“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“"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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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 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
“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 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
“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
“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
“Andy certainly made a difference on how I normally approach / perceive events such as this. ”
Ann Azzopardi, Category Buying Manager, Pret a Manger
“'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
“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
“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
“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
“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 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 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

7 Things to Consider Before Accepting or Rejecting a Connection Request on LinkedIn

Last week I shared with you eight things to consider before sending a connection request on LinkedIn. But what do you do when you receive requests, particularly from people you don't know and who haven't personalised their invitation? 

Most people I come across favour one of two approaches, neither of which I advocate. The first is to ignore or delete all connection requests from strangers, the other is to accept them. 

Whether you click 'delete' or 'accept' you are running a strong chance of missing out. Delete requests without exploring further and you will never know why they wanted to connect. Sure, there's a fair chance that they are clicking blindly on LinkedIn suggestions or connections of their existing network but there is the possibility that they have a reason for reaching out and LinkedIn is the simplest way for them to do so. 

OK, they should at least personalise their request but it doesn't always make it intuitive for you to do so. 

I believe that there are a number of issues with accepting requests blindly. You may build a nice big network with a huge reach...in theory. But how can you manage relationships with all of those people or be responsible for the quality of the people now in your network? The larger and more distant your network is, the less ability you have to control its quality. 

Another challenge is increasingly important. I have been the victim of having my profile on Facebook cloned twice to be used in 'Catfishing' scams and a number of my friends have suffered the same fate. There's nothing to make LinkedIn immune to identity theft or fraud and I don't believe in unnecessarily making it easier for people to lift our information and that of our connections. There's something that strikes me as naive and dangerous in adopting a mass connection approach in the modern world. 

I am not suggesting slamming the doors until you have verified at least three forms of identity for each connection but you can use a little bit of common sense! 

So, what should you do when you receive a connection request? Here are 7 things to consider which will make your use of LinkedIn far more effective and valuable. 


What to do when you receive connection requests:

Set clear criteria for your network

To whom do you want to be connected? There are no black and white answers to this question, some people like to connect to friends, family and colleagues while others don't. Some want to ensure that all of their clients are in their LinkedIn network, others want to be more discreet. 

For me, if I know and trust you then I'm happy to connect. If you have attended my courses or talks, work for a regular client organisation or have read my books and write to me about them, I'm often happy to connect. 

I don't connect just because we're members of the same association or are/have been connected on another social network. If I am already connected to you there and still don't know you, what difference will connecting on LinkedIn make? 

These are (in very broad terms) my criteria, you should come up with your own. I have to dilute my preferred criteria (know, like and trust) because of what I do for a living and the amount of international travel I do. Your needs may be different. But if you have clear criteria then your decision-making will be much easier. 

Food for thought, you may want to connect with the following people even if you don't know them personally: potential clients, influential people in client organisations, influential people in supplier organisations, influential people in your industry or your clients' industries. 


Check to see if you've interacted with them before

If you have a searchable email client (like Gmail), search for their name. I often don't recognise names when I see them but the history falls into place when I see our correspondence from the past. Sometimes people reach out several years after we interacted but if I remember them when I see that previous conversation, I become more comfortable connecting. 

Your CRM system will be another place to check. I'd also search LinkedIn messages for previous connection requests you have declined. 


Have they looked at your profile? 

On LinkedIn you can see who has looked at your profile (a limited selection on the free membership). If the person who has sent the connection request has looked at your profile before sending it, they are likely to be more serious about connecting and less likely to just be clicking on LinkedIn suggestions. 


Read their profile

Look for clues as to why they may want to connect, as well as whether or not they meet your criteria for connection (see above). Where did they work before? Have you dealt with that firm before? Who do you know in common? What groups are they in, what influencers and companies do they follow? You may also want to check their external website to validate their identity if you have any concerns. 

Their profile will offer you a lot of clues as to where synergies may lie and whether this is someone who you would be comfortable adding to your network. 


Start a conversation

If you don't know them and have no obvious reasons to accept at this stage, send them a message inviting them to expand upon their reasons for wanting to connect. I explain that I predominantly connect with people with whom I have an established relationship but don't like to ignore anyone. I then ask them what led them to connect. 

Word of warning - I used to say 'tell me about yourself' and I simply received paragraph after paragraph of biography and product information! I don't want that at this stage, I should be able to get it from their profile anyway. I want to see if they are interested in me or just in 'broadcast mode', so I shouldn't invite them to broadcast in the first place! 

At least 50% of people (probably more) won't reply. That makes your decision much easier, after about a month I delete their request to connect. For the ones who do bother, you now can make a more informed decision on whether to connect or not. 


Offer an alternative

For those who I don't feel meet the criteria to connect with me, I offer them an alternative. In the past this was an alternative social network, like Xing or Twitter. Now, however, you have an alternative within LinkedIn. As long as people are posting content you can 'Follow' them (and they you). This means thay you can start to build some awareness of each other and a platform on which to engage (likes, comments, shares) without opening up your network to each other. 

Most people appreciate this offer and are happy to go down this route. If for any reason they take offence, please feel free to share this blog with them


Remember that connecting is not enough! 

If you decide to connect, this is just the start. An exchange of clicks does not make a network, you need to build a relationship. So reply to their invitation with a personalised message, ideally with an opening question to develop a conversation. If practical, arrange to Skype or meet in person.

A LinkedIn network has limited value if it's too restricted or too wide. It offers you nothing if it contains connections rather than relationships. But with a more strategic approach it can be very powerful indeed. 


Related reading: 

Not Everyone Agrees With Your Approach to Social Media. Get Over It! 

8 Things to Consider Before Sending a Connection Request on LinkedIn


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