Guest post by Sama (In English With Love)
How to Network in English With Helpful Phrases
Suppose you’re like many people in the professional world. In that case, you might feel intimidated by the idea of networking, even in your native language.
After all, there’s a simple process you can take when writing your C.V. or when preparing for your job interview.
But what do you do in a situation like networking, where you have to start and maintain conversations with different people from different backgrounds?
And then, of course, if English isn’t your first language, you have the added pressure of doing all those things in a language you might not be comfortable with. Engaging with people at an industry event often involves a lot of casual, informal, and friendly chat and small talk.
That might be hard for you if you’re more comfortable with professional or technical language and not so comfortable with making small talk in English.
In today’s working world, even the shyest professionals among us have to network in one form or another.
But it doesn’t have to be so painful!
Networking in English is all about creating clear goals, making a strategy, and learning some useful phrases and structures, you can keep in your back pocket. And that’s what we’re going to talk about today!
In this post on how to Network in English, we’ll talk about:
- What networking is and why you should do it in English
- How to find a networking event
- What research to do before an event or meeting
- How to keep your tone friendly but professional
- What you should say in your follow-up email
We’ll also give you plenty of examples of helpful English phrases that can help you at every stage of the process.
So if you’re ready to learn how you can network in English, let’s get into it!
What networking is and why you should learn to do it in English
If you’re looking for a job, you probably know the importance of networking, especially in English. In fact, around 80% of jobs are found by networking, and most jobs are not published online and are instead found by making connections in person.
You may have even done some networking without realizing it!
If you interacted with other professionals on Linkedin or social media or had an informal coffee or after-work get together with someone who works in your industry, you’ve done some networking.
And you have to keep doing it, even after you find a job that makes you happy.
This is because networking isn’t just about finding work. It’s also something professionals in many industries do to stay connected to other people in their field, to share ideas and tips, to keep their business growing, and to make sure they’re always up to date about any changes in their professional industry.
Even if you don’t work in an English-speaking environment or an English-speaking country, you’ll still want to know how to make professional connections in English.
After all, English is the global business language, and you should be ready to use that language to expand your professional network.
So let’s talk about how you can do that!
How to find a networking event
When it comes to networking, it’s best to be proactive, so you should seek out events and networking opportunities in English. And, according to SalesXceleration president Mark Thacker in a short article for Forbes, you shouldn’t wait for those opportunities to come to you.
So, how can you do that?
A Google or Linkedin search is a great way to find industry events in your area. But you can also use social media keywords and hashtags to find other professionals who have common interests or work in a similar field.
And here’s some good news: “Networking” doesn’t always have to be about going to some big event. You can also make connections by setting up one-on-one informational interviews or meetings in-person or online.
After you do some research about them, reach out to people in your field who you’d like to share information with, who might know of a job opening you’d like, or who might benefit from your service or product.
And how can you do that in English?
Here are is an example of a message you can send to reach out to someone to learn more about what they do or to set-up an informational coffee meeting or video call:
I hope this week has been treating you well!
My name is [Name], and I work for [company name]. I have been curious about opportunities in [related industry]. I was recently searching through Linkedin/Twitter/Facebook when I came across your [social media post/profile/article]. It caught my attention, and I hope that it’s okay that I’m reaching out to you seemingly out of nowhere!
Your [profile/article/post] really resonated with me because of [a personal connection/common interest/common idea/common project].
I noticed that you have experience/are currently working on/have a background in a [the area or opportunity that’s interesting to you. Get specific here! The more specific you are, the better!]. I’m also really interested in implementing similar strategies/getting into similar projects, and I’m curious to know more about your experience in that area.
I’d love the chance to run a few quick questions I have by you or just to hear your perspective.
I know your time is precious, so there’s no pressure to respond in depth. If you have 10 minutes to hop on the phone, video chat, or if you’d like me to buy you a coffee, I’d very much appreciate your time.
All the best,
NOTE: If you have a friend or acquaintance in common, be sure to mention it in the second paragraph! That will make the message seem a little less “out of the blue.”
What research to do before the event or meeting
Ok, so let’s say you were invited to a networking event or you got the meeting. Nice work! But now you’re feeling a bit afraid or overwhelmed because of your English. That’s completely natural and normal.
But you can do this!
Treat this like you would treat any work-related situation: do your research!
To make your research more effective, start by making some goals before the event.
- What do you want to accomplish?
- What people in what industry do you want to speak to?
- What questions do you need answers to?
- Are you trying to secure clients for your business?
- If it’s an in-person event, who will be there?
Do some Internet searching about the people who will be at the event, or read about the person you’re having a meeting with. Ask these questions during your research process:
- What have they been doing at work recently?
- What do they like writing about or working on?
- What are their goals?
- What are some things they might need help with?
- What is a problem they might require you to solve?
