Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The ABC's of Trade Shows and Conferences - Y is for Yes

You have a lot of choices when considering attending a business conference.  Do not over-think your participation, as all opportunities come from people.  When you decide to be part of the event you will have countless chances to make connections with interesting people who could have an impact on you and your company.

Choose "Yes".

  • When thinking about going to the event..... say "Yes" (Just do it)
  • When scheduling to stay for the whole event.... say "Yes" (do not shave time off to catch an early flight home)
  • When considering participating in the pre-conference webinars.... say "Yes" (more convention planners are adding pre-events to the schedule, join in)
  • When signing up for the event's social media updates, Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, LinkedIn groups.... say "Yes" (it will help you start making connections before you arrive)
  • When deciding to say at the conference hotel.... say "Yes" (saving money by staying down the street always makes you less engaged in the event)
  • When pondering which keynotes to attend.... say "Yes" (to all of them)
  • When walking the trade show floor... say "Yes" (to talking with vendors)
  • When choosing which break-out sessions to sit in... say "Yes" (to one during each time slot)
  • When looking to participate in the networking coffee breaks... say "Yes" (you never know who you will meet)
  • When planning to go to happy hour... say "Yes" (do not skip the social situations)
  • When you get home and think about following up with the cool people you met... say "Yes" (networking without follow-up is nothing)
  • When plotting to escape and run to your room to hide.... say "NO". (it is only for a few days, and even an introvert can be active for the length of the conference)

The choices are yours, but to maximize your participation in a conference, trade show, conventions or other seminar you must be active.  Do not rationalize reasons to avoid people.  Say "Yes" to people and you will find more opportunities in your future.

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.http://www.conferencecatalyst.com 


Friday, May 27, 2011

Who Is Telling Your Business Story? You or Your Competitor?

In a business context we often forget that others are human beings. Too often we lump everyone into buckets: co-worker, customer, prospect, vendor, boss, etc...  But everyone is a person first and that means they have emotional responses to everything.  When you fail to connect with them at the level of their soul you are vulnerable to a charismatic competitor who can come in and take their attention.

Both companies and individuals struggle with how to tell their story.  This has gotten more complicated in the social media world as we are constantly facing new venues where we need to present ourselves (live and online). Marketing has become very data focused and the importance of the story seems to be lost on some.  Yet those who are excelling in every industry usually have got a firm grasp on how to position themselves via how they tell their own story.

Since the beginning of time people have gathered to hear stories. Ancient tribes relied on the power of the story for education, entertainment, social engagement and survival. They did not share graphs and statistics around the fire.  Parents tell their children bed-time stories, not bed-time spreadsheets and PowerPoints.  It is natural for us to be drawn to a story.  There is nothing primal about marketing speak that has been cleared by the legal department.

If you are not able to communicate your story you lose.  We all know the difference between a great book or movie and a lousy book or movie.  People want to be inspired.  Many professionals have forgotten this and allowed corporate communications to abandon style for substance?  It sounds good to tell the CEO that you are all about high-level content marketing (CEO's love to hear that), but if nobody in your community cares then the company will fail.

Telling stories is how successful sales organisations win market-share.  We need to look no further than Apple.  Steve Jobs weaves captivating stories around every product launch.  People question why he has such power on the stage that moves people to buy his latest gadgets, and yet the answer is simple.... he is a storyteller. While his presentations are wonderfully produced, it is not the bells and whistles that matter.  Other CEO's have great visuals and yet suck the energy out of the room when they open their mouth.

If your organization has never had a meeting to discuss your corporate story then my belief is that your company is not being heard. I find it fascinating when I work with clients, as often there is no consistency in what is being said about the company.  The CEO has one message, while finance has another.  Marketing and sales are in total disconnect around messaging.  Most employees have no idea what to say, so they say nothing.  The business has gag order on the story and they wonder why nobody in their community cares about their latest press release.

This is not just about PR and marketing.  Knowing how to tell your story to each audience and why they even care is paramount to your success and the bottom line.  If your company is lagging it might be because there is no story.... or worse, you are abdicating the story of your industry (and your company) to be told by your competition.  Guess what, when your competition tells the story, you do not shine.

Is your company lacking a story?  Are you tossing out jargon, facts and figures without any emotional connections to your audiences.  Are you boring people?  You can expand your reach into your business community via the art of telling your corporate story.

