Welcome to 'Connecting is not Enough'

Andy Lopata

I've been asked a lot over the last fortnight about cultural differences in the way we network. Throughout my trip to Stockholm last week I was asked if there were many differences between the way Swedes and English people network and was told by many, that Swedish people are a lot less forthcoming in such situations.

I certainly didn't find that to be the case, in the same way that I have been a member of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in the UK for three years and never found it difficult to engage people in conversation.

Ultimately there are bound to be cultural differences between different nationalities when we network, just as there are in the way we lead our everyday lives. It seems to me, however, that we can perhaps over-emphasise these differences when looking inwards.

In a networking situation I find more similarities than differences in the way we interact. A lot of behaviour is determined by why we are in a situation and our understanding of how to make the most of it. Once we understand why we are networking and give ourselves permission to approach new people, there tends to  be, in my experience, little difference in the way we behave, certainly in Western culture.

It was interesting to note in my recent survey of readers of this e-zine that few of you have considered passing its contents onto other people in your network if you enjoy it.

Please feel free to share the contents if you feel that others will find them useful. Invite other people in your company or in your networking group to subscribe. There is a link to do so underneath the Quick Links to the right, and people can also do so at my networking blog. It's a free resource and the more people who take advantage of it, the better.

You'll also be helping me to spread the word about what I do. After all, that's a key part of networking!

Thank you for your support.


Congratulations to Stirling Murray, Sarah Decent and Steve Short who each won a ticket to this week's Entrepreneurs in London event in the competition run on Facebook, Twitter and in my last e-zine.

Also congratulations to Anne Whatley, who was originally selected as a winner but who couldn't make the event.

Thank you to everyone who entered. You can read some of the networking tips submitted at Connecting is not enough 

If you have received this in error and don't want to receive future editions, please use the unsubscribe link at the foot of the email and accept my apologies.

If you like what you read, please feel free to forward it and invite others to subscribe.
Happy Networking!

Personalise your follow up
Networking Skill Tip

I've written about the importance of following up with people with whom you network at events before. The nature of the follow up is just as important as the act itself.

This week I spoke at an event where a lot of people gave me their business cards as they would like to receive this newsletter. People both gave me their cards in person and left them on our stand during the course of the event.

Of course it would be difficult to follow each card up with a personal email due to the numbers and to the fact that I didn't meet everyone personally. But before sending any emails, I took out the cards of the people I did talk to and where I recalled a particular conversation so that I could send a personal email to them.

I exchanged business cards with one of the other speakers following a conversation. I wasn't at his talk unfortunately, as he knew, but we agreed to stay in touch. Imagine my surprise when I received two emails from him, both personally addressed but both referring to me being at his talks and agreeing to things I wasn't aware of!

In his rush to follow up with everyone, he had taken a 'catch-all' approach. One which immediately alienates people with whom he has had a personal conversation completely at odds with his general email.

Personalise your follow up wherever you can. Networking is about building relationships not building lists.
How to spot a good referral networking group
Networking Strategy Tip

I am frequently asked whether referral-focused networking groups, such as BNI or BRX, genuinely work for businesses. As the former MD of one such network, naturally I believe the concept can be very powerful but it does depend on the approach taken by members in each individual group and by you if you join.

It is vital that, in order to maximise their performance, the culture of such groups is to deliver quality referrals to each other. If members' 60 second presentations are focused on selling to each other, rather than through each other, it's not a good start.

My advice to anyone visiting such a group is always the same. Listen in the referrals session. If the bulk of the referrals being passed correspond to something requested in that week's sixty second presentations, I would be concerned. Look back at the last edition of this newsletter or read The National Networker column below to see why; it's almost impossible that they could be referrals at that stage.

If the referrals refer to previous requests and conversations and are accompanied by the words "he/she is expecting your call", then the chances are much greater that the group has lots of potential.
Listen to your critics
Online Social Networking Tip

It's never nice to be criticised. Businesses in particular get extremely defensive when people complain about their services publicly.

This has been one of the major reasons why larger organisations have been so suspicious of social media. They don't want to encourage their customers to talk to each other in case they share horror stories.

