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

Did you build your network by design or default?

* Image courtesy of socialmediaseo.net

When you built your network, how did you decide to whom you should connect and why? 

That may seem like a strange question to many. After all, how many of us set out deliberately to develop a specific network? For most people they evolve naturally, don't they? 

I attended an excellent inaugural meeting of the Like Minds Business Book Club at The Hospital Club in London some time ago. The speaker was Scott Belsky, author of Making Ideas Happen. During his talk Scott referred to the community as a key ingredient in an effective creative process that sees ideas turned into reality. One of the challenges facing many creative people, he said, is disorganised networks. 

"Creatives are lazy", said Scott. "They go with the networks around them."

Is that just a flaw in creative people, or is it something we all do? Indeed, is it really a flaw? 

The timing of Scott's comment could not have been more pertinent. On the way to the event I had been reading an article in the Harvard Business Review. In the article, A Smarter Way to Network, by Rob Cross and Robert Thomas, the authors argue that the most successful executives have a diverse but select network, rather than having broad or high level networks. 

Cross and Thomas point to the value of networks that are made up of a cross-section of contacts who each challenge and/or support the executives in different ways. Some will come from within their own company or industry, others from other fields entirely. They point to six areas in which a network should offer support. These are: 

1 - Offer new information or expertise

2 - Mentors and influencers

3 - Feedback and challenging - pushing you to be better

4 - Friendship and personal support

5 - Provide a sense of value or worth 

6 - Promote work/life balance. 

If we are building our networks by chance (or default) rather than by design, how can we be sure that we are achieving the right balance of each area of support? 

Cross and Thomas believe that an effective network contains a small set of core contacts. They state that effective core networks typically range in size from 12 to 18 people. Many of us would call this our 'inner circle' but would have built that inner circle based on the depth of relationships rather than by design based on our needs. 

How well does your inner circle reflect the 6 needs outlined by Cross and Thomas above? 

In this morning's presentation, one attendee asked Scott Belsky whether, during a career transition, she should seek support from her existing network or look to make new contacts. Cross and Thomas's article would suggest to me that she should look first to her existing network for where she can draw on the support outlined above, before then expanding her connections to fill in the gaps. 

In fact, the Harvard Business Review article goes on to suggest the four steps to building a better network. 

1 - Analyse - look at your existing network and ask yourself what you get out of interacting with them

2 - De-layer - make some hard decisions to back away from redundant and energy-sapping relationships

3 - Diversify - build your network out with the right kind of people

4 - Capitalise - Make sure you're using your contacts as effectively as you can. 

This approach may seem cold and impersonal to many. In fact, when I tweeted the question this morning "If you wanted to build your network, how would you decide to whom you should connect?", some of the responses focused on finding people you could help, rather than vice versa. 

It is healthy to take an outward-facing networking approach and seeking to help others first. But when looking to your own business or career goals, surely it is imperative that you take a step back and ask whether the network you have built is designed to help you reach them as quickly and effortlessly as possible? Not one of the responses to my tweet mentioned building a network based on achieving goals. 

Maybe it's not just creatives. Maybe we all "go with the networks around us". 

What do you think? Should we just let networks evolve or should we be more focused on designing the network that best fits our needs? 

If you do feel that we should design a powerful network, do you agree with the six areas of support recommended by Cross and Thomas, or how would you decide to whom you should connect and why?

Comments

Thank you for putting a

Thank you for putting a purpose and context to "networks". Like many things in a "number crunching" society, people chase quantity rather than relish quality. This include networking - in person and online.

Hence the "inner circle" Cross and Thomas referred to sounds more like a support group. However, given the criteria, is it similar to a master-mind group? Name is not important. What matters is to be challenged and supported by a small number of trusted people. How easy can this be achieved?

In my humble opinion: The

In my humble opinion: The true essence of networking lies in the name
itself NET - WORKING and you should build networks of people who are
bigger and more stronger than you, in a host of areas.

For me, connecting with others is about constructing a net or a collective
expansion of people, who work for each other because they WANT to and gain
pleasure in DOING so.

Working, in this context, is often defined as just gaining new referrals -
for me, that does not work because the mentaility becomes one of selling
or seeking sales not genuinely adding value in a number of ways..

I agree with the Cross & Thomas support themes and would add more, in that
the 'core contacts' all share common values, principles and a collective
spirit based on adding value to others, first! The depth of your
relationships with core contacts cements the foundation for your network,
helping to make the growth of your network more focused and progressive,
not a scattergun approach that builds quantity but not quality.

You are only one individual, so your ability to create instant value and
connected relationships will be automatically limited, so the ability to
have core networks of people within your wider 'themed' networks is
crucial..more importantly, you have to be a genuine person for that to
happen.

I've learnt to design a network of core people people who can literally
and more importantly, are willing to transfer the spirit of value and
connectedness for me and on my behalf, as if i were doing it yourself!

Whichever theme that happens under, depends on the relationship you have
with each individual in your network...

Regards Joel

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