Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Birthday, Steve (Halloween Birthday Boy)


Happy Birthday to my oldest brother (Back row on left in above photo).

Steve is much, much, much older than me. He is the oldest of the four Singer boys (I am the youngest).

He was born on Halloween. We are still waiting for him to take off the monster mask!

Aside from being old, he is my godfather. He was nearly 14 when I was born. It was always kinda cool to have my older brother as my godfather. I called him Mr. Big when I was five. I still have the letters he wrote me when he lived overseas when I was a kid.

Also aside from being old, he is a good big brother. No complaints. He usually buys the beer when we get together (that is the international rule for older brothers!).

He did tell me when I pointed out how old he was (noting that he is closing in on 60), that he could still take me in a fight. Hmmmmm, that argument worked when I was 11 and he was 25.

Ahhh, who am I kidding, he probably could!

Anyway, Happy Birthday, Steve. I know you are my only sibling who reads my blog!!!

Have A Great Day.

thom

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Awareness NOT Fear - A Startup's Guide To The Economy

Today vcfo hosted the first seminar in our new "Business Life Cycles Series" with an informative discussion about how early stage ventures can navigate this unpredictable economy.

The expert panel consisted of:

Corey Blahuta - Managing Director, vcfo

Derek Willis - Partner, Wilson Sonsini

Dana Duran - Director, vhr

Venture Capital funding is down for the third quarter of 2008, M&A is on hold, and there are few exit options at this time. Many are worried about what the future has in store. While there are always exceptions, for the most part entrepreneurs in early stage companies must be committed to running their company for the long haul. Nobody can predict right now when the window will again open. Many investors are taking a wait and see attitude for the foreseeable future.

To obtain funding in this environment you must have and idea / product that has been validated by customers. You need to be beyond concept and have actual customers if you are in search of funding options. You must execute to your business plan without fail and run a tight ship. "Lean and mean" are the buzz words to live by. While these points are always the case, in this climate there is no margin for error.

Investors have their own issues to deal with in this economy. VC's, banks, angels and others all are equally concerned with the unknown. Understanding their situation is important.

Bootstrapping is no longer an option for a company, but the reality. No matter how you are financed, all businesses need to incorporate a bootstrap mentality. Be frugal and be sure to understand the circumstance of the money that you do raise. This is not the time for "dumb money" or unsophisticated investors. You want your investors to bring value to your company beyond just the ability to write a check.

Get your team together and get the right advisers in place. Experienced lawyers, accountants, HR consultants, etc... all can help you chart your path to the next stage. Leverage your network to help you uncover all your options and utilize part-time and "as needed" resources for areas like marketing, HR, PR, IT, finance, etc... Companies like vcfo can make all the difference when you are encountering change and growth.

Attracting and retaining the right employees (and keeping them motivated) can be very trying in a downturn. Equity may not be as appealing when there is no exit in sight, yet the company may not be able to pay high salaries. Engaging some incentive compensation that ties bonuses to performance along with a good mix of equity and salary can help the company and the employees to keep working toward success. In the late 1990s it was all about equity, but those days are long gone. Linking pay to the achievement of goals is the best way to create a win-win scenario.

In times like this it is the vision of the entrepreneur that can make all the difference. If you have a great culture employees will be inspired to find ways to save money and cut costs during the lean times. Communication with employees is paramount as key team members want trust and transparency from management. When the employee feels they are part of the solution - tough times are less scary..

Adjust to the realities of the market, but do not stop pursuing your entrepreneurial dreams. Great companies are always born during the economic the downturns. Be aware of what is happening in and around your industry, but do not let the bad news paralyze your efforts.

Have A Great Day.

thom

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Style And Pizazz

Some people have great style.

I don't mean their clothes, haircuts, or sporty cars.

I am talking about how people live in their own skin. The manner in which they react to all that happens around then. Certain people move about the world with unique confidence, power and competence. These folks have gravitas (look it up).

People come into our lives and show us by example how to extend our own reach. They teach us how to be all that we can be. We each need to be open and ready for these lessons when they arrive or we miss opportunities. I believe we all want to grasp more of that passion that some possess naturally. Those folks with that style and pizazz are no different from anyone else, they just take action.

Someone I admire sent me an email encouraging me to take a specific action. He ended his email with:
"p.s. Life is about the questions you ask: Not “I cannot afford this” But “HOW can I afford this?” Nice! I want to add: "Can I afford NOT to do this?! (meaning - I MUST just find a way to do this!!!)"

Taking action is the key. It is easy to make excuses, but that does not lead anyone toward the desired success. I know first hand that when we take actions we get results. I see this in my own world, but even more so in the lives of my entrepreneurial friends who are growing successful companies. I like the style of those entrepreneurs who never see obstacles, but only opportunities.

Entangle yourself in a level of that style and bring it into your own life. Emulate the success traits of those you admire. Project confidence. The image you put forth to the world does matter.

Have A Great Day.

thom

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Seminar for Early Stage Businesses - Navigating This Tricky Economy

Austin, Texas - This Thursday morning (October 30th) vcfo is sponsoring an educational seminar for early stage companies focused on how to navigate the choppy waters of today's crazy economy.

vcfo's “Business Life Cycle Seminar Series” is designed as a seminar discussion to provide executives and entrepreneurs with insight into overcoming obstacles and challenges throughout a company’s life cycle.

With today’s economic challenges, now is a good time for every business to take a close look at their financial situation and assess both the immediate and longer term impact of recent economic events. Attend the first part of this series, “Emerging as a New Business”, to discuss:

  • How to navigate the current economic climate
  • Securing financing for your business
  • Getting started and maintaining operational setup and management
The expert panel consists of:

Corey Blahuta - Managing Director, vcfo Austin
Derek Willis - Partner, Wilson Sonsini
Dana Duran - Director, vhr

There are only eight seats still available (update - only 7 seats left) for this small interactive conversation. If you would like to attend, please contact me directly at tsinger (at) vcfo.com for the details.

Any entrepreneur who currently has an early stage company, or someone who is close to launching their business will find this seminar valuable.

Have A Great Day.

thom

Monday, October 27, 2008

Why Social Networking - Is Everyone OnLine?

This post is not for most of the people who read this blog. Most readers are already actively using the internet to make, grow and keep their business and personal relationships. These social media regulars already possess a deep understanding of the plethora of online tools that are available for people to engage. Those of use who have accounts on LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Plaxo and countless other social media sites often forget that not everyone has taken the plunge.

