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

The Beginner's Guide to Social Networking

This article was originally published in The National Networker

In October 2008, participation in social networks online overtook visits to pornography sites* and their prominence continues to grow, as does the number of networks we have to choose from. In September 2010 50% of all UK internet users reported being active on social networks**.

However, many businesses and individuals still struggle to recognise why they should participate online, what relevance social networks have to them and worry about the negative aspects of social networks they read in the newspapers. With the high level of interaction elsewhere, there is a strong possibility that people who don’t grasp the power of social networks soon will be left behind

This possibility becomes even stronger when you realise that over the last year the percentage of active 18-24-year-old users has grown from 73% to 75%**. This is the next generation of entrepreneurs and company managers, a generation who will expect to interact online as well as face-to-face.

Here are ten simple things to think about before you join a social network, which will help you use them effectively, productively and securely.

 

 

1. Why do you want to join a social network?

The first thing to look at before joining any social network is why you want to be there in the first place. What do you want to achieve and how will that particular network help you meet those objectives? This article might help you understand how to choose the right network for you.

I use different social networks for different reasons. For example, Twitter is primarily to engage regularly with my network and help people in my wider network understand more about what I do and who I do it for. It also helps people find out more about me before connecting, and see easily what other people say about me.

LinkedIn helps me track the connections in my network and generate referrals. Ecademy Blackstar members offer me support and advice.

Understanding your objectives helps you to cut through the baffling range of functionality on offer and focus on what is important, and relevant, to you.

 

2. To what do you need to commit to get results?

Just joining a social network won’t be enough, you need to be willing to participate, engage and be there for others. Be proactive, don’t just sit back and wait for things to happen.

How much time do you need to spend online? You might be surprised how little time you actually need to spend on social networking sites, particularly if your objectives are clear. It is far more effective to target your activity and engage in a focused way than spend too much time online, making a lot of noise but very little progress. If you spend too much time online people in your network will start wondering why you have so much time on your hands!

You do need to have a reasonable level of involvement however. Just putting up a profile and automatically sending content to all social networks will not be effective. Success on social networks is about the quality of your participation, not just presence.

 

3. Commit to being social

This is possibly the number one rule of social networking. It’s too easy to see sites like Facebook and Twitter as an opportunity to tell everyone what they can buy from you. But just like any networking event, most people haven’t logged in to buy. They want to engage in conversation and discussion, they want support and ideas, and they want to promote their own business or career.

Use social media wisely by developing relationships with people in your network, meeting new people and keeping in touch with old friends and colleagues. Show an interest in what they are doing, support them when they ask and share what they do with the rest of your network. They will then want to do the same for you.

If you engage effectively and show a constant interest in others, your online connections will be receptive when you do have something to share with them about your business or your needs. And they’ll be far more likely to respond and support you.

 

4. Protect your privacy

Fuelled, no doubt, by scaremongering in the mainstream media, many people shy away from social networks because of fears over their privacy. Not that such fears are unfounded. I’ve heard of websites that feature Facebook users who have publicised both their address and their absence from home, for example. And the grooming of children on social networks has been big news recently.

For a business person, however, many of these fears can be allayed with a certain amount of common sense. Don’t share any sensitive information on such sites. Check the privacy settings on each network you belong to and restrict who can see certain information. And let your friends and colleagues know where your boundaries are, asking them not to share anything that would be embarrassing or sensitive in any other way.

Many people are worried about sharing their network on LinkedIn with people who may start pitching those people. For me the answer is simple, don’t connect with people you don’t trust! The solution is often in your own hands.

 

5. What do you want your profile to say about you?

Spend some time getting your profile right. Don’t just write the first thing that comes to your mind. Instead, put yourself in other people's shoes. Knowing your objectives from membership, what do you need them to read to engage with them and for them to be in a position to help you?

Most people like to read profiles written in the first person, where they feel they are interactive with a human being, not a cold biography. And include a warm, yet professional, photograph, to engage people further.

Also include links to which people can go to find out more about your business, such as your website, blog and other social media profiles.



6. To whom do you want to connect?

As you start using a social network, have a strategy for connecting with people. This should fit with your goals for the network. For example, if you are looking to raise your profile you might have a more open connection strategy than if you are looking for referrals from your existing network.

Be clear on whether you want to accept connection requests from people you have never met before and, if you do, how you will develop those connections into real contacts. Is there more value for you if you grow a wide network or use the site to develop stronger relationships with existing contacts. Are you comfortable mixing the two on the same platform?

I have a mix of networks, on some of which I restrict my connections to people I know, like and trust and on others where I am open to new connection. I like to offer people an option rather than turn them away. I also have groups on Facebook and LinkedIn (the two networks where I restrict connections) to offer people an alternative way of engaging with me.

The important thing is for you to have a clear strategy in your mind and communicate it effectively when you ask people to connect and when you receive connection requests from people you don’t know.

