Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Givers and Takers

The world is made up of give and take. In order for society to succeed there are times when individuals must give of themselves, and their are times when they will receive from others.

The same is true in the blogosphere. Most people give and take in this world of blogging without much thought of "the score". It seems to work itself out and the rising tide raises all boats.

Sometimes when you write a blog you make virtual friendships with other bloggers (which is cool). As you spend time reading their blogs and getting to learn their motivations you begin to understand that there are two types of people in the blogosphere.....givers and takers.

Now I want to start by pointing out that the givers also "take". Which is how the whole thing is supposed to works. BUT, the takers do not give. This is frustrating.

When you read a blog and see that the blogger from time to time links to other blogs, products, companies, etc.... without any direct personal return....this blogger is a giver. They have a blogroll where they publicly link to other blogs that they enjoy, and encourage their readers to read these blogs.

Sometimes I get emails from people saying "HEY, if you link to me, I will link to you". I never accept these links, and have never made that request of anyone on my blogroll. While having inbound links is beneficial, I think that someone should link to The Some Assembly Required Blog because they like what I write, not because I am giving them some reciprocal PR.

I would like to give two examples of givers and takers.

First the taker. His blog never links to other blogs, books or companies with cool products. His blog is all about him. Nobody is that smart everyday, so when he pontificates his ideas....he is not being honest. He writes a lot of content, but never sites anyone but himself. The whole purpose of his blog is to make him look smart. I wont name names, but they exist all over the place.....and many of these are the most popular bloggers in the game.

Next is the giver. He or she has a blogroll with links to things that relate to their blog topic and they often write posts applauding other bloggers for their insightful posts. Mike Sigers at The Simplenomics Blog is one of the best "givers". I have never met Mike, but we have become friends via our blogs. He writes some great stuff about sales and customer relations, and he always promotes posts and accomplishments of others. He is not just blogging to promoter Mike Sigers.

Mike's blog is widely read, as when he links to one of my posts my traffic jumps through the roof. He has never asked me for anything in return. He is the perfect example of a "giver"

I hope that everyone on the planet who reads business blogs will take a few minutes to read The Simplenomics Blog.....as you will like what you find there, and Mike deserves the extra traffic.

In addition, take the time to read every blog on my blogroll (see the list on the right of this page). All will provide you with interesting and thought provoking information.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer
www.thomsinger.com
thom@thomsinger.com

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Don't Be Scared of Hiring the Best

A satellite office of a well known national law firm (I wont name the firm or the city) is currently looking to hire a marketing /business development professional to assist the attorneys to become better known and to expand their practice within their city.

A friend of mine was contacted by a headhunter. He is very qualified for the position (currently works for a smaller firm) and was interested in the opportunity. He is becoming well known in his business community (inside and outside of legal marketing), has a great work ethic, and instinctively understands what strategies law firms need to use to succeed in today's highly competitive environment.

The firm disqualified him as a candidate because they received his resume from three different sources (only one headhunter, the other two were business professionals who knew the firm had an opening). The office administrator was annoyed to get the resume more than once and decided not to even talk with him.

What? Not even an interview?

God-forbid that there would be a candidate who is well known and respected in the business community that multiple sources believe could be a good fit for the firm.

This office administrator has done a HUGE dis-service to the firm (She did not need to hire this person, but by not interviewing him, they will never know if the person could have been a good fit). Sadly, this is very common in law firms. A firm would much rather have a mediocre marketing professional than one who could stand out from the pack.

Other firms make it a policy not to hire anyone without "law firm experience". They are so sure that business experience in another field cannot translate into their industry that they by-pass amazing candidates.

I once interviewed for a marketing manager position with a big law firm and was later told by a partner that the reason I was not hired was that my extensive networking and involvement in local organizations might "outshine" the attorneys. The firm was not comfortable with a "non-lawyer" being visible in the business community, and that it was not appropriate for a "non-lawyer" to be in a public role (Note that the law firms are the only industry that label their professional staff in this manner.....hospitals do not have "doctors and non-doctors").

