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

Mastermind Groups: Top Ten Steps to setting up your dream support network (Part Three)

After introducing the concept of Mastermind Groups in the first in this series of blogs and then sharing the first five steps to setting up your own successful mastermind groups in part two, I'd now like to share Steps 6-10. 

 

6. Chatham House Rule
 
It’s vitally important (particularly with step seven in mind) that every member of the group has complete faith that they can speak openly, confident of the fact that what they say won’t be shared elsewhere. That means complete trust between members, something that may take time to establish but is easier if you have the right ingredients (step one).
 
Amateur rugby players will be aware of the concept of ‘what goes on tour stays on tour’, while others may be more familiar with the Chatham House Rule. 
 
Originating from the home of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House Rule states that “When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.” 
 
In masterminding terms, the intention is that everything is shared in strict confidentiality and, I would suggest, goes further to state none of the information shared should be used without the clear permission of the originator. 
 
It would be advisable that, as a group, you should agree on your own understanding of what is confidential and how information shared within the group can be used without.  
 
This also means that you don’t invite visitors to the group meetings without the full agreement of all members. If you are looking to recruit new members, invite them initially to join you over lunch or for a drink after your meeting rather than to a full session. Unless, of course, you all know and trust them already. 
 
 
7. Total honesty
 
With Chatham House Rule in place and strong levels of trust between participants, members of your mastermind group should now feel comfortable being completely open and transparent. 
 
We all like to appear strong in our jobs and when presenting our businesses but it’s rare that everything will always go to plan. It’s important to have a safe haven to turn to when we need support and advice. And that’s the role of the mastermind group.
 
So, if you don’t open up, the group can’t do its job. I’ve been in groups where we’ve found out that a fellow member was in trouble when it was already too late to help them. If they had been more honest at an earlier stage, the group could have done its job and helped them to turn things around. 
 
A mastermind group is not a place for pride and swagger. Sure, you should be able to celebrate your victories with each other there but you should equally work together to avoid defeat. And that means being honest and allowing yourself to be vulnerable and admit you don’t know all of the answers. 
 
 
8. Searching questions
 
When a member of your mastermind group starts presenting their challenge it’s tempting to see the answer straight away and the urge starts to build up to intervene and put the world to rights. 
 
Please resist.
 
More often than not you will be able to provide a better, more well-rounded, solution if you investigate the issue in more detail first. Before any solutions are presented, members of the group should do their research, asking questions designed to find out what has been done before, what has or hasn’t worked, whether alternatives have been considered and much more. 
 
If you have a solution in mind, ask questions that will help you test whether that really is the right approach. And look to see whether the challenge presented is really the true issue holding your colleague back. 
 
I mentioned earlier how a mastermind group helped to turn around our business. The challenge I presented was a business whose marketing was failing and the advice I requested was how to market it more effectively. After the right questioning it turned out that the problem was completely different. My heart wasn’t in the business and without my conviction it was destined to fail. 
 
As a result of the right questioning the group changed their focus and helped me to identify what I really did want to do and what I needed to focus on to make a change in direction a success. 
 
 
9. An open mind
 
One of the golden rules of masterminding is that your only response to any suggested solutions should be ‘Thank you’. A mastermind group gives you access to different perspectives and approaches and you need to harness that advantage. 
 
The biggest barrier to you doing so is your own perspective, your own experience. We all seem to have a little voice in the corner of our minds that, as soon as something is suggested, jumps in to tell us why it won’t work. Saying ‘Thank you’ quietens the little voice immediately and buys you time to process the suggestion and work out the impact it would have on your challenge. 
 
You need an open mind. The chance to consider ideas you wouldn’t previously have given time to. Consider risks in a safe environment. Once you have processed the ideas from your session you can go back and test them further with the group but initially pause and allow yourself to process them first. 
 
 
10. Accountability
 
A mastermind group isn’t there just to provide each other with ideas and suggestions. As mentioned earlier they should be supportive of each other and challenging too. 
 
After their session, each member should commit to their follow up action and share it with their peers. Set dates by which actions will be taken. Maybe even appoint a ‘buddy’ from within the group to chase them up. 
 
At following meetings take some time to ask for feedback on actions taken and review progress. Allow some time to reconsider the approach if needed.
 
And allow for celebrations after the meeting when all of the support provided has led to a challenge surmounted and a business or career reaching another successful landmark. 

Comments

Great tips, and great timing

Great tips, and great timing - thanks.

I used to run a regular masterminding group I called 'Idea Cafe' where each participant appointed someone as their 'conscience', to ring them after 10 days to see whether they'd taken the actions they committed to.

Thanks Jackie. That

Thanks Jackie. That accountability is such an important part of the masterminding process. There's no point having lots of new ideas offered to you if you don't then implement them.

For the last 15 years I have

For the last 15 years I have ran a mastermind group. It has evolved into something that people look forward to attending. Here's what I've learned so far from the experience:
Keep the group closed, invitation only. That creates a quality
Have a mix of competencies
Announce each week that what is said around the table is strictly confidential. Ensure they know when you first invite them to the group that one one the reasons you did is because they respect confidentiality.
Because I am the only one who invites people, over the years people trust the people I bring in which accelerates relationships.
Meet once a month with set agenda. Each year one meeting is set aside to fine tune the group. This is our group, I simply facilitate.
Meet with at least 1 person 1 on 1 each month. This accelerates relationships with people that want to get to know each other.
Although people get business from the group it evolves naturally and without pressure.
When someone asks for advice, we all learn and benefit
Invite people that are givers and willing to share their perspectives, plus ask for advice.
Charge only a fee that covers food. We advise each other, so it's a group, not a money making venture.
Take the summer off
Have a section for shared gadgets and resources
50% minimum attendance or automatic deletion from group.

Something must be working. People simply do not wish to leave the group. It's now made up of 25 people.

Thank you for your feedback

Thank you for your feedback on your approach Richard. I think there is some excellent advice there.

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