Socializing at networking events is often a stressful event for non-native English speakers. Let's cover some important tips that will help you not only survive but also be productive at networking events.
1. Body Language - First impressions are usually made in the first seven seconds upon meeting a stranger. Positive and professional body language helps to "even the odds" of making a positive impression. For more information, visit this blog post.
2. Be proactive – "Break the ice"
Most non-native speakers of English feel nervous and unconfident about socialising and starting a conversation (breaking the ice). Unfortunately, the only way we can overcome that is practice. The more we practice being proactive and breaking the ice (starting conversation) the more relaxed and confident we will feel. We suggest preparing simple open-ended questions you can ask.
How are you enjoying the event?
Is this your first time to…?
Do you work for…?
What did you think of…?
2. What to talk about – safe conversation topics
This is all about talking and asking questions about 5 safe conversation topics.
- weather (What´s the weather like where you come from?)
- jobs and responsibilities (So what do you do exactly?)
- travel ( How was your flight? )( Have you ever been to….?)
- business (How’s business at the moment?)
- interests (So what are you interested in?)
3. Focus on them – not you
Focus on the other person in social situations, even if this means talking for an hour about something which you personally find boring. It´s a good way to find things you have in common to talk about as well as their interests. Focusing on them is also a good way to prolong the conversation, most people love to talk about themselves!
4. Active listening – give positive feedback
Show and tell people you´re listening by nodding your head and saying “ah-hum/ ok/ i agree/ i know what you mean”. Also use positive body language such as smiling, making eye contact and keeping your arms open and not crossed. It may seem obvious but listening styles differ greatly across cultures and across personalities.
5. Inspire others
As a speaker, we should try to ‘inspire’ people listening to us. So when they walk away, they will be thinking positive thoughts like That was a really interesting conversation. / He’s a really nice guy. / That was fun. etc. If we can achieve this, people will remember us. The law of reciprocity means they might even want to help us because we gave them something.
Enthusiasm in a conversation means being open and enthusiastic about what you say and what the other person says. For example, you can practice this by changing your responses from ‘It was fine” to ‘It was excellent.‘, from ‘It was quite interesting.’ to ‘It was amazing.’ Remember to combine this with open and positive body language!
Don't feel confident about your Business English? MANHATTAN English Studio conducts "English for Busy Professionals" twice weekly on Monday and Wednesday evenings from 7-9pm. Feel free to contact us and we will be happy to set you up with a free trial lesson!