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

Why Expertise Won't Get You a Job

"Nowadays you don't want to be a knowledge expert, you want to have a knowledge network". 

The words above were uttered by Brian Murphy, the Head of L&D for Citi in conversation with me last month. And they are important words because they underpin a huge shift in how knowledge is perceived within organisations and the impact on hiring decisions in the future. 

In the past, people were employed because of their expertise and knowledge. Many hours were spent building that expertise and, in a culture where many people followed a 'job for life' career path, expertise and knowledge were kept in-house and passed on by their holders to their successors as people moved up through the organisation. 

That's no longer the case. Now, following the same model, when a knowledge-holder leaves an organisation there is the risk of them leaving a big hole as they take all of their knowledge with them. The value an employee brings to an organisation lies less in the bank of information they have collected over the years (although, of course it still plays an important role in ensuring competence and effectiveness) but the knowledge they can bring to the organisation at any one time and access to new sources of information. 

Neil Munn, Knowledge Manager at the UK branch of KAS BANK, told me, “I’d argue that sharing their knowledge is actually even more important now than before given that for almost all organisations these days knowledge is at the heart of the business – in my view both managing and mobilising knowledge is absolutely critical to success and the motto ‘No one is as smart as everyone’ is truer now than ever before”

Murphy goes a step further, referencing the The Corporate Leadership Council’s Learning and Development High Performance Survey (2012). "In 2002", Murphy told me, "78% of a business unit’s profit could be derived from employee’s ‘Individual Task Performance’. By 2012 this had dropped to 51%."

What about the other 49%?

Murphy continued, "This component of business profit could be linked directly to employees ‘Network Performance’. That’s a shift of +27% in the importance of network performance to the bottom line in just ten years – a radical shift which shows the changing nature of work in that time and the need for delivering performance through networks rather than retained knowledge.

"The importance of network performance is only going to continue to increase, in fact I’m sure that by 2016 it has easily overtaken retained knowledge in terms of impact on the bottom line."

Demographic changes in the workplace are not the only influencer on the change in our relationship with knowledge. Technology plays a huge role too. Today it is so much easier to capture, curate, distil and distribute a wider range of knowledge to a wider audience.

Munn offers a warning though, "The tools allow you to store and access enormous amounts of information – the skill is knowing how to identify, capture and disseminate what is of most value rather than just collect terabytes of “stuff”.

"The technology has levelled the playing field in terms of allowing both large and small firms to have roughly the same capability when it comes to storing and accessing knowledge. Google is fantastic at being able to return 30,000 hits in under half a second but the skilled knowledge worker learns how to use the tool in an advanced way to refine the results so you avoid the '30 thousand hits, some useful' problem."

For the business that means that there is less of a need to employ experts.They can be more dynamic, responsive and agile by implementing a robust knowledge network. That may mean employing a Knowledge Champion at a senior level to oversee the strategy and then implementing a mix of technology and human resources to farm knowledge in the most effective way possible, taking into account the challenges outlined above. 

For the individual, there is more of a drive to understand how to best access and curate knowledge and position yourself as the go-to person. Organisations need to create a culture where their employees are encouraged to seek intelligence and new ideas, diversify their networks to access different perspectives and constantly seek to question what is happening in their industry, their clients' industries and beyond. 

Murphy is a fan of Harold Jarche's 'Seek, Sense, Share' model for 'Personal Knowledge Mastery'. Jarche explains as follows: 

"Seeking is finding things out and keeping up to date. Building a network of colleagues is helpful in this regard. It not only allows us to “pull” information, but also have it “pushed” to us by trusted sources. Good curators are valued members of knowledge networks.

Sensing is how we personalize information and use it. Sensing includes reflection and putting into practice what we have learned. Often it requires experimentation, as we learn best by doing.

Sharing includes exchanging resources, ideas, and experiences with our networks as well as collaborating with our colleagues."

Interestingly, Jarche goes on to share the same quote that I often do in my talk on Connected Leadership when he explains how strong knowledge networks can lead to greater fortune in connections made and innovation uncovered. "Chance favours the connected mind", said Steven Johnson, author of Where Good Ideas Come From

These changes are reflected not just in the employment practices of big organisations but in their training too. Classroom learning, while not obsolete by any means, has to compete with collaborative and social platforms. In the age of social media, everyone is an expert (or at least, they think they are!) and that means that participants in learning programmes want to share their knowledge on courses too and. in many cases, can add value by doing so. 

With all of the noise created by knowledge networks, skills in curating such knowledge are probably more invaluable to many employers than the knowledge itself. Developing a knowledge network and understanding how to work with it effectively is the area both organisations and individuals need to master, not simply becoming an expert in one area. 

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