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

Feeling Dirty? Networking Could be to Blame

Does networking make you feel dirty? A new study suggests so...

Do you feel the compelling urge to jump into a bath or shower as soon as you leave a business networking event? 

Perhaps you even struggle to resist the temptation to scrub yourself down with carbolic soap and brush your teeth while you're in mid conversation?

If you do, fear not. According to a series of recent studies published in Administrative Science Quarterly, you are not alone. The studies explored attitudes to different types of networking, how those networking activities impacted on the participants' feelings of cleanliness (which the authors link to feelings of moral purity) and in turn, how those feelings then drove the level of networking activity. 

The authors aimed to prove a number of hypotheses, including: 

- People are more likely to feel dirty and experience a need for cleanliness when engaged in professional (or 'instrumental') networking than when engaged in spontaneous conversations or building personal relationships.

- Because those people feel dirty when engaging in professional networking, they participate in such activities less frequently.

- The amount of networking an individual engages in directly impacts their job performance. The stronger their networks, the better they perform.

- More powerful people experience fewer feelings of 'dirtiness' from networking and therefore, network more frequently.

 

This is a fascinating paper. It doesn't tell me anything that particularly surprises me but we can take a lot from it in terms of how we approach networking and also how it is encouraged and embraced within organisations. 

One of the clearest conclusions by the authors is that people attach moral judgements to their interactions with other people. If we feel that we are engaging with people on a level basis, because we can or want to help them or for purely social reasons, there are no issues. But as soon as we have a desired outcome, we start to feel uncomfortable. 

According to the paper, "Instrumental networking clearly has a selfish intent, because the person initiating the relationship is doing so to obtain certain benefits. Because this intent is clear to the initiator, but perhaps not to the other person, the initiator may feel guilty about this form of deception.

"To the extent that professional relationships are motivated by self-interest more than altruism, they are more arduous to justify to oneself morally than personal ties."

The typical networking event that makes many people feel uncomfortable does so because people are circling around to see what they can get and who can be of most use to them. This is not a natural or comfortable feeling for many of us and, in the study's terms, is morally dubious. 

Many people recognise this and swing fully in the other direction, approaching people they haven't met before and asking how they can help them. I would argue that this isn't natural either and can be, in fact, uncomfortable for the person being asked. If the two parties haven't forged a relationship, that altruism feels false.

In the study, the authors state that, "benefiting others is not sufficient to establish the moral worth of an action; the action has to be motivated by altruism rather than selfishness to be morally pure."

If we can start to see networking events as social/personal networking rather than professional/instrumental networking, then the dynamic will surely change. Go to events with the goal of building your network, not to gaining a foot on the ladder or new client. Understand the power of developing a string of mutually beneficial relationships, people who you can and want to help and who can and want to help you too. 

Yet wanting to help other people in your network isn’t enough, as the study shows that people with 'low power' may feel that they aren't in a position to support their networks. 

One of the main reasons the authors offer for people in power feeling less dirty when networking is that they have more to give. They explain, "Powerful people by definition have more to give and are less dependent on others than less-powerful people. 

"As a result, the powerful are more likely to reciprocate help, favours, or support, and their networking tends to yield more balanced relationships, with the powerful potentially giving as much as or more than they take from others."

'Low power' people can overcome this challenge by first recognising this and then addressing it. You might lack expertise, experience and contacts but a useful exercise is to list what you do have to offer; whether it is time, support, the ability to champion a project or the commitment to help others as others have helped you. 

The inability to benefit directly shouldn't necessarily prevent you from networking openly. In my experience a willingness to help and a hunger to give back far outweigh the ability to do so that is untapped. 

This study can also help us when we interact with intermediaries and champions who refer us business. Many people find it very uncomfortable asking for help or referrals because they struggle to see what they can give back or it just doesn't feel right asking for a commission. Perhaps this is because their approach is too 'instrumental' rather than 'social'. 

Build the relationship with potential supporters first. Take the time to get to know them and their needs before worrying about what you need to ask them for. Once that 'social relationship' is in place, the act of leveraging your network and asking for help should be so much more comfortable and feel less dirty.

There are strong lessons for organisations as well as individuals in this study as well. Networking needs to be encouraged across an organisation, particularly at the less senior levels where it's not as likely to be embraced. 

The study's authors state that, "networking within organizational boundaries (internal networking) or beyond them (external networking) can increase members’ exposure and personal learning, which may in turn enhance their understanding of organizational practices, promote skill development, and provide role clarity. Moreover, research has documented that networking behaviors are essential to individuals’ career success."

For networking to be embraced at all levels, however, the focus needs to be shifted from a short-term, goals driven approach to long-term relationship building. Both inside and outside the organisation. Membership and participation in internal networks should be key, as should time outside the office in non-transactional meetings. 

For companies who operate on a billable-hours basis, such as the law firm featured in the study, this may involve a major culture-shift. But this study demonstrates the importance of that shift and emphasises the value in changing the way we look at networking and the way we approach it. 

'Networking' has been a dirty word for too long. Now we know why and how to change it.

 

Thanks to Andrea James (@Decisions_Made_) for sharing this study with me on Twitter

Comments

Hey Andy, greatly enjoyed

Hey Andy, greatly enjoyed this post. I have long struggled with trying to explain to people why networking should not be a dirty word, and I partly struggle with it because the term 'networking' itself sounds so sterile.

I have been to too many seminars or speeches on the topic of networking which emphasize too heavily, in my opinion, the 'objective' aspect of each interaction. I have been told that I am wasting my time if I spend valuable networking event minutes talking to someone who has nothing to offer me. That is all well and good, but not when I consider that many of the people who have ended up being most 'useful' (without the morally dubious manipulative implications!) were those whose use was not immediately obvious. This meant I was able to have a more genuine conversation with them as a result.

Thanks for your comment Matt.

Thanks for your comment Matt. I can understand where you struggled with the term 'networking' in the past if that was the advice you kept on hearing. The challenge isn't the word, it's the people who misunderstand the concept!

It's OK for people to be of use to us, as long as they recognise that we are equally happy to help them and all of the support is built on a trusted relationship first.

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