Are you an individual who is out of work or feeling stuck in your job?  Why would anyone offer you an opportunity?  Do you think a resume or a LinkedIn profile is all you need to capture the attention of a potential employer?  Without a compelling story you are just a face in the crowd.

The good news is that everyone has an interesting story.  Who is telling yours?  Anyone?  Your story will not happen by accident.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

***Contact me to help you find your corporate story.  thom(at)thomsinger.com

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Telling, Gelling, and Selling: Three Tips To More Business

Sales has changed.  It used to be that if a salesperson got a meeting with a prospect they were in control of the flow of information.  Their encounter was often the first experience the buyer had with their product or service.  Now the internet has allowed the person they are meeting with to explore information about the company and the person before they walk in the door.  

Today prospective clients have less time than ever. They delete voice-mails before even listening to the first sentence.  If they have no reason to be expecting the interruption they ignore the caller.  Rude?  Okay.  Maybe.  But it is just the way of the world.

When they do grant an audience their attention is being bifurcated by a plethora of distractions.  Time is scarce, and they want to skip the small talk and get down to business.

This is why sales people must pay attention to how they communicate their story, establish rapport quickly, and show the value they will provide.  The "Telling, Gelling and Selling" need to be weaved together or the buyer will dismiss the sales person quickly.

Here are three tips to help you find more business:

1.  Telling.  Being able to communicate your story and that of your company is more important than ever before.  There is so much information and "noise" in the marketplace that if you are not doing a good job of storytelling you will be ignored.  How you explain yourself depends on the venue, your product or service, and your own style... but you must invest time into intentionally developing your "story" and realizing how it differentiates you from the competition.

The story will be told verbally and written both live and on the web.  If left to chance you will end up confusing buyers and appear to have no purpose.  Great writers, film makers, musicians, and others know the value of how you set the characters, scene, and the plot.  It is no different in business.  Everyone must create protagonists and antagonists or allow your competition to define the roles (note, when your competition tells the story you are never going to look good!).  

2.  Gelling.  People prefer to do business with those they know, like and trust.  However as we have gotten seduced by social media the definition of the word "know" has changed.  Everyone now assumes they know everyone.  We link to them in Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter and treat them as real connections (which can be the case, but often not).  It used to be that getting to know someone was a process, and through that process we came to like and trust each other (or not).  Thus nowadays it is more important than ever that we "gel" with people.  Without a feeling of connection and understanding there is no relationship.

Too often we assume there are established relationships when really we just have acquaintances.  We jump the gun and assume that those we have met briefly are our "friends".  There is a big difference between someone you have met and someone with whom you have established a long-term and mutually beneficial relationship.

3.  Selling. Communication and human to human relationships are nice, but in business we need them to drive dollars to the bottom line.  We all need sales to stay in business.  This fact is what drives many sales managers to discredit the power in storytelling and networking.  I often hear managers say "I don't care about anything but getting the contract".  However, when done correctly selling is easier and more profitable when we embrace telling and gelling as part of the process.  

The days of "sales techniques" and "tricks" are long gone.  Seasoned professionals know and respect the purpose of sales, but they do not want to be "sold". Instead they want to buy.  When you seamlessly incorporate human understanding you will win more business.

Telling, Gelling and Selling - How Compelling!

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Monday, May 23, 2011

Are You Open To Criticism?

Learning from your mistakes and short comings is a great way to become better, but to do this you must be open to seeing where you come up light.  Often we do not notice our own faults and we must rely on others to help us discover ways to improve.

The problem is that too few friends, and even fewer strangers, will ever share constructive criticism.  Instead they keep quiet and you are left to repeat your mistakes.  This can continue unchecked for a long time... especially if the problem is minor.

I recently received an email giving me feedback.  I was very impressed that this person, whom I have only met once, took the time to show me where I dropped the ball.  I remember the situation, but did not view the whole picture through his eyes.  

At the time of the infraction I was busy and distracted...... does that sound familiar?  That is an answer we all use to justify selfish behaviors (me too!).  

We hear the busy excuse all the time, but is it really legitimate?  I think not.

