“Andy Lopata is a true role model for any aspiring professional speaker in my view ”
Heather Townsend, author of The Financial Times Guide to Business Networking
“Andy's enthusiastic and interactive presentation at our National conference was very much appreciated by all and his series of workshops for my leadership team has been put to significant positive use. ”
Shona MacDonald, Business Director UK & Ireland, Wound Care. Molnlycke Health Care
“The feedback from attendees was overwhelmingly positive and we will continue to run the training in other offices in EMEA. ”
Astrid Huijssoon, Senior Marketing Manager Cross Border Trade - PayPal CEMEA
“Andy’s style suited our company values perfectly as it is very much based around letting people learn at their own pace and be part of the sessions instead of just being presented to. There was a mixture of experience, job roles, nationalities and seniority in the room and Andy ensured that everyone felt this training was directed at them, such is his way with words. ”
Robert Kenward, Global Development Director, Banks Sadler
“Andy is really engaging and left the audience wanting more which is a rarity when you work in Finance! He is extremely professional and personable and it felt like Andy really knew the topics and had researched the audience. ”
Nicola Hradek, Co-Chair HSBC Balance Employee Network
“As a direct result of Andy’s workshop, we are now implementing a “networking strategy” that is aligned to supporting our key business goal. Andy’s advice/insights have made me re-think all my customer interactions and even in the short term I am getting results. ”
Adam Newman, Health Outcomes Consultant, GSK
“Andy certainly made a difference on how I normally approach / perceive events such as this. ”
Ann Azzopardi, Category Buying Manager, Pret a Manger
“It was the best talk I’ve ever been to. Loved the content, pacing, delivery, structure. Your message was very memorable (imparting that much information can leave listeners forgetting what was said) and you managed the balance between substance, detail and memorability well. ”
Rebecca Aguilar, BBC Worldwide
“"I was captivated by Andy's insightful and thought-provoking workshop. You could feel the energy in the room at the end. Several people commented that the event had changed their lives!" ”
Miranda Abraham, Chair, Women in Banking and Finance
“The feedback we received from members was overwhelmingly positive, making it one of the best sessions we had all year. ”
Aileen Parsons, Relationship Manager - Strategic Client Services, Paypal
“There is a handful of people who I would consider really an expert in networking, and Andy is one of the few people on that list. ”
Dr. Ivan Misner, Founder and CEO, BNI
“At each stage of the event from planning to delivery to follow up, Andy’s approach was extremely impressive. He spent time at the outset understanding us, the way we work and our key objectives and this continued with discussions with us in the run up to the event to shape the session to our needs. ”
Andrew Kelly, Director Human Capital Services, BDO llp
“Not only my individual life has had a total makeover after I met Andy, as a result of my personal improvement, the networks that I lead are now making a much bigger impact in the society. I can never thank Andy enough and would highly recommend him any time without hesitation. ”
Ruth Lau, Central Marketing, HSBC Private Bank
“There are many motivational speakers on the circuit who leave behind them just a short lived glow and then there are the subject matter pragmatic, passionate presenters who can potentially change the long term way their audience thinks or operates. I’d put Andy Lopata in the latter category. ”
Trevor Salomon – Director, Corporate Marketing, IFS
“Andy's 'The Networking Mindset' networking event was fascinating. I've been to loads of networking events over the years which are always full of people who don't quite know why they're there.... myself included. ”
Nicholas Harkin, Head of Risk & Governance at Close Brothers Retail Finance
“Andy, thanks again for making our Balance HK event a huge success. The audience gave you their undivided attention and you could hear a pin drop when you were speaking. I have never witnessed that before, with a room of 170+ people! ”
Maggie Suttie, Chair Balance Network, HSBC Hong Kong
“I have already received three emails and two telephone calls from attendees who have expressly advised that as a direct result of the presentation they will without doubt be changing the way in which they network. A huge success. ”
Michael Strawbridge, Head of Member Services, Learning and Performance Institute
“Wherever I go, Andy is held in very high regard and I can personally endorse him as someone who is easy to do business with, professional and also great to work with. ”
Phil Jones MBE, Managing Director, Brother UK
“Andy is an energetic presenter who quickly captured our audience's attention. The content of his presentation was excellent and fostered lively commentary and questions. We will definitely have Andy back for another session and are looking for other ways to partner with him. ”
Jennifer Rademaker, Head of Strategy Development Europe, MasterCard
“The process to gaining the right referrals does not happen overnight, but executing Andy’s strategy into your daily business routine will lead to referral success. ”
Tom Price LLB DipPFS Hodgson Wealth Management
“Several people were surprised to find out that Andy didn’t work in our sector as he related his knowledge so well and confidently, which was key to getting the audience to buy into his advice. ”
Suzanne Rowse, Director, British Boarding Schools Workshop
“'Networking' as a topic can often seem forced... about tools and techniques to 'work a room' or 'get noticed' - Andy's take on it in this talk was so far removed from the glib truisms we've all heard before. ”
Bryony Thomas, Watertight Marketing
“Andy has successfully elevated networking into more of a strategic arena ...................rather than it just being a "skills" thing. ”
Phil Jesson, Director of Speaker Development Academy for Chief Executives
“I would recommend Andy to come and spend time with any team that wants to maximize the time of its busy people out in the market ”
Tomas Freyman, Partner, Valuations. BDO llp
“In the pre-event correspondence, you were the most professional speaker we’ve ever had. By asking great questions as you did, it helped to make us more professional event organisers. ”
Jackie Barrie, Co-President, Professional Speaking Association South East England
“In the three months since Andy delivered his sessions, I've noticed a clear change in the approach taken by everyone who participated. We have already received a number of referrals as a result. ”
Andy O'Sullivan, Head of Sales - Hospitality, Wembley Stadium
“I would not be exaggerating in saying that last night was the most well received and successful event YEN London has had in over two years. ”
Jairo Jaramillo - Chairman, London Young Engineers Network
“Andy has a can do and flexible attitude and is happy to develop and shape the content in line with the clients changing needs. Feedback from participants on Andy's workshops has been consistently very positive. ”
Una Murphy, Manager BBC Careerlink
“It is great to work with a speaker like Andy who really wants to understand the audience he speaks to and tailors his content to them. ”
Galina Lebedeva, Education & Events Senior Co-ordinator, Wella UK & Ireland
“Andy worked with my business partner and me for a number of months as a referral and networking coach. Our business has demonstrably grown due to the new techniques and skills learned through working with Andy. ”
Dan Hall, Financial Advisor, Merrill Lynch
“I found the session with Andy really interesting and helpful. It offered a different perspective to development sessions I have been to before and it made me really think about how I was positioning myself at work and what I needed to be doing differently. ”
Tori Henderson, Senior Public Policy Manager HSBC

