As an introvert, I’ve always had trouble networking.
Talking to strangers or making small talk has always been difficult and scary.
But I’ve learned the truth when it comes to succeeding in business—no matter how talented or amazing you are, knowing the right people is essential.
So if you want to make it to the top, you better learn to network like a pro.
I know what you’re going to say—
But I’m afraid of talking to people!
I never know the right things to say.
I’m not even a native English speaker.
Yes, yes I can hear you. But you know what?
Here’s a secret: I didn’t let that introvert inside stop me. It was difficult, but I found a way.
And now, I’m going to show you how to master the art of networking in business English.
The Ambitious English Learner’s Guide to Networking for Business
How to Network Like a Pro
Networking is important because it will help you make important connections in your profession and help you climb the corporate ladder. After all, you never know what exactly will happen in a networking event; you may meet your future boss or someone else who gets you a job at a place you’ve only dreamed of working at.
Whether you’re an engineer or a scientist, networking should be an important aspect of your life. So if you want to make the best of it, you first need to make a list of goals or people you want to connect to on a piece of paper or laptop. Yes, even if it seems far-fetched, just write it down.
Next, keep the following tips in mind by taping them on the fridge or wherever you’ll see them often. And make sure you glance at them before going to any networking event.
Here are some things you can do for face-to-face networking:
- Make friends at the workplace.
- Go to office-related events and parties.
- Join collectives or clubs in your city.
- Attend conventions and workshops related to your areas of expertise.
However, if you prefer to do most of your networking online, make sure you’re doing these things:
- Take advantage of websites like LinkedIn and services like Skype.
- Look up different groups on Facebook related to your interests and needs.
- Don’t be afraid to reach out via email.
- Take part in online webinars and the like.
13 Business English Networking Resources
Below is a list of carefully-curated resources pulled from the web, designed to improve your networking abilities. Take your pick!
The best thing about MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) is that you can learn at your own pace, and Coursera is your go-to source for really amazing courses (mostly) for free.
For a complete course, you can sign up for “Business English Communication Skills Specialization” taught by the University of Washington. It covers individual courses on networking, meetings, planning and negotiating, making presentations and others. However, if you’re short on time, you can opt for the “networking” option only. It also has subtitles in English, Mongolian and Chinese to make it easier for non-native speakers.
There’s another course called “Improve Your English Communication Skills Specialization” created by the Georgia Institute of Technology. This will teach you all about writing professional emails, speaking professionally online, on the phone and in person and building winning portfolios.
This is another learning website whose resources you must check out. For instance, they have an excellent online option called “English for Business Course.”
It’s mostly aimed at those with a command of about 4,000 to 6,000 words, or even those at an intermediate-advanced stage of their learning. It’s 12 weeks long and has about 36 learning hours of learning material that focuses on building effective communication skills.
The best thing about it? The online classes are taught by real American teachers with live video conferencing!
FluentU’s unique platform focuses on language immersion, which is something language learners of all levels need.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
It lets you learn using fun videos and real-world context. FluentU’s comprehensive library and innovative platform make it possible to learn English for almost any industry or role.
FluentU makes the approach personal by integrating new words into its “learn mode,” which uses interactive games to teach vocabulary and track your progress. Who knew learning could be so fun and effective!
Do you feel like your vocabulary isn’t enough for an interview? Do you have trouble writing cover letters and memos?
Then edX might have the clarification you need. There are plenty of free and productive courses to choose from.
If you need help in particular areas, such as interviews or creating better resumes, then the course “Resume, Networking and Interview Skills” might be the one for you. It only requires one to two hours of effort per week on your part and it’s also especially well suited for beginners.
If you’ve used and loved Coursera, then you’ll find a familiar friend with Udemy. Although these are paid courses, their focus on networking makes them worth every penny.
“Networking Mastery 2016″ has a 4.6 rating and promises to teach you the “secret formula for every connection.” Meanwhile, “The Complete Beginners Guide To Networking for Introverts” course is a steal for only $20 (and there are even discounts available!) and will help you build confidence and take away your fear of speaking in public. You’ll also learn how to create a LinkedIn profile and make the most of it.
If you absolutely can’t afford online courses and would prefer learning for free, then your best friend is YouTube.
Check out the helpful learning videos by HumanEnglishVideo. There’s one called “English for Business Networking: Making New Contacts,” which is an hour-long crash course on efficient networking.
This channel has a curated playlist devoted only to language learning.
If you’re running short of time and need a quick reminder, watch this video “How to Do Business Networking in English (Business English Communication and Conversations).” It focuses on communication with practical examples.
BBC Learning English
You might know that when it comes to an authority on learning English, you can’t go wrong with BBC. They have a special channel designed for language learners that promises to be a gold mine.
Don’t believe me?
Take a quick look at this really short one minute video “English at Work gets you the contacts,” part of their networking series that shows you what a successful networking conversation looks like.
University of Washington IELP
You may have come across this name while doing a MOOC.
If you’re the sort who needs a prep-talk before an interview, then bookmark this video called “Business English Communication Skills: Networking, Part 1.” After you feel like you’ve mastered the basics, move on to part two of the communication skills playlist.
It’s got some basic (but often not remembered) advice about successfully introducing yourself to someone new.
Business English Pod
I absolutely love podcasts. And if you’re someone who’s an auditory learner, then you should subscribe to Business English Pod for efficient and quick English learning.
Even those who don’t swear by podcasts, Business English 360 has an interesting two-part lesson on “Networking Skills” which talks about “business networking and goal-setting for networking events.” You can view parts one and two here.
They also have another two-part lesson titled “English for Socializing: Networking,” which you can listen to and learn from during your commute or when you’re stuck in a waiting room.
“Networking Workbook: Your Guide to Preparing for Any Professional Networking Event” by Michelle Erfurt
If you’re the DIY (do it yourself) person who prefers to learn on your own and collects reference materials, you might want to check out some helpful books to speed up your learning.
Your best go-to book would be Erfurt’s “The Networking Workbook: Your Guide to Preparing for Any Professional Networking Event.” It specifically focuses on how to interact in different networking events to make the best of it. And since it’s a workbook (unlike a typical self-help book that you would passively read), it’s filled with detailed guides and activity ideas.
Amazon also has a “preview” option for this, in case you’re unsure if it’s worth it or not.
“A Black Woman’s Guide to Networking” by Juliette C. Meyer
Let’s face the facts. If you’re a woman at the workplace, you might feel that you have to work twice as hard to get noticed by your colleagues and boss. And if you’re not a native speaker, chances are you have it even worse.
But don’t you dare let that stop you!
Read Juliette C. Meyer’s insightful book “A Black Woman’s Guide to Networking: Advance Your Career. Grow Your Business!” This book is for anyone who feels like they have to work harder than most to get noticed, written by someone who understands.
It will teach you all about networking to help you live the life of your dreams, no matter where you live or where you’re from.
“Networking in English” by Macmillan Business
When it comes to self-help resources, it’s good to also have titles from well-established publishers like Macmillan, which promise your money’s worth and more.
As a handy reference book, you might consider purchasing “Networking In English.” Written by experienced writers, this is best for non-native language speakers.
No, you don’t need to be an “extrovert” to ace networking. You just need to have the willingness to get out of your comfort zone and just do it.
Even if you’re afraid, give it a try. You’ll find that the more you do it, the more you enjoy it.
Archita Mittra is a freelance writer, artist, educator and a self-taught Italian speaker. Feel free to check out her blog or contact her for freelancing inquiries.