With a little careful thought, preparation, and practice, you can create an excellent impression, show your company in the best possible light, and grow your career in the English-speaking world.
Here are our tips to help you feel confident when introducing yourself at a networking event.
We’ve included key cultural information on how to navigate the business in an English-speaking country and also provided some example sentences to help you create your own persuasive business introduction.
Step 1: Before the business event
The secret to success in business introductions is preparing what you want to say in advance. This will help you learn and practice the language you want to use, take control of your nerves, and give you extra confidence so you can build new business relationships. Here’s how to get started.
Start by considering topics like:
- What information do you want to share about yourself and your business?
- What do you want to gain from the business meeting or event?
- What are you likely to be asked?
Once you’ve gathered this information, start to build a library of example sentences you can rely on. (See our examples below for some inspiration). You might need to research and learn extra vocabulary and revise what you already know as you do so.
It’s a good idea to write out these sentences as if they were a business presentation and then practice saying them out loud. Practice. Practice. Practice.
When you do this, you’ll remember new words more easily and feel more confident that you can succeed in the English-speaking business world. The easiest way to do this is to use our Forbrain headset as it allows you to practice anytime and anywhere until you feel comfortable.
How can Forbrain help?
Forbrain is a versatile, easy-to-use headset that helps to retrain your voice so you speak with greater clarity and confidence.
Forbrain helps professionals use their voices more powerfully. It’s the perfect booster for when you are trying to practice for your networking event. It aids professionals who want to make their message resonate.
Gareth, a corporate professional had this to say about Forbrain. "I work in a learning and development team for a corporation. Every week I have to conduct training for which I have to speak extensively. I was introduced to Forbrain by my wife who is a teacher. I have seen improved clarity and energy in my voice, and I feel more confident when I speak. Forbrain is lightweight and simple to use but substantial in its benefits."
Simply purchase the Forbrain headset and you can practice your business English speaking skills from the comfort of your own home.
If you can, ask a native English speaker to help and correct any mistakes. The website Polyglot Club can be a great help for this.
Step 2: At the business event
When you arrive at the business event, take a deep breath, smile, and look as confident as you can. This is a chance for you to shine and make new business connections that will help you grow your career.
Here’s how you can get the most from the event, including tips on what to say.
1. Approach someone
To get the best results from your networking event, you need to be willing to take the first step. Identify someone in the room that you’d like to talk to and approach them. It’s usually easier to approach a person standing on their own, especially if you’re feeling apprehensive.
2. Introduce yourself
When you introduce yourself, you can use the following structure:
“Hello, my name is [your name]”
For example, “Hello, my name is Zhang San.”
Most business meetings and events in English-speaking countries are relatively informal, so you can also use “Hi” if this feels more natural for you.
Always use both your first name and second name when you introduce yourself and slow down when you speak. This will help people understand and remember your name and can give you an advantage in business.
If you know the other person’s name, you should use it when you introduce yourself.
For example, “Hello Rafael. My name is Zhang San”.
If your name is not common in the English-speaking world, you should also spell out your name and provide the person with a business card if you have one.
In most English-speaking business settings, you should only use the person’s first name. In very formal situations, you can refer to the person as Mr/Mrs/Miss [second name], but this is very rare.
Of course, giving out your information is the easy part. You also need to understand their response. Here are our tips:
- Spend time listening to business English
Business English differs from more informal types of English so it’s important to get used to the expressions used and understand them. Why not watch the business news on CNN? Or listen to a business podcast? Or watch movies with business-related themes? They can all make a big difference.
- Learn how to say that you don’t understand
Often, when we don’t understand what someone has said in a foreign language, we freeze and lose confidence in our abilities. However, there are several ways you can explain what you don’t understand, without losing face. Here are some examples:
- “I’m sorry, I didn’t [understand/catch] what you said. Could you repeat it [more slowly]?”
- “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you clearly. Would you mind repeating what you just said?”
- “Could you repeat that, please?”
- “Could you say that again, please?”
In the English-speaking world, it’s very common to add the phrase “I’m sorry” to the beginning of this type of sentence to be as polite as possible.
If there is a phrase that you heard clearly but didn’t understand, you can also say;
- “I’m sorry, I’m not sure I understand what you mean by [insert the word they used]. Could you explain what you mean?”
These may feel like difficult or even embarrassing questions to ask, but it’s important to clarify what you’ve heard to avoid misunderstandings and build those business relationships.
3. Shake their hand
When you say hello, you should offer a firm handshake with your right hand. This will create a good impression and help you build those business relationships. Make sure you smile, make eye contact, and that your hands are clean.
You should also make sure you say “Pleased to meet you” when meeting someone for the first time to avoid appearing rude.
