“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 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 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 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
“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
“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
“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
“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'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 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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“'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
“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
“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
“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 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
“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
“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 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
“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
“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, 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 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

No Need to Clique Here


When is a clique not a clique?

Earlier this month I gave a talk to the Annual 'MEGA' Convention of the Professional Speaking Association (PSA). I have been privileged to be first a Member and then a Fellow of the PSA since 2003 and I often refer to my fellow members as 'my tribe' because of the incredibly strong bonds I have formed with many of them. In fact, I count a number of people I've met through PSA among my closest friends. 

I recognise that for visitors and newer members of the association, the strong relationships enjoyed by many of the more established members can be somewhat daunting. More than once over the years accusations of cliques have been thrown around. Having been a member of and spoken for many other associations and membership organisations over the years, I know that we are not alone. 

My talk this month focused very much on the power of the community within the PSA. I rebuked members for failing to be completely honest when talking with each other, for failing to allow other members to help them if they were in trouble because of an overwhelming desire to look good. I shared stories of members who had hit upon hard times and not shared with fellow members, ensuring that the hole they were in grew deeper and that nobody knew that they needed lifting out. 

I also shared how I had reached out to a fellow member when my business was struggling and how he immediately sought to refer business to me to help, even though we hadn't known each other for very long. 

I shared these stories because I have experienced the power of that community time and time again. People within the PSA have constantly shown themselves willing to go out of their way to help their colleagues who need it. They recommend and refer each other, share advice and experiences, offer their knowledge and encourage, cajole and hold each other accountable. 

This happens across the UK and Ireland, it happens across the US in our sister organisation NSA (National Speakers Association) and across the member countries of the Global Speakers Federation. And it happens across borders too, throughout the international speaker community. 

The definition of a clique in the Oxford English Dictionary is "A small close-knit group of people who do not readily allow others to join them."

Throughout all of this sharing, support and mentoring, I am not aware of anyone being excluded. Yes we gossip and bitch, perhaps too much at times, but we don't exclude. There are strong bonds between small groups within the association but they do not exclude. 

When I joined the PSA I remember looking at the groups of experienced speakers at the back of the room, the people we 'newbies' looked up to, and wanting to be one of them. The last time I went to a regional meeting, in London a couple of months ago, I was told off publicly for sitting at the back of the room with a couple of other experienced speakers. So I guess I got there! But I wasn't in that 'clique' when I joined. 

In all the years I have been a member new people have continually come in and joined our friendship circles. Sure, in any large group, there are always people you get on with better than you do with others but I cannot remember anyone being turned away from the community. They made themselves available, joined our conversations and engaged with us as peers. And we welcomed them in. 

On the Sunday of the convention, after the event had finished, 22 of us went to a local pub for Sunday lunch before going our separate ways. I found myself sat next to someone who had not even heard of the PSA a week before and had enjoyed her first experience of the community that weekend. She wasn't turned away but made to feel completely welcome by everyone she met, including coming on our informal lunch. She joined in and was embraced. 

If you are part of an association, a membership group or any other community and you feel excluded, left on the sidelines, look to ask yourself what you can do to change the situation rather than blame cliques. I don't deny that they exist but I think we are often too eager to point the finger and blame cliques rather than seeking to engage with a community. 

Remember that there was a time when nobody in that 'clique' knew each other, they were all outside the group at one point or another. They have come together because of a similar outlook or interests. If you share those, then you may well find yourself welcomed within their circles too. 

Stop watching and participate. Sometimes, if you want to step into the community, you have to step out of the audience first. 


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