What do you say after ‘Hello’? Successful networking techniques: A Report on the Workshop at IATEFL 2014

The workshop on What do you say after “Hello”? Successful networking techniques at IATEFL, 2014

Bary Tomalin’s workshop ‘What do you say after “Hello”? Successful networking techniques’ at the conference was one of the most successful workshops of the IATEFL 2014 held at Harrogate. I liked it very much for personal as well as academic reasons.
1. One day, I happened to meet one of my Professors of English in UK in a party. After the customary ‘hi’, ‘how are you’ etc. I asked him rather casually, “Have you been to India, XXX”?. “Oh yes, about ten years back, the first and the last”, he replied very firmly. “ Why the last? Do visit again when I go back.” I wanted to keep the conversation going. “Well, I remember my first encounter with a Professor in Delhi who had come to receive me at the Delhi airport. While we were going to the city by taxi, the Professor first asked me about my son, then about my daughter. Ah me, I was frightened. I felt like jumping out of the taxi. I knew that the guy would ask me about my wife next.” We had a hearty laugh (!) followed by another refilling. An intercultural shock.
2. She was blonde and blue-eyed. “Hi, nice to meet you. You’re from Nottinghamshire, I suppose?” “Oh No, I’m from Kent, the garden of England.” The blue-eyed girl was visibly upset. An intercultural embarrassment!
Bary Tomalin is the author of Key Business Skills, Harper Collins 2012 and the coauthor of Cross-Cultural Communication, Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. He teaches Cultural Awareness at the London Academy of Diplomacy. He was, therefore, the most competent person to conduct the workshop which aimed at developing the participants’ sensitivity to the teaching of English for intercultural communication.
How can we teach our students to interact in English with people coming from diverse socio-cultural backgrounds? What are the strategies required for using English effectively without embarrassing or hurting the sensitivity of the listeners? Bary’s workshop had the answer as it prompted the participants to practise the skill of networking in a very lively and absorbing way. Bary pointed out how good listening techniques, effective interviewing techniques, and the ability to show empathy in a foreign language are some of the strategies essential for good networking.
As the details of the workshop are available on Harrogate online I am not reproducing what Bary said and did during the workshop. Please click: iatefl.britishcouncil.org/2014/sessions/2014-04-02/what-do-you-say-after-hello-successfull-networking-technique.
The classification of listeners into four categories, non-listener. marginal listener, judgmental listeners and active listeners was quite interesting. Don’t forget ‘FACE’ if you want to succeed in networking. Face stands for: Focus, Acknowledge, Clarify and Empathize.
Linguistic knowledge and socio-cultural knowledge are equally important in any verbal communication. Bary tells his audience, “Teach expressions to accompany each word.”
The issue of intercultural communication in English is a very complex issue and therefore, it should be an integral part of a curriculum for teaching English as a foreign or a global language.
Those who are interested in effective presentations across international and cultural boundaries would benefit immensely from Bary’s workshop. I wish Bary could be invited for a plenary talk during the next IATEFL conference at Manchester next year.
‘What to say’,’ how to say’, ‘when to say’ and ‘what NOT to say’ are equally important for a purposeful social networking. “Building the relationship and business follows as day follows night.”
Whether you are a novice or an accomplished speaker, Bary’s workshop will certainly improve your ability to engage your listener. I fully agree with Bary when he says, ‘Don’t be interesting, be interested ’.This is the ‘mantra’ for a successful networking.

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