need.

Too many networking experts teach people to memorize an "Elevator Pitch", but this effort trains people to be self-focused when they meet someone for the first time. While knowing how to clearly express information about yourself is important, it should not shadow your real interest in the other person. Instead of committing brain cells to information about yourself (you should already know this information), prioritize memorization on a list of open-ended questions that gets the other person to talk.

If you can remember five questions that gets them to describe themselves and their goals they will appreciate you more than if you launch into some pre-fabricated "pitch". After a few minutes most people will then turn it around and ask you similar questions.

Additionally, most introverts tell me once they know people (even just a little bit), it is easier to open up and share about themselves. Thus asking questions and listening will put you at ease for the rest of the conversation.

If you are an extrovert, moderating how much you talk vs. how much you listen is important. (those who know me, know I have to work at this.... and that is okay.... we all have stuff we work on to improve ourselves!). It can be hard, but you benefit more when you find the right balance.

If you are an introvert, seize the day and claim your rightful place at the top of the networking event!

Have A Great Day.


Thom Singer is known as "The Conference Catalyst". He works with meeting planners and conference organizers to set the tone for a meeting. His presentations educate, inspire and motivate attendees to engage deeper in the event and make meaningful connections.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The ABC's of Trade Shows and Conferences - H is for Hello

It sounds simple, but once you have said "Hello" to someone, and they have reciprocated, you now have the right to chit-chat. Starting a conversation with a stranger is the first step to discovering if there is a path to a deeper relationship.

Most people who go to conferences, trade shows, conventions, seminars and other professional gatherings are there to make connections with others. Across all industry lines people cite "networking opportunities" as a primary reason for attending these events, however once they arrive... they stink at making any meaningful connections.

Help others meet you by being the one who initiates a conversation. Be approachable and smile at people. Once you have the chance, say "Hello", do so with a sincere interest in finding out more about the other person.

You will discover when at a multi-day event that the people you speak to early on will cross your path repetitively over the course of the ensuing days. These people will be in line for food, at a nearby Starbucks, and getting on or off the elevator. The first conversations you have with others once you arrive could create the groundwork for most of your social interactions at the event.

I call it "The Power of Hello". You will not have a strong connection with everyone you meet, but the more people you talk with, the higher the chance of encountering one or more with whom you will find common ground.

If you are shy, push yourself just a little to talk to three new people at each break, happy hour, or meal. Hiding in the corner will keep you from finding those "networking opportunities", and deprive others from knowing you. Remember, you might be the person who can help others succeed. It is not just about you finding links to future success, you could provide a conduit to others.

It all starts with "Hello"

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Thom Singer is known as "The Conference Catalyst". He works with meeting planners and conference organizers to set the tone for a meeting. His presentations educate, inspire and motivate attendees to engage deeper in the event and make meaningful connections.

Protecting Your Goals Showcase (Facilitated by Thom Singer) Austin, Texas

I will be hosting a five week workshop with the SOS Leadership Institute (Thursdays from 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM, February 17th - March 17th) designed to help people get on track in 2011.

Are you making the progress you would like to make and are capable of making? YOU CAN start today with the help of the Protecting Goals program!

All successful people have objectives to guide them, goals they want to achieve. But determining what those goals are – and how to reach them – is often a guessing game for most people.

Protecting Goals: The Science of Personal Achievement moves the art of self-determination into the 21st Century. Goal Achievement is a science – a process that can be mastered by those who learn the fundamentals.

Protecting Goals teaches you those fundamentals in easy-to-understand, bite-sized segments. Utilizing the proven learning technique of spaced repetition, this program will help you determine where you want to go and how you will get there.

You will get into action in a matter of days! Along the way, you will learn:

• How to become a leader who makes a difference

• How to develop an Achievement Perspective

• How to create a Top Ten Goals List

• How to determine the “cost” of your goals

• How to create an Achievement Plan

• The 4 cardinal rules of managing time for achievement.

This workshop will take place at the SOS Leadership offices in Austin, Texas.

Cost $995.00

Contact me at thom (at) for more information.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Others cannot really know the motivations in your mind. We live in a world where people are quick to judge without inquiry. Even those closest to you may not ask meaningful questions about what drives your actions. They assume they know your soul, but instead they are jumping to conclusions and possibly leaving you feeling misunderstood.

So what?