In fact, those of us who are active online tend to interact mostly with our friends and associates who populate these worlds. Out of sight is out mind and we have a blind spot to those who do not use the internet for this purpose, either by ignorance or by choice.

I recently had a conversation with a very successful business person who had intentionally avoided having any online presence beyond a company website. He had believed that the online social media / social networking world was reserved for those who came from later generations, not for his baby boomer peers. While he is very tech savvy, and has pushed his company to adopt most of the latest technology, he had never been comfortable with the transparent nature of joining the social networking movement.

Many business people do not grasp the power that others have encountered via their online efforts. They look at the time commitment and other negatives that come from becoming part of the interactive internet communities and they decide that they are either too busy or that the whole thing is a fad.

In 1989 I worked for a man who refused to purchase a fax machine. He saw no advantage of this technology over sending contracts by mail, and he proclaimed the whole "technology" trend to be a fad. Eventually he did purchase a fax machine, as well as computers, cell phones, etc.... He still claims that the fax machine was a fad, just one that lasted for 25 years. He points out that he never uses the fax any more, as everything is now done by email. He is, however, now a heavy user of technology and has become an early adopter of the newest tools to grow his business!

The same thing is true of online social media, many mistakenly think it is a passing fancy, but they will be on board soon enough.

Some who have not yet jumped into the social networking pool wonder if they are getting in too late. They are concerned if they start a blog now that nobody will notice. They fear that if they sign up for LinkedIn they many never get connections, as people seem to be reaching capacity for handling all their existing online relationships. Some fret about looking foolish or unprofessional in their industry, if their peers are not yet part of the game (although these people are often surprised to find their peers and competitors are actively cultivating social networking communities).

My opinion is that everyone needs to have an online presence. You need not have a personal blog or custom website to promote yourself, but you should make sure that those who are seeking information about you can easily discover your basic information with a simple search.

Our society is becoming more demanding of access to information. The focus should not be on your desire to place this information on the web, but instead your customers, prospects, referral sources, future employers and others desire to be able to know about you.

I realize to some this sounds intrusive to privacy. I am not saying that you need to tell all online. However, when you realize that the business world is migrating to this open model, then you understand that if you hide yourself from their view they may decide you are not worth the effort. Many people who choose not to participate are seen as out of touch, secretive, difficult or maybe hiding something. Worse yet, they are just passed by altogether and not thought about at all.

In a world full of choices, there are those who will gladly turn to someone else (your competition) who makes it easier for them to interact and gain access.

Not everyone is living and working on line. We are still early in the process and there are still new technologies yet to be released. It is clear that these social networking tools are becoming more pervasive and to embrace them early is the key to not being left behind.

My advice to those who have avoided is to get over your excuses. Start with a LinkedIn account for your business contacts. LinkedIn has become a widely used site and is seen as the business standard in social networking. Additionally have an account on Facebook. You will be surprised by whom will seek you out and discover you. A college friend opened a Facebook page to monitor the activities of his teenage daughters and the result was that he reconnected with dozens of his friends and former co-workers with whom he had lot touch. He was thrilled.

My 68-year-old father-in-law was searching for an old friend and we told him to try Facebook (and other sites). While he did not find the person he was seeking, he did discover that his former students (he taught high school for 40 years), co-workers, and family connections were present on the internet. He has had a lot of fun in his retirement re-connecting with those who had touched him throughout his life time. (side note, we did have to point out to him that when he meets and old friend for coffee he should not say they "hooked up" - as this has a different meaning on the internet!).

Be warned that not everyone uses these tools in the same way, so you will be overrun by "friend requests" from strangers, spammers, link-collectors and others whom you do not wish to be connected. Establish your personal criteria, or "linking strategy". I do not accept links from anyone that I have not had a meal or a drink with (or the digital equivalent). I want to ensure that everyone I am connected to on LinkedIn or Facebook are people whom I actually know and who would take my phone call.

Remember that people are watching all you do on the internet. Think about the photos that you post and the people and groups that you choose to be linked with. One middle aged gentleman that I know has become the butt of many jokes because of the number of sexy twenty-year-old "friends" he has on his MySpace page. While these unknown "friends" requests pop up regularly, he has accepted so many of them that he looks like a dirty old man when you review his contacts.

There is more to follow on this topic in the coming days, as this post is already un-naturally long.

Have A Great Day.

thom

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Wellness Quest Continues

Ten days ago I wrote about my re-born attention to wellness. Four years ago I had lost 30 pounds, but over ten had returned and I know first hand that the only way I can combat my weight issues is to have a dedication to my personal will power and focus. Overall wellness has to be my goal.

While I did hit the candy bowl at the office (curse those M&M's), and have not really focused on my cholesterol when making food choices, I have made some progress.

I have tried to cut down on the size of my portions at meals. I actually ate only half my burrito while sitting in the airport (no other food seemed appealing, but I stopped at half the burrito, so that is saying something!). Whoa.... don't judge me...., I had to eat something besides the Southwest Airlines peanuts!!!

Additionally I made it to the gym three times this week. I went on Monday at lunchtime when my scheduled appointment canceled at the last minute. Thursday I was traveling to Phoenix to give a speech and I got up at 5:30 AM to hit the hotel gym (I was VERY proud of myself for this one!). And today I had a great work out, followed by Cedar Plank Salmon for dinner (oh yes, this boy can cook. Sure, my wife is a cookbook author, but I am no slouch with meal prep).

I lost two pounds in the last 10 days. That is a good start. Eight more to go. The trick now is to shut out the candy jar at the office (Yes, I realize it is Halloween Week) and to continue my attention to my meal choices and portions. Getting the exercise is paramount, and I am so busy I am not sure when I will get it all in... but it is the key to my wellness efforts.

Oh, sleep is also important. I get an "F" on that this week, as my traveling to give a speech coupled with all my other responsibilities kept me from snoozing the desired numbers of hours.

Alas, the wellness quest continues.

Have A Great Day.

thom

Friday, October 24, 2008

Introducing the Heart House HALOS


I speak with many people in the Greater Austin area who are looking for a way to get involved with a local charity, but have no idea where to start.

Giving back to the community is a wonderful way to serve your fellow man while making a difference in improving the future for everyone.

If you are looking for a way to have an impact in Austin, Texas I would like to introduce you to Heart House.

I have the honor of serving on the board of this amazing organization that provides free afterschool programs dedicated to providing a safe haven and academic support to low-income children and encouraging them to become good citizens.

