We have not one, but two Thursday Throng interviews today. I’d like to introduce Andy Lopata, one of the UK’s leading experts on business networking who is also giving away a SIGNED COPY of his book, Recommended: How to Sell Through Networking and Referrals to one lucky commenter.
The business of selling both ourselves, our products and services seems to have come full circle. In the old days before supermarkets we would buy everything we needed from the local store, we knew who the traders were, we knew the people that would be able to best solve our problems. Then came mass marketing and mass shopping, suddenly the rules of the game changed and we were buying on price; often ending up unhappy with the end result.
With the advent of social networking online, we are once again becoming used to buying the things we want and need based on recommendations and suggestions from our friends.We are once again familiar with the reality and practicality of the ‘recommendation’.
This change has been a boon for the experienced networker, whose skills are honed to within an inch of their life. But what about those people who have yet to tread the networking boards, who know that ‘word of mouth selling’ is important but don’t know what to focus on or where to start? Enter Andy Lopata and Recommended. This book is brilliant for both beginner and ‘expert’ alike; through practical step-by-step processes with excellent advice and stories to illustrate his explanations. This is definitely a ‘must read’ for everyone who is engaged in word of mouth selling, whether of their own books, products or services or someone elses.
Welcome to the Thursday Throng Andy and as you probably know, I always start with the question ‘What is one thing that no-one would usually know about you?.
That all depends who you’re asking!
From a business perspective, many people wouldn’t know that writing three books on networking wasn’t my first experience as a published author. I used to contribute to a number of football fanzines and saw my articles published in national collections. I then went onto publish my own fanzine, ‘Goodbye Horse’, which was voted the number one football fanzine in the UK by Total Football magazine.
What did the best review you ever had say about you and your work?
I’ve been fortunate in having three national newspapers in the UK saying nice things about me, from ‘one of Europe’s leading business networking strategists’ in the Financial Times and ‘a true master of networking’ in the Independent to the more straightforward ‘Mr. Network’ in The Sun!
However the best reviews and comments are always about the impact you’ve made on people’s lives. Particularly when that impact was unexpected.
When ‘…and Death Came Third!’ was first published in 2006 I received a wonderful email from an out of work actress who had bought the book. She had been struggling to even get auditions while her flat mate would just walk into parts. She realised that she lacked the network to get ahead and said the book made a huge difference to her.
I don’t think you can ever beat that type of feedback.
How did you choose a title for your book?
Finding the right title for my third book was difficult. After two very popular titles (‘Building a Business on Bacon and Eggs’ and ‘…and Death Came Third!’), the pressure was on but I didn’t have the same flash of inspiration this time.
I was going to call it ‘Have you Asked My Sister?’ after one anecdote I tell in my talks but the story didn’t make the cut. Besides, it could have led to all manner of perceptions about the book’s content!
In the end my publisher suggested the title ‘Recommended’. I liked the idea as I think our eyes are drawn to that word when we shop, and it is a good fit with the content. But I think it lacks the same impact as the previous two titles.
Do you think there is any elitism attached to the different genres of books, both in the fiction and non-fiction worlds?
Among readers yes. But fans of each style will always think their own preference is the better one. As a mainly non-fiction reader in a family of big fiction readers I’ve witnessed this first hand!
Ultimately, elitism is in the eyes of the beholder.
What is the single biggest challenge you faced when writing your book?
Getting started. Writing those first few words is so difficult but once you have started they often seem to flow.
The toughest period of writing a book though is after you have finished the first draft. You have to go back over the same text several times. With Recommended it was even tougher, when we were accepted for publication by Pearson I had to edit out 10,000 words. That’s a lot of your own blood, sweat and tears to cut.
The end product was definitely better for the edits though.
Do you have any hints or tips for aspiring writers?
Don’t write a book because people tell you that you should. Write a book because you have something you need to say, share or tell. It’s said that ‘everyone has a book in them’, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re all worth reading…or writing!
Also, know your audience. Particularly if writing a business book. Most business books aren’t completed by a large number of readers. What is going to keep them engaged to the end, or alternatively how easy is it for people to navigate for the information they need if they are time poor?
How do you remain sane while working?
Who told you I’m sane?
I do have Facebook and Twitter in the background for some often needed change of focus. The trick is to not get over distracted by them. It’s a quick peruse of what’s happening in the world, perhaps share a frustration and then back to work.
What has been the best experience you have ever had in your life?
I’ve been lucky to enjoy a range of wonderful experience.
Professionally there have been some wonderful times, such as speaking to audiences across the world, being asked to sign my books by people I would have asked for autographs from when I was younger and seeing my books at Number 2 on the Amazon charts and Number 1 in WH Smith bookshops.
Personally, I’ve swum with whale sharks, jumped from an airplane, slept on The Great Wall of China, rappelled in the Northern Territories of Australia, night snorkelled during the coral spawning on The Great Barrier Reef and much more. It’s so hard to pick one experience.
I’m making my stand up comedy debut in front of 300 people later this year. That has the potential to be one of the most amazing experiences….or one of the worst. Unfortunately I don’t know which yet!
Where can I find Andy online and buy his books?
You can meet Andy on his website at lopata.co.uk/. He’s also part of the Twitterati and you can find his account here: http://www.twitter.com/andylopata. He’s on Facebook at: facebook.com/networkingstrategy and finally, he runs a group about Networking Strategy on LinkedIn here: linkedin.com/groups?gid=147740&trk=myg_ugrp_ovr. If you are a member of Goodreads then catch up with him on his author profile at: goodreads.com/author/show/944635.Andy_Lopata
You can buy Recommended from Amazon in the UK and in the US and you’ll find my review on both of these sites and on Goodreads as well. If you’d like to see Andy’s other books, then you need to check out his Amazon author profile here: amazon.co.uk/Andy-Lopata/e/B004V3Q2FO
Why ‘The Thursday Throng’?
These posts are called The Thursday Throng in honour of the throng that waits eagerly outside the book store when a new author is doing a book signing event or appearance. On this website it takes the form of a ‘Meet the Author‘ online event with some information about our author’s latest book and an interview. If you would like to take part in the Thursday Throng then why not visit Thursday Throng Author Interview Guidelines to find out more.
If you would like to see all the Authors who have been featured on The Thursday Throng you can click here: womanontheedgeofreality.com/2012/06/17/the-thursday-throng/