John Kinde, Guest Author
I conduct workshops on Business Networking Power – “How To Introduce Yourself in 60 Seconds for Business Success.” Although the focus of the workshop is on “Getting Attention, Making It Remembered and Making it Sell,” we have a short discussion on using spontaneous humor to brighten your introductions. Humor is a powerful tool to let people know who you are both at formal networking events where you stand before a group to speak, and also at mix-and-mingle networking events.
Here are some thoughts on the subject of introducing yourself with humor:
1. When you go to a formal networking function, especially at a format where you will have an allotted timeframe to introduce yourself to the group, plan and prepare your introduction before you arrive at the event. This will give you the time and confidence to relax and LISTEN to the introductions of other people. If you want to use spontaneous and observational humor in your introduction, you must pay attention to what is happening and what is being said around you. This is difficult to do if you are preoccupied with the basics of your own introduction. You prepare in advance so you can truly be present. Your most powerful humor will come from observations in the present moment.
2. Look for connections and twists with what other people do for a living and what you do. If you are unable to come up with a direct connection, maybe you can just fabricate one. I was at a networking meeting with someone who owned a business called Melissa’s Puppy Tub. She explained that you could bring your dog to her establishment and she would help you give it a bath. I opened my introduction with “Hi, I am the owner of John’s People Tub. If you know someone who needs a bath, give me a call.” Silly. Funny. Got their attention. Then I continued with my introduction. One of the keys is breaking people’s preoccupation so that they focus their attention on you, remember you, and talk about you afterwards.
3. If someone says something funny during their introduction, it is an opportunity for you to piggyback on that laugh by weaving the theme of their funny line into your introduction by repeating or twisting the humor they used. Keep your radar tuned for group laughter. What was said or done to make them laugh? How can you link that to your own introduction?
4. Don’t be afraid to exaggerate. It’s usually a safe form of humor.
5. Don’t be afraid to look silly. Let your hair down. The rewards are great. I remember wearing fake teeth and a hair-hat to a networking meeting. I felt the butterflies. It was a bit out of my comfort zone and I hadn’t done it before. You need to work past that and take a few chances. In the long run it will be worth it. And it will be a learning experience too.
6. If they don’t laugh, pretend that you never expected them to. If you thought something would be funny and the audience does not, it’s your secret. It’s not a big deal.
7. If you are really courageous, sing or rap. It will almost always be a sure laugh. Here is a tip from improv comedy. If you are not a singer, then sing loud. The key is your commitment. If you are committed to the performance, the audience will love you. And they will remember you. And they will be alert the next time you stand to make an introduction.
8. In mix-and-mingle networking, consider having an introduction partner work the room with you. It’s sometimes easier for someone to use a humor line about you as they introduce you. Or sometimes it works well for them to set up a humorous line for you as they introduce you. You then follow the humor line with your punchline.
9. Wear something humorous. People love my denim shirt covered with cartoon characters. Wear a funny name badge. Carry a small pocket-magic trick. The possibilities are endless. Look for something that makes a great ice breaker and conversation starter.
10. Related articles. The keys to observational humor are Preparation, Observation, Courage and Practice. Check the article “Using Spontaneous and Observational Humor.” Another related article is “Why Spontaneous Humor is Powerful.”
Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. Larry James presents networking seminars nationally and offers Networking coaching; one-on-one or for your Networking Group! His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”
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