“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know that is important.”
This famous expression refers to the idea that your personal connections are more important than your education or skills when it comes to success.
While that might not be true in every situation, it is undeniable that networking is an important skill. It can open doors to job opportunities, business partnerships, and mentor relationships with professionals in your industry.
Let’s take a look at exactly what networking is, why networking is important, and how to network in English.
How to network at an event
Networking refers to the act of building and maintaining relationships with other people who work in your professional field. It’s about making connections in order to learn, share knowledge, find support, and access new opportunities.
It can be as simple as starting a conversation with someone at a conference, swapping business cards, connecting with them on LinkedIn, and meeting them for a coffee a few weeks later.
That’s just one example, however. Networking can be done in lots of different ways. You can meet people who work in your field at industry conferences and professional events. You could also join organizations or associations where you’ll meet other professionals.
Why networking is important
Often, the act of networking can make people feel awkward. After all, it’s not easy to start a conversation with a stranger. But it’s important to make connections, especially in your professional life. These connections can help you to develop your career, find new opportunities, share knowledge, and stay up-to-date on the latest developments in your industry.
But if networking in your own language feels hard, then networking in a second language can feel even more daunting! After all, speaking is the most difficult part of learning a new language! However, networking in English can help you build a truly global web of connections.
So, are you ready to learn how to build relationships with other professionals and achieve your career goals? Here are some phrases, questions, and useful vocabulary to help you network in English:
How to start a conversation
Approaching a stranger and starting a conversation can feel a bit scary! But if you’re at a conference or event, everyone is there for the same reason – to network and make new connections. The good news is that if you walk up to someone and introduce yourself, it is incredibly unlikely that they will turn around and walk away. They are more likely to be grateful to have someone to talk to!
It’s totally normal to feel slightly nervous when starting a conversation – but that can make it harder to think of things to say, especially when you’re speaking a second language. So, it’s a good idea to learn some English phrases to network, which will help you to begin a conversation in an appropriate way. Here are some suggestions:
- Nice to meet you! I’m ___. What’s your name?
- Hello! What an interesting event! How did you end up here today?
- This is such a lovely venue. Have you been to an event here before?
- Have you attended this conference before?
- Excuse me, I couldn’t help but notice you work at _____. Could you tell me more about what you do there?
TOP TIP: When you learn someone’s name, try to use it at least three times in the conversation that follows – it will help you remember it in the future!
How to keep the conversation going
So, you’ve managed to start a conversation – congratulations, the hardest part is over! But sometimes it’s easy for these conversations to falter. Remember, your goal is to make a connection and build a relationship, so try to find common ground and ask open questions.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to make an amazing impression – instead, think of some thoughtful questions to ask people which will encourage them to keep talking. Here are some ideas:
- What did you think of the presentation?
- How did you start working in this field?
- What’s your favorite part of your job?
- What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
- Are you working on any interesting projects at the moment?
TOP TIP: It’s just as important to be interested in other people as it is to be interesting. So, showing a genuine interest in the person you’re talking to will help you to make a good impression.
How to end a conversation
This is almost as important as knowing how to start a conversation! When you’re networking, you don’t want to spend too long talking to one person. It’s important to “work the room” and talk to as many people as possible. That way, you’ll make lots of connections.
But the way you end a conversation will leave a lasting impression, so it’s essential to finish the conversation in a polite and friendly way! Here are some suggestions:
- It was great to meet you and I’d love to stay in touch. Can we exchange contact information?
- Thank you for such an interesting chat. Do you have a business card or email? It’d be great to stay in touch.
- Thanks for your insights and your time! Would you mind if I sent you my résumé?
- Maybe we could exchange contact information – I’d love to hear more about ___ and keep in touch.
TOP TIP: Bring business cards. It’s a great way to leave someone with a reminder of your interaction, and you’re likely to get a card in return, making it easier to remember people’s names. Once you’ve left the event, make sure to connect with people on LinkedIn, so you can contact them easily.
Practice networking in English with ELSA
ELSA can help you to network better in English, making sure your pronunciation and intonation are clear and easy to understand. Your AI tutor will provide instant feedback on any mistakes, and the more you practice, the more confident you will feel!
Download ELSA and perfect your networking skills, so that when you next attend a conference you will feel comfortable and confident when talking to people and making useful connections.