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

Are networking events becoming redundant?

With the growth of online networks allowing people to connect with ease, is the popularity of networking groups close to peaking and are they in danger of becoming redundant? What role do they play in the modern, inter-connected environment?

 

This question has been asked by Retail expert and social media enthusiast Clare Rayner. According to Clare, there is no need for formal events now that we can connect online and arrange to meet at our own convenience. In fact, Clare suggests that, for the Facebook generation, who grew up with an online network, structured offline networking will no longer be of any relevance.

Formal networking events perform a number of functions for those who attend. Among the benefits of attending face to face events we can:

-  raise our profile and build our network by meeting new people

-  develop deeper relationships with new contacts by seeing them on a regular basis and keep ourselves at the front of their minds

-  be able to learn from the people we meet and find solutions to challenges in our business.

-  get support and encouragement from a peer group

-  overcome the isolation our job or business may impose on us

-  ask for referrals.

It's true that a lot of the benefits provided in face to face networking meetings can, to some degree, be replicated by online networks. Sites like LinkedIn, Ecademy and Twitter are perfectly designed to enable you to build your network and engage in discussions with people you connect with to build the relationship. In fact, an increasing number of people use Facebook in a similar way. Online platforms have the advantage of enabling you to build your network and relationships across borders, irrespective of your location.

The same sites make it easy to find the answers to questions you have in your business or challenges you face. And communities are built which are supportive and where people will provide introductions for people with whom they have developed a strong relationship. 

There's something missing from a purely online environment though. A conversation will never flow as naturally through an exchange of messages in a Forum, or even in realtime using Skype or Twitter, as they will when you meet someone face to face. A much deeper level of trust can be built when you have met someone in person and got a real sense of their personality and character, rather than just their online persona. 

Of course, Clare will argue that you can address these issues by arranging to meet with your online contacts over a coffee or for lunch. And she is right. Networking groups still have an advantage though, by making that process far more efficient. If you have five or ten key contacts in a networking group, you can see them all regularly at the same time, rather than trying to fit them all in as individual meetings in your diary, or pull all of your diaries together. 

Networking events also make the process of meeting new people much more efficient, by bringing a host of people together in one place. If those people have something in common, such as the industry they service or challenges they face, the event can make your network-building much more effective. 

The biggest plus for networking groups, and the main reason why I feel they are here to stay, is the sense of community they foster. In an email to me Clare asked me whether networking groups were in danger of replacing organised religion. 

Talking about the stream of invitations she was receiving to various networking groups, Clare said, "People like to belong... and a congregation in a church belong, meet weekly, follow routines and of course, network!

"I think the rather contrived, forced 'congregation' and 'ceremony' approach to networking is replacing going to church! People are so “in” their worlds of 4Networking and BNI that they become zealots and try to convert people to their group!"

Maybe Clare isn't so far from the mark with her comments. Religion fosters a sense of community and mutual support, and strong networks achieve the same. For many people that's the main reason they attend, to be surrounded by people who understand their challenges and frustrations and to be able to bounce ideas off each other. There are similar evangelists within the online networking community. 

Networking groups and events still offer a lot of positives and are complemented perfectly by online networks. In her new book, The Financial Times Guide to Business Networking, due to be published later this year, Heather Townsend talks about a 'Joined-Up' networking strategy, using both online tools and networking events. Heather quotes Ivan Misner, founder of BNI, saying, "It’s now not about face-to-face networking OR online networking, it is about AND.”

With the growth of online networks, I expect to see a rise in the popularity of networking groups, rather than a decline. People are becoming more aware of the importance of connecting and, having made that first step into the world of networking online, they want to find out more and meet people face to face. 

We may see more variety in the type and format of event, but face to face networking is here to stay. 

 

 

 

Comments

I agree with your conclusion,

I agree with your conclusion, Andy. I meet a lot of people who talk about networking being either online or offline. My view is that success in business networking comes from building relationships. Relationships require regular interaction for the building of trust. Both online and offline!