What they fail to grasp is that their customers will talk to them on social media platforms whether or not they themselves are present. You don't need a brand's presence to allow you to tell others about your bad experiences, you'll just go ahead and do it anyway.

Instead of hiding from the conversations about them, businesses need to listen to what their customers are saying and engage in a positive way. Turn criticism to praise by responding and engaging. You can turn your biggest critic into your greatest Champion by addressing their issues.

Social media allows you to do that.
Profile v Reputation online
BT Tradespace Video Tip 

It's one thing to build your profile online, through blogging, tweeting and commenting. People also buy on reputation, though.

Profile v Reputation

In this video for BT Tradespace members, I talk about the importance of building both profile and reputation online and the role of testimonials on social networks.

Andy recommends... 

and what do you do

This morning I was at the launch of Barrie Hopson and Katie Ledger's new book 'And What Do You Do?'.

It may seem odd for me to be recommending a book whose title is the question I most dislike hearing at networking events! But this book epitomises the reason why it can be such a difficult question for many people to answer. Society has moved from traditions of everyone having 'a job for life' with one employer, to a position where many of us enjoy a 'portfolio career', focusing on a range of different tasks for different employers.

I wasn't aware I had a portfolio career until I met Katie. Yet I was always a prime candidate for such an approach to work, never happy working for one company and always seeking variety and stimulation. A book like this would have been so helpful to me ten years ago when I was planning my move away from corporate life.

This is what makes it so timely now. With large numbers of people looking at what options they have following redundancy, this book is an excellent guide to how to decide whether a portfolio approach is for you, how to work out what you should be doing and then how to take it forward.

The sections on networking, personal branding and story telling are comprehensive and well written, while the enthusiasm for new technology and social media as useful tools bring the book bang up to date.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is at a career crossroads. It is also a useful guide for those of us already entrenched in portfolio careers, without actually realising it.

The Verbal Business Card
The National Networker 


Following a series of workshops and coaching sessions with clients who aren't generating anything like the number and quality of referrals they potentially could, I've decided to focus on the foundations of a good referral strategy in a series of articles for The National Networker.

In the first part of the series, published at the beginning of the month, I expanded on recent newsletter tips about what a referral is and why they are so important for all businesses.

Don't forget, if you like this article, you can receive a range of networking articles from across the US and globally every week through a free subscription to The National Networker. You can sign up here.

Just for Fun

I don't know whether this is genuine or not. If it is, it's brilliant. If not, it's still brilliant!

Extreme Sheepherding

Extreme Sheepherding
I hope you've enjoyed the newsletter and look forward to your feedback.
If you're serious about developing a networking and referrals strategy that can take your business to a new level, or you are interested in booking me for a speech or training session for your team, you can contact me on:
Tel: 07930 417833
Skype: andylopata
I look forward to hearing from you.

All material copyright H & A Lopata ltd 2009. All rights reserved.

Are you a professional services firm with more than 5 employees?

Are you getting the results from your networking that you'd like?

Are you getting a steady flow of introductions from other professional services firms?

We are launching a limited number of Professional Services Networking and Referral Strategy Groups.

Each group of fifteen will comprise five professionals from three firms in
non-competing but complementary business fields.

The overall objective is to substantially increase each firm's return on investment from networking both in general and by building on the synergy with each other.

For more information and to discuss this further please contact Harvey Lopata on 01992 450488 or email harvey@lopata.co.uk

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8th December

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Networking in Ninety
Networking in Ninety Minutes - the Audio Programme
In other people's words:
"Hi Andy,

I want to thank you for a very inspiring day at the Oscars Theater in Stockholm two days ago. I have worked in sales and marketing for 10 years now and I am now about to start my own business so your lecture was very important to me.

I have been on many sales courses and seminars but never have had a chance to learn about how to build a network professionally.

Thank you for giving me a chance to see online communities as a powerful business tool for both developing my business but also connect with other people seeking for opportunities to help and inspire them and be helped and inspired.
You delivered your message clearly and it was easy to understand what you wanted to say (even though we were not the English speaking audience your message came through)"

Marijana Galic