When you have a lot on your plate you must still pay attention to how your actions (or lack of actions) are impacting others.  It is rare that a good soul will step up set you straight in a nice way (sure, the jerks are always happy to show you the dark side of yourself). I appreciate this guy, as he hit me in the heart, as my intention was not equal to the result.

Are you open to criticism?  When you are...it can sting (ouch).   But then you grow.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Book For College Graduates Looking For Jobs

(Can't see the above video? Here is the link: http://youtu.be/jIv3sLK2uzg)

College seniors are getting ready to launch into the workforce, but many have never been taught how to make, grow and keep the business relationships that will ensure a long-term and successful career.

"Some Assembly Required: A Networking Guide for Graduates" (by Anne Brown and Thom Singer, New Year Publishing 2010) is now available on Kindle.

If you are about to graduate, or know someone who is just entering their work life.... this is a great book to help anyone realize the power of business relationships.

Looking for a graduation gift?  This book will make a wonderful gift for any grad!

Available at Amazon.com and other book retailers online and in the real world.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Friday, May 20, 2011

Networking At A Business Conference Matters - Be Savvy!

I speak at business conferences. My Conference Catalyst Program transforms the typical meeting into an experience where people are impacted not just through the learning, but from each other. A major reason why people attend events is the "networking opportunities", but once they arrive, they stink at making meaningful connections.

The Conference Catalyst is weaved throughout the schedule, and it is interesting to see the metamorphosis that can take place in the ways people behave during their time together.  The more people engage with one another, the higher the energy in the crowd.

I enjoy hearing stories about networking and how it impacted the lives of people I meet at conferences. At a recent conference (DemandCon 2011 in San Francisco) I met Heather Rubesch from Savvy B2B Marketing.  Her blog is one of the most popular marketing portals online with over 100,000 visitors each month.  It is written by six women who are all marketing experts.  The success of their blog over the last two years has catapulted them into the ranks of marketing gurus.

The interesting part about Savvy B2B Marketing is how these six bloggers met and founded their highly successful site.

The "Savvy Sisters" met at a business conference while networking.  Their casual camaraderie quickly grew into professional respect and then friendship. They began sharing war stories, resources, and tips. Launching a blog to provide other marketers with inspiration, tools, and strategies seemed the natural thing to do. In March 2009, less than two months after meeting, they proudly published our very first post.  The six bloggers have never again been in the same room at the same time, but have established long-term and mutually-beneficial relationships.

Heather said that if they had not met and harnessed the power of networking, her life would be very different.  While she would still be in marketing she would not have the extensive platform that the blog has provided to her and her blog partners.  It was a life changing experience and it all happened when six people met at a conference, went beyond superficial chit-chat, and then took ownership of the follow-up.

The key to networking at a business conference is what you do when you get home.  Take action.

The next time you are at a business meeting do not spend you time on your iPhone or plotting your early exit.  Instead remember the story of the Savvy B2B Marketing bloggers and discover more about the people around you.  Someone at the event could be the person (or people) who can forever change your life!

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.http://www.conferencecatalyst.com 


Thursday, May 19, 2011

5 Demand Generation Tips From DemandCon

I spoke this week at DemandCon, a national conference for sales and marketing professionals.  Here is a short video from the folks at Eloqua (who was a sponsor of the conference).

If you cannot see the video, here is the link:  http://youtu.be/DGb54jJxsS8

Featured in the video:

Jennifer Pockell-Wilson, Vice President of  Marketing and Demand Operations, DemandBaseJennifer’s biggest tip is for marketer’s to challenge their assumptions about sales and their customers.
Thom Singer, author of Some Assembly Required: How to Make, Keep and Grow Your Business Relationships.Thom’s tip is for marketers to remember “leads” are human beings. Get to know them and let them know you care.
Christopher Justice, CEO, SparkSightChristopher reminds businesses to stay aware of new technological tools and to take advantage of them.
Clifford Pollan, CEO and co-Founder, VisibleGainsClifford advises companies to try video in their demand generation efforts, even if it just means dabbling at first.
Alex Steinhart, Marketing Operations and Demand Generation, Avid TechnologyAlex stressed the importance of knowing your audience, delivering timely messaging and plugging any leaks in the funnel.
Have A Great Day

thom singer

Monday, May 16, 2011

The ABC's of Trade Shows and Conferences - X is for X-Ray Vision

Looking in from the outside the purpose of a conference or trade show may seem simple.  However, once you look deeper you will discover additional meaning for your participation.  Many of the business events that you attend have a long history within your industry, and while most will just only look at this year's gathering, when you know more about what goes on behind the scenes (and in the past) you will find more success.