I know many lawyers who are unhappy with their firm's marketing and business development staff. However, they are not willing to pay more money or give these professionals the internal respect and authority necessary to attract the type of people who will succeed.

Another person I know manages a division of one of the world's largest and most successful technology companies. He is always looking to identify top talent (from inside and outside the tech field) for his company. He looks for top performers, and is never worried about hiring someone with more experience (or someone who is smarter) than himself. His company rewards success, rather than wanting a bunch of robots who will never "out-shine" the senior team. He laughs at companies like these law firms I mention above, because he knows they will never rise to the top. His company thrives because they are not scared of hiring the best.

The reality is that my friend would not want to work for an office administrator who has such strict policies about whom they interview. (Marketing and Business Development professionals should not report to administrators in the first place, successful firms have marketing working directly with partners). You can get a lot of clues about a company long before you accept the job. My guess is that this particular firm is swarming with politics that would stifle my friend's creativity and ability to succeed. Working there would be awful!

A great company always searches for reason to hire the best candidates, not reasons to disqualify them!

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer
www.thomsinger.com
thom@thomsinger.com

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Have A Great Summer!

One of my favorite bloggers is taking a sabbatical.

Barbara Price at the BW Price Marketing U Blog is taking the summer off from her blog to spend focus her time on work and her adorable kids (she has their photos on her farewell post).

Her 2nd to last post (for now...she will be back!!!) has one of the greatest titles I have seen anywhere. "Like Trying To Pick Up Pretty Girls In An Ugly Car" talks about the disconnect between her firm's abilities and their current website. The company is state of the art and very cool...yet the website is an ugly car. Think back to high school, no matter how cool the guy, the pretty girls did not want to ride in the yellow GMC Pacer. (Fortunately for me I drove a fully restored 1966 Ford Mustang when I was in high school. The theory actually works in reverse...pretty girls will ride with the dorky guy in a cool car!!!).

Her company is working on their new website, but I just loved the title of this post. Take the time to read her blog archives, as she is both informative and entertaining! I hope she has a great summer and I look forward to her return to blogging.
**********
What ever happened to the Ford Mustang? My older brother let me borrow it when I was 15-years-old. I had it all through high school and freshman year of college. He had a company car and did not want to sell the Mustang. Yes, he is that cool of an older brother!! He did take it back when I was 19. Oh well. He still has the car, but over the past 21 years it has gotten a bit run down. Here is a picture of us with the car that was taken last month. The car is much older and has to be held together in places with duct tape......just like me!!

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer
www.thomsinger.com
thom@thomsinger.com

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Amazon.com

Some Assembly Required:
How to Make, Grow and Keep
Your Business Relationships

is now available at the world's largest bookstore:
It is also still available at www.thomsinger.com
as a book, downloadable PDF or 3 disk audio CD

Friday, May 26, 2006

The ABC's of Networking: XYZ are the End

THE END!

What?

There is no end to networking. Once you meet people you need to cultivate and maintain the relationships.

You also need to keep meeting new business professionals.

So there is no "End". At this point go back and review "A" and all the other letters. Repeat.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer
www.thomsinger.com
thom@thomsinger.com

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The ABC's of Networking: W is for Wisdom

"One cannot have wisdom without living life" - Dorothy McCall

"It is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things" - Henry David Thoreau

"Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding." - Proverbs 4:7

Wisdom is more than knowledge.....wisdom is to objectively understand what you have learned and act accordingly. Entire books have been written on the subject of "wisdom", but in my opinion it comes down to good judgment and common sense.

When we are young many of us allow our enthusiasm to take control and our passions to be the lead. Most look back at youthful indiscretions where they acted or spoke in the heat of the moment and know they would respond differently in the present. While their position might have been correct, they ruined a relationship, friendship or their reputation because of their impetuous actions.

