By Greg Werstler

Director of Creative Sales,

ComedySportz Chicagogreg


I approach every networking event as an opportunity to build an ensemble of professionals.  My approach is about making the connection NOT asking for business.  Once you are a part of my ensemble, you will WANT to do business with me.  I may not even have to ask for it.

Here are some tips that every professional probably already knows, but forget when at a networking event:

PREPARE.  Yes, make sure you have business cards, check the registration list if one is available, (which it is for MPI events) and target people you want to meet, dress appropriately, so on and so on. But beyond that level of preparation, take a moment before you enter the event to prepare your mind and body.  We all play so many roles simultaneously in life.  We’re boyfriends/girlfriends, we’re husbands/wives, fathers/mothers, we’re salespeople/accountants/HR directors/planners/suppliers/janitors all at once.  Before you enter, take a moment to switch gears.  Take a breath, loosen your shoulders, stand up straight and say to yourself “time to make connections”. BE PRESENT!

EYE CONTACT.  Everyone knows this.  But how many events have you attended where someone walked up, shook your hand and immediately looked at your name badge?  Hello!  My eyes are up here!  I understand you’re trying to discern if you really need to spend time talking to me, but if you don’t look me in the eye, you put yourself at a disadvantage from the start and I don’t want to talk to you.  MAKE A CONNECTION!

LET GO OF YOUR EGO.  Pretty Zen, right?  You don’t know who is going to end up helping your business.  If you walk in only looking for those who can help you and ignoring those who can’t, you are not building an ensemble, you’re shutting people out.  Everyone can refer someone to you; everyone can be your brand ambassador, but not if you don’t make a connection.  BUILD TRUST!

TRY THE PERSONAL.  So, maybe DON’T talk about your latest medical procedure, but don’t be afraid to share personal information at a networking event.  In fact, seek out opportunities to talk about things other than what you do at work.  Ask questions, learn about the other person.  I have two young daughters.  When I can connect with someone over being a parent, it’s a much stronger connection than when we connect over special events.  People do business with those they know and trust!  BE REAL!

Keith Ferrazzi, thought leader and relationship guru says “You are not asking for business, you’re asking for a relationship.”  Build strong relationships and success will follow.

I look forward to meeting you sometime.  When we meet ask me about how I separated my shoulder.  It’s a good story!


About the Author: Greg is the Director of Creative Sales for ComedySportz of Chicago.  ComedySportz is the longest running short-form improv show in Chicago. Now in our 26th year! Our National Touring Company has performed at private events around the world, and Quebec.  We also provide improv-based workshops to improve soft skills for business and create Corporate comedy on the spot or through sketch.  Our theatre at 929 W. Belmont is the perfect place for a casual, fun group outing.  For more information, go to ComedySportz Creative Services:

For the last 10 of its over 25 years serving the Chicago-area audiences, ComedySportz of Chicago, Inc. has been serving the business community with lively, interactive professional development trainings. 

  • Need to be a better boss?  Improv!
  • Need to give more authentic and responsive customer service?  Improv!
  • Need to communicate more effectively?  Improv!

Now, to inspire more Chicagoland Training and Development professionals to make learning more interactive, ComedySportz is hosting the first meeting of the new Interactive Learning Professional Development Network, a forum held by the Chicagoland Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development.  (

matt elwell prof headshotThis first meeting features a presentation by Jane Anderson of Navigant Consulting, Inc. and will help attendees learn how to get more engagement and skill transfer from the simulation-based learning experiences they use in their own programs.  The new Interactive Learning PDN is moderated by Matt Elwell, a Certified Professional in Learning and Performance, and our own President and CEO of ComedySportz of Chicago, Inc.

Beyond Role-Play: Live Simulations

Monday, August 12th, 2013

Program:  6p-7:45p.  Registration/Networking:  5:30p-6p

The ComedySportz Theatre, 929 W Belmont Ave., Chicago IL

E-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with e-mail and phone to register.

Free admission open to Training & Development professionals in the Chicagoland area with advance registration.

For more information on the event, check out the website:

A printable flyer to share with your office is available by clicking here: Interactive-Learning.pdf

For more information on ComedySportz of Chicago, Inc., and the suite of Corporate Training solutions we provide:

ComedySportz Players Face Improv Teams from Throughout the Community in Weekend Competition


The ComedySportz Theatre will be the site of some friendly competition among members of Chicago's improv community when 26 year-old ComedySportz Chicago hosts its annual Comedy Theatre Challenge from August 1 through 3, 2013. Teams composed of players from ComedySportz's resident ensemble will face teams from other improv comedy theaters in the city in a celebration of Chicago's long tradition as the nation's capital of improv comedy.

Joining ComedySportz for this weekend will be players from The Annoyance and iO, improv theaters that like ComedySportz Chicago, are pioneers of the city's improv scene and have also been operating in Chicago for 26 years. Also competing that weekend will be a team from Stage 773 - the multi-stage venue that has hosted some of Chicago's top comedy festivals and presented shows by the area's leading itinerant improvisers, Chemically Imbalanced Comedy, who has been presenting all forms of comedy for 12 years and The Playground, the nation's only non-profit cooperative dedicated to the art of improv comedy.

The scheduled matchups (subject to change - please call ahead)  are as follows:

8/1 Thu 8pm- Theater 773/Cupid Players
8/2 Fri 8pm- Annoyance
8/2 Fri 10pm- Annoyance
8/3 Sat 6pm- The Playground
8/3 Sat 8pm- CIC
8/3 Sat 10pm- Dart, iO

These guest players will join ComedySportz teams at the theater's six regular weekly performances from Thursday, August 1 through Saturday, August 3. Tickets for these all-age-friendly shows are $22 to $24 and are available by phone through The ComedySportz Theatre Box Office (773-549-8080) or Ticketmaster.

Stewart HuffOn Monday, July 29th 100 Proof Comedy welcomes a stand-up icon in the making - Stewart Huff – to The ComedySportz Theatre (929 W. Belmont) at 8pm!  The Atlanta resident comes to Chicago after a year where he has exploded on the national festival scene, becoming a “must-see” for audience members, and a game-changer among his peers.  Here are what others are saying after seeing Huff perform:

"Stewart may be one of the best comedy writers America has seen since Woody Allen. He is able to pull comedy from subjects that shouldn’t be able to illicit any more jokes." - Darrin Hensley, Lexington Comedy Examiner

"Stewart Huff is the best type of comedian: honest and profound. He never settles for an easy joke, but instead pulls big laughs with his weapon of choice: the truth." - Saurin Choksi, Lincoln Lodge

"Stewart Huff is the sort of comedian that other comedians talk about in hushed tones over beers. He's not just winning the game, he's changing it." - Peter-john Byrnes, This Week in Despair

Huff will be performing for an entire hour as headliner, and will be joined by 100 Proof Comedy cast members Cody Melcher (Tomefoolery), Lisa Laureta (OWN’s My Life is a Joke), and Jake McKenzie (Flock Yourself).  The evening is hosted by Jamie Campbell (Chicago’s “Best Comedian of 2013 – Chicago Reader Best of 2013 Poll).

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at The ComedySportz Theatre box office by calling 773.549.8080.  This event is expected to sell-out, so we strongly recommend purchasing tickets in advance.

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