Just as a doctor utilizes and x-ray to peer inside, you must use metaphorical "X-Ray Vision" to uncover all that go into the creation, history and culture of the event you are attending.  Peering past the flesh and getting to the bone will allow you perspective.

When the event is an "industry happening" there is more too attending than just the conference.  Participating in your industry important.  But if you do not look deeply you may never realize what is going on at a conference that makes it powerful.  You have to show up, but that is just a start.  Being in the room is not enough. Getting to know the other people and asking questions about their participation is key.  Caring about the success of the event will show through.

Know who is organizing, hosting and sponsoring the conference.  When you see who is putting in the time and money to ensure the success of the event you are really peeling back the layers to look inside.

Meet the event organizers.  Meeting professionals who create events, manage the process and schedule the minute details are the un-sung heroes of these gatherings.  The attention gets put on the sponsors, Master of Ceremonies and speakers who take the stage, but a good meeting planner is the difference between victory or defeat for everyone's experience.  When you invest time to connect with the people behind the curtain, you will find more information and opportunities.  There are often VIP and other special things going on that are not on the schedule.  Those who seek will often find more chances to network and gain knowledge.

Paying attention and going beyond the surface level will make your conference experience more meaningful and help you discover more ROI from your participation.  "X-Ray Vision" does not happen by accident, you must seek the information that is hidden from view and then put what you find to use.

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.http://www.conferencecatalyst.com 


Thursday, May 12, 2011

ACG Austin "Capital Panel Discussion" with Todd Young, Vernon Bryant, and Barry Evans

The Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) Central Texas Chapter's May meeting in Austin, Texas featured a panel discussion about raising capital for business growth.  In any economy there are companies out raising money and launching products.  Successful entrepreneurs are always cultivating their businesses and relationships.

The panelists were:

Todd Young, President and CEO of Prospx
Vernon Bryant, Venture Partner at Austin Ventures
Barry Evans, President and CEO of Calxeda

Moderated by:

Volney Campbell, Co-Managing Partner at HPI Corporate Services

The conversation was interesting and informative as the three panelists shared their experiences from both sides of the fundraising table.

While starting off with their own investments, friends and family money, and angel investments, both CEO's agreed that you need a strategy for connecting with the right venture partner.  While there are times you will feel anyone with money is the right partner, holding out for the right match is important.

Getting funded takes longer than you might think.  You need to spend a lot of time getting to know interested investors and proving to them that you can minimize the risk.  There are lot of meetings that go nowhere, and others where you will run, not walk, away (one great story was of a VC team in California that used the founder's business cards as coasters for their drinks.... a clear sign they were not a good fit!).

Investors are looking for entrepreneurs that can communicate their vision.  A compelling story in from a strong management team in a growing industry are all important, but it is rare to find all three in one company.  Investors want to have personal chemistry with the people they will fund.  It is like dating... not everyone makes a good long-term partner.  

Companies need to "punch above their weight" and look for investors who have strong networks within their industry.  Connections into customers, vendors and other companies in the space means the partner is brining more than just money to the table.  This is paramount to the success for both sides.

When starting a company you must remember that you will spend a lot of time with your co-workers, investors and other partners.... thus you must choose wisely.  You need to establish a team where the members balance each other.  It can be a lot of work growing a company with long hours spent away from family.  A sense of humor also comes in handy!

Before going to seek money you have to be able to clearly communicate your story.  Be able to define your strategy and know where you are going to take the company.  You will have to talk with a lot of investment firms before you find the right match.

To get funded you must have momentum.  Plan ahead for success and execute.  Waiting for they money might keep you from ever getting funded.  Find other sources to keep you going as if you appear to be running out of cash you will take away your negotiating position.  Taking risks can be scary, but is necessary.

Relationships matter.  What goes around comes around, and how you treat people all throughout your life can come into play when you are seeking funding.  You never know what action will connect you with the person who eventually leads you to the introduction to an investor.  While technology is a great thing, there is no tool that can replace human-to-human conversations, evaluations, dialog and respect.  

