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

Stop! You're wasting your time

 

I was recently asked to provide this guest blog for Warren Cass's excellent new site, full of social media and networking advice. 

 

What could you be doing instead of reading this blog? Did you pick it up from Twitter or Facebook? If so, how long have you spent on either site today? What else could you have done otherwise?

If you’re going to a networking event later, why are you bothering? You might be doing something far more productive.

The truth is that thousands of man-hours are being wasted every working day on social networking sites and at networking events. We constantly hear about it in the media as study after study reveals how much productivity is being lost by employees using Facebook. Meanwhile, Lord Sugar, the UK’s most prominent businessman, tells us that entrepreneurs waste their time ‘bullshitting’ at networking events.

Despite the fact that I am a tremendous advocate of networking, I have to agree. To an extent. Many hours are lost by both business owners and employees going to events or signing into networks without any clear focus or outcome in mind.

This is the point where I depart from the media and ‘experts’. Rather than being genuinely interested in the true situation, in their search for a story and a stance they settle for simple headlines. ‘Networking is Bad’. ‘Social Media Sites are a Distraction’. After all, it makes good copy. Yet life is not that black and white.

Rather than look at the negative and denigrate all such activity, those in a position of influence would be much better placed to help educate business people how to use such tools effectively.

Networking, whether digitally or in person, can offer a lot to businesses. It is far easier to spread the word about a business, a product or a service than ever before. Even across national and continental boundaries. Information, about markets, companies, tools and innovation is more accessible than ever before. Many of us now have a network who will provide ideas, feedback and support at the end of the phone or who are approachable through a few strokes on the keyboard.

It is so much easier to meet new people, build a network and maintain contact with the people in your networks using networking groups, events and sites than it is without. Sites like LinkedIn open up connections and break down barriers in a way previously unimaginable.

With all of these benefits come tremendous efficiencies. Strong sources of referrals and a network of people telling others about you save time and money spent on cold calling and other routes to market. Advice and support from others prevent costly mistakes or expensive consultancy.

Why is it we don’t hear as much about the time saved and efficiencies achieved through networking?

There are two possible reasons. Number one, it doesn’t make for an interesting and newsworthy story.

Number two, not enough of us use our networking opportunities as effectively as we could.

Perhaps we have become over-reliant on our networks. To some I believe that they have become a comfort blanket, an alternative to doing something effective and proactive. Perhaps they give us the feeling of being busy, without the impact of hard work. Perhaps they are, in fact, a distraction.

I often get asked how much time I spend on social media sites. If I’m honest, the truth is probably too much, they do distract me at times. I do, however restrict much of my activity to actions based around clear objectives. Yes, I like to have a laugh and share banter with friends, but even in that I have a purpose.

There are people, however, who seem to be online at all times. Other people can be found attending almost every networking event possible. I call them ‘Martini Networkers’, because you’ll see them any time, any place, anywhere (one for the older generation perhaps!).

In the responses to Lord Sugar’s recent remarks in the Daily Telegraph, many people have criticised networking events for lacking any value. Many events do fail, but the fault often lies with a lack of focus from attendees rather than the event itself. Even in my old network we had groups that were outstanding and those that drove me to despair.

In the January/February 2011 issue of Speaker Magazine, US-based Australian entrepreneur Peter Sheahan explained how, for him, every day presents The Choice of Two Goods. “There might be two good things you can do,” he told Speaker. “So, you choose the better good of the two.”

For Sheahan, the better good may be sending an “industry overview and a synopsis of my experience for a bureau that just placed a hold, and close a $20,000 speech, instead of updating my Facebook status.”

Sheahan’s point is that, while there may be a lot of good that can come from networking activities, you need to consider whether you are choosing the most productive use of your time. It’s a good point and a question worth considering.

Any time spent at networking events or participating online should be well selected and focused. As I’ve outlined above, there are a lot of benefits and efficiencies to be had from networking, make those your priority.

If you’re reading this blog because you want to understand how to network better, if you’re on Twitter to build relationships with people who might refer you or influence your prospects, if you’re going to an event tonight to meet new people in a market you’re trying to crack, don’t stop. Carry on.

If you don’t know quite why you’re doing any of the above it is time to stop. Reconsider what you’re doing and why and use your time effectively. Always look for the “better good of the two”. If you plan your day well, that should always include some networking.


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