For those who are interested I would like to announce the formation of a brand new organization designed to help support the great cause of Heart House. The Heart House HALOS is an auxiliary professional networking and fundraising organization that will allow members to invest in helping to grow the Heart House program, while exposing members to similarly passionate supporters this youth oriented charity.

What a great way to meet other key people from the community while helping this charitable program continue to grow!

Now is the chance to get involved in the ground floor of the HALOS. If you have desired the chance to be a part of a dynamic charitable organization that will make a direct impact on those in need in our community, please consider making the annual donation of $1000 and joining the charter group of the HALOS. 2009 will be an exciting year for Heart House and the HALOS.

For more information see http://www.hearthouse.org/ or call Megan Heredia (Heart House Development Coordinator) at 512-929-8187. Or feel free to reach out directly to me and I will tell you more about what we have planned for the schedule for the HALOS in 2009. Good times and raising money for a good cause! Join today.

Have A Great Day.

thom

Thursday, October 23, 2008

New Year Publishing Acquires New Products

My publishing company, New Year Publishing, has made its first acquisition. We are proud to announce that we have acquired the following books by author Douglas P. Florzak.

Free Agent Marketing Guide and Successful Independent Consulting: Turn Your Career Experience Into A Coaching Career

They are both great business books that can help the reader advance their career. We are proud to have them in the New Year Publishing growing family of products.

Enjoy.

Have A Great Day.

thom

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Learn From Mistakes and Try To Do Better Next Time

I recently was reconnected with someone I attended college with via Facebook. He had a great quote on his profile that has stuck in my head for the past few days:

"Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement."

It made me smile because I find it to be so simple -- yet so true.

I look back on who I was in my teens and twenties, and I laugh at myself. I made a lot of mistakes. Some silly, some dumb, and other mistakes were just plain foolish. I often wish that life came with a re-set button! But it does not. These mistakes were really lessons for the future.

Without some bad judgement in youth, many would fail to recognize good judgement later in life. My mistakes allow me to be on the path I am on today. If I had not stumbled or fell on my face.... I would not be the person I am today. I admit to and recognize my mistakes, rather than trying to bury them under the rug.

I feel bad about the times when I did not treat others properly. Dealing with others is a hard lesson. I know now that showing respect to others, even when you disagree, is a good thing. Gossip, bad-mouthing, judging, excluding and hurting others feelings are never the right actions. But with the immaturity of youth I often was prey to such things. Even now it is sometimes hard not to prejudge others, even though I know better.

One never knows who is the catalyst that will help you reach the next level in your journey. Therefore you must be open minded and willing to cultivate friendships with all types of people whom you meet. Treat them well and learn from their unique experiences and points of view.

If you have not always made relationships with others a priority, take the next two months and experiment with how to reach out to others. The holiday season gives you ample opportunity to put others first, and to praise them for what makes them special. I think you will be surprised at how people will respond toward you when you help others (even when it is not them, they still like to see you help someone other than yourself).

Develop an attitude of wanting to see others succeed, and they will want to see you succeed. Learn from any mistakes you have made in the past, and build from the experience. Admit your mistakes, and strive to do better next time.

Have A Great Day.

thom

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Happy Birthday, Dad


It was Wednesday, October 21, 1914 when my father was born in Los Angeles, California. That was 34,334 days ago. He has seen a lot of changes in our world along the way.

The population of Los Angeles County that year was only 790,000 (today over 10 million people live in LA County).

The first world war was beginning in Europe at the time and it was the first week that the United States Postal Service used an automobile to collect and deliver mail. (amazing what you can learn with a quick Google search).

I always have been grateful to have had great parents. I grew up knowing that I had unconditional love. My dad was always patient with me, even when I was a nutty kid. I admire him and am proud to be his son.

I got to spend the day with him last week (I live 2000 miles away). While he is old, he is still sharp. I hope that I got his genetics, as even at 94 he is still going strong.

Happy Birthday, Dad.

thom

Monday, October 20, 2008

Meetings Are Still Expensive

Someone needs to tell the hotel industry that there is a recession.

Years ago you could always get the hotel's to waive the room rental fee for the ball room if you were hosting enough people for your meeting. They made their money on the food and beverage.

Then came the crazy boom-boom days, and the fees and service charges grew to giant levels. Breakfast meetings can now run as high as $20 per person for a Continental Breakfast... not even hot food!

I am currently trying to find a location to host and educational seminar, and am shocked at the costs being charged by the local hotels. They seem to have no availability and want a $500 room rental fee on top of the charges for the meal. Wowwy. I am just having about 40 people for a breakfast meeting.

One would think that the fancy Hotel Management folks would watch the economic forecasts and be looking to work with potential clients. Meanwhile, I am searching out unique venues in Austin, Texas to host my company's educational seminars into the future. Any suggestions? Hotel ballrooms are yesterday's news, anyway!

Have A Great Day.

thom

As Seen In Newsday

I was quoted today in an article in NEWSDAY:

Small Business: Honing a good networking relationship

Enjoy.

thom

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Social Media, Web 2.0, Changing Communication Styles and The Great Flood

Much of the focus in the business world is moving away from the organization and toward the individual. With this I am perplexed as to if the individual can handle this power.

Not any specific individuals, as there are amazing people in all organizations (corporations, non-profits, religious, political, social, etc....), but there are also many lost souls who look for direction from others. I wonder if our moves toward a decentralized model leave many people on the sidelines looking for guidance. Are the haves and have nots no longer just divided by economics, but also by their ability to embrace the changes that the digital world is bringing into our lives?

Those who are natural leaders and entrepreneurs are seeming to thrive in this new transparent environment. Many of the people I know are striving to excel in the new online social media world that is now finding its way out of the fringes and into more traditional industries. You see them writing and reading blogs, active in social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and beyond), while creating new opportunities for themselves and their employers all at the same time. These people are out front into this brave new world.

Yet where there are leaders, there must be followers. But in this case I see much of the movement being in an individualistic parade. All the leaders seem to simultaneously be following each other.

The blogosphere and Twitter are a great example of the leaders all linking together. People have power that has never existed before to build their personal brand in exciting new ways. They do not need to have the platform of a larger organization to succeed. They self-select the community and bathe in the circular adoration.

This allows many to express themselves and cultivate a persona that extends beyond what it says on their office door or their business card: A business professional can turn their hobby into a side career. An entrepreneur can be a philanthropist and build both a company and discover ways to impact those in need. Anyone can make their own version of art and share it with the world. People who create a following have a voice that transcends the noise of Web 2.0.

