Business French: Le réseautage

One of my students recently asked me if I had some tricks to help her feel more comfortable in social gatherings in French.

No matter how well one speaks a foreign language, it is always nerve-racking to enter a room full of strangers who seem to already know each other. I still get butterflies in my stomach before every networking events I attend, which I still consider more stressful than performing opera in front of a full audience!

The Art of Networking is no easy feat. Over the years, I have come to the conclusion that getting back to basics is more conducive to creating an interesting conversation and a real, genuine connection.

My best advice? Just be yourself, be a good listener, and know when to leave the discussion!

Do you know how to introduce yourself appropriately and how to ask the right questions to get the conversation flowing?

Here are 5 Great Tips to Better Network In French


1. Introduce Yourself

Your coat is in the cloakroom, your business cards are in your bag, your glass of wine is in your hand: start mingling and schmingling! Don’t be afraid to join a small group of people or to start a conversation with someone who is also looking for a discussion partner.

  • Bonjour, je m’appelle Isabelle. Et vous? (Hi, my name is Isabelle. And you?)
  • Bonsoir, je suis Sam.  Et vous êtes…? (Good evening, I’m Sam. And you are…?)
  • Vous êtes bien Madame Nicolas? Oui, c’est moi. (Are you Ms. Nicolas? Yes, I am.)
  • Enchanté(e)! (Nice to meet you!)
  • Je suis ravi(e) de faire votre connaissance! (I’m delighted to make your aquaintance!)

2. Ice Breakers: Choosing The Right Questions

You did it! You introduced yourself in French: well done! How about getting to know your networking partner a bit better? Ask him/her open questions to keep the conversation going.

  • Vous connaissez l’organisteur / l’organisatrice de la soirée? (Do you know the organiser of the event?)
  • Comment avec-vous entendu parler de cet événement? (How did you hear about this event?)
  • C’est la première fois que vous venez ici? (Is it the first time you come here?)
  • Ça fait longtemps que vous habitez à Genève? (Have you been living in Geneva for a long time?)
  • Où habitiez-vous avant de déménager à Paris? (Where did you live before moving to Paris?)
  • Est-ce que vous vous plaisez à Montreux? (Do you like living in Montreux?)
  • D’où êtes-vous originaire? (Where are you from originally?)
  • Est-ce que Nyon est très différente de votre ville natale? (Is Nyon very differemt from your hometown?)

* Read more about how to ask questions in French*

3. Back To Business


Now that you know your networking partner a bit better, it is a good time for you to inquire about her/his line of work.

  • Vous travaillez dans quel domaine / secteur? (In what field do your work?)
  • Je travaille dans les ventes / le marketing / l’événementiel / les finances / la technologie / l’éducation. (I work in sales / marketing / event planning / finance / IT / education.)
  • Je travaille pour l’ONU / chez Proctor & Gamble. (I work for the UN / at P&G.)
  • Je suis présentement en recherche d’emploi / en reconversion professionnelle. (I’m currently looking for a new job / doing a professional reconversion.)
  • Je suis à la recherche de nouveaux défis. (I’m looking for new opportunities.)
  • Je suis maman / papa à temps plein. (I am a full time mom / dad.)

4. Go With The Flow

So, you’ve been discussing with the same person for over 5 minutes. You got to know him/her a bit better, but there is no personal or professional chemistry. That is fine! If pursuing an interesting conversation or showing a genuine interest isn’t possible, excuse yourself politely and start schmoozing somewhere else!

  • Vraiment? C’est très intéressant! (Really? That’s so interesting!)
  • C’est  / c’était un plaisir de discuter avec vous. (It is / was nice chatting with you.)
  • Vous voudrez bien m’excuser, je vais aller me chercher un autre verre. (If you’ll please excuse me, I will get myself another drink.)
  • Excusez-moi, mais je dois partir. (I’m so sorry, but I have to leave.)
  • J’aimerais vous présenter quelqu’un qui pourrait vous intéresser.  Vous avez une carte de visite? (I would like to introduce you to someone who might interest you. Do you have a business card?)
  • Vous êtes sur Facebook / LinkedIn? (Are you on FB / LinkedIn?)
  • Voici mes coordonnées. (Here are my contact details.)
  • Je vous souhaite beaucoup de succès avec vos projets. (I wish you every success with your projects.)
  • Au plaisir de vous revoir prochainement! (I look forward to seeing you again soon!)
  • À la prochaine! (See you around!)

5. Les Salons d’Isabelle

Would you like to put into practice what you have learned in your French or English classes, but need a structured environment?

How does mingling & schmingling with other international language enthusiasts in one of Geneva’s most glamorous secret spot sound like?

How about learning more about Coco Chanel’s life in Switzerland with a glass of champagne in hand?

If all of the above speaks to you, you should definitely join my next Salons d’Isabelle, the only bilingual (French/English) conversation & networking event in Geneva!

An Evening To Remember

  • Date: Thursday, 15 June 2017
  • Time: 7.30 – 10 PM
  • Location: Hotel Tiffany, Geneva
  • Ticket: 69 CHF, which includes:
    • One glass of champagne
    • Cocktail dinatoire:
      • Delicious savoury & sweet finger food created by Hotel Tiffany’s excellent chef
      • Wine, water, tea & coffee
    • 1 special gift bag per participant
  • An introduction to the chosen topic, Coco Chanel en Suisse, presented by your hostess, Isabelle, Founder & Language Coach at Prêt à Parler
  • Fun conversation & networking games in French and in English led by Isabelle
  • Dress code: Black & White Elegance à la Coco Chanel

Get your tickets now for a fabulous evening at Les Salons d’Isabelle!

Registration is open until 8 June 2017.

I hope you now have more tools to better network and integrate French in your everyday life!


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