city of Montreal

When You Don’t Speak the Language

My husband and I recently vacationed in Montreal for a week. You may know Montreal is a bilingual city, where residents speak both French and English. But make no mistake about it, their first language is French.

Signage around the city is primarily in French. Conversations happening around you are in French. The restaurant menus are in French. (Many also have an English version, but you have to ask for it.)

Montreal may very well be the most European city in North America. Which is why many tourists from other parts of North America choose to visit. It’s a much shorter flight to Montreal than it is to Amsterdam or Paris or Brussels – only an hour and a half on a direct flight from Washington, DC. And if you love road trips, you could even drive there.

Not surprisingly, my high school level French was a bit rusty. However, I felt good that I could still understand some words and phrases. Oh yes, that says, “please wait to be seated”!

It was all fun and games for the first five days. Then we started getting tired. Averaging 17,000 steps a day trekking from one end of the city to the other will do that to you.

It occurred to me as we were exploring one of the underground malls, upon leaving a book store where every single book and calendar and decorative object with a phrase was in French. This reminds me of my semester abroad. I lived in a city where the first language was not English. My friends and I traveled around to other cities, where again, the primary language spoken was not English. It was unexpectedly and incredibly refreshing to finally arrive in London and hear English spoken and see street signs you didn’t have to slowly and consciously translate in your head.

networking outsider foreigner It wasn’t just physical tiredness. There’s a mental tiredness that comes with immersion in a foreign culture.

Interestingly, though not surprisingly, there’s a similar tiredness you can feel from putting yourself in business or networking situations where you aren’t comfortable. After attending two or three networking events where you stand around feeling lost and wondering how to “speak the language,” you’ll experience that same sense of outsiderness.

If that’s the case, why on Earth would you put yourself in such a situation? There is exactly the question my husband asked when I shared the recollection about those study abroad months.

Because that’s how you grow. It’s good to put yourself in uncomfortable places and experience different cultures. Sure, it’s often difficult. But just because it’s not easy doesn’t mean it’s not worth it!

If you’re building a business or a career, your ability to network is crucial to your success. You don’t have the luxury of staying in your warm, safe cocoon for very long before you start seeing ugly consequences.

I get why you’d so desperately want to though! It’s much more comfortable to stay home and browse #scaramucci on Twitter.  You’re at least guaranteed a few laughs.

The good news is there are always steps you can take to make the experience a little less stressful. Baby steps. Start with learning at least the basics of the language. Whether it’s French vocabulary or where to put your name tag when you’re at an industry association luncheon. With a bit of fundamental training, you’ll feel a tad less inadequate. The more you practice, the better you become.

Pretty soon, you’ll feel empowered by that Berlitz training or Zen Rabbit Quick Start Program and you’ll travel to foreign countries or show up to networking events ready to converse fluently.

Hope you found something of interest or value in this article! If you’re considering transforming yourself into someone who is fluent in business networking, let’s chat for a few minutes. It’s easy to schedule a time with me through my calendar here:


Why You Need To Stop Paying Attention To Tiger Woods

As I was preparing my lunch today, I was thinking about the recent Tiger Woods situation. Why is everyone so interested in the life and misdeeds of Tiger? And how is his recent news coverage relevant to quiet business owners who want to be better at networking?

be better at networking

Tiger is a celebrity in large part because he’s a world-class golfer. But there are other world-class golfers who don’t have his level of celebrity. He’s also so well-known because he capitalized on his golf world celebrity and leveraged it into something much larger.

As a business professional, you can do the same within your market, your town, your niche. Which is why it’s time to stop paying attention to him and pay more attention to your own celebrity.

You Can (and Should) be a Celebrity Too!

Building your own celebrity will take some time and effort. You have to be deliberate about it. Writing blog articles, shooting videos, engaging on social media are all important methods of building credibility and a certain level of celebrity.

And then there’s the in-person networking. Networking is equally, if not more, important in building your celebrity status within a community. Your audience of prospects, referral sources and general supporters need to meet and get to know you.

They genuinely WANT to hear what you have to say. But for quiet entrepreneurs and business professionals, that networking part can be daunting.

Get in the Damn Car

I get it. It’s often difficult to summon the energy to get yourself to go to an early morning breakfast or an after-hours mixer, never mind the three-day conference. Trust me, I’ve conjured up or heard all the excuses. Oh look, it’s raining and I don’t want to get these shoes wet. I can’t go today; I’ll go next time. I’m tired, the cat needs a bath, I need to take the car for an oil change. Yeah, no. Get in the car.

Once you get yourself through that door, (remember to set your intention), use a few of the strategies I’ve talked about in other posts to help you get started. Take the “make a friend” approach to help you relax.

Put on Your Reporter Hat

Pretend you’re a reporter to take the focus off yourself and encourage your conversation partners to talk about themselves and what they love. People LIKE people who listen to them, so you instantly become more likable and take a step closer to celebrity status. When you’re doing asking questions and listening, you want to find out as much about someone else as you can, so you can find

1, Commonalities

2. Ways you can help her

3. Reasons to follow up after an event

Of course, you do need to share some information about yourself and what you do too. While it’s true people love people who listen to them, it’s also important for them to know who you are as well. That’s how you start developing your reputation. These contacts think well of you the next time they come across someone who needs your services or a something that would be a good resource for you.

You Do What?!

Since you’re keeping most of the focus on listening, it’s imperative to have your “pitch” down pat. You have to be able to quickly and clearly explain exactly what you do, and for whom, and why it’s important. The goal is to get people to say, “Tell me more,” or “How do you do that?”

You want to create a point of connection and you want to do it quickly. At a networking event, no one has the time or patience to listen to a rambling 15 minute explanation. Give your information and move the conversation back to your new contact.

Put the attention back on her once again, before gracefully extracting yourself from this conversation and moving on to someone else.

Go to events regularly and use this system of connecting. Yes, it’s not going to feel natural or comfortable at first. After a few times within the same group or organization, you’ll start to become “known” for whatever it is that you do. People will recognize and remember you. Pretty soon, you’ll become a celebrity, at least within that community. You build your metro area, national and international fame from there.

be better at networking

Just make sure you use your celebrity wisely and don’t get caught in embarrassing or compromising situations. 😮

Hey, hope you enjoyed this article. If you want more info on how to get clear on the message you share at networking events, let’s hop on the phone for a few minutes. Set up a complimentary call with me here: