I amp up the fun factor in my networking with laughter. And one of my favorite ways to have a laugh, especially with the people I've known for a while, is to have "in jokes."
Forgive me for quoting Wikipedia, but they explain it so very well:
"An in-joke (also known as an in joke or inside joke) is a joke whose humor is clear only to those people who are "inside" a social group, occupation or other community of common understanding. It is humorous only to those who know the situation behind it. Inside jokes may exist within a small social clique, such as a group of friends. They also may extend to an entire profession (e.g., inside jokes in the film industry)."By it's very description, do you see where this might not only be fun in networking, but a helpful way to strengthen relationships? Networking is about saying "We mesh. We work well together. We can help each other. We've hung out together enough that we have these little jokes."
And to me, when I've got an in joke with someone, I feel like they're special enough to me (and hopefully vice verse) that I'm going to remember the joke and use it to remind them of our special bond.
Here's an example of some of the in jokes that I have going with people:
- My co-worker whom I greet with "yo G" and she say's "What up B?"
- My friend whom I refer to as my "gangsta coach"
- My fellow Toastmaster whom I will introduce as a "former Ninja"
- A Chamber member whom I now refer to as the "Ninja killer" (no relation to my Toastmaster friend).
- It reminds them of unique experiences you may have had together.
- It's a bonding experience that emphasizes what you have in common.
- It illustrates your sense of humor.
- You remind them that they are part of your "in" group and that they are accepted by the social circle.
- Professional in jokes show that you are current within your industry.
- It illustrates and enhances your friendliness and your authenticity (vital components of Tim Sanders' Likeability Factor)
- Clean and kind humor is always appreciated by everyone who shares in it. When you make people laugh, they like you more.
- Never, ever create or perpetuate an in joke that is derogatory.
- If they don't laugh, or repeat their line, it isn't funny any more. Drop it.
- Ask. I checked with my friend on calling him the "Ninja Killer" and he thinks it's funny.
- Be willing to let others in on the joke. The downside of creating an "exclusive" joke with one person is that they others are then left out. So expand your in jokes or create new ones with the people who know of your other special stories.
P.S. I'm having a problem posting my own comments =-) and I want to respond to Susan and Susan:
Susan Brooks: Thank you. You make a very good point about using in jokes in public. By including one person, you don't want to make others feel excluded. Either leave the in jokes to non-public settings, or use them and then let everyone else "in on it" by telling the story.
Susan Whitcomb: Well, you should always be marketing ;-)
Photo from Flickr by The Hills are Alive