One of my favorite sayings is "Youth is wasted on the young". While I look back on the endless energy that filled my life, much of it was misdirected or totally unfocused. While I would love to have that chutzpa I had at 22.....and if I did I would be able to move mountains, I would not be where I am today without the trials and tribulations (and bad choices) that I encountered along my path. It has been all those experiences that have lead to understand of wisdom as something that is gained with maturity (limited as my own might be!).

Look closely at the three quotes that lead off this post. Think about how you have been changed by your experiences. Are you more seasoned today than you were a few years ago? I think most people would say "yes".

I suggest that you embrace wisdom, both your own and that of others in your network. The experiences of others can be as valuable to your own education as that of your own. That is why you should seek out and find a mentor who has lived the life you desire. While finding someone to be your mentor is not always easy, when you have a trusted advisor, your path to success can be much easier.

But not everyone becomes "wise" as the years go past. You need to learn to recognize those who have learned from their experiences (the good and the bad). Many allow their ego to cloud their judgments and never get past themselves. I think those who have real wisdom naturally give back to others in their community (see the quote from Proverbs!), and so should you.

It is not enough to have just existed. To be successful you must understand why!!!

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer
www.thomsinger.com
thom@thomsinger.com

Monday, May 22, 2006

The ABC's of Networking: V is for Vision

Who do you want as part of your professional business network, and how do you expect your network to be of assistance? Those who are successful in their networking efforts do not just expect to meet people and then await results. Successful people are visionary (in all aspects of their lives).

Take a long look at who you currently network with and examine if the people you know are in the industries you desire to do more business with. See if the individuals have the status and the commitment to be a mutually beneficial resource. While knowing a lot of cool people is nice, it is more important that you recognize if you know the right type of business people. Some will not have the cache to open doors for you, but worse.....others will not choose to do so (or simply not have the skills needed to be a networker). If you have holes in your network, you need to identify them and then make a plan to add people to your circle of influence who have the connections you need.

By having vision I mean that you look to your future and identify where you want to be with your network (and your career). Once you see in your mind what success looks like, you need to clarify what you need to do to make you vision into reality. Anyone can visualize a desire, but it is the commitment to taking action that puts you on the path to success. But the first step is seeing it in your head.

If you were boarding a plane that was flying from Los Angeles to Honolulu, you would want the pilot to in his mind where he is going and to visualize what constitutes success (a successful landing at the Hawaiian Airport!!!). If not, he would just be taking off and flying west. If you look at a map, there is a lot of "blue" out to the west of California. To just hope that the plane would land on the runway is a big gamble and would ensure a watery end. The same is true for anything you want to achieve in your career.

Know what success looks like (Steven Covey says "Begin with the End in Mind!!!") and see it clearly in your mind. Have a vision of what you want and how to get there. Know who can help you along the way. Then go do it.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer
www.thomsinger.com
thom@thomsinger.com

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The ABC's of Networking: U is for Urgency

The best time to build your network is now!!! Do not procrastinate on building business relationships, as you never know when you will need the assistance of others to boost your career.

As you focus your attention on building a network of professional contacts, you will have the opportunity to meet many fascinating people. However, meeting someone does not automatically establish a strong mutually beneficial relationship......it just means you know them. It is important that you plan for follow up with those that you meet, and that you do so in a timely manner. Timing is urgent.

Creating a real network is not done at networking events. These events are just a tool to put interesting business professionals in the same room. The real connections are made in the follow up. To establish a network involves multiple points of contact between you and others.

Too often we meet others and do nothing to initiate the next step until it is too late. Have you ever run across the business card of someone you met months ago and thought..."Dang, I never followed up with them"?. It happens all the time. People wait to make contact and then the opportunity is gone.

Follow up must be done promptly. There is a real urgency for you to strategize on just how you will make contact with new contacts. An email, handwritten note, or a phone call cannot wait for more than three days, or you will be a distant memory in their mind.

