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John Lennon allegedly once said that life is what happens while you are busy making other plans. I suppose Mr Lennon was not thinking about lunch in particular, but it nevertheless seemed to apply to the Southern SIG lunch on 8 September 2022.

The conveners had originally planned to have two lunch events. Unfortunately, the first one had to be cancelled and the second one had to be unexpectedly relocated at fairly short notice. In the end, Southern SIG welcomed a grand total of four attendees to Maastricht.

Although it would have been nice to see more people, we had a wonderful time catching up and greatly appreciated the complimentary lunch, with a special mention to the carrot cake. Moreover, the upside of a modest gathering is that you can have a proper conversation with everyone present.

Before diving into the meeting’s topic of networking, we had a lovely chat about a vast array of subjects. Did you know, for instance, that one does not become a volunteer tour guide at the Victoria & Albert Museum overnight? In fact, new recruits have to start in the cloakroom and then work their way up the ranks before they are entrusted with the great responsibility of taking tourists around the museum!

We then discussed the importance of small talk. We shared a real-life example of a co-worker who never uttered a word, save for ‘good morning’ and ‘goodbye.’ It turned out the gentleman in question was not unwilling to strike up a conversation but did not know what to talk about. It would seem this is an ailment mostly suffered by men, although the cure is surprisingly simple – just try asking someone a question. If you are the silent type, you could ask them how their journey to work was or if they have any plans for the weekend. Before you know it, you will be engaging in small talk.

We also discussed networking and how conferences can be beneficial for your freelance business. As a language professional, you have plenty of annual conferences to choose from, but you should keep in mind that attending one can be a significant expense. Travelling to the venue, booking a hotel, the conference ticket itself, fringe events, meals and entertainment can cost up to a thousand euros. That said, it is a great way to meet like-minded language professionals and conference-goers are usually the friendly, outgoing type. However, you will not typically meet your next big client at a translators’ or editors’ conference. If you want to meet clients, you should consider attending their industry conferences, not yours.

If you are knowledgeable about a particular subject, it could also be interesting to give a lecture or workshop about it. This way you can showcase your knowledge to peers and you will meet colleagues with similar interests or skills, which may be interesting for future collaborations.

In summary, it was a productive and pleasant lunch and Southern SIG hopes to host more in-person events in the future.

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