But what about the rest of the people who have not the drive or the clarity of self? Those who do good work when given direction, but will never use their internal initiative on their own, are left to languish on the sidelines while the corporate and political structure of society shifts.

I am not here stating that online social media in of itself changes the infrastructure of the planet. However, it is not a fad that will soon fade away. The new methods of communication are having an impact on people. As the younger generations grow up to assume their roles in shaping our society, there will be drastic changes.

The differences between the campaign infrastructure and communication styles of the Barak Obama campaign and that of John McCain are just a scratch on the surface of things to come (and not just in politics). A new area is being ushered in and regardless of if you are 15 or 50, you need to be conscious this or you will be left behind.

We are being swallowed up by a great flood of information. Everyone is bombarded by choices like not other time in history. Many are looking for ways to embrace and capitalize on the massive amounts of information. Others are ignoring the rain and assuming the sun will come out tomorrow. Yes, there will be sun, but it will shine on a different world.

I don't have the answers, but I do suggest we all look at the questions. This is a time for the "Big Tent Thinkers" I have referenced in past blog posts. Do not close your small tent to new ideas. Allow all perspectives to be put in front of you for observation and contemplation. Look beyond what you know and welcome the future.

Have A Great Day.

thom

Friday, October 17, 2008

New Austin Tech Blog - STARTING UP by Lori Hawkins

Austin American-Statesman reporter Lori Hawkins has a new blog "STARTING UP", which I have recently begun to read.

Lori is a fixture in the Austin Tech Community, and her blog is a fresh "must read" for those who live, work and play in and around the start-up community.

I have been trying to add her to my Blog Roll - but the service I use (www.blogrolling.com) is having some issues. I will add her to my list as soon as I can get access.

Check out her 1999 story about the 25 top people to know in technology that she mentioned in her October 3rd blog post. The people mentioned are still mostly the people to know nine years later!

Great job with the new blog, Lori.

Have A Great Day.

thom

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wellness and the Busy Person

I am always on the go. I am not one of these guys who has a lot of unscheduled downtime (although I do long for it on occasion), and hate just hanging around without a purpose.

With a great job, an exciting opportunity to write books and speak for companies across the country, and an amazing family - there is not much open time on my schedule, and I often worry that I am not doing enough to satisfy any of these areas in my life. Sometimes something has to be left behind, and that often is my attention to my personal wellness, fitness and health. This creates a drain on the energy I need to get through my crazy life.

Having enough energy to go from one activity to the next and not suffering burn out is a problem for many who burn the candle at both ends. Eating right, getting enough sleep, exercise and having some time to contemplate the universe all seem to take a back seat to finishing current projects, running to networking events and keeping up on the plethora of conflicting responsibilities.

Four years ago I lost thirty pounds. I had gotten heavy from a lifestyle that had too little exercise and too much food (and some good wine and beer! Oh, and ice cream. Lots of ice cream). Dropping the weight was not easy and involved the most intense focus I have ever mustered up in my lifetime. The four days a week in the gym were not only necessary to reach my goal, but necessary to keep the weight off.

Over the past year I have neglected my dedication to my health and now I find that about ten pounds have returned, and so has a very slight elevation in my cholesterol. That sucks.

When I look around at the most successful people I know, they make wellness a priority. The image of the "rich and fat" businessman of a century ago is replaced by those at the top being the most fit. Sure, not everyone, but as I look around, health and success seem to be linked. And yet these are the people who have the least amount of free time.

DAMN, there goes my best excuse!

I recently had a my annual physical and I am in great shape for 42 years old, other than that ten pounds and the cholesterol. The good news is that is something I can fix. I also know that with focus on wellness comes more physical and mental energy. Something I need to stay on top of it all on a daily basis.

With the economy in flux, I think that everyone needs to grab onto something positive over which they can have some level of control. We cannot control the stock market, and we seem to have given up on controlling Washington DC (this whole political season has made me sick). Maybe the answer is controlling our future through our health.

Have A Great Day.

thom

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Navigating The Credit Crisis


This guest blog post originally appeared on the Austin Start-up Blog on October 14, 2008. The author, Ellen Wood, is the owner of the company where I work, vcfo, inc.

Ellen Wood is the co-founder and CEO of Austin based vcfo, inc. The firm specializes in operational finance and accounting, HR Solutions and recruiting services for companies of all sizes. She can be reached at 512-345-9441. www.vcfo.com.

The ongoing credit crisis is the major topic from Wall Street to Main Street in recent weeks. From business owners to employees, everyone is concerned about the long term effects of the current financial situations on their industry.

Many Austin based companies are wondering what tomorrow will bring for the early stage / start up environment and if there will be access to creative alternative funding sources in order to provide options in the face of unexpected liquidity challenges.

It is my belief that no segment of the economy will escape untouched. Many companies are not prepared to withstand significant changes to their debt facilities. Changes are already happening - ranging from cancelled facilities to changes in terms - to all forms of working capital credit including; term loans, revolvers, AR facilities, staged equity infusions, purchase order financing, and even factoring.

Anticipate the impact and begin to prepare immediately to weather the economic turbulence ahead for all sectors of the economy. If you feel you need help doing this, seek advice from professionals in evaluating the impact on your company. Evaluate your exposure, optimize your existing financing, and secure alternative funding sources if appropriate to your situation. Some specific things to pay attention to follow:

  • Review carefully your loan documentation with special attention to covenants and what constitutes a material adverse condition.
  • Update your forecast and project your covenant compliance under revised projection.
  • Contact your banker proactively if you anticipate missing any of your covenants or other commitments, but be prepared to answer their questions and ideally to suggest whatever changes you feel you need to make to the facility.
  • If you opened the company American Express Card then likely it is still relying on your personal credit even if multiple cards have been issued. You may not even be with the company any more. Make sure this liability is not your personal liability.
  • Understand your personal liability for any debt instrument or lease arrangement.
  • Anticipate that shareholder loans you may have made to your company may be restricted as to repayment.
  • If you are working with a staged equity infusion agreement, review your milestones against current projections. Identify potential misses and suggest alternative terms.
As a survivor of the last significant downturn, I know first hand how unsettling this experience can be to a business owner. Tough times are painful but can also generate new opportunities. I encourage business owners to take a hard look at their companies and make the necessary changes to adapt to the changing environment. I’m confident the entrepreneurial spirit of Austin business owners will prevail through this current economic crisis

Sell The Banjo

In 1987 when the economy took a downturn, entrepreneur Steve Harvey and his wife had tough choices to make to keep their Huntsville, Alabama start up afloat.

