English for Entrepreneurs: Networking Events

By 3 October 2022 Non classé One Comment

You’re an entrepreneur. You know that you have to network, maybe even get out and attend networking events. But what if you’re not your usual confident self networking in English? Or what if you don’t really like networking in any language? Or what if you just don’t know how to start a conversation?

I know how hard that is because I’m an entrepreneur myself and I need to do business and network in French–not my native language!  Let’s take a look at how you can be an effective networker in English.  You’ll learn why networking is important to you. You’ll also learn phrases you can learn to make you a more effective networker in English.  These will help you prepare for your next networking event.  And, no, perfect English is NOT required.

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What you’ll learn in this article:

1. Why you need to network in English if you’re an entrepreneur.
2. Why you don’t need perfect English to be successful at networking.
3. Conversation starters for your next networking event.
4. Expert networking tip: give more than you get.
5. In Business speaking more than one language is YOUR advantage.

1. Why you need to network in English if you’re an entrepreneur.

Did you know that many jobs and contracts are, well, secret? The only way to find out about them is to know the right person. And you probably already know that networking and relationships help entrepreneurs to succeed too.  Why?

Because startup owners and entrepreneurs find business through referral (when someone they know thinks of them for a job).

Networking and networking events help you make sure someone thinks of you the next time they hear of a new contract or opportunity. It’s one of the important habits successful business communicators and entrepreneurs need to develop. 

And before we start learning expressions you can use at your next networking event, there’s something else you need to know.

2. Why you don’t need perfect English to be successful at networking.

Do you know what stops a lot of entrepreneurs from being effective at networking (or going to networking events at all?)

They think they have to be perfect in English to network. I know, I felt that way too. I have to network in French all the time and it took me years to realize that it was ok to do business and not ‘speak like a native.’

In fact, when I’m at networking events, people often notice my accent! But that is actually a great thing for me. Because people ask me where I’m from…

And then I tell them my story: how I came to France, realized my passion for teaching business English and started my own business.

By doing business in more than one language, I’ve learned that you can still make relationships and make great business connections as a non-native speaker.

And since networking and business communication is all about confidence, I want you to remember something else: you can increase your confidence by starting the conversation right.

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3. Conversation starters for your next networking event:

Alright, so now you know how important networking can be for your business. And you know you definitely don’t want to wait for ‘perfect English’ to start!

So let’s prepare for your next networking event with a few conversation starters.

How to break the ice (start a conversation).

Try starting with a question or comment about the event:

“Are you having issues with the Wi-Fi?”
Because, well, there is always a problem with the Wi-Fi.

“That sandwich[food or beverage] looks great. Where did you find it?”
Then you can comment on how great the food is here, for example, just to start the conversation.

Introduce yourself:

Then, after you break the ice, it’s nice to introduce yourself, to show that you also want to continue the conversation.

“Oh, I’m Christina by the way.”
(Yes, it really can be that easy. And yes, it works.)

Continue the conversation with another easy question:

Pick something simple. You could ask about the event, as it’s a shared experience, so you can both talk about it. For example, you could ask:
“Is this your first time attending this conference?”
“Is this your first time in Las Vegas?”

If the person has experience with the conference, you can ask follow-up questions about that. And if not? Ask…

“What do you think of the conference [or city] so far?”

You can also ask:
“Are you here to see any specific presentations?”

And then give the other person a chance to talk about why they’re attending the conference.

4. Expert networking tip: give more than you get.

Now that you have some great expressions for helping you start conversations–and continue them.  You’re ready for your next networking event.  But here’s some expert advice:

Give more than you get. 

That means, don’t just wait for other people to think of you. Instead, be active and help others make connections.

Has this ever happened to you? Someone refers you for a job or puts you in contact with someone else.  And then what happens? You’re going to remember that person forever!

How do you do this in English? Here are some great ways to put people in touch:

Let’s say you’re in a conversation and someone is telling you they need someone who can help you handle the massive growth their company is experiencing.

“You know what? I know just the woman for the job–she’s a consultant, she works with small companies and helps them transition into big ones. Here let me send you her contact info.” 

Or, if you just know people who you can imagine working well together–offer to put them in touch.

Like this:

“I think I know someone you might like to meet. He might have some ideas about the project you’re working on. Maybe you should reach out to him. Here’s his card.”

Sometimes you won’t think of how you could connect two people at the event itself. That means you’ll probably want to follow up–or send a nice email to someone with something helpful to them–like a great new business contact. If you need help with those emails, you’ll find some models I wrote for you here. 

5. Remember: In Business speaking more than one language is YOUR advantage.

In fact, if you’ve ever felt like you’re “not as good” because you’re English isn’t good enough, I want you to remember something I had to learn too: those mistakes are not a weakness, they’re your strength. Being multilingual makes you a better entrepreneur. You can offer more people who just speak one language.
And, ok, it means your English isn’t perfect. But you don’t need perfect English to be great at what you do.

Ok, now you’re ready to learn some great conversation starters for your networking event.

6. Take the next step for your English and your Business:

Here are some phrases for starting conversations–or keeping them going. But they’re mixed up! Can you take these words and find out what to say at your next networking event? Finding the correct phrasing will help you review these phrases AND get more comfortable with the way advanced and native speakers of English actually talk!

having you issues are with Wi-Fi the?

That looks sandwich great. You where find it did? 

I’m Oh, by the Christina way.

Is your first time this conference  this attending ?” 

Las Vegas this Is your time  first in?

Further reading for entrepreneurs in English

Curious to learn more about the topic of the day? I’ve selected this excellent resource for you. It helps native speakers find confidence and take on their next conference! And it will help you too.

– From Psychology Today: Business: Confidence Matters in the Corporate World
– From INC.com: Attending Conferences: 5 Tips for Tackling Big Events

Improve your English in the comments:

The best way to become more confident using Business English is to practice!

Here’s your Confidence Challenge for this week:

  1. What’s the hardest part about networking events in English?
  2. Let me know in the comments below–who knows, maybe it will be the topic of a future lesson!

Further reading for entrepreneurs in English

Curious to learn more about the topic of the day? I’ve selected these excellent resources for you:
4 Reasons Being Multilingual Makes You a Better Entrepreneur–In today’s global economy, multilingual entrepreneurs have an advantage.

How Networking and Relationships Propel Entrepreneurs to Succeed.


More good stuff…

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