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

Should you separate your personal and professional lives on social networking sites?

Unsurprisingly perhaps, social networking sites suffer from our desire to categorise everything in our life. Thus it is common for people to automatically see LinkedIn as a business only network and Facebook as a personal site. Twitter, Google Plus and Pinterest perhaps lie somewhere in the middle. 

But how appropriate is such pigeon-holing? Have the lines between our work lives and our play time blurred in the modern, hyper-connected world? Or should we be fighting to maintain such distinctions? 

 

 

I'm afraid that there are no simple answers. Indeed, I still struggle with this myself to a large degree. There are different arguments with equal validity and it is up to each individual to decide what is right for them. Much will depend on what you do for your living and how comfortable you are socialising with your professional colleagues or discussing work with family and friends. 

While I might not have the answers, perhaps I can spark a few thoughts and shake up some preconceptions. Here's some food for thought: 

 

1. Don't assume that you know where opportunities lie in your network

However much I struggle with the balance between the personal and professional mix on social networks, I do believe that there is a mix. By isolating your friends and family from your colleagues and associates you could miss out on tremendous opportunities to support your network, or to allow them to get to know and/or support you. 

I meet a lot of people who don't connect with personal contacts on LinkedIn. Yet aren't our friends and family the people most motivated to help and support our careers or our businesses. If you genuinely like and trust someone, why wouldn't you connect with them? Why would you connect with a stranger but not a friend?

Your dream client or employer may be connected to someone in your close personal network, someone who would really want to help you succeed. By excluding them from your LinkedIn network you may never uncover that connection. 

 

2. Allow yourself to be friends with your colleagues

Similarly, many people won't connect with work contacts on Facebook. I do believe that our professional relationships have changed over the years and it is more acceptable for friendships to develop between client and supplier, between colleagues and between competitors. 

Of course there are limits. I'm not suggesting that you open up your Facebook friendships to everyone with whom you exchange a business card. However, where you really have a rapport and enjoy time with a business associate, it might be worth considering.

Perhaps that is more comfortable for entrepreneurs befriending similar people they know through networking activities than for a salesperson with his or her clients or manager. I have some clients as Facebook friends, but not many. I tend to know where it feels appropriate and/or comfortable. 

Whatever you choose, be sensible about what you share on Facebook. Whether or not I am connected, my simple rule of thumb is not to share anything that I wouldn't be comfortable with my clients, or prospective clients, seeing. Indeed, I endeavour not to behave in a way that would embarrass me elsewhere anyway. 

 

3. Should you separate your personal and professional profiles on sites like Facebook and Twitter? 

Here's the question I really struggle with! I can see both sides of the argument. 

Like many people I've learnt to use Facebook and Twitter through trial and error...and I'm still on that journey.

Originally I had just the one profile on Facebook and a business page. When I received friend requests I would point them to my business page but I was always aware that the relationship on a business page is one way - I don't see my 'Followers' updates in my news feed. A 'Friend' relationship allows for more two-way engagement. 

About three years ago I decided to split my profile. A lot of my friends felt that there were too many business posts on my newsfeed and I wanted to share more of my personal life with them. In fact, what has happened, is that I tend to post on the personal profile very infrequently and share a lot of my personal life on my business profile. I'm now thinking of going back to just the one profile for all. 

Why has that happened? I seem to get much more engagement from personal updates and discussions than from posting blogs and networking tips onto my profile. My professional network get to know me much better while my friends and family see the occasional business update which let's them know what I'm up to and provokes their interest without ramming my work down their throats. 

Meanwhile, on Twitter, my business tweets, such as networking tips and links to blogs, seem to get much more traction and interest than personal updates. 

 

I recently interviewed the Canadian speaker and customer engagement expert Toni Newman about how you get the balance right. Toni suggested a ratio of 95% business updates to 5% personal, whereas I find that the ratio that works for me is almost the reverse of that. 

What was particularly striking about Toni's advice, however, was the split between 'value and vanity' and the three opportunities to connect with people: 

1. Through an emotion that you want associated with your brand

2  Providing learning and insight

3 Creating a perception of your ability to deliver on your brand promise. 

These three opportunities to connect can drive your personal/professional balance. I would argue that my personal updates reflect my brand. For example, it means a lot when people tell me that they believe I am authentic when I speak or write. Sharing my personal interests and thoughts reinforces that part of my personal brand. 

I also am aware of the reflection of those updates and conversations against what I stand for. Failure to engage with people or chasing mass connections would not reflect well on my professional message of 'Connecting is not Enough'. Similarly, just posting adverts for my books, CDs and services would be a disconnect with my message of 'Pursue the relationship, not the sale'.

If you're a motivational speaker or professional coach who extolls the virtue of a positive outlook, it wouldn't serve you well to post complaints about your life or moan about other people. 

And always ask yourself if you're adding value. Is what you're sharing going to make people laugh, cry, smile, understand or improve?

 

I'll be honest, I don't know what the right answer is and I don't know how close I am to making my own social networking engagement work for me. But I hope that these thoughts and my interview with Toni provide you with some food for thought, and I'd love to hear your own thoughts and your own approach. 

There's one thing I am sure of. It's not black and white. Just as you are the same person whether you're at work or play, each social networking site you join doesn't fit snugly into one category or another. 

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