7 Reasons Not to Accept LinkedIn Connection Requests from Strangers

Regular readers of my blogs will know that I'm not an 'open networker'. That doesn't
mean that I'm not open to new connections, of course I am, but I don't just connect
with people on social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook without a purpose and
I'm not into list building. For me the depth of my network is more important than its
breadth. 
Not everyone shares my approach and I can respect that. I recognise that my chosen
approach means that I might miss an opportunity to connect with the person who
might have provided the key introduction I've been seeking or even become a big
client. But by the same logic I'd network at every chance I get, morning, noon and
night, in the knowledge that I might miss out on that all important connection if I
stay away. 
Somewhere you have to draw the line. 
In my opinion there are still far too many people who buy into the philosophy that
large networks are the key to successful networking, follow every recommendation
LinkedIn throws their way and try to connect with everyone else who comments on
the same discussion as them. For them the simple question is 'Why not connect?
What's the harm?'
Here are seven reasons they might want to consider: 
1. More noise in your network
Do you get frustrated when you go onto your LinkedIn timeline and see lots of
updates from people you don't know and whose expertise you don't consider
relevant to you? Would you like to stay more connected to people you have a
genuine relationship with by engaging with their updates? 
The larger your network, the harder that becomes. Your timeline is populated by
both the updates of the people to whom you are connected and those that they
have liked and commented upon. The more random your network, the more random
your timeline. 
2. It is harder to find a genuine introduction
LinkedIn is at its most powerful when used as a referral tool. It allows you to identify
mutual contacts between you and the people you most want to meet and then to
ask those contacts if they would recommend and refer you. 
Of course that approach becomes much harder if you have no real relationship with
the majority of people in your network. Why would they recommend you if they
don't know you and what could they genuinely say of value? And, if they are Open
Networkers, what relationship do they actually have with the person you want to
meet? 
3. Increased numbers of random connection requests
 
As soon as you accept a connection request you are then touted by LinkedIn as a
possible connection to that person's network. If their network is made up of Open
Networkers, the more you connect, the more requests you'll receive. Even if you
simply click 'accept' each time without engaging in conversation, that becomes time
consuming, even more so if you try to engage in some level of conversation. And, of
course, it becomes self-perpetuating with more and more requests coming in, the
more you connect. 
4. An increased risk of phishing
It's not nice to find out that someone has used your images and details in order to
defraud someone else. This has happened to me and to colleagues of mine. The
more you open up your profiles to random connections, the easier it becomes for
criminals to take your identity and use it illegally. Don't feed this activity; you need
to take some responsibility.
5. Giving a stranger a trusted status with your network 
Many people will accept a connection request because of mutual connections the
other person shares with them. They assume that this new connection is to be
trusted because they know the same people. Yet it's easy to see how one person
accepting a request from a stranger, can lead to their whole network assuming trust
as one by one people connect based on this associated trust. Don't be that first
connection that opens up your whole network to a stranger whose honesty you can't
vouch for.
6.  Opening the door to spam messages on LinkedIn
It's bad enough when people we know mass message their whole network on
LinkedIn, it's even more annoying when those spam messages come from people who
we don't know but whose connection request we accepted in a moment of weakness. 
7. The spam just gets worse
Once you are in someone's LinkedIn network they can export your data into external
programs and do what they like with it. You're opening the door to your data being
sold for mass mail lists and more. 
 