He sold his banjo.

I just loved the ring of the words "sell the banjo!" His colorful story was related to me when in a group conversation about the ups and downs of the economic conditions facing entrepreneurs. There are always tough times, and there are always creative ways to deal with them. When times got tough he sold his banjo. Everyone makes sacrifices.

The stock market and thus the retirement funds of millions of people are on a roller coaster ride and there are many people looking for ways to stay secure in the face of uncertainty. Hopefully those who love music do not have to pawn their instruments!

I am not sure if the banjo brought in enough money to meet payroll that week, but it was a funny story, and one that showed that entrepreneurs will go to any length for their calling to create, build and sustain their enterprise.

The show must go on, with or without the banjo.

While most I talk with are nervous about the financial crisis, the most entrepreneurial are not scared. Those who have that business calling in their heart and soul know that there is always a path toward success in good times and in bad times. They are confident that they will find a way to weather the tough times.

The best business leaders are taking the time right now to assess the situation of their company and of their customers and vendors. This is not the time for a company to "wait and see", but instead they must take proactive steps to position themselves for whatever the economy has in store over the next year. Planning will help your company survive.

This is also important for individuals. Dedicate the time to review your financial positions and talk with your family about all possible scenarios that could happen. If you lose your job what steps will you take. By thinking about this in advance you will be prepared, which will make it much easier to handle the situations that may arise. Surprises can be emotionally draining, but if you have thought about it, then you can jump right in and take action.

You can sell the banjo.

Have A Great Day.

thom

Monday, October 13, 2008

Naked Networking

What do you wear when you network? Have you ever networked naked?

I am not talking about clothes or recommending going to your local nudist camp to make business contacts!!! (where would you keep your business cards?).

I am referring to the mental costumes that we all wear when we leave the house. The people we meet are often hiding parts of themselves. Most of us do it. I know I do. I try not to, but inside w0rry about being pre-judged and then subconsciously cover up pieces of myself.

However, how can we expect others to give their all to us when we have suppressed ourselves? We have to have faith that who we are is good enough and complete. Share your soul in order to receive others.

Strip off the facade and let the you inside be present when you network. Make it a gift that you put out to the people that you meet, and they will return the favor.

Network naked. Yes, it can be scary, and maybe some people will not like you. So what? Those with whom you do build mutually beneficial relationships will appreciate you more than anyone who only gets to know only part of you. Real connections are where the power lies.

Have A Great Day.

thom

Saturday, October 11, 2008

What Happens After The Election?

I had an interesting conversation with a stranger on an airplane about which side of the political spectrum will better handle defeat in the United States Presidential Election that is now just weeks away.

It was a deep and thoughtful discussion about the partisan extremism, "win at all cost" attitude that seems to populate the highest levels of our government. From the current administration to the Speaker of the House to the candidate's mouth pieces... our political system is often more about party than country.

I wont share the details of the discussion here (as it would be offensive to people on both sides, and I am tired of getting the emails from people chastising my blogging politics).... but it was a very interesting topic to ponder.

This week John McCain jumped to the defense of Barak Obama on a couple of occasions when audience members at his rallies went over the line in questioning the democrats character. I was proud of McCain's swift answers. I believe McCain is an honorable man.

I would like to see the candidate who loses this election be the person who takes up the cause of creating a better atmosphere in Washington DC. It would be nice to see the one who does not take the highest office do more than just offer a pleasant concession speech and then be a thorn in the side of the new administration. It would be a pleasant surprise if that person put country first and party second and rally his troops to have a more civil dialogue with the new president.

The polls are starting to show the momentum to Obama. Should this hold true in the one poll that really matters, I would recommend to McCain that he build his legacy for the next four to eight years by working to create a fresh new (and real) atmosphere of bi-partisanship in the halls of government.

The same goes for Mr. Obama. Should he return to his Senate seat, it would be wonderful if he set an example for his other elected officials and helped the new president succeed.

That is what this country needs at this time in history. We don't just need a leader in the White House, we need a leaders in the opposite party who will stand up to the B.S. inside their own party and publicly work as a team to solve the problems facing all Americans.

Have A Great Day.

thom

InnoTech Austin - This Week!

Complimentary passes to InnoTech Austin for October 16

InnoTech – Austin’s Technology Innovation Conference & Expo

Thursday, October 16, Austin Convention CenterInformation and registration at www.innotechaustin.com.

A limited number of complimentary passes are available. Please register at www.innotechaustin.com

Use SING777 in the Discount Code field for complimentary admission.
(This pass does NOT include CIO Summit or eMarketing Summit, extra registration fee is required)

This year includes an impressive line up of national and local sponsors and supporters (all posted on the www.innotechaustin.com website...check it out!)

InnoTech Keynote Presented by Angelos Angelou – Open to allAustin's Technology Roadmap - Staying on the Right Path7:30am – Coffee outside Room 12B
8:00am – 9:00am, Meeting Room 12B, 4th Floor

For the past 10 years, Austin has been on an exciting path, leading the tech industry to new heights in Central Texas (and beyond) and spawning hundreds of new, innovative tech companies. So, how do we keep the energy, enthusiasm, innovation and dollars flowing?

Here are a few of the InnoTech conference tracks & special events (ALL great reasons to take part in InnoTech):

-Green IT Summit hosted by Green Technology Alliance
- Microsoft Solutions Theater-
Beta Summit II – Demos of Austin’s Hottest Technologies-Application Track, iPhone presentations
-Virtualization with Sun, Cloud Computing with Google, Data Storage with XioTech, Security with IBM and much more-InnoTech Happy 45-Minutes (the perfect place to mingle over complimentary beverages, live music and exhibits)
-Developers Track – (Ruby, Agile, RIA and more)
-And more!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fall Service Day

Today was the annual Entrepreneurs Foundation of Central Texas "Fall Service Day". Nearly 400 volunteers from 25 companies came out to help renovate Govalle Elementary School in East Austin.

Painting, planting trees, and other maintenance was completed by the volunteers from the local technology companies. How cool it is to be part of a business community who cares.

Have A Great Day.

thom

New Speaker Video

Here is a short promotional video from one of my recent presentations. Enjoy.



Have A Great Day.

thom

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Strategic Value for Corporate Meetings

Everyone is scrambling about on how to respond to the current financial crisis. Nearly everyone you talk with has some trepidation about how the situation will effect their industry and them personally. People are nervous, but the sun still rises and there is work to be done. Business is not grinding to a halt, and most companies I know are buckling down and pushing forward into the storm.

