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

Five Ways to Comfortably Discuss Business with your Personal Contacts



I’ve probably lost half of my potential readership with the title of this blog alone!

Why is it that as soon as the idea of mixing our professional and personal lives is raised, a sizeable proportion of British people immediately shake their heads and dismiss the idea?

We’re not alone but in many other countries in which I have spoken they don’t understand our reticence to ask our family and friends for help in our professional lives. For them it’s natural.

Marthe Andersen, a Norwegian working in London, told me, “I tend to ask people about their work ...it's a very Scandinavian way of small talking.

“Here in the UK I have found that some people don't want to talk about their work (even get annoyed with me) as it reminds them about all the things they need to get done when they get to work the next day.”

In a world where the distinction between our work and personal lives is becoming increasingly blurred, I struggle with the idea that you need to draw a thick, immovable line between the two worlds. Surely, as you look to succeed in your career or with your business, it would be natural for you to turn first to the people who love and care for you the most and who want you to succeed?

Andrew Horder, author of ‘The A-Z of Loving Work’ agrees with this point of view. “If they are friends, why wouldn't they be interested in what's going on for you on the other side of the artificial work/life divide? It's weird the way we pretend when we're talking to friends to be only half of who we are.”

The truth is that there is a line there but perhaps it’s not as rigid and as firm as you believe. There are many times when it would be far from appropriate to discuss work in detail with personal contacts but, equally, there are many people among your friends and family who would be hurt if they knew they could help you succeed but you wouldn’t let them.

So, if you want to involve your personal connections in your professional life while protecting your relationships, how can you go about it?


1 – Know where their line is  

There is a line, but the one I suggest you worry about is not yours but theirs. Despite everything I’ve said above, there are a number of people among my own family and friends with whom I almost never discuss business. Why? Because they clearly don’t feel comfortable doing so.

Don’t force the pace and press your agenda on others but leave the door open to more detailed conversation. Just as there are a number of people who have a firm divide between business and pleasure, my relationships with a number of personal contacts have actually strengthened since we started talking about our professional lives .We have found that we have more in common professionally than we had ever had personally.

As with everything that I share, the key is that everyone is different and there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to networking.


2 – How do you answer the question ‘How’s work?’

Mark Lee, an ex accountant who now speaks for and mentors other accountants to build more successful practices, is typical of most people. “I tend to think that 'how's work?' is simply a variation on 'how are you?'“ he told me. That’s how we tend to see the question, providing brief, almost monosyllabic, responses.

Technology expert David Hardstaff described the question to me as, “a bit of generic small-talk, I would not be expecting to receive chapter and verse in reply.”

I disagree wholeheartedly. While you should certainly not provide chapter and verse in reply to the question, it does provide you with an opportunity to engage people with what you do and help them to better understand your professional world.

You can easily give a much more interesting answer than “fine” in only a few more words and without forcing your work life on reluctant friends. Describe an interesting challenge you had this week, or an exciting project you’re focusing on in just one or two sentences.

It doesn’t take much but it brings your work to life, making it more than a job title. Those friends and family members who genuinely aren’t interested can still move the conversation onto safer ground, while you have opened a door to others to enquire further and widen the scope of their understanding.


3 – Show a genuine interest in what they do

Support goes both ways. If you look to your network thinking only about how they can help you then you are guaranteed to burn relationships along the way.

Start by focusing on how you can help others, or simply by showing a genuine interest in what they do. As Dale Carnegie said, “There is no sweeter sound to any person’s ear than the sound of their own name”.

Again, this won’t be true of everyone. As Mark Lee said, “Most of my non-business associates/non-networking friends and family are in salaried roles or in large professional firms. They have no desire to talk about work when out socially. Anything but - almost by definition.”

That may be true, although I might disagree with ‘by definition’. I know a lot of salaried people in large professional firms who are passionate about their work and career and who enjoy discussing it. But I also know those who are happy to leave it behind at the weekend.

You are certainly safer in the company of people who run their own businesses. Marthe Andersen said, “I usually play it safe and wait until someone brings their work up or if I’m in the company of entrepreneurs”.

This simply brings us back to knowing where their line is. Show an interest and, if they respond, ask questions and find out more.


4 – Populate the ‘19th Hole’

If you have a group of friends who are working in similar areas or have a professional passion in common, introduce them to each other. Bringing together people who you know will get along with each other in a social setting will lead to business conversations naturally.

Remember the ‘19th Hole’ rule. The 19th Hole is another term for the clubhouse on a golf course. Etiquette demands that you don’t talk business while playing your round, you wait until you have finished and can relax and talk over a post-play pint.

When you bring your friends together socially, let that social interaction become the main focus. But if you have done your homework and brought the right people together, the business conversation will flow naturally.


5 – Don’t sell to them

Many people find the idea of crossing that personal/professional divide to be distasteful because they automatically think that it refers to selling to your family and friends. And many networking marketing businesses have tarnished that image over the years by strongly encouraging such activity.

Marketing expert Ian Brodie warns, “It's very easy for people to see ‘having business conversations with your personal network’ as just a euphemism for selling to them in a nice way.

“You need to be clear why you are having these business conversations with them. If it's because you would like them to become clients at some point even if you don't actively sell to them, or for them to refer you, then basically you're selling to them even if you do it very nicely.”

If you have been thinking along those lines, start again. I actually draw my line at selling to friends and family. I find that incredibly uncomfortable and it has led to a breakdown in the relationship on at least one occasion.

One constant message across all of my work goes against this view of our network. I have always stressed that networking IS NOT selling. We network to become better known, better equipped and better connected, not to sell. Our network can talk about us, provide us with information and support and they can refer us.

If they want to buy from us personally, I would strongly recommend treading lightly with family and friends. But if they want to support us in other ways; why not? Some of my best referrals and most valuable advice have come from family and friends. Should I have declined their support?


By believing that there is a strong, immovable line between our personal lives and professional world, I believe that we miss tremendous opportunities. Opportunities both to help and support those around us who we care the most about and to allow them to help us to succeed.

Why do we continue to cut off the people with whom we have the strongest relationships from the biggest part of our lives?

Tread carefully, respect others’ boundaries but recognise when people are comfortable crossing that line…and go on the journey with them. 



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