Blog: Networking Nirvana

Networking Nirvana

Not everyone loves to network!  Not everyone feels confident about networking. But networking is a wonderful way to build business, build your career, and build personal relationships that will deliver such value to you.

And it all starts with having the right mindset.

What does this mean? 

First, a networking mindset is purposeful. if you have a networking mindset you’ll look at your everyone you know (and some you’d like to know) and see everyone as providing a potential opportunity for you. 

I remember when I founded The Humphrey Group over 30 years ago, I would drive through the financial district on my way to our small corporate offices, and I would look at each executive on the sidewalk and say to myself, “There’s a client, there’s a client….ah, there is another one. “ If you see everyone as providing a potential opportunity for you, you will enter every networking situation with joy and a sense of promise; rather than dread. 

Second, a networking mindset is positive.  Don’t see approaching others as an imposition on them. See it as a favor to them. Here’s the thing: People want to help you.  But you have to give them a chance to do so. You need to put yourself out there so they can have the opportunity to help you in some way. That’s what networking is – putting yourself out there, so they can help you or give you something.   

Third, the networking mindset is confident. There is only ONE YOU in the world. And you are bringing that special self to anyone you meet. That’s a huge gift. In business I have always felt that I was offering The Humphrey Group clients something very special, something they couldn’t get from anyone else. When you  approach someone in person or on zoom who can help you get that next job, bring that sense of self to the meeting. Know that you are about to offer them something special. Don’t go in with a feeling of want or need; go in with a feeling of how special you and your offering are. If you do, you will shine.

Fourth, the networking mindset is focused. So focus on those who can help you build your business or advance your career. Is this selfish? It may seem to be. But to be successrful in life, or in your career, you need to put your interests on the front burner. You need to work a room (virtual or real) and come out with something for yourself. This is not necessarily the way we think; many of us are always thinking of others, of our partners, husbands, children, colleagues, boss….but in networking you have to be focused on what you want out of the event.

Each of you has lots of contacts and many friends. Not everyone loves to network!  Not everyone feels confident about networking. But networking is a wonderful way to build business, build your career, and build personal relationships that will deliver such value to you.

And it all starts with having the right mindset. Best wishes!

Blog : The First Rule for Leaders

The First Rule for Leaders: Have a Message

OK, so there are tons of things you’ll want to master to be an eloquent leader. But what’s the first?

The first, and the most fundamental to leadership—is your message.

One, clear, credible, and compelling idea that you own.

Just think of your audience. How frustrating is it when a leader speaks without a clear message. You’ve heard them—going on and on to answer a question, rambling when making a meeting comment, or just plain talking without saying anything in particular. Sometimes, after a lengthy excursion through their subject, they may finally grasp what they’re trying to say, and come up with the words, “So what I’m saying is……” But putting the message at the end—after you’ve lost your audience, is a shame.

Speaking as a leader involves a clear intention to get a message across. And placing that message at the beginning, rather than the end, is paramount.


Here are the six criteria of a good message.

  1. It’s one idea.Streamline your thinking down to a single, essential idea–the point you want your audience to buy into. Sometimes speakers have too many ideas, or else they have no idea what they’re trying to say. Too many ideas or no idea–both produce the same thing: confusion.
  2. You express it in a single, clear sentence.If your message is more than one sentence, or is a long, convoluted sentence, your listeners won’t “get it.” If you say to a client, for instance, “We’re here for you, we can deliver. And of course we want to work with you on this next opportunity, which sounds very exciting,” you’ll be leaving the client with multiple messages. Instead, try: “We’re confident we can deliver for you.”
  3. It’s engaging.Your message should engage the hearts and minds of your listeners, otherwise they’re less likely to buy into your main idea. I once asked a director of strategy who’d just joined a firm, “What would your message be if your boss asks you, ‘How do you see your job?’” He replied, “I’d say, ‘My goal is to get the company to live the strategy.’” That would’ve been music to the ears of the VP of strategy.
  4. It carries your convictions.Make sure your message is an idea you believe in. When Lou Gehrig announced to fans at Yankee Stadium that he was ailing, on July 4, 1939, he delivered a deeply felt message. Instead of expressing regrets, he said, “I feel like the luckiest guy in the world.” Don’t undercut yourself or your company with halfhearted statements or decorous platitudes that you don’t really believe in.
  5. It’s positive.Yes, there are times when you’ll need to deliver bad news, but even then, you should spend more time on the high ground than the low ground. No matter how sobering your message, it should move the room in a hopeful direction, highlighting aspirational goals, possibilities, and accomplishments. Sometimes circumstances make this easy and your message is just, “I’m thrilled by your performance as a team” or, “We closed the deal, and you all made it happen.”You can still sound a note of positivity when that isn’t the case, though: “While we face major challenges, I’m confident we can remain the provider of choice in our industry.” Whatever you do, always move from negatives to positives.
  1. It’s recognizable.Make sure everyone can identify your message when they hear it. Introduce it with phrases like, “My point is,” “My message is,” “My view is,” “As I see it,” “I believe that,” or even “Here’s the thing.”

Remember these fundamentals of a good message, and if you do – your message will be heard by and resonate with your audience.

This article is adapted from the author’s column in the November 13, 2017 issue of Fast Company.

Blog : Why Leaders Need to Be Strong Communicators

Why Leaders Need to Be Strong Communicators

Let’s begin with the basics. Why should someone who thinks of himself or herself as a leader—or who aspires to be a leader—care about words, language patterns, structuring of ideas, eliminating “um’s” and “ah’s” and acquiring a strong physical presence. Aren’t these, after all, “soft skills?”

Yes, and that is exactly what today’s leaders need.

Wharton Professor Adam Grant writes in a LinkedIn article: “It’s getting harder to succeed without soft skills. There’s a premium on coordination, negotiation, persuasion and social perceptiveness.”1 This is a result of automation in the labor market, fewer technical jobs, and the need for more collaboration by people in teams.

The chart below shows that soft skills are taking on much more importance at work. And leaders—of all people—need these skills. They are the ones who spend their days in meetings with people they need to listen to, influence, persuade, and encourage to collaborate. Their day is spent using their soft skills. A CEO, for example, spends a full 85 percent of the time with people, doing just these things. And “busy professionals” spend about 40 percent of their time in meetings, using these same skills.2


My latest book, Impromptu: Leading in the Moment, shows you how to persuade and influence in everyday business situations that take up most of our day: meetings, corridor conversations, elevator chats, one-on-one discussions, and answering questions.

These spontaneous encounters are the stuff of leadership. Moving others in these fleeting encounters will build your reputation and show others that you have the ability to lead in any situation.

Many of my future blog posts will focus on these extemporaneous speaking skills and how to master them. Stay tuned!