4. Explain your job
Next, tell the person what your job is as clearly and concisely as you can. Remember- even if the person you’re meeting is a native English speaker, they may not understand what your job is and your responsibilities.
You can use the following structures;
- “I’m + [article] + [occupation]”
For example, “I’m a web designer,” or “I’m an engineer”.
- “I work as [article] + [occupation]”
For example, “I work as a web designer,” or “I work as an engineer”
You can also be more specific and explain your industry using the following structures;
- “I work in + [article] + [industry/specialisation]”
For example, “I work in the tech industry.”
This is your opportunity to explain more about your expertise and job responsibilities. When making your first introduction, aim to keep this as short as possible. If the other person wants to know more, they will ask you.
You can use the following structures;
- “I’m responsible for + [verb + -ing] + [responsibility].”
For example, “I’m responsible for designing and implementing systems to improve energy efficiency”.
- “I’m in charge of + [department/product].”
For example, “I’m in charge of the digital marketing department.”
- “I head the + [department/project].”
For example, “I head the marketing department.”
- “I manage the + [department/project].”
For example, “I manage the new app design project.”
- “I look after the + [department/project/team].”
For example, “I look after the sales and marketing team.”
- “I’m in charge of + [department/project].”
For example, “I’m in charge of the new construction project.”
5. Introduce your company
You can also share information about the company you work for and how long you’ve been working for them. Use structures such as;
- “I work for + [company name].”
For example, “I work for Vodafone”.
- “I’m with + [company name].”
For example, “I’m with Google”.
- “I’ve been working for + [company name] for + [period of time].”
For example, “I’ve been working for Facebook for five years”.
- “I’ve been with + [company name] + for + [length of time].”
For example, “I’ve been with the Bank of England for two years”.
If you like, you can also add more about the location where you work using this structure;
- “I’m based in + [city/country]”
For example, “I’m based in Vancouver, Canada.”
6. Give more information about your company
You may be asked questions like “What does your company do?”, “What business is your company in?” or “Where is your company located?” Here’s how to answer those questions;
The easiest way to answer questions about what your company does is to use one of the following verbs;
Then simply add a noun to describe what you do.
- “We make mobile communication devices”
- “We develop software applications”
- “We manufacture robotics parts”
- “We develop vaccines”
- “We build high-performing e-commerce websites”
- “We sell recycled packing”
- “We import Asian foods”
You can also use the structures;
- “We’re + [article] + [description] + company”
For example, “We’re a construction company”
- “We’re in + [business/industry]”
For example, “We’re in construction”.
When asked about where your business is located, you can use the following structures;
- “We’re located + [preposition (in, near)] + [location]”
For example, “We’re located in Hong Kong”.
- “Our [main office/head office/ headquarters] is + [preposition] + [location]”
For example, “Our main office is in London”.
- “We have offices + [preposition] + [location]”
For example, “We have offices in Tokyo, Delhi, and Bangkok”.
7. Ask more questions
Now you have introduced yourself, it’s your turn to find out more about the other person and build that business relationship. Ask questions such as:
- What is your name?
- What do you do?
- Who do you work for?
- Where are you based?
- How long have you worked there?
- What does your company do?
Make sure you focus your attention on the other person, make eye contact, and listen to what they’re saying. Your objective here is to make connections and build relationships that can help you progress in your career.
When you ask these questions, aim to use that person’s name at least twice. This will help you to remember their name and show them that you are engaged and interested.
Remember, you don’t have to talk just about business. In the English-speaking business world, it’s very common to make small talk and mention other small details to help build that connection. This might include comments and questions about a speaker, a topic, a similar event you’ve attended, topical world events, or even the weather.
However, be careful not to discuss politics or religion within a business context as this can often lead to conflict.
Step 3: After the business event
Building strong business relationships takes time. For that reason, there are several steps you should take after the business networking event or meeting.
- Review the business cards you were given
As soon as possible, review the business cards you were given and remember who gave them to you.
- Make notes
Use the contact information on the business cards and write notes about each person you met. What did you talk about? What did you have in common?
- Add their contact information to your list.
Even if you don’t want to contact them now, you might need them in the future. Keep this information safe.
- Send an email
Next, send a follow-up email to each of these new contacts soon after the event, preferably the next morning. Here’s a good example;
It was nice meeting you at the [name of the event]. I enjoyed talking and learning about [something discussed].
[add extra information relating to what you discussed or arrange a meeting]
Looking forward to hearing from you.
To get the most from that business networking event, preparation is key. First, learn the key sentences and phrases you’ll need to make a good impression on the people you meet and rehearse speaking these out loud until you feel confident. Then attend the event, meet those new people, and start building relationships. Finally, follow up on your new contacts with a friendly email and start growing your career in the English-speaking business world.