 

7. What content is appropriate to your goals?

As you may have gathered by now, simply joining a social network and posting whenever the mood takes you won’t necessarily bring you the best results. The focus you have developed by setting clear objectives, understanding how each network will deliver those objectives and working to a connection strategy should guide the content you post and the interactions you engage in.

What message are you sending to others with your online conversations and blogs and how congruent are they with the image you want to portray? If you are looking to demonstrate expertise, make sure you comment on other people’s relevant posts, add value to any discussion in that area and start new threads that engage people with a similar interest.

You should also be comfortable with how much of the ‘real you’ you share online. I believe your online personality should be a strong reflection of your natural personality. Remember, however, that online forums lack the subtleties of personal relationships and face to face conversations and you should always maintain a strong degree of professionalism.

 

8. Manage your presence to fit the network

With the surge of new social networking sites, the temptation can be strong to simply accept invitations, paste your standard profile into each one and then connect with all of the same people. If you have followed Step One and understood which social network meets which objectives, it should be easier to resist this temptation.

After all, why connect with the same people and provide them with the same content in different places? I can’t think of a more ineffective way of spending your time.

Tailor your profile, your activity and your connections to your objectives from each network. And don’t be tempted to join those to which you can’t commit.

 

9. Build relationships offline

However involved with social networking you become, don’t lose sight of the importance of meeting people in person. Online networks should supplement your existing relationships, not take their place. Ultimately you get to develop trust and rapport when you see the whites of people's eyes.

This means maintaining existing levels of personal interaction with existing contacts, while finding the time to meet in person those people you have a strong rapport with online. The growth of ‘Tweetups’, networking events for groups of people who have met on Twitter, illustrates the importance of this face to face contact.

Naturally, this isn’t always possible, particularly with overseas connections. But make the effort where you can.

 

10. Constantly revisit your objectives

You started out your social networking journey by setting objectives from each network you joined. Of course, those objectives are only valuable if you constantly revisit them, measure how successful you are and refresh them where necessary.

Ask yourself whether you are either meeting your goals or on course to do so. Is your activity driving the right returns? Are there potential benefits you have previously missed?

If you can maintain your focus and engage in the right way, there is no reason why social networks shouldn’t prove to be a tremendous resource for your business, give you a greater reach, access to new markets and ideas and help you grow far more quickly than you could have done without signing up and logging in.

 

* http://weblogs.hitwise.com/robin-goad/2009/01/social_networks_overtake_adult_websites.html

** http://www.nma.co.uk/opinion/industry-opinion/analyst-speak-past-year-sees-social-media-bed-down-among-all-age-groups/3019011.article

Comments

Being a member of your

Being a member of your LinkedIn network, I wish to commend you on a useful blog, however I was most surprised you didn’t mention the importance of groups on social networks. In my view, it’s a crucial element of social networking for beginners.

Being a well regarded off-line networking strategist, you must surely realise that humans are tribal.

I hope you don’t mind my offering feedback and know you'll take this as constructive, as that’s the spirit in which it’s written. ;)

Thanks John. I agree that

Thanks John. I agree that groups are a great asset in social networks and, for some people, they will form a key part of their approach. All depends, however, on their objectives and the network they participate in. That has to come first.

There's no point joining groups without prior consideration of what you want to achieve, who you need to be interacting with to achieve those objectives and then finding the right groups that match.

Absolutely Andy -

Absolutely Andy - Consideration must be given regarding what one needs to achieve, however, in my view, that could have been applied in at least points 2,6 & 8.

You, quite rightly, mention "networks" / "For example, if you are looking to raise your profile you might have a more open connection strategy" / "Use social media wisely by developing relationships with people in your network, meeting new people"

Surely joining groups is totally the right thing to do for any beginner. There will be groups that are right and those which turn out to be inappropriate...It's all part of the learning and a fabulous way to connect with people to:

> Develop via shared learning.
> Connect, where there's potential mutual value.
> Nurture business relationships.
> Discover F2F networking / seminars, etc.
> Generate referrals.
> Sense of belonging - especially for for Solopreneurs.

...the list goes on.

Amongst many other benefits, Social Media has attracted businesses as it allows interaction on a 'many-to-many' basis. "..interacting with to achieve those objectives" can surely only benefit even beginners to social media and who join groups.

From birth, humans are generally naturally tribal and sociable. Groups offer a great platform to harness those key instincts.

Should you / anyone require 'social proof' that groups are key for beginners, I'm happy to provide this constructively; however it will involve me posting links and / or quotes as endorsements and to back-up my views. I would only do this with your permission Andy, as I don't wish to fall foul of any protocols, as I totally respect that this is your blog which is most useful. :)

Thanks again John. No need to

Thanks again John. No need to provide further 'social proof', as I said before, I don't dispute your belief in the importance of groups and their role. That role will differ depending on objectives and the approach of each individual but they are key in the way many people network.

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