But with this forward motion also comes some contemplative assessments of how they spend their money over the next several quarters.

Think about corporate meetings. We often imagine the multi-million dollar a year meeting industry in the United States as only encompassing the large industry conferences and other mega-sized meetings that populate the halls of grand hotels and convention centers. However, business meetings cover the spectrum from the gigantic to the more intimate internal planning sessions for small and mid-sized companies.

Even in tough economic climates, the show must go on. I speak regularly people who are planning their company's end of year meeting or Q1 kick off, and they are still excited to be hosting their company gathering, but in many cases they are under tighter cost controls than they have had in the past.

Business leaders are looking to measure the strategic value that their conference is bringing to their team.... And they are seeking ways to curb some of the traditional costs (without harming the overall power of the event). Companies are looking to hire speakers who are willing to work with them to align their message directly with their 2009 action plans. Some are shortening their meetings to less days, and asking the outside presenters to commit to more personal interaction and participation.

I am finding meeting planners do not want to hire just anyone (no matter how good they are on stage), but instead they are seeking speakers whose personalities are in synch with the company. Much more time is being invested upfront to interview and understand the core soul of the presentation.

I am being asked to join the conference attendees for their meals and happy hours, and also participate in breakout sessions after my presentation where I can facilitate directly with their employees - assisting their focus more directly on the the nuts and bolts of cultivating their professional relationships. This means coaching personally with those who want to go deeper with creating their networks.

I am happy to do this, as I find that my message is better received when I do get the chance to network directly with the audience.

Some companies are asking their vendors or VARs to help them facilitate their meetings, inviting them to sponsor the cost of meals, golf outings, spa treatments (Hello!!! - AIG...you should have had a vendor cover that $400,000 expense last week!) or paying the speaker's fees (cool with me, I don't care who writes the check!!!). For their sponsorship the vendor / VAR is granted access directly to the company and all the employees at the meeting.

Corporate meetings are expensive, but they are still a valuable tool for educating, motivating and creating stronger bonds with employees. While the world is going digital, we are still human beings, and no webcast or teleseminar will ever be able to create the same experience as live interaction.

While companies will be cutting costs of meetings, they will still be holding meetings in 2009.

The smart ones are seeking input from their staff to discover what has been worthwhile at past events (and what has been a waste of time). They are looking for employees to recommend speakers that they have personally seen in action (I have two events this fall where the lead came from someone inside their company who saw me speak at another conference).

Additionally, it is a good idea for meeting planners to spend some time talking with speakers to discover what they are finding successful at other meetings where they are on the stage. A good speaker is more than just an orator who will entertain your troops then fly home. Instead the best are seasoned professionals who can be a trusted advisor to help you establish the best practices for your meeting.

In tough economic times when every dollar counts, you want to use every tool available to ensure the strategic value for your meeting.

Have A Great Day.

thom

Philanthropy For All

What do you think of when you hear the world "Philanthropist"? Many think it is a rich benefactor for charities. But I do not believe you need to be wealthy to be a philanthropist. Anyone can make a difference and give their time and money to help their community.

When I began earning extra money as a professional speaker my wife suggested we earmark part of the income to help out a worthy cause. Together we created The Kate Singer Endowment for Cranio-Facial Surgery. The money is donate through the Central Texas Dell Children's Medical Center Foundation. It is not a lot of money at any one time, but over the years the small checks add up to thousands. Additionally on Kate's 6th birthday we hosted an online social media fund raiser which brought in an additional $1710 to fund research by local doctors who specialize in helping children in Texas who are born head and facial abnormalities (in February we plan another online social media fund raiser that will surpass $3000 in 2009).

I am not bragging, I am pointing out that anyone can help out a good cause. I believe the problem is that individuals believe one needs to give large sums of money to have an impact. But small amounts consistently given over time add up to make a difference. Additionally, when you band together with others, the numbers can really add up. It just takes action to make a difference.

The other mistake that is made in the world of philanthropy is that not-for-profit organizations tend to put out the image that they are only "elephant hunting" when they are looking for donors. Some seem to only focus on people who can write the big checks, making the average person feel like an outsider. The truth is that charities are usually welcoming of anyone who will donate to their cause. Again, the big grants and mega donors are nice, but having the grassroots people who are passionate about their cause is also very important.

I have recently joined the board of a great local charity, Heart House, which supports free after school programs dedicated to providing a safe haven and academic support to low-income children and encouraging them to become good citizens. The organization is young and still growing, and has become a great place for me to learn about the world of charitable organizations. We are about to launch a professional auxiliary group that will help the organization continue to raise money to expand their good works, while allowing members to network and create programs that will have a meaningful impact (More to follow next week on the Heart House HALOS program. I am the board liaison to this new group and look forward to getting people involved who are hungry to get involved with a local cause).

Austin, Texas has a local campaign to help those who want to learn more about giving back to their community. The I Live Here, I Give Here
Campaign is on a mission to boost local giving by educating fellow Austinites about the needs in Central Texas and the organizations working to meet those needs. This is a great place to start if you have an interest in local charities.

I am also a huge fan of the Entrepreneurs Foundation of Central Texas. This community of entrepreneurs provides a financial vehicle for early stage companies to allocate inexpensive private equity to a donor advised fund, creating a source of cash for corporate community investments that doesn’t impact future company earnings or operating cash. In addition they organize the technology business community to participate in service days twice a year, which brings together hundreds of professionals to work on projects that improve local schools.

No matter where you live, if you have a desire to make a difference in your community, do not sit back and wait. Many think they will give once they are rich, but it may be better to start a regular philanthropic donating process early and let the small dollars add up. Many of us are fortunate, even if we do not have a fortune. To everyone whom much is given, much is also required (Luke 12:48). Find your cause and support it. You will make a difference.

Have A Great Day.

thom

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Jack McDonald, CEO of Perficient, Speaks at ACG Luncheon

If you attend enough networking events you quickly learn the difference between an executive who is a great presenter, and an executive who gets asked to give a presentation.

Most of the lunch and dinner speakers who populate the stages at corporate networking events, seminars and other gatherings are just average at the podium (many are horrible!). While they are "okay", most do not leave you with any interesting points to ponder.... they do not inspire the audience. It is the rare exception that you go to a networking event and walk away saying "WOW, that was a fantastic presentation".

Those are the exact words I heard from folks as I exited today's Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) - Central Texas Chapter - monthly meeting in Austin, Texas.