****Last point.... being invited to fly on a private jet to a fun destination can and will establish friendships that might lead to funding!!!   ;-) 

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Conference Catalyst New Website

The Conference Catalyst website has launched!! While I am still working on creating the video (there is a "place holder" video there now), the purpose of the site is to promote this program that transforms multi-day business meetings.  I had lunch yesterday with a happy client whose technology company's "Annual User's Conference" utilized "The Conference Catalyst" (both on stage, and in the planning stages of the event), and they are already looking for ways to include the program again next year!

This product has quickly become my most popular offering and a "meeting planners favorite".

Business professionals attend conferences, trade shows and conventions to make new contacts. However, once at the events most fail to make meaningful connections.  While everyone claims to want to engage with their peers, too few take the actions necessary to spark real conversations.

If your company or organization is planning a multi-day conference this program might be what you need to move the meeting from average to amazing.  It is not what you think: no silly ice-breakers or forced questioning that make attendees uncomfortable.  Instead it is all about the audience.  When you put the focus on the people, they flourish.

My client said one of their attendees said "at first I was afraid Thom's presentations would be cheesy, but instead it transformed the conference into an 'industry happening'".  Is your event the "happening" for your industry?

Does your conference have a catalyst?

Visit www.conferencecatalyst.com for more information.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Finding The Career You Love

It is just better when you are driven by a passion for your work.

I have had jobs I liked, and jobs I hated.  The ones I liked were always much more pleasant.

Some of my clients often feel stuck in their career.  They make good money, and it is what they "do".... but they are not happy.  They are surprised by the questions I ask them about goals and dreams.... as many have never inquired to themselves about what they really want.  They see being "stuck" as the norm.

It can take time to find your calling and to transition into a field that brings you joy in your work.  But if you never ask the right questions and continue just going through the motions, that feeling of contentment will never be discovered.

I think success comes through consistent questioning and then taking actions to guide yourself in the right direction.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

The Value of A Speaker To The Event

A friend pointed me to the conversation stream from Monday night's #SpeakChat discussion on Twitter.  I had not participated in the discussion, but enjoyed reading the shared information.  It was a long stream to scroll through, with lots of thoughts and opinions.  However, it was laced with information about the power of having the right speaker at your event, and the value the speaker brings.

(Note #SpeakChat happens every Monday at 9:00 PM on Twitter under the hashtag #SpeakChat)

My mantra holds true: "Just because someone is smart or has done something cool, it does not mean they belong on the stage".

I recently heard a speaker, who was paid to keynote an event, start by saying "I am not really a speaker, just a person who is here to share with you....".  The meeting planner was standing next to me backstage and she said "then why am I paying him so much!".  I laughed.  She was underwhelmed with the presentation.  It was okay, but he set the expectation that he was just that..."okay".

The speaker brings more to the event than the words they utter from the stage.  The fact that we expect them to deliver a kick-ass presentation goes without saying... but most speakers at conferences fall short of expectations.  But is that the speaker's fault or the fact that many conferences are just looking for anyone to take the stage and not vetting their experience?

Many conferences these days are asking speakers to make their talks like "TED Talks", but they are not doing the same level of pre-work that TED does in speaker selection and preparation.  TED does not simply put people who breath on stage.  Speaking well is a skill, it does not come naturally to everyone.  It can be learned and improved upon with practice and intent.... but talent in this area should never be expected without experience.  

Then there is the debate of "paid vs. free" speakers.  I find it interesting that this is still bantered about, as it is not really apples to apples.  There are many people who will speak for free, but that does not mean you want them talking to an audience.  While there are many experts who happily speak for free, the paid professionals who have created ongoing business ventures via speaking provide a proven value to the event.  A speaker is not a commodity.  

The speaker's value is not only found in the presentation.  I believe that the best speakers are the ones who are engaged with the audience before and after the talk.  Some speakers feel they are just being paid to do the "stage time", but most meeting planners and audience members rave about the speakers who spend time active in the conference.  When a speaker invests in the people, they are applauded for their efforts.

I have clients who state in their contract that the speaker must attend meals and happy hours the day of their talk.  They consider the speaking fee to be for the whole day, not just the hour of the presentation. While sometimes there are scheduling conflicts, I believe that a client who pays me to speak is paying for my participation in their whole event.  Anything less (without being discussed in advance) is not acceptable.