Once you’ve finished your research and planned out what you’d like to accomplish during the networking event, you can work on practicing and getting comfortable with these English phrases for networking so you can have them ready when you meet someone you’ve been wanting to talk to:
- How did you get into this work? I’d love to hear your story…
- I loved/was intrigued by what you wrote/said about…what inspired you to talk about that topic?
- What do you think about the company’s culture?
- How has [issue] been affecting your department/people at your company?
- I was actually hoping to talk to you/someone who works in [industry] about [issue]. What’s your take on that?
- I’ve actually been thinking about/working on [project/problem], and I’ve been looking for some input. You might be the right person to talk to! What do you think about…?
NOTE: As you practice these phrases, be sure to focus on your pronunciation of individual words as well as word stress and intonation.
How to keep your tone friendly but professional in English
So, you’ve done your research and preparation, and now it’s time to go to that English networking event or meeting!
But what do you do when you don’t know what to talk about? How should you introduce yourself? How do you start a conversation in a way that feels natural?
In this situation, it’s essential to keep your tone warm and natural but also professional. You’re not trying to make close friends or make a romantic connection, so your conversational tone should reflect that.
You should avoid talking about politics, religion, or anything that might offend others around you. You should also avoid being too “stuffy” and treating an interaction like a job interview.
Here are some helpful phrases to start a conversation:
- How did you end up at this event?
- It turned out to be a busy event! What do you make of that?
- What do you think of this part of town/area?
- I’ve been learning a lot at this event so far! Have you been to one of these before?
- I see that you work at [company on name tag]. That sounds fascinating! How did you get into that?
Here’s how you can keep a conversation going once you’ve gotten more comfortable with someone:
- That must be really fulfilling/satisfying work! What does your average day look like?
- So, how long have you been doing this? Are you still enjoying it?
- Did you always want to do this work?
- What did you think about that presentation?
- Are you working on any exciting projects at the moment?
Here’s how you can conclude a conversation at a networking event and ask for contact information:
- Well, it was great chatting with you. I’d love to get your contact information if that’s okay with you.
- I’d love to send some more of my ideas your way if that’s okay with you. Would you mind giving me your contact information?
- Thanks so much for your input on that, and I’d love to stay in touch. Do you have a card or information I could grab from you?
- Unfortunately, I have to get going, but I’d love to keep this conversation going, maybe via email. Do you have a card or info I could get from you?
- Thanks so much for your time, and I’d love to exchange some contact information so that we can stay in touch if that works for you.
What you should say in your follow-up email
Well, you did it!
You got through the networking event or one-on-one meeting, and you did it all in English!
But, the work’s not over, and you need to send a follow-up email one day or two after the meeting.
The follow-up email after a networking event or meeting is extremely important.
Why? Well, you need to make sure that all that work and research and all those connections work for you.
If you have a pitch, an idea, a question, or you’d like to set up another meeting to discuss something more in-depth, you need to send a follow-up email.
So, how do you write a follow-up email in English? Here are some tips:
- Think about your goals for sending the email. Do you want to, for example:
- Set up a meeting
- Pitch them a project idea
- Send them your resume and C.V. for a job application.
- Get someone else’s information or a referral.
Make sure you open the email by reminding them who you are and how you met, as well as what you might have spoken about.
- Be very clear and specific about what you’d like to do. For example, don’t just say, “I want to set up a meeting.” Say what exactly you’d like to discuss in the meeting.
- Make sure your subject line has a friendly tone that will help them remember who you were.
Here’s a sample email that you can use as a template:
Subject line: [Thanks for your time last week, (Name)]
I really appreciated your time last week at [event], and it was great to hear a bit about your experience and perspective working on [issue] at [company name].
Last week you mentioned that you’d be interested in hearing more about some similar issues I’ve dealt with and some ways that I’ve helped professionals in other organizations create unique solutions to those issues. So, if you’d like to set up a quick fifteen-minute phone call sometime soon, I’d love to discuss possible ways I can help you.
Would you be available for a quick phone call or video chat sometime around 2 or 3 in the afternoon next week?
Again, it was great to meet you and speak with you a bit, and I hope to hear from you soon!
And, by the way, if writing emails is something you struggle with, here’s some great advice on how to write every part of a formal and informal email from beginning to end.
Don’t forget to celebrate your big – and small – successes with English!
There’s no denying that networking is hard, especially if you’re doing it in your second language!
And sometimes, you can feel a bit discouraged, overwhelmed, and like you’re ready to quit.
That’s why I recommend committing to celebrating every success and accomplishment you have in English, even the small ones.
And the great thing about committing to this practice is that you get to decide what success means to you.
Just writing a message, sending an email, or having one English conversation can be a success. Making one fewer mistake than you used to when you have a conversation is a success.
Celebrating successes will help create positive associations with difficult experiences, and it will encourage you to chase more little achievements!
ABOUT THE WRITER
Sama is the founder of In English With Love and an English online educator from Canada.
Her mission is to make quality English learning materials accessible to English learners and teachers everywhere.