Jack McDonald, CEO of Perficient, Inc. (PRFT) was the speaker who both entertained and informed the audience of over 80 local business executives. His speaking style was casual, relaxed and conversational as he roamed away from the microphone and walked about the tables as he spoke at the Shoreline Grill.

He not only shared the stories and strategies of his own company, but did what most lunchtime business speakers forget - he coupled his examples with real life take-aways that other businesses can adopt in their own journey toward success. It was the applicable nuggets of knowledge that he gave which made his presentation shine.

He began his talk by pointing out that the news lately has been plagued by talk of recession and depression, but instead took his words in a different direction: He talked about growing a company in these turbulent times.

Perficient is one of Austin's best stories of a home grown success. The company, which launched in the late 1990s, had it's IPO in the heart of the boom-boom days has survived and has prospered under McDonald's leadership. Their strategy for defining their marketplace and discovering where they can compete and win has allowed them to beat their competition about 80% of the time.

Diversification of product offerings will make a company stronger over the long hall. In a tough economy, it would not be wise to have too many eggs in any one basket. Perficient has made sure that they are not too reliant on any one company or industry - and this has allowed them to continue to grow in an industry where 9 out of 10 of their competitors have gone out of business during the past 8 years.

The company now has 18 domestic offices in the United States as well as several overseas locations. They are creating good jobs at home and abroad. McDonald was clear that expanding internationally is not a zero-sum game in regards to jobs, and pointed out that by opening up and expanding internationally they have created MORE jobs in the USA.

"Continue to challenge your assumptions" was also a key point. Because something worked for your company yesterday is not reason enough when the market realities are shifting. Keeping fixed costs low, having flexible labor options and avoiding expensive "ego-driven" real estate are the best recommended strategies for a company that wants to be able to react to the fast changes that always around the next corner.

McDonald reminded the crowd that while we are facing a recession, it is not the end of the world. His company will still attain growth. The message was clear that other companies should also embrace the future and uncover ways to continue to grow, in spite the sour outlook for the economy over the next few quarters.

His conversation ended with discussion about the future of Austin. While many leaders of entrepreneurial companies do not venture beyond the walls of their company, McDonald serves as Austin Chamber of Commerce’s 2008 Vice Chair of Technology and Chair of the AusTech Alliance. Strengthening the tech industry in Austin is part of the Chamber’s Opportunity Austin five-year plan which has surpassed its goals to add 72,000 new jobs and $3.5 billion in payroll to the region’s economy.

Austin is an internationally recognized center for entrepreneurship and technology development with one of the country's best and most educated workforces. It is a diverse and tolerant community that is poised to continue to grow into the future.

While it is the individual entrepreneurs that make things happen, we owe a debt to the infrastructure that has been created over the past three decades that has allowed Austin to thrive. McDonald appealed to the audience to support the Chamber's new Opportunity Austin 2.0 push that is now underway with greater goals for expanding the local economy and growing over 117,000 jobs between now and the 2013.

Getting entrepreneurs involved to build the community now is how we can insure the future.

I have known Jack McDonald for a long time, and consider him a friend, but had never seen him speak before. Probably one of the best CEO speakers I have ever seen. But more than his verbiage, it was the reality of his advice that connected to the audience.

When business leaders take an interest in helping grow the community, it inspires others to do the same thing. Then it is a perpetual motion machine that cannot be stopped. I feel good about the future of Austin and the technology industries that populate our landscape, as even with some economic hiccups in the near future, we have the talent to keep growth in our sights. Both for companies like Perficient (and others) and the Central Texas region will prosper because of the leadership in place.

Have A Great Day.

thom

Sunday, October 05, 2008

How To Recession Proof Your Company

No matter what industry you work in, the economy is affecting your business. Regardless of if you are directly or indirectly touched by the current banking and credit crisis, your ability to plan for the future is uncertain. While the Congress has taken action to help Wall Street and Main Street, the reactions on your street are still unknown.

Nobody wants a recession, but the signs seem to be clear that near-term future is going to have some bumps in the road for most businesses. This leaves the smart entrepreneur looking for ways to best navigate the unpredictable economic climate and setting course to thrive in their industry.

Competition is tough right now for everyone, but even in bad times there is always someone who beats the downward trends and ends up on the top. Everyone wants this winner to be their business, but not everyone knows the secrets to preparing their company to recession proof their future.

All opportunities come from people. No matter what you do for a living, it is people who make the buying decisions that add up to your bottom line. A doorknob has never been responsible for you winning a sale (unless you are in the doorknob business – and even then it is really people!). Therefore it is your relationships with those whom you do business that lead you to beating the competitor in good times and in bad times.

Most people instinctively believe that they are great with relationships. I have never met a company that did not claim their best resource was their people or that they did not have excellent customer service skills. But everyone makes these claims and we all know from our own experiences as consumers that businesses often fall short of delivering to the customer – even when they claim they are superb in this area. Your company is no different than the thousands of others who claim successful consumer relationships, but unless you make it the number one priority every day, the reality is that you are possibly falling short of your goal to serve others.

Too often employees get busy doing their jobs and forget that every interaction, either in person or over the internet, is a chance to advance the personal relationship with customers, prospects, vendors or referral sources. Many who work outside of the sales department subscribe to the myth that their job is not about cultivating relationships, and they just do the minimum amount required to get by. They get away with this because they are neither encouraged nor rewarded by management to take an active role in promoting and protecting the image of the company.

Everyone at the company must feel they are instrumental in building relationships and they all must understand that everyone’s future paychecks are directly tied to the bond that they can each collectively forge with anyone and everyone they encounter.

Networking is a word that is misunderstood and undervalued by many businesses. The definition of the word does not mention attending Chamber of Commerce events and trading business cards. It is not about getting to play golf or drink free beer. Networking is “building a mutually beneficial and supportive system of sharing information and services among individuals and groups having a common interest”. This means that all employees are part of the company’s network and must understand the importance of the power of business relationships.

In a soft economy many people forget that it is that network of people in your community and industry that can and will be making referrals to clients. They can only give a certain number of choices to those in search of your product or services. If you are not making the short list of companies, then you will be going hungry during the downturn.

Educate your workforce that it is everybody’s job to be involved in growing the business. Each time they have the gift of connecting with anyone they might be able to promote the company. To leave this to chance is gambling with the future of all in the organization.

