Monday, February 25, 2008

Networking your way up Google - from obscurity to Number One in under an hour!

While delighted with the coverage I received in yesterday's Sunday Times newspaper, I was faced with a small dilemma...they had spelt my name wrong. Who is this 'Andy Lapota' fellow?

Now, with a name like mine, you'd think I'd be used to this. I can assure you, I gave myself a swift kick on reading the article, I've seen my name spelt in so many different ways that I should be briefing people by now when it is important.

The problem was that if people want to search for me after reading the article, they wouldn't be able to find me on Google under the misspelt name. I simply wouldn't appear in the results. To make things worse, I had gone away for the weekend and couldn't get any internet access to address the problem.

Enter David Petherick, a fellow Ecademist. David called me after seeing the article, and misspelling, in the paper. He offered to resolve the search problem as quickly as he could.

David Twittered, David Pownced and David Blogged. Forty minutes later, I managed to get onto my mobile phone browser while on the motorway (don't worry, I wasn't driving!) and googled 'Andy Lapota'. From not featuring at all, my name now occupied the first two places on Google, courtesy of Mr Petherick and the SEO capabilities of sites like Ecademy. Even more impressively, both posts were addressed to Sunday Times readers looking for more information on me.

From obscurity to number one in less than an hour. Now, that's the power of networking!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Get a Lift From Online Networking

I was recently interviewed by The Sunday Times for an article looking at how small businesses can use online networks, such as Ecademy , LinkedIn and my own Word of Mouse.

The resulting article was published in the paper's business section today. You can view the article in full here.

Monday, February 18, 2008

A Starter's Guide to Business Networking

It's been a busy start to the year and as a result I've been neglecting my blog, for which I apologise. I will be looking to remedy that over the coming months and sharing with you a range of thoughts, tips and articles to help you network.

To start off with, I have just written the following tips for a marketing forum and would like to share it with you. It reiterates some points I've made in the past... but it never hurts to re-emphasise how important it is to have a strategic approach to your networking.

If there are particular areas you would like me to focus on in this blog, please do let me know. Your feedback is valuable.

For those of you who have said that you would like to come and see me speak, we are just confirming a couple of dates for public events and I will post them up here as soon as I can.


If you are new to networking, there are so many networks you can choose from. It makes life very tough. Many people simply join the network they are invited to, without a clear expectation of what they want from it. Here are three tips to make life a bit easier:

1 - What do you want to achieve?
Different networks provide different things, and it is important to be aware of what you're looking for from your network. Generally speaking, you can classify business networks into one of three main areas, although there will be overlap:

Profile Building - do you want to raise your profile in your local area, or globally through an online network such as Ecademy?

Brain Building - are you looking for peer group support, local knowledge, enhanced skills or greater understanding of your industry?

Referral Building - is your aim to develop a network of people who will champion your business and bring leads to the table?

Once you know what you want to achieve, you can look at the different networks available and ask yourself, and them, how strong they are in each of these areas. Then set clear goals from your membership that you can measure to see if it's working for you.

Online or offline?

With the growth of online networks, many people now ask whether these replace offline. A lot depends on what you want to achieve but the bottom line is NO!

Whether you connect with people through a facilitated network or through your own endeavours, nothing can replace personal contact. If you are going to build strong relationships with people, it's much better if you've seen the whites of their eyes! Online networks bring you closer together, but you still need to meet up wherever possible.

Of course, you can learn from each other and build an initial relationship online, but if you want people who will truly go the extra mile for you, you need that personal contact.

3 - What do you need to put in?
Networking is a proactive activity. It doesn't help to join a network and sit back waiting for the results.

Once you have clear goals from your networking, ask yourself what you need to do to achieve those goals. From attending events and preparing, to meeting fellow members regularly and having a clear idea of how they can help you, the focus you have on what your commitment is will make a big difference to the results you get from your network.

Please don't sign on the dotted line, hand over your cheque and sit back waiting for the benefits to come flooding in. You will be very disappointed with the results if you do, and so will your network.