Business Tip: Small Talk

Our last post of the year will be short and sweet. It's about the art of making small talk at business events, which can be quite mortifying for many introverted translators. Try the following approach.

We prefer networking with food. Photo by Judy.
Ask a question. Instead of immediately talking about yourself, which most people will do, ask the person you are speaking to a question about herself or himself. Most people will be happy to talk about themselves, especially in the US, and you will get the conversation started without having to "sell" yourself, which is what so many translators are afraid of. Now, the question doesn't have to be personal at all, and can be rather general, along the lines of the quality of the food offered at the event, whether the person has been there before, a compliment about their dress (works best if the person is of the same gender), a comment about the person's profession (if it's obvious), etc. Trust us: asking questions is usually a good thing. And the best question of all is: May I buy you a drink/coffee/sandwich? We have yet to meet someone who has declined that offer.

With that, we would like to wish all a very happy and successful 2014! Here is to much successful networking!


Jesse Tomlinson on December 30, 2013 at 6:06 PM said...

Thank you very much for the tips! And for all your posts in 2013. The great thing about asking people about themselves is that you learn a lot.

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on January 10, 2014 at 10:32 AM said...

@Jesse: Our pleasure. Thanks for being a loyal reader and commenter. Exactly: one can learn a lot from other people for sure. We love that part about networking!

Carol Kidston on January 16, 2014 at 11:15 AM said...

This advice is so helpful for the slightly apprehensive among us. It's reassuring to know you have a good break-the-ice tool when you enter a crowded room--or even a room with two or three people in it. And, to keep our chat from turning into an interrogation, we also need to really listen to the responses instead of concentrating on the next question!

Christine said...

Did enjoy the post!
One thing to mention though is to be aware that when the business lunch is there to actually talk business you need to strip the small talk to have nice beginning but try to have dealt with the business topics until the food is served.
Nobody likes negotiating with the mouth full ;-)
I learned that among other thing at the small talk course over at Can recommend it to everyone that feels like they have to improve their conversation skills.

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on May 19, 2014 at 9:12 AM said...

@Christine: Thanks for reading and for sharing your insight. We love your point about not eating and negotiating at the same time, as that can be quite uncomfortable indeed! That course looks quite interesting, many thanks for sharing that information on this forum!

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The entrepreneurial linguists and translating twins blog about the business of translation from Las Vegas and Vienna.

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