In the end you must be true to yourself if you want to succeed. While we all want to be understood, it is important to realize that you cannot influence others as much as you may desire. Instead, you have to be able to rise above their opinions.

In my work with individuals and organizations I find many who are struggling with how they are mistakenly viewed by others. When people simplify situations and place you "in a box" it can be painful. Their assumptions can derail your attention to your own successes, and leave you adrift.

Take a moment to do a personal inventory of your purpose. If those passing judgement are right in their observations, make an effort to course correct. Always be working to improve. If they are off base, let it roll of your back like water on a duck.

Then go create your next victory!

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

South by Southwest (#SXSW) Panel: "You CAN Impact Charity Without Being Rich"

If you are attending the SXSW Interactive Conference in March 2011 I hope you will attend the panel on philanthropic giving: "You Can Impact Charity Without Being Rich".

My strongest memory of SXSW 2010 was at a rooftop party when the SXSW party goers spontaneously raised $300 toward the purchase of a wheel chair for the nephew of one attendee. The young man was paralyzed temporarily, and the family could not afford a wheel chair.

Many people want to do more than just create a "Killer App", they want to impact the greater good. But the media only covers how the rich and successful donate, and it leaves others thinking they have no place in philanthropy.

There are so many ways in social media and live to impact charities and individuals in need (not just money), it just takes a little dedication and creativity.

This panel will bring together four people who help a variety of causes. Together they will show entrepreneurs and others how they can, with minimal effort, make HUGE contributions to society.

This panel is scheduled for Monday, March 14, 2011 at 12:30 PM.

I will moderate the panel.

The experts are:

Beth Krueger
Executive Director at
Heart House

Beth Krueger has more than 20 years as a professional non-profit manager. Krueger has built strategies, developed programs, raised funds, and served as a part of the leadership team for a variety of non-profits including those in animal welfare, social services, and professional association management. A passionate advocate for organizations that enrich the community, Krueger has served as an officer in the Austin Chapter of the Association for Fundraising Professionals and was the 2003 Fundraiser of the Year. She has served on the grants distribution committee for St. David’s Episcopal Church and is a 2008 graduate of Leadership Austin.

Estrella Rosenberg
Founder of Big Love Little Hearts

Estrella Rosenberg is the Founder of Big Love Little Hearts, an organization that helps children with heart defects in developing countries get lifesaving surgery. She is also the Host of 501 Mission Place, an online learning community for non-profit leaders. She blogs at Adventures In Philanthropy and is @charityestrella on twitter.

Eugene Sepulveda
Entrepreneurs Foundation

Eugene Sepulveda believes children can make an impact in charity and every single adult even more. Last year, through the Entrepreneurs Foundation over 8,600 Austin children ran lemonade stands, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for themselves and their favorite charities, while learning about entrepreneurship. The Entrepreneurs Foundation practices disruptive innovation in philanthropy, helps make nonprofits profitable and promotes entrepreneurship. Every year, he and his staff at the Entrepreneurs Foundation help hundreds of employees and entrepreneurs identify the intersection of their skills, their passions and community needs to best channel their charitable involvement. As a business professor at the University of Texas teaching social entrepreneurship & international business, Eugene’s undergraduate and MBA students provided tens of thousands of consulting hours helping nonprofits better reach, define and otherwise support their missions. Eugene’s served in leadership roles on the boards of numerous foundations and nonprofits including the Austin Community Foundation, the Human Rights Campaign, the KDK-Harman Foundation, Leadership Austin, the Austin Museum of Art, PeopleFund and the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce. He’s involved with national and international charities, most recently raising over $1.5 million for Haiti earthquake relief – raising over $4mm for charity and politics the last two years. He also serves on President Obama's national finance committee and as co-chair for the LGBT Leadership Council. Eugene and his husband, Steven Tomlinson, established to support art and conversations which build community.

Ray Blue
Senior Development Dir
ector at Dell Children's Medical Center

Ray Blue joined Dell Children’s Medical Center Foundation in 2009 as Senior Director of Development responsible for major and planned giving. Prior joining Dell Children’s, Ray was Vice President of Development at United Way Capital Area in Austin, Texas. With over 15 years of development experience, Ray is trained in consultative sales strategy and relationship centered donor practices. He received a BA in Psychology at the University of North Carolina at Asheville and a Masters of Divinity at Emory University. Ray lives in Austin with his wife Sally and daughter Ruby.

We hope to see you there.

thom singer

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The ABC's of Trade Shows and Conferences - G is for Goals

Goal setting is important for any area of your life where you want to achieve success. Not knowing what success looks like means you will miss many victories. Too many people drift through their days hoping to make gains, but have nearly no points of reference on which to measure the progress.

This is true for those going to industry event, trade shows, conferences, conventions, seminars, and other business gatherings. Before you commit to attending any type of gathering you should know in advance the purpose of your participation.

There are many reasons why you might find yourself at a business event. Networking opportunities, educational sessions, seeking to spot new trends, face-time with clients / prospects, looking for a new job, etc... Any reason for attending is a good reason, and none have to be mutually exclusive of the others. However, if you have not clarified your goals, and committed them to paper, then you will not maximize the conference.

A goal not written down is simply a wish. All successful professionals will tell you that "wishing" is not a good business strategy. You need to know what you want in advance so that you can take the action steps toward success.

If you are attending a conference with co-workers or other colleagues you should have a pre-conference meeting to talk about the outcomes that you all desire. You can divide up the schedule and cover more ground separately. Then you can meet up and share what you have learned and information about whom you have met. If you have different goals, make sure that everyone from your team are looking beyond their own needs at the event.

Throughout your time at the convention revisit your goals to see how you are doing. If necessary you can change your focus, as once you arrive you might discover new opportunities that are more important of your attention.

After you return home you should review your original goals and determine if you were successful. If not, determine if it was because of you or due to some factors beyond your control.

When you are clear about the success of an event if will make your decision easy on if you should return to the same event the next year.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Thom Singer is known as "The Conference Catalyst". He works with meeting planners and conference organizers to set the tone for a meeting. His presentations educate, inspire and motivate attendees to engage deeper in the event and make meaningful connections.

The Buzz is BIG for the National Speakers Association Winter Conference (#NSAUN)

If you are a Professional Speaker who is attending the National Speakers Association "Winter Conference" this week I know that you are excited. This "Un-Conference" has created a buzz in the world of speaking like few other gatherings.

This may just be the industry event that people will talk about for years to come!

Those who are planning to be in Atlanta are already making connections and having conversations (online and offline) with old friends and new colleagues that will undoubtedly lead to amazing networking and the sharing of powerful ideas.

Those who cannot make it to the event are sensing they are about to miss something unique and unforgettable.

The few who have not heard about the "Un-Conference" will look back and wonder how they missed out. This meeting will be unlike most other professional conferences in the way it is structured. The opportunities to learn and network will be uncanny.

Organizers Neen James and Gina Schreck have been unstoppable over the last year in their creative construction of the agenda (including the "Un-Agenda"). It would be impossible for a speaker (new to the career, or industry legend) to walk away from this event feeling uninspired.

It is not too late to attend. In fact, those who embrace spontaneity and decide to go at the last minute will have a understandably serendipitous experience! It would be uncool to want to attend, have the open time in your schedule, and undermine the little voice in your head that says "GO TO ATLANTA!"

Have A Great Day!

thom singer

Friday, February 11, 2011

The ABC's of Trade Shows and Conferences - F is for Follow-Up

We all meet amazing people everyday. It does not matter if you are attending a convention, sitting on an airplane, or walking down the street.... there are interesting souls all around you.

But so what?

Meeting someone and having a short conversation does not make them part of your network. They are not even an acquaintance.... instead they are simply someone you have met. We must put in effort to establish the foundation for real connections.

There is a big difference between trading business cards and having an ongoing, long-term and mutually-beneficial relationship.

It is similar to dating. If you are married you most likely did not propose a committed life together the night you met your significant other. It took time to cultivate understanding and respect for each other. There was an intentional effort to get the relationship launched. Over time it grew into a permanent connection, but at first it is volatile and needed specific action steps. The same thing is true with the people you meet when attending a trade show, conference, convention, seminar or other business event.

You cannot assume that the other person will remember you once they get home if you are not memorable.

Out of sight is out of mind. If you do not take the steps to follow-up with people you will end up with nothing more than an old business card or a useless LinkedIn link where years later you have no clue who the other person might be or how you met.

You must "own the follow-up" if you want to create the benefits that come from knowing other people.

Not everyone you meet will become your friend. Strong connections will come with some, but you cannot force a friendship. But leaving it to chance is a guarantee that you will end up with nothing.

Following up means finding a legitimate reason to get yourself connected to the other person. At many of these events you will meet dozens of cool folks, but following up with all of them can be overwhelming... and thus you might do nothing.

After you get home from the event you should select three to five people who stood out in your mind. Write them a note, send them an email or place a call and tell them that they were one of the few who stood out from the crowd. It will make them feel good (how would you feel if someone called you and said the same thing? No, it is not creepy), and if you make them feel good, they will remember you a little longer.

Do not stalk people, if they are not responsive to you, move on to someone else. Not everyone will want to invest the time in you to establish and cultivate a connection. That is okay. Focus on the people who are interested in knowing you, too.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Thom Singer is known as "The Conference Catalyst". He works with meeting planners and conference organizers to set the tone for a meeting. His presentations educate, inspire and motivate attendees to engage deeper in the event and make meaningful connections.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Morris Miller of Cutstone Ventures at ACG Austin

The Central Texas Chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth was "wowed" by Morris Miller, co-founder of Rackspace and president and CEO of Cutstone Ventures.

His talk was a fast paced overview of what businesses need to do to execute on a pro-active strategy for growth and success.

Miller has been a hands-on founder and investor in many companies, and his love for business and deals began at an early age. He was mowing lawns, selling lemonade and reading business books on positioning before he was shaving.

He an evangelist that your business must own something in the customer's mind. Being second in mind-share can leave you invisible (who was the second person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean? We all know who was FIRST!).

Knowing who you are and what you do best and making sure you hammer it home in your marketing is key. When you do this, people will remember it forever (How do you spell relief? R-O-L-A-I-D-S).

A company's strategies will evolve over time (sometimes quickly), so leaders must be prepared to morph when their products and services are not resonating with customers. Know that you cannot wait for perfection: "The best is the enemy of the good". You can always make your offerings "better", but if you sit back and wait for perfect you will lose.

Thing in business change, and executives need to constantly be thinking about who they are and where they are going. Over time a category can divide and become more categories. Thus if you are falsely under the belief that you cannot own your category, look around for the new trends in your business.

His example of MILK was great. Ten years ago there was few milk categories: "milk" and "chocolate milk" (and maybe non-fat). Now there is "Organic Milk", "Natural Milk", "Soy Milk", "Energy Milk", "Lactose Free Milk", "Strawberry Milk", "Almond Milk", etc.... The category split and new business opportunities emerged. Those who were paying attention have made a lot of money.

What disruptions are going to hit your industry? If you are not looking for it you will miss out.

In the end, it is all about relationships. Miller stressed several times the power of the connections with people. He has over 4000 contacts in his phone, and he works to stay in touch with these individuals. To ignore you network is to miss opportunities (ahhh, the whole "networking thing"... hmmmm.... someone should write books about that topic!!... Oh, I did!). He closed by reminding the audience that you have to put energy into these human relationships (He is right!).

Morris Miller is a great speaker, and he talks fast, so you have to listen fast..... but the information was powerful.

The Association for Corporate Growth continues to bring amazing business leaders to the platform at their monthly lunches in Austin. Are you attending regularly?

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Are You Always The First To Find The Negative?

I am often amazed at how some people can find the horse sh*t before they notice the horse. A horse can be a majestically beautiful animal.... and yet some never see it because they are so interested in the poop.

I recently have been proactively reaching out to potential customers to talk about speaking at their events, sales training programs, and other consulting projects. These efforts lead me to conducting some cold-calling and cold-emailing, which has both positive and negative aspects.

The good side is that I get the chance to talk to many very interesting people who are driven to achieve success. They are interested in helping me connect the dots to the right person in their company, and go out of their way to take an interest in the stranger on the other side of the call. This is bringing me new business opportunities and ongoing interactions with cool folks.

The dark side is that some people are jerks. Their instant reaction is to find the negative and then to be sure to point it out. They seem deeply bothered and are fast to be dismissive. I don't ever let these few bad apples spoil my attitudes about the overwhelming good in people, but they are intriguing in how they can suck the good vibes right out of the room. No wonder people hate to cold call.

Each time I encounter person who is an "ass" I am surprised. One would think after two decades in sales and marketing that I would be used to people like this, but I still am shocked when I get attitude from someone. They are few and far between, but these types are out there looming.

How do people go through life with these rain clouds in their soul? It makes me sad for the people who know them outside the office.

What do you think? Do you encounter these people often? How do you react?

Are you one of these people? Why?

Have A Great Day.


Monday, February 07, 2011

Help Us Raise Money for Cranio Facial Research

Today is Kate's 9th Birthday.

To celebrate we are hosting a fundraiser for Dell Children's Medical Center. We are specifically raising money for the doctors who run the Cranio-Facial program.

Kate was born with Sagital Synostosis, and underwent major surgery as an infant.

Today she is great, but one in 3000 kids are born with cranio-facial abnormalities.

Donate Today
. Any amount can help make a difference for kids that are born facing these types of issues. It matters to the kids and their families... we know.

****FYI, we donate part of all speaking fees I earn as a professional speaker to endowments at Dell Children's Medical Center in Austin, and Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Friday, February 04, 2011

The ABC's of Trade Shows and Conferences - E is for Energy

Attending a multi-day business event can be a lot of work. Many people who do not regularly attend trade shows, conferences, seminars, and conventions often think these are giant parties, but the reality is your participation can be daunting.

It takes energy to be "on" for several days while attending a conference. To maximize the investment of time and money in going to these events you must plan ahead for everything. This includes monitoring your energy levels.

In addition to the busy schedule of the conference, you also must deal with the hassles of air travel, delays, ground transportation, hotels, etc... This can be a recipe for exhaustion.

Some people are at their best in crowded environments and thrive with a jam-packed schedule. But even the most excited and pumped up extroverts needs some rest to be at their peak levels.

Others have their energy sapped in by the being in big groups and having to rush to keep up with the schedule of keynote, breakouts, happy hours, trade shows, etc....

In either case you must plan ahead to make sure that you get enough rest and the correct amount of "down-time" that you need to stay fresh and focused.

I attended a multi-day conference with a colleague and our different styles were evident. I was able to attend all the programs from morning to night and then hit the bar after hours. I needed a "power nap" in the middle of the day, but my own flow worked with well with the face-paced event. She needed more sleep and some time alone to be herself over the three days.

Neither was right or wrong, but it was important that we were both true to our own personality styles. I like meeting new people and my energy goes up in social situations. She also likes to be around people, but found herself tired at the end of each day. To succeed at the conference she had to find her self more quiet time to recharge.

It is important thing is to know yourself and let you co-workers (an others you will be with) know your social plans in advance. Often people do not understand and recognize that we all need to be true to our own needs or we will get wiped out and mentally crash before the conference ends.

If you do not plan for your "energy" you will not be able to get the most out of participating in the event.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Do You Know Someone Who Is Stuck? (#Austin)

January is gone... the year is well underway. There is no turning back on 2011.

Do you know someone who needs to get focused on their goals in order to have the breakout year they desire? What are they waiting for?

Is that person you?

Thom Singer is hosting the "Protecting Your Goals Showcase" with the SOS Leadership Institute in Austin, TX.

These classes will be held at lunchtime at the SOS Leadership Offices on South Lamar in Austin from 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM each Thursday from February 10th thru March 10th.

To sign up contact Thom at thom (at) or (512) 970-0398

The cost is $995.00

Don't Live in Austin? Individual phone program available.

People often think about taking action to get themselves unstuck, but they never take action. If you are interested, you owe it to yourself to call for more information.

Have A Great Day.


Tuesday, February 01, 2011

4th Annual Fundraiser for "The Kate Singer Endowment for Cranio-Facial Surgery and Research"

Kate is turning nine-years-old and we are celebrating with a fundraiser for Dell Children's Medical Center.

I hope that if you are a regular reader of this blog, and find any value, that you will donate to this cause. Even $10 makes a difference!

Nine years ago Kate was born with Sagital Synostosis, a condition that caused the bones in her head to fuse together. To fix this situation she underwent surgery to reconstruct her skull. We were fortunate, today Kate is fabulous. She is smart, funny, enjoys school and dance, and brings a smile to all who know her.

When she was born there was not a state-of-the-art medical facility for children in Austin, Texas. She was treated by wonderful doctors at Children's Hospital of San Diego. Since that time a new hospital has opened in Central Texas, and for the past four years we have supported the research efforts of these local doctors with the "Kate Singer Endowment for Cranio-Facial Surgery and Research" (In 2010 we began donating to a similar fund in San Diego).

We donate part of the fees I earn as a professional speaker, and each year in February, to celebrate Kate's birthday, we host this fundraiser on my blog. Please join us by making a donation of any size.

Thank you,

Thom, Sara, Jackie and Kate Singer