Have A Great Day

thom

Thom Singer is a professional business speaker and the author of four books on the power of business relationships and networking. He regularly instructs corporations on creating a “networking culture” inside their companies to protect and promote the image of the business. He can be reached at www.thomsinger.com

Saturday, October 04, 2008

I'm Having Twins

New Year Publishing is proud to announce the release of two new children's books:

I'm Having Twins and My Twins Are Coming Home are the first two books in the new My Friend Paris series, authored by ten-year-old author Paris Morris.

Paris is the eldest daughter of my dear friends (and business partners, editor, and visionaries behind New Year Publishing and my own series of books). She is also a good friend of my 11-year-old and a delightful young lady.

The books are the stories of a four-year-old girl (Paris) whose world is rocked with the addition of twin sisters. They are a fun read - and especially interesting and entertaining for any family who is blessed with the extra joy - AND EXTRA WORK! - of raising twins.

Paris is already getting media interviews lined up. I am sure that it is only a matter of time until Oprah Winfrey is calling.

The books are available on Amazon.com - but if you want to get a personally signed copy to give as a gift...contact me and I will put you in touch with this author -- She is available to sign books after she finishes her 5th grade homework!!!

Have A Great Day.

thom

Friday, October 03, 2008

Network In Austin (dot) Com

NetworkInAustin.com is back.

Well it was never really gone, but the brain-child of local businessman Scott Ingram was put on the back burner as he and his wife had two children, remodeled their house and Scott developed a successful career with ADP.

While still leading the charge for ADP's middle market accounts, Scott is in the process of relaunching his website that focuses on networking opportunities in the Central Texas area.

While there’s no lack of networking opportunities in Austin, there’s also no comprehensive listing of all those events and organizations.

Until now.

NetworkInAustin.com grew out of a desire to make networking as productive as possible for local small business owners by allowing them to find the networking opportunities best suited to their schedules, budgets and message. A categorized directory provides members key information about Austin’s many networking events and the organizations that sponsor them, from large Chamber of Commerce conferences to intimate small-group networking breakfasts.

Individual NetworkInAustin.com members can also receive a listing in the online networking directory, increasing their professional visibility. Can’t remember who you met during last Tuesday’s lunch? Just skim through the industry-specific listings to bring up photos, profiles and business information about Austin’s most active networkers.

NetworkInAustin.com’s goal is to facilitate the relationship-building process that is at the core of business success — and, in doing so, help transform fledgling start-up ventures into profitable long-term enterprises. They believe that productive networking is one of the best, most cost-effective marketing programs a small business can develop, one that has the potential to create powerful word-of-mouth awareness on a shoe-string budget.

Hey, I believe that too!!!

For more information visit http://www.networkinaustin.com/

****Also, Scott has created a LinkedIn Group for Austinites to have discussions and contacts with each other on LinkedIn. You do NOT need to be a member of NetworkInAustin.com to join the LinkedIn Group!!! Join today.

Have A Great Day.

thom

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Your Network Is MORE Important In A Bad Economy

Have you heard? Our economy is not doing great. One cannot pick up a newspaper, read a website or hear a broadcast without stories about how the downturn in the economy is effecting everyone from Washington to Wall Street to Main Street.

People are scared. Businesses are assessing their credit availability and are avoiding making any large decisions until the first of the year. Hiring is slowing in many areas. Consumers are nervous about making big purchases, too, as they conserve cash - there is less money for businesses (vicious circle). Wall Street and Main Street are linked. The near-term outlook for everyone is bleak (I say "near-term because we should never forget that every down in the economy is eventually follow by an up-tick!) as everyone from the person on the street to our political and business leaders look for solutions.

So what does this have to do with networking? EVERYTHING.

If you want to recession proof your career you must have a network of personal and professional contacts who know and support you. Waiting to network until you are laid off or in need is a horrible strategy to protect your future.

All opportunities come from people. While a simple statement, it is one you must take to heart. If you lost your job tomorrow would you know where to start your search for your next career? Statistics show that most jobs are filled (directly and indirectly) through contacts. If your network is limited, you ability to discover opportunities is limited as well.

If you are concerned about how the economy might effect your future it is time for you to assess you commitment to networking. When you are in need and you approach people to build a relationship it is clear that you are in the game for your own reasons. However, when you are not seeking help and you establish a mutually beneficial long-term friendship, the other person will be there for you instinctively if your career gets sidelined. You will not need to sell yourself to others who already know about your unique talents.

Which of the following people would you naturally be more likely to want to assist?

1. You get a phone call from a friend-of-a-friend whom has been out of work for three months. You have never heard of this person, but she is aggressively seeking to get on your calendar to "network". When you meet with her she seems desperate for a job, and tells you all her woes about her former employer and how she did not see the lay-off coming. She tells you all about her financial situation and how she got a less than standard severance package that is not going to last much longer. Her resume is nice, but nothing in the written word stands out or makes you say "WOW". You know nothing more about this person than what you learn in your 45 minutes together in a Starbucks.

2. You get a call from a business associate whom you have known for two years. She has sent you several referrals and you see her regularly at the local business and civic events that you attend. She is always cheerful and enthusiastic, and people around town speak highly of her commitment to her chosen career. The company where she worked just closed down, and she is calling you to tell you about her job search and ask you for advice. You know first hand that she will be a great catch for any company, and that she will make you proud if you recommend her to anyone in your network.

Duh? Number 2 will have the power of her network, and yours, working for her. The first person will get a courtesy cup of coffee with several people, but very little help from folks.

Now, whom would you rather be if you are a victim of the bumpy financial times?

If you are not already a champion of developing a large circle of influence, do not wait until it is too late. Your network is MORE important than ever!!!

Have A Great Day.

thom

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Plan For Networking

Are you getting out and seeing the people in your network on a regular basis? Many people work hard to cultivate friendships and then let those relationships drift away as they focus on adding new people to their circle of influence.

NO...Stop the insanity.

Keeping active referral partnerships alive and healthy is easier than making new ones, but it does take planning.

You have to find ways to continuously stay in front of people and remain on the top of their mind. Lets face it, your competition is probably qualified and people like them. Thus you are in a constant struggle for leaving your mark on the brain cells of those in your network.

Sending an occasional newsletter or other email blast is not enough. You have to get face time with people.

This can be accomplished one-on-one or in a group setting, but it must happen. You should try to have 5 face-to-face meetings each week. This is easy, as you need to eat breakfast and lunch, make those your networking times. Additionally you should attend two networking events each week.

Always make sure that you have some talking points in mind about something new that you or your company is doing so that you are bringing time sensitive information to those with whom you meet.

Now, why are you sitting there reading this? Go network.

Have A Great Day

thom