Make ’em laugh – 7 tips for better networking

Can you learn how to network better with comedy?

Business networking is one of those activities that some people seem to love and others would do anything to avoid, and yet we’re told if we’re to build our business then we need to network. But how can you make networking less like pulling teeth and more like, well, having fun?

I love meeting people, but networking events don’t always feel natural and easy for me. The other week I attended the HERlarious workshop run by Funny Women for the NatWest boost programme.
I love the fun and joy of laughing with people so signed up with no particular expectation other than it would be an interesting couple of hours that would get me away from my desk and talking to people whose main conversation wasn’t about what snacks they could eat (side-eyes my 11 years old).

What I got was a great morning spent developing listening and communicating skills through a series of fun and funny exercises and challenges all with the goal of shaking us out of our networking doldrums.

Here my takeaways from the morning – 7 ways to get better at networking

  1. Listen

    Everyone has a story and most people love the chance to tell it. Being genuinely interested in what the other person has to say opens up more conversational avenues.

  2. Connect

    Finding common ground helps to bond, it’s why we talk about the weather so much, or the traffic, the tyranny of making packed lunches – find something you have in common and have a laugh and take it from there.

  3. Assume a yes!

    Assuming the best of intentions in others opens up communication.

  4. Use open body language

    This is something I still practice as I have a habit of crossing my arms, open body language show’s you’re ready and open to conversation and helps to invite other people in.

  5. It’s not all about you

    A conversation is about both of you or more, ask questions that give space to others to talk and they’ll remember you as a lovely listener!

  6. Never apologise

    This wasn’t news to me, I stopped apologising for who I was years ago. The deferential habit of apologising can put you on the back foot and sells you short. Take up space and be bold.

  7. Say something funny

    The word “shag” always makes people laugh – as evidenced by the photo above*

Big thanks to Lynne Parker and the Funny Women team and everyone else that participated for the brilliant morning. Thanks also to James Court who organises the NatWest Boost programme here in Devon and to Rosie Parsons for the event photography.

*we played a word association game – the first word was “carpet”, my follow up word was “shag” as in shag-pile carpet!

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