The gift of networking

In the run-up to Christmas I ran a couple of my signature Stand Up to Stand Out workshops for business and took part in some all-important festive season networking.  I hosted a panel discussion for the fascinating What Women Want? initiative run by Kantar and attended events held at venues as diverse as Champneys Eastwell Manor in the Kent countryside to the uber-cool General Assembly in the City of London.

With time off now to reflect about my year, I know that what makes an event special for me is the laughter and sense of fun we share as women. Even when a situation is serious we intuitively diffuse the atmosphere with their innate sense of humour and socially we use it to make connections.  We have even encapsulated this at Funny Women by creating our new hybrid comedy-meets-business event, HERlarious, and we are in planning for more events during 2019.

Networking should be fun and not a chore. Funny people are memorable and powerful, so it’s good to acknowledge this when you meet people for the first time whether for business or socially.

In the world of comedy and this busy media-led age, networking is as important as making audiences laugh. New comedians find out pretty quickly how powerful networking can be by attending comedy events, meeting other comedians and promoters, and getting their name about.

The same principle applies in business and networking ‘gigs’ can help you to meet people and build your confidence and profile. In the rock n’ roll world of today’s comedy, there are arenas to fill and Netflix deals to be done. In the parallel world of business there is a vibrant public speaking circuit and real ‘expertise’ is rewarded with television and book deals – there is everything to play for if you want it badly enough.

Nobody got anywhere by blending into the background and waiting to be discovered – as a stand-up, you do have to stand out and make your presence felt.  In the same way, if you are attending a business networking event and you’re not a speaker, find your power and have something to say or ask. Maybe next time they will ask you to speak.

I have been networking for over 30 years and it has been an important part of my strategy throughout my career. From my first forays into journalism, developing my former career in public relations and creating Funny Women.  I have met some wonderful people from all walks of life and it has brought me business and lifelong friendships.

I have learned not to shy away from a conversation as everybody has a story to tell and it might be an opportunity for you to share your experiences. Doors open, you discover things about yourself and explore ways to fulfil your dreams.

Networking really is the gift that you can keep on giving yourself.  So, make 2019 your year to stand up, stand out and make sure your voice is heard.

Happy New Year!