28 Jul Future Entrepreneurs: Language Skills
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” George Bernhard Shaw
Did you know…more than half of the world’s population is bilingual?
That means about 3.5 billion people use more than one language to communicate every day, based on a survey by Psychology Today.
We chatted about communication and presentation skills a couple weeks ago. This week I’ll take a big picture view since I’m just getting back from business and pleasure across the pond. An Irish friend and colleague from my consultant years with AMEX secured U2 tickets for us in Dublin (bucket list for me!)! We went off on an adventure as part of my first visit to Ireland. Communication came up front and center.
We spoke English, French, Italian (in restaurants, hotels and giving directions). I added some Hawaiian as part of my #ShineThroughtheNoise live chapter reading, and I learned some Irish words as well.
The global economic system relies heavily on people of different nations and cultures interconnected by telephone, satellites and computers, so more clients and companies are looking to add multilingual entrepreneurs and consultants to their ranks. Communication skills are in demand for entrepreneurs and consultants with foreign-language skills gaining ground with the increasing diversity of the population and growing global economy.
For entrepreneurs eager to separate themselves from the crowd in a specific field, picking up a second (or third) language can be just the thing to propel you to the front of the pack.
In my experience, being bilingual increases value, and helps you connect easier with current and future clients. I am an entrepreneur, and I also consult with clients on ways to make their brand memorable. Out of the last 12 projects I’ve had, 10 could be traced directly to the fact that I spoke English and French or Italian.
I believe that Simonetta, The Celebrity Wishmaker, would agree that being bi-lingual increases value since she speaks several dialects of Italian and English.
Ready to increase your language skills?
Here’s my reco based on the best way to retain a language: I have had good experiences with Pimsleur language courses and I use them to brush up on my skills before a trip. Check their summer specials out: http://offers.pimsleur.com. I learned French in school with supportive teachers. I’m not perfect, but my Italian and French friends are encouraging as I’m refining my skills. I believe that taking time to learn about a language and culture always pays off. I hope you will too!
Make the most of your new skill set
Voila, top industries for bilingual entrepreneurs include financial services, healthcare, social services, sales and marketing, and public service (according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Yes, I’d add branding as well.
Highlighting your language skills on a resume/CV is essential, but don’t exaggerate your proficiency. Inflating your ability to speak a language could come back to haunt you during the interview or kick-off meeting.
Highlight formal training, and add specific activities you have completed and performed in another language.
Research your client and their market. If there are global or growing in that direction, be ready! If you are truly bilingual —and you can speak two or more languages with fluency or near fluency, and are able to read and write more than one language very well — tell a client that you have this ability upfront.
Being bi-lingual also shows that you have key analytical skills. People who learn and practice languages tend to be talented communicators, and it also speaks highly of English abilities. Linguistics teaches people to be aware of cultural differences and offers an interesting perspective when analyzing other national languages.
Being bilingual, and especially multilingual, can certainly help facilitate your travels. When languages share similar words and patterns, it’s easier to apply your knowledge of one language to another and thus make your way around certain regions of the world. Your interactions with people of different cultures could gain more depth. I also love it to enjoy films made in other languages.
When you speak someone’s native language, you can cover more than the weather and small talk. Building deep and meaningful relationships with foreign communities usually involves speaking and understanding the same language (at least partially).
Either that or you must be one hell of a charades player! Ok, to be honest it’s a bit of both in the beginning, right? 🙂
In short, when we speak a different language, we gain new perspective.
We wish you a great week of learning and progress on your path to becoming an entrepreneur.
Thanks to our readers and we welcome your comments below.
Cheers and fair winds,