What do you think? Email me your thoughts (thom @ thomsinger.com), or leave a comment.

As a meeting organizer.... do you want speakers to be present at your breaks, happy hours, meals?  Do you care if they "speak and run"?

As an attendee of a conference.... do you think that the speaker has any obligation to you beyond their stage presentation? 

As a speaker.... do you think your value is the presentation or more?

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Monday, May 09, 2011

The Thank You Economy

Gary Vaynerchuk's new book, "The Thank Your Economy" is a good read.

(Disclaimer:  I know Gary.  We have met several times at conferences, and I drove him around Austin when he spoke at an event here last fall.  We are not close friends, and when he buys the New York Jets someday I do not expect an invite to the owners box.)

The stuff he talks about in the book is important.  Most people I work with instinctively understand that all business is personal, and that people choose to do business with those they know, like and trust.... but we get so focused on ROI and systems that a personal conversation does not make the list of business strategies.

Brand managers and left-brained professionals are obsessed with numbers (and the numbers do matter).... but people matter too.   Make someone feel significant and they will come back.  Leave them feeling like a number and you suck.

I have been teaching my philosophy of "Cooperative Significance" for years.  What Gary says in his book is not rocket science.  But you are most likely NOT doing the things necessary to stand out in our noisy social-media world.  The small personal actions can make you a giant.

If you have ever seen Gary speak live you know he is a force of nature. His passion makes him one of the best public speakers out there (even though he can be known to use the "F-word" over 30 times in a 60 minute presentation!... I know, cuz I counted!!!).  But his message holds strong printed in a book.

If you are one of those folks who say "I don't read books".... then realize you lose by not reading this one.  Just suck it up and read the 234 pages.  (then go read one of my books!)

Have A Great Day.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Hiring The Right Speaker For The Success Of Business Events

The meetings business is a multi-billion industry.  Seasoned meeting professionals know that there are tons of things that must come together to ensure that a program comes off without a hitch, but those who attend conferences, trade shows, conventions, seminars, sales meetings, users conferences and other gatherings only see the surface.

A glitch in the sound system that is fixed before anyone enters the room goes un-noticed.  The wrong font on the nametags is hardly an issue to the person wearing the tag.  The behind the scene decisions matter, but they are invisible.

A blah tasting meal might underwhelm the audience's taste buds, but a blah speaker will undermine their enthusiasm for being present.  The speakers, especially the first speaker, sets the tone for the whole meeting. Yet often the kick-off  keynote is some executive who gets up and drones on about the state of the business or industry.  Few meetings give much thought to into who is best to get the meeting launched.

The answer is not always the status quo. Creativity is king.

If you are planning an event you should work with everyone who will take the stage to discuss how their presentation will impact the audience.  While most meetings focus on the long-term "learning objectives", they discredit the power of the short term "motivation objectives".  A speaker who cannot raise the level of excitement in an audience will not positively impact the meeting, regardless of the knowledge they share.

Just because someone is smart or has done something cool does NOT mean they belong on the stage.

Hiring the right speaker for the success of a business event is critical.  The best meeting professionals spend a lot of time searching for the right speakers to headline their conferences.  They are not as concerned with celebrity as they are with impact.

If your company or organization is having a meeting that will require outside speakers, it is best to start early in your search for those who can deliver powerful presentations.  Understand that professional speakers charge money for their speaking.  However, you usually get a better presentation from a professional than you do from a "free" industry speaker.  This does not mean that there are not great "free" speakers out there, but they often are speaking to promote their main business.  This can lead speakers who deliver a sales pitch to your audience.  Of course you can have the same issues with paid professionals.  The best thing to do is to talk with people who have seen the speaker (do not simply rely on videos) to understand what their message contains.

Be clear with everyone you consider hiring as to what you want from their presentation.  Do not just let a speaker "wing it".  Long conversations when you hire them and then again the week before the presentation will help prevent them from getting off track from your goals for audience.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

The Conference Catalyst

You Matter

You matter.

We live in a world where people can feel lost amongst all the noise, but everyone contributes.  You make a difference.  If you are reading these words... then you are a dynamic individual who has an impact.

It is not about being famous, although our culture is obsessed with fame.  