I prefer sending a handwritten note, and I make the time to do them every Wednesday and Friday. I mail notes to anyone that I have met in the previous few days with whom I would like to get to know better. I do this not just to people I meet networking, but also any prospective client that I might have called on for the first time. Very few people send handwritten notes, so the effort is noticed. But if you do not make it a priority to send them within 24-48 hours, then they you will most likely never do them at all.

Treat all aspects of networking with urgency.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer
www.thomsinger.com
thom@thomsinger.com

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The ABC's of Networking: T is for Tenacity

If you want to succeed in business you can never quit. There are countless examples of successful people who routinely faced major obstacles along their path to greatness. They did not roll over and play dead. They did not quit. Successful people are tenacious.

I once heard it said that the average sales person gives up on a prospect after five unanswered calls, but that the average business person does not call back until they receive seven phone calls from a potential vendor. That means that the tenacious sales person will get more appointments (and sales) than the average sales professional.

Business networking can be very complicated. Many people think networking is just going to "after-hours" events, drinking some beers and waiting for the referrals to role in. This is why so many people give up on networking. When they do not see immediate results they trash the whole concept.

To see real results with your networking means that you have to be tenacious. Many people you meet can be great connections for you, however it takes a long time to build meaningful relationships. Stick with it. You cannot reach the top by quitting half way up the mountain!

Visualize your goal and then go for it. Do not let anyone or anything stand in your way. Avoid the nay-sayers. Be tenacious. Grasp victory!!!

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer
www.thomsinger.com
thom@thomsinger.com

Monday, May 15, 2006

The ABC's of Networking: S is for Sincerity

When building a network of professional contacts that will assist you in growing your career, you must have the right motivation. You should genuinely look to connect with others in your business community whom you can create mutually beneficial relationships.

If your motive is just to find people who will send you referrals, and you do not plan on putting in the work to help others (notice that in the middle of the word "networking" is the word work!!), you wont be successful. Over time others will discover that you are a taker.

You must sincerely want to be a resource for others if you want to assemble a useful network. Those who are selfish with their intentions should stay home.

*If you meet someone who is influencial, but you do not really like them....do
not invest the time to build a relationship with them. That is not sincere. It
is manipulating them into a friendship for your own gain.

*If someone in your network is helping you, look for ways to be return the favor. If you do not clearly see a way to benefit them...ASK them what you can do to be of assistance to their career. But you have to sincerely mean it...and then take action.

*Never be phony in your interactions with others (but you still have to be
polite!!!). Do not kiss up to people to garner their friendship. Be yourself,
and look for ways to be relevant to others.
Nothing proves your sincerity more than longevity. Many people will come and go in the business world. Those who last two, three, ten years on top will have their secrets exposed, that is why you should always be sincere....as anything less will eventually be known to all.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer
www.thomsinger.com
thom@thomsinger.com

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The ABC's of Networking: R is for Respect

The fact that you need to treat others respectfully should go without saying.

However, how do you think about people? What traits do you focus on? What is it that occupies your mind about the individuals in your professional network?

Too often we spend our time thinking about people's faults. It makes us feel better to ponder areas where they fail. If all you see is someone's shortcomings, how can you really admire them? Without admiration, can you show them respect?

Each morning when I look at my calendar I review the list of people whom I will encounter during my day. These people include co-workers, clients, prospects, referral sources and family members (mainly my wife and children). I then think of two things I admire about each person. By spending the time to look for positive traits, it makes all of my interactions with others much more enjoyable.

Yes, sometimes you have to deal with difficult people (and some you do not even like), but my father told me that you can always find something good in everyone. The older I get, the smarter my dad appears. He is right. You can always find something that you respect in the people you encounter in your business and personal lives.

When your mind is in tune with the postive traits in others, your conversations will be more pleasant. You do not even need to tell them about what you admire, your respect just shines through.

Think about your boss....what two things makes him amazing?

Think about your biggest client....what is it that makes her successful?