So it's not as harmless or straightforward as it seems to accept a connection request.
That doesn't mean that you should ignore everyone you don't know personally
either. But apply a bit of thought and strategy to your approach. Ask yourself what
your criteria are by which you will accept. Is it people you have worked with?
Potential clients? Influencers in your industry or your clients'? People in markets you
want to penetrate? 
 
There are a number of justifiable reasons to connect with strangers, but at the heart
of the connection should lay engagement and conversation. A simple reply to a
request asking people why they want to connect with you sorts out a lot of the time
wasters. Over 70% disqualify themselves immediately by not replying and many
others when they reply, by simply talking about themselves. 
Take a strategic approach to how you build your network. You can still be open to

Regular readers of my blogs will know that I'm not an 'open networker'. That doesn't mean that I'm not open to new connections, of course I am, but I don't just connect with people on social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook without a purpose and I'm not into list building. For me the depth of my network is more important than its breadth. 

Not everyone shares my approach and I can respect that. I recognise that my chosen approach means that I might miss an opportunity to connect with the person who might have provided the key introduction I've been seeking or even become a big client. But by the same logic I'd network at every chance I get, morning, noon and night, in the knowledge that I might miss out on that all important connection if I stay away. 

Somewhere you have to draw the line. 

In my opinion there are still far too many people who buy into the philosophy that large networks are the key to successful networking and follow every recommendation LinkedIn throws their way and try to connect with everyone else who comments on the same discussion as them. For them the simple question is 'Why not connect? What's the harm?'

Here are seven reasons they might want to reconsider: 

1. More noise in your network

Do you get frustrated when you go onto your LinkedIn timeline and see lots of updates from people you don't know and whose expertise you don't consider relevant to you? Would you like to stay more connected to people with whom you have a genuine relationship by engaging with their updates? 

The larger your network, the harder that becomes. Your timeline is populated by both the updates of the people to whom you are connected and those that they have liked and commented upon. The more random your network, the more random your timeline. 

2. It is harder to find a genuine introduction

LinkedIn is at its most powerful when used as a referral tool. It allows you to identify mutual contacts between you and the people you most want to meet and then to ask those contacts if they would recommend and refer you. 

Of course that approach becomes much harder if you have no real relationship with the majority of people in your network. Why would they recommend you if they don't know you and what could they genuinely say of value? And, if they are Open Networkers, what relationship do they actually have with the person you want to meet? 

3. Increased numbers of random connection requests

As soon as you accept a connection request you are then touted by LinkedIn as a possible connection to that person's network. If their network is made up of Open Networkers, the more you connect, the more requests you'll receive. Even if you simply click 'accept' each time without engaging in conversation, that becomes time consuming, even more so if you try to engage in some level of conversation. And, of course, it becomes self-perpetuating with more and more requests coming in the more you connect. 

4. An increased risk of phishing

It's not nice to find out that someone has used your images and details in order to defraud someone else. This has happened to me and to colleagues of mine. The more you open up your profiles to random connections, the easier it becomes for criminals to take your identity and use it illegally. Don't feed this activity, you need to take some responsibility.

5. Giving a stranger a trusted status with your network 

Many people will accept a connection request because of mutual connections the other person shares with them. They assume that this new connection is to be trusted because they know the same people. Yet it's easy to see how one person accepting a request from a stranger can lead to their whole network assuming trust as one by one people connect based on this associated trust. Don't be that first connection that opens up your whole network to a stranger whose honesty and integrity you can't vouch for.

6.  Opening the door to spam messages on LinkedIn

It's bad enough when people we know mass message their whole network on LinkedIn, it's even more annoying when those spam messages come from people who we don't know but whose connection request we accepted in a moment of weakness. 

7. The spam just gets worse

Once you are in someone's LinkedIn network they can export your data into external programs and do what they like with it. You're opening the door to your data being sold for mass mail lists and more. 

 

So it's not as harmless or straightforward as it seems to accept a connection request. That doesn't mean that you should ignore everyone you don't know personally either. But apply a bit of thought and strategy to your approach. Ask yourself what your criteria are by which you will accept. Is it people you have worked with? Potential clients? Influencers in your industry or your clients'? People in markets you want to penetrate? 

There are a number of justifiable reasons to connect with strangers but at the heart of the connection should lie engagement and conversation. A simply reply to a request, asking people why they want to connect with you, sorts out a lot of the time wasters. Over 70% disqualify themselves immediately by not replying and many others do so when they reply by simply talking about themselves. 

Take a strategic approach to how you build your network. You can still be open to new connections but just be a little bit more thoughtful about how you do so. 

Comments

Nice post Andy! You rightly

Nice post Andy! You rightly pointed out that accepting random requests create more noise. And I personally feel that it disrupts productivity as you end up spending time reading posts that are in no way related to your particular field of interest /work.

I've never felt okay

I've never felt okay accepting random requests from strangers, maybe my Mum teaching me not to talk to strangers has been a lesson ingrained in me...

I'm happy to have open conversations online with anyone, but what I'm not happy with is giving strangers access to my professional network.

People I trust are LinkedIn with me, and they might well assume if I'm LinkedIn with someone, they too are trustworthy and reputable.

If I accept strangers, I'm giving them the value of the quality of my network, and they might not be deserving of it!

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