A certain atmosphere in the office tells me it is time for another round of drinks. I save my translation, get up and start collecting my fellow workers’ mugs. Tea? Coffee? Wild berry and vanilla infusion with a dash of ginger? Because I’m a wonderful, wonderful team member, I even go upstairs, where I know Paul is having a meeting with a marketing consultant, to ask them if they want a drink.
coffee"Hello! Anyone for tea?"
Paul: "Oh yes, that’d be lovely. How about you, K? K, this is Céline, she works here, she’s an English-French translator."
K: "Oh really? I often need translation services and always struggle to find someone."
Paul: "Well, here is your woman. She’s great."
And he starts telling her what an incredible translator I am. The problem with me is that I really, really can’t take praise. So when he’s finished and they both turn towards me, beaming, what do I say?
Do I say "Indeed, I’m absolutely fantastic and I’d love to take on your translation projects. Let me go and get my business card so you can contact me at your leisure and then we can talk."?
No. Oh no. This is what I say, brandishing my bouquet of mugs:
"Nevermind translation, I make a mean cup of tea! So, tea, coffee?"
One tea, one coffee. I pick up their mugs and retreat downstairs, mortified.
Later, I’m still banging my head against a wall when Paul comes back from his meeting. We both agree that I’m useless at networking and that I should email K with my details.
On reflection, I have convinced myself that this is better. A business card is easily lost, whereas it is easier to save someone’s details from an email. I may be terrible at networking, but there is an upside to making mistakes: you learn very quickly how to recover from them.