Think about anyone you met at a networking event last week...what made her stand out from the crowd?

Think about your husband or wife...what two things make you proud of them?

How about your children....why are they special?

When you focus on why you respect another, it keeps your dialogue more positive. Do not fall into the easy trap of finding another's weakness. That leads to disdain, gossip and superficial relationships. To build strong and true relationships you need to have respect.

Be in tune with what makes people special. Then treat them as the spectacular person that they are.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer
www.thomsinger.com
thom@thomsinger.com

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The ABC's of Networking: Q is for Questions

Asking questions of other people is an important part of networking and business development. We all like to hear ourselves talk, but knowing what your clients and prospects want to hear is even more important. I am fond of the expression "you have two ears and one mouth - use them accordingly".

While listening twice as much as you talk is easy in theory, it is hard to execute. Especially if you are in sales. It is a natural tendency to want to share the benefits of your products or services with anyone who will listen. I know! I love to tell stories. But I have found when I ask others about their desires, I gain valuable information that helps me better serve them in the future.

By finding ways to solve problems, you will become a resource. And a resource always wins over some random sales guy!

Here are eight questions that are good to ask of everyone you meet in the business world:

*What is your biggest challenge this year?

*Who is your ideal client or prospect?

*What could happen that would make this month incredibly successful?

*What are your goals this year?

*Where would you like to see your career/business in five years?

*In a perfect world what would your (insert your industry: banker, lawyer, accountant, etc...) be doing for you?

*Who in your business community would you most like to meet?

*What can I do to assist you?

The answers to these questions will allow you to discover ways to add value to anyone you meet. Once you know what others need, look for ways to solve their problems. Once you do this, you will become more valuable to those in your network.

If you do not ask others what they need, you will never know how to give it to them.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer
www.thomsinger.com
thom@thomsinger.com

Monday, May 08, 2006

The ABC's of Networking: P is for Persistence

"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "Press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race" --- Calvin Coolidge.

I am often amazed how easily people quit trying to accomplish their business goals. They start the year with conviction that this time they will work harder, start a business, expand their network, write articles for their industry trade journal, etc... However by mid-year they are suck in the routine of mediocrity and they have stopped thinking about achieving greatness.

Then there are those people who keep trying, no matter what obsticles appear in their path. When they finally achieve their desires, they set out to create new goals and they keep moving ahead. Other people often see these people as "lucky", but luck has nothing to do with it. It is their attitude of never stopping that leads them to the top.

When I began to write my book I thought it would take about six months. Instead it took eighteen months. However my editor, Leslie Morris, and I kept moving the project forward. There were times when we were busy with other things in our lives, but we never quit. Sure there were missed deadlines (and some slacking off on my part!), but we were committed to completing the project. We were not "lucky" to have had the time to write a book,....we were persistent.

I love watching "extreme sports" on television. These skaters, skiers, skydivers, bikers, mountain climbers and the rest are amazingly talented. However, they were not born with these skills. It took years of practice to learn how to do the death-defying moves. It took guts..... I mean real crazy bravery. They did not give up along the way. The same is true for those who are the peak performers in the business world.

I have accomplished some great things in my life, and I have failed to achieve other goals. The difference is always persistence.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer
www.thomsinger.com
thom@thomsinger.com

Friday, May 05, 2006

The ABC's of Networking: O is for Others

When you are building a network of professional contacts that can and will refer you business, you must remember the golden rule:

"Do unto others as you would have them do to you!"

And then do more for them.

Quite often people think that when they are networking and meet others, that these people will immediately start sending them referrals. They return to the office and wait for the phone to ring. When nobody calls, they complain that the people they meet do not understand networking.

Meanwhile, they do nothing to help the other people.

While we are all hoping that our networking efforts will lead to increased business opportunities, you have to remember that other people want the same thing. By actively looking for ways to serve others, you will be more successful.

