Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ten ways to raise your profile in the translation

Now let’s look at how you become that translator who everybody knows!
  1. Volunteer for an association. When I first moved to Colorado, I volunteered to edit the Colorado Translators Association’s newsletter. I filled that role for three years, and by that time I knew almost everyone in the association by face or by name. About 50% of my new clients were either CTA members or referrals from CTA members, most of whom I met through my work for the newsletter.
  2. Share information. Sharing information (via e-mail lists, forums, blogs, lectures, websites, books, and yes, even Twitter!) establishes you as an authority and as someone who is helpful and available. Being “the person who knows everything” in your language pair or specialization is probably the best way to get referrals from your colleagues. Tip: why don’t more translators put their (non-proprietary) glossaries online? Riccardo Schiaffino (one of the “people who know everything” about translation technology) sent me this link to a tool that creates an HTML glossary with a hyperlinked letter index.
  3. Be an organizer. If you live in an area without a local translators’ association, start a low-commitment lunch or coffee meetup for translators (or people who speak your non-English language). If you want to take on something bigger, put together a niche conference. Witness the success of Chris Durban’s Translate in the Catskills conference for premium-market French translators (other languages welcome, too!) and apply the idea to your language pair or specialization.
  4. Become known for your specialization. If you’ve been translating patents for 20 years, you’ve probably read as many patents as many patent agents have, but you’ve done it in two languages. Speak at conferences, seminars, or webinars. Write for your blog or someone else’s. Write for industry newsletters and be the only translator those readers know! Teach online or offline courses for beginning translators who want to get started in your specialization.
  5. Get to know your potential partners. In order to raise your profile, you have to give up the bunker mentality. Instead of viewing other translators as threats or competitors, get to know people who do what you do and see if you can share ideas. Then the next time a high-paying client needs 20,000 words done in a week (at super-premium rush rates, of course), you can call on your new partner and solve the client’s problem.
  6. Help newcomers. All of us were there once, but how easily the memory fades once our businesses are thriving. I bet that your local association could use a new member contact person, or someone to hold a new member coffee every few months. I bet that if you wrote an “ask the experienced translator” column for a newsletter, magazine, website, or blog, people would read it.
  7. Use social media. I’ll give you my honest assessment of Twitter: I hate it, but it works. Be open-minded about social media’s potential. If you’re a German-to-English translator living in Berlin, your daily world may be filled with potential clients. For those of us who live far from our potential client base, social media gives us the reach that our location doesn’t.
  8. Make other people look and feel good. When someone helps you out professionally or writes something you admire, or when a client goes above and beyond to make your job easier and more pleasant, spread the love. A handwritten note with some specific praise is great, and so is a compliment directed to the person’s superior (“Of all the project managers I work with, Hillary stands out for her positive, professional attitude and her unflinching attention to detail”).
  9. Get out of the office. I know, you like it there. But one of the most common habits of the highest-earning translators I know is that they spend a lot of time talking to real live people. Go visit your clients and talk about them: what are their challenges, goals, and insights? What are the misconceptions about their industry? Give a presentation for your local chamber of commerce or business association, focusing on how to select and work with a translation provider.
  10. Be memorable, or at least be yourself. Don’t use your company name if the company is just you . . . be well-known for who you are! And if there’s something memorable about you, stick with it. Whether you’re Trash Girl (Abigail Dahlberg, a waste management translator) or Twin Translations (Judy and Dagmar Jenner, who even wore matching outfits at last year’s ATA conference!) or Ted Wozniak in his ever-present cowboy hat (if I had to pick the best personal brand in the ATA, Ted’s hat would be it!), being unique helps you stick in people’s minds. Source: proz.com