So here I was: I had created the job of my dreams that involved going to interesting places and meeting people of different cultures who spoke different languages from all over the world. It all sounded so glamorous. When I arrived at one of my first networking events at the United Nations in New York, I had no idea how I was going to get through it. How could I possibly make these total strangers become interested in what I had to say? If at any moment I had ever been under the impression that using the most impressive words and doing some name dropping would serve to endear me to them, I would have been in for a rude awakening. It will take forever to get close to these people! I thought to myself. How would I ever be able to find out whether or not they needed translation and interpreting services
Over time, I have developed the art of making lifelong allies by simply saying hello and engaging in active listening after that. Finding out from people about themselves, what they do, what successes they have enjoyed, what difficulties and challenges they encounter and losing myself in every word they say has brought positive change, both personally and professionally. When I learned the important lesson that no matter what languages they speak or what their cultures are, people are always going to be more interested in themselves than in anything else, it was as if a light bulb had been turned on in my mind and it is easier now to talk to anyone, anywhere.
Generally speaking, after people have talked about themselves for long enough, they will eventually take a pause and ask the magic words, “So what about you? What do you do?” This is one of the most significant moments in the entire encounter and the next 30 seconds will determine the direction in which the relationship will go. If you can sum up exactly what you are about in 30 seconds, you stand a very good chance of getting an additional minute of the listener’s attention, during which time, your new acquaintance may be inclined to ask you some direct questions. The way you answer those questions will be important and you will need to find a way to show a relationship between your answers and how the listener may benefit in some way.
At every level of the encounter, honesty and sincerity are key because you may just be called upon in the near future to prove some or all of the claims you have made.