Does that mean that everyone you help will instantly find ways to send you business? NO. Some may not have the ability or connections that will benefit you (but you should be happy to have helped them anyway). Others are selfish and never help others. But most people will be grateful and find ways to reciprocate.

I always try to find out who others want to meet in the local business community. If I know the other person (and feel like it is a reasonable connection) I will follow up with an email introducing the two people. While I get nothing directly from their interaction, by making the effort to help others in my network I know that I will eventually see others do the same thing for me.

Author Steve Harper describes this in his book The Ripple Effect. Harper says that if you toss a rock into a pond, the ripples will go out and affect the whole body of water. At some point the ripples will hit the sides and return to the center. The same is true in life.

Discover ways to help others and you will find the success you seek.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer
www.thomsinger.com
thom@thomsinger.com

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The ABC's of Networking: N is for Name Recognition

I know a lawyer who told me that his firm was "the best kept secret in the legal industry!". He was proud of the fact that most people in his city did not know his name or that of his firm. He thought that by marketing and advertising he would "cheapen" his professional standing. The reality is that he was leaving money on the table.

There is nothing wrong with "blowing your own horn", in fact, if you don't do it....NOBODY will. I do not mean that you should be braggadocious, but you have to take responsibility for letting others know who you are and what you do. People do business with people they know and like. If they do not know you, they will take their dollars to your competition.

By having name recognition in your business community means that others will help you reach your goals. They can become your best assets by singing your praises to others, in effect becoming your virtual sales team.

There are many ways to achieve name recognition, but a combination of the following can be very effective: write articles, give speeches, volunteer your time for charity, author a book, be interviewed by the press, advertising, networking, attending industry trade shows, and creating a newsletter or blog.

Name recognition does not happen by accident. It takes effort. And once you achieve a level of fame, there will be those who talk negatively about you. But if you have good character and treat people fairly, the naysayers will be few and far between (some people are always negative, you cannot avoid professional critics!!!).

Opportunities always find their way to those who are known. There are always people who others say "WOW, Mark is so lucky to have gotten that job" or "Sally is an overnight success!".... It is not luck or overnight..... it is that these people have built a solid reputation.

How about you? Are you a known quality brand in your business or are you "the best kept secret"??? Can others benefit you and your business? If yes, then you owe it to them to let them know you exist.

It takes years to create the type of name recognition that leads to better opportunities. Starting today will get you there much faster than waiting until 2009 to begin.

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer
www.thomsinger.com
thom@thomsinger.com

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The ABC's of Networking: M is for MEGA

I do not know who said it first, but if you want to succeed (with networking or ANYTHING else in your life) you need to:

Go Big, or Go Home!!!

Too many people try to achieve success without having a BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal). Do you think that Microsoft began because Bill Gates vision was for a little software company? Did Michael Dell revolutionize the computer industry with small goals? Did Google succeed by just wanting to be another search engine?

NO. All of these companies achieved greatness because they sought industry domination.

Do not just host events, host AMAZING events. Don't just treat people well, treat them like GOLD. It is not just about delivering average products and services, deliver the BEST products and services. And don't just set goals, set MEGA goals.

Mega success is a product of mega goals.

While searching (on Google) with my computer (manufactured by Dell, using Microsoft software) to find who coined the phrase "Go Big or Go Home" (FYI, I did not find the the answer), I did discover a book by the same title by Wil Schroter . He had some great points about mega thinking"


Vision - Think BIG, the way companies like Google, PayPal and Skype do

Growth - Learn how to compress time to grow faster than your competition

Marketing - Position your company as Number One right from Day One

Capital - Forget raising capital, learn how to create capital and leverage what you have today

Management - Leverage your smaller size to run circles around your larger competitors

Great advice for anyone who is looking for success. Even if you do not reach your target, buy setting mega-huge-giant goals you are more likely to outpace your competition. Being average gets you nowhere.

THINK BIG!!!

Have A Great Day.

Thom Singer
www.thomsinger.com
thom@thomsinger.com