The number of followers one has on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn is a lame way to judge worth, but mistakenly those numbers are watched.

Do not feel insignificant.  Show the world you care through your actions and you have power.  Share your talents without expectation and you make any community a better place.

Those who write blogs (including this one... yep, guilty here too!) spend too much time starting their posts with "I"... but when there are no readers (AKA "You") there is nothing. 

You matter.

Have A Great Day

thom singer

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Who Is The Eye-Roller In Your Firm?

Professionals service firms (law firms, accounting firms, banks, consulting firms, etc...) all have one or more "nay-sayers" and "eye-rollers" in their ranks.

These are the people who discredit all the new ideas.  They were the ones who saw no reason for the computer on every desk, they hated voicemail, were the last to get a cell phone, did not see e-mail as a useful tool, and are now scoffing at the whole "social media fad".

Every firm has these folks to some degree.  They think highly of their own opinion at the time, but when their mind has changed, they fail to own up to their short-sighted views (many of us miss spotting trends, but I am talking about those who are very vocal about their negativity and then act like they invented the product once they get on board).

Who are they "nay-sayers" and "eye-rollers" in your firm?  If you cannot immediately identify them.... maybe it is you!

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Do NOT Be A "Book-Report-Speaker"

I recently shared the stage with a speaker who simply quoted best-selling authors.  He kept citing studies conducted by other people and articles published by "experts".  There was not a single personal story or even his own impression of the information.

This does not mean you cannot quote others during your presentation, as you do not just want to make your talk all about yourself, but you must find the balance.  If all you have is other people's insight, then why are you on the stage?

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Friday, May 06, 2011

Thank You to Delish Cupcakes - Austin's Best Cupcake!

Thanks to Lisa at Delish Cupcakes (on 3rd Street in downtown Austin) for hosting a tour of her store for my daughter's Girl Scout Troop.

The eight girls got a treat in seeing how an entrepreneur starts a business that becomes destination for cupcake lovers!  They asked questions from how she comes up with new flavors to what motivated her to locate in downtown.

The kids got to learn about the business but they really preferred eating the sample cupcakes.

I met Lisa at a business event (hosted by the FedEx+Me - My Story: Austin program) two months ago and when I asked about bringing the Girl Scouts she enthusiastically agreed.

If you live in Austin and have a hankering for a cupcake... it is worth the drive to downtown.  They even have a daily "Gluten Free" cupcake (I am still waiting for the vegan option!).

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

Executive Coaching for Left-Brained Professionals (Lawyers, Bankers, Accountants, IT Professionals, Real Estate Brokers, etc...)

Many lawyers, bankers, accountants, IT executives, real estate brokers, and other professionals are considered to be left-brained dominant.  Those who excel in these professions are often successful because of their linear reasoning and language functions that are associated with the left hemisphere of the brain.  

Their natural traits align them with these technical careers and often they have avoided embracing the necessary "soft skills" that are becoming more important within the new work paradigms.  Early in life they achieved in school by hard work and focus.  They built their careers through attention to detail and have cultivated impressive resumes and tactical experience. 

But sometimes that is not enough.  

Today's highly "socially-charged" world is creating different paths to advancing a career.  Social media and other changes in society are not a fad, and that has many left-brained professionals feeling disconnected. Comfortable on the left-side, they see a big valley between where they stand and the current social-focused realities (online and face-to-face).

I work one-on-one (or in small groups) with those who feel uneasy with the networking culture that has emerged in the business world.   

If you, or someone you know, is feeling stuck, I might have action oriented solutions.  Give me a call.

Have A Great Day

thom singer
thom (at) thomsinger.com

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

The ABC's of Trade Shows and Conferences - W is for Work

Even though trade shows, conventions, seminars, conferences and other business gatherings are often held at a fancy resorts in desirable locations, it is still WORK to be involved with these events!

Often those who plan meetings, sponsor trade shows, or attend conventions hear comments from their friends, co-workers, and family members about the fun side of the trips they take.  Images of a constant party are all other people imagine about your job when you work in and around the meetings industry.  Words like  "Wow, how glamorous!" or "Lucky You!" are regularly tossed about.  Office jealousies and arguments with spouses are common when they see the exotic locations that come with conference participation.

The reality is there not much time for sight seeing or enjoying the hotel amenities when you are at a conference.  Scheduling is tight and the reasons for attending are to learn, network and promote your company's products or services.  While there is often a lot of fun involved with these events, the fun is the bonus on top of the hard work involved.

Remembering that conferences are work is important for the person attending (or planning / sponsoring the event) and those around them.  Having a focus on the purpose is paramount to success.  To lament people for going to "party" does not change the truth -- Conferences involve a lot of work.

Beyond what the organizers must do to ensure a successful event, those who sponsor or attend must invest a lot of time in advance preparing.  Once on site they need to be mentally plugged into the whole program.  Keynotes and breakout sessions provide valuable information that needs to be processed and pondered to create any long term value.  Meeting people takes effort, especially for those who identify as introverted.  And the follow up can be a full time job for a week after everyone gets home.  This is not a party, it is work.

Sometimes work is fun, but it is still a job.

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.http://www.conferencecatalyst.com 


Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Local Chapters of National Speakers Association (NSA) and Meeting Professionals International (MPI) Hold Joint Meeting

The local Austin chapters of the National Speakers Association (NSA) and Meeting Professionals International (MPI) held a joint meeting on May 3, 2011. 

Meeting professionals and professional speakers work together all the time, but with their crazy-busy schedules they rarely get a opportunity to sit down and discuss the ways to create stronger meeting experiences.  

This unique “round table discussion” luncheon provided small groups from the local chapters of both organizations (and guests) to mix, mingle and talk about important industry issues and trends. 

The purpose of the event was to instigate meaningful conversations that can lead to powerful relationships, and the result was a thought-provoking experience for all in attendance.

Each table was assigned a "discussion leader" whose role was to keep the conversation moving and on topic. Several questions were presented to the group, and each table shared their ideas, thoughts, best-practices, and suggestions.  At the end of the meeting every table reported out to the group the nuggets of information from the intimate chats.

The questions included:

  • What are the biggest challenges facing the meetings business?
  • What are the "disconnects" between speakers and meeting planners?
  • What do speakers do that most annoys meeting professionals?
  • How can speakers add value and help promote events?
The conversations at each table took different paths to dissecting the questions, but there was a common theme of comradeship between all in attendance.  

Everyone who works in and around the meetings industry has felt the economic turmoil of the past few years.  At this meeting there was an optimistic buzz in the air as companies, associations, and other organizations are actively looking for new ways to create successful events that positively impact the audience.  

This meeting was just the first in a a series of gatherings that MPI and NSA will hold in the future.  

Have A Great Day.

thom singer 


Monday, May 02, 2011

Tim Sanders to Speak At TEXCHANGE (#Austin Chapter) on May 26, 2011

Best-selling author, speaker, and consultant Tim Sanders will be speaking to the Austin chapter of TEXCHANGE on Thursday, May 26, 2011.

This is a rare opportunity to see Tim and to attend TEXCHANGE.  The organization's meetings are usually restricted to "Members Only", but this special dinner will be open to guests who register in advance.

Tim's new book, "Today We Are Rich" is climbing the charts, and continues to promote his message for strong business relationships, both internal and external. “Get them right,” he says, “and you’ll grow your business during good and bad times alike.”

If you were in the audience when Tim spoke at TEXCHANGE four years ago you know first hand why he is one of the most sought after speakers in the United States and beyond.  He is being brought back again in 2011 to share his expanded message and to inspire the Austin technology community (and others).

Tim’s expertise and deep research capabilities make him an indispensable consultant to some of the biggest brands in the world. His Los Angeles based company, Deeper Media, conducts research on business trends, new media and human behavior. He’s weathered the quality movement as well as the dotcom crash and emerged with precious insight. He was the Chief Solutions Officer at Yahoo! and later their Leadership Coach. Prior to these senior positions Tim created and led the Yahoo! ValueLab, an in-house “think tank” which delivered futuristic insight on technology and human behavior. He was an early member of Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner’s broadcast.com, the most successful opening day IPO in history.

Sign up today to ensure you space... and the first 150 people to arrive at the event will received a free copy of his new book!

When: May 26th
Where: AT&T Center (Univ of Texas)
Time: 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Cost:  $35 Members  / $60 Guests

To register as a guest please contact Ashley Arkin via email at ashleyarkin (at) texchange.org

Have A Great Day.

thom singer