There is a real danger with focusing online that networking becomes about numbers. About quantity rather than quality. The same is true offline with people who spend their time constantly meeting new people. The people who really make networking work for them and their business build strong relationships with a smaller number of people. They don't need to go out and meet new people all the time. Their introductions to new people and opportunities come via this group. Very often the most efficient way of regularly meeting up and getting those introductions is within an organised group.

I wrote about the complementary nature of online and offline networks in 10 tips for building business with the effective use of offline & online networks

You're right about managing

You're right about managing the number of new connections you make Dave. I now go to far fewer events, and my primary aim when I do go is often to build deeper relationships with people I already know. Formal networking events, as I mention in the blog, provide a good opportunity to do so efficiently.

See you at NRG Metropolitan next week!

I, too, agree that online

I, too, agree that online networking can never replace face to face meetings. In fact I think the F2F meets are increasing judging by the number of new groups that seem to be springing up. However, I think this might be craeting a new problem. Quite a few people I know pick and choose what groups they go to as they see fit. I suppose they think that they've tried one group and the next one will bear more fruit thinking there is no more to get from the others. I call this bumble bee networking. A big problem with this is that they do not give anyone a chance to get to know them nor they get to know anyone. As a result the whole thing is less productive. However, on the plus side this will make the demands on each group to make their USP value higher even greater which could be very productive if done right. I do wonder though how such organisations as BNI and 4 Networking will cope since both do have quite a rigid structure. We shall have to wait and see.

Great post! I can't believe

Great post! I can't believe how many networking event invitations I get on Facebook and LinkedIn, and while they can be beneficial, I sometimes feel it is just a way for people to get out of the house...

Great post Andy, and some

Great post Andy, and some good comments that take the discussion further. I totally agree that networking is a mix (and will always be a mix) of online and face to face (F2F). 4N has a very strong online community which is probably the envy of most F2F groups.I found their F2F meetings too structured and not an effective use of time. BNI is a religeon which works for many people. BRX has utterly failed to understand and embrace online networking and is sadly a fraction of its former self.

I find that using Business Biscotti ( www.businessbiscotti.co.uk )for my F2F networking complements social media really well. BB has taken networking back to basics and as a result is growing faster than 4N. Key to using social media and/or F2F is to have a clear strategy, implement and follow up all contacts - and to remember it's about building relationship.

I can really relate to this

I can really relate to this article, and unfortunately in my personal experience this is very true.

I have been a member of several networking organisations (including those mentioned) and when I left, due to a change of circumstances I was then made to feel like an outcast, with is totally against both groups ethos.

Unfortunately this mentality is also carried out through online media as well and therefore not really enganging for new members to join or for past members to continue engaging and therefore working with then in the future.

I agree with Andy and perhaps

I agree with Andy and perhaps the retail market is moving online at as faster pace than other sectors?

Meeting face to face is often the acid test in a relationship as body language makes up a large percentage of our personal branding. A question in a LinkedIn discussion asked if you would do business with someone online who didn't have a photo on their profile. I thought that I would yet I would be far more likely to do business with them if I had already met them. A huge amount of trust can be built in a meeting.

Groups are a great place to meet people and the format will ebb and flow as some decline and others learn the lessons. What isn't acceptable is the treatment Anonymous suffered. Doing that online compounds the problem as a lot of people carry out research online. They may never visit a group and miss out on people and services not connected to them in other ways.

I find most groups have a different personality and the World gets smaller every time I attend a meeting. I can organise one myself or get one of those lovely virtual PA's to organise one. Yet, at the moment, the groups I attend provide a smarter way to do it.

Take care,

Jason

As usual really good

As usual really good insightful stuff Andy.

I believe like all forms of marketing a joined up approach has the best results. One element won't always be effective. Online networking is convenient but needs to be a complement to face to face interaction. It's putting it all together properly that gets results.

I have recently posted a blog on how Twitter keeps me in touch. Not as expertly conveyed as your post Andy but it concurs with many of the points.

Nice article , wanna know

Nice article , wanna know about this topic more

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