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Meeting a client- Advice
Thread poster: Megan McGregor

Megan McGregor
German to English
Jan 11, 2007

Hi everyone,

I've heard good things about these forums and am hoping to find some good advice on meeting with clients.

I have been a freelance translator for 2 years, however most communication with clients has been done via email/telephone. I have a client however who I am currently sub-contracting for, who has ivited me to a meeting with the end client (head honcho at a very large firm). So far so good, but there are a few things that are worrying me.

Whilst I have good references, a sound base of regular clients who are always satisfied with my work, I do not have any official qualifications. That has never been a problem up until now, but it's easier to let the quality of your work speak for itself when you are not facing someon face to face and having to explain why you are technically not qualified.

Secondly, I am 22 and still look quite young and do worry about not being taken seriously. Perhaps this is all just in my head though.

I was wondering if perhaps anyone had some tips to help the meeting go smoothly. Should I perhaps take a sample translation (already did a translation for the company which they were happy with), a cv, anything else?

Thank you for the help.


 

Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:04
English to German
+ ...
Your quality has already spoken for yourself Jan 11, 2007

Hi Megan,
Simple answer: if your work wasn't up to speed, you wouldn't be invited to the meeting. The fact that your client wants you to go along indicates their appreciation.

You can take a few samples along to the meeting, but I would only use them if requested.

Best regards,
Ralf


 

Margreet Logmans (X)  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 13:04
English to Dutch
+ ...
A little selfconfidence should be enough Jan 11, 2007

Hello Megan,

I think all you need is a little boost of selfconfidence.

You say you've got a sound base of satisfied clients - that should be good enough. Official qualifications are great to have, but you've been doing quite well so far, haven't you?

So, bring your references if you think you need to, or a sample of work you've already done, but don't do anything extra.
The simple fact that you've been invited to this meeting shows your input is appreciated - take that as a compliment!

Also, I think your client should do the introductions, so you don't have to bring a cv.

Your age and looks can't be helped, I'm afraid. But if you dress in a business-like style, preferably in blue (navyblue, royalblue- these colours look neat and somehow convey an impression of reliability), you might feel a little more secure. Try to rise to the occasion and dress and act like you belong there. You've been invited, after all.

This isn't a matter of qualifications, it's a matter of self-confidence. Seems to me you've got plenty of reasons to be confident.

Good luck!

Margreet


 

Claudia Krysztofiak  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:04
English to German
+ ...
What is your job in this meeting? Jan 11, 2007

Without knowing what you are supposed to do in this meeting, I think it hard to give some kind of advice.icon_smile.gif

But I agree, if your work is good it should work out well.

Regarding dress code:

While it is always helpful to wear some kind of business "armour" you should not wear something you feel too strange in. Don't put on a show.

And some business cards could be helpful as well.


 

Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:04
German to English
+ ...
Confidence Jan 11, 2007

Megan McGregor wrote:

Secondly, I am 22 and still look quite young and do worry about not being taken seriously. Perhaps this is all just in my head though.



Hi Megan,

I understand this problem really well - I'm 37 and have 2 kids, and I still get cardedicon_smile.gif

I would agree with the above advice about wearing standard business attire. Look your counterpart squarely in the eye and give a firm handshake. Be extra prepared for the meeting - what is the goal of the meeting? What questions might you be asked? Speak slowly and deliberately (I have difficulty with this when I get nervous!) I bet you could find some good guides on the Internet about business meetings and making a good impression on potential clients.

Good luck! It sounds like you're off to a good start.

[Edited at 2007-01-11 19:16]


 

Clare Barnes  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 13:04
Swedish to English
+ ...
Stand tall! Jan 11, 2007

I agree with Daina - it comes down to confidence. Nerves are natural, but you are there because of your merits. I started teaching when I was 22, looked like I was 17 and the vast majority of my students were older than me... Smart clothes are a real boost, but make sure you're comfortable. Nothing worse than trying to be cool, calm and collected while wondering whether the crotch of your tights is going to work itself down to knee level so you'll have to waddle out of the room. I also learned to "put on" my professional attitude like a coat - acting, if you like - it works. Pretend to be you being confident - if you see what I mean...

I wouldn't push anything on to them - and it wouldn't hurt to find out just why your client wants to take you along... and they wouldn't be taking you if they didn't think you were going to make a good impression - after all, it's their business relationship.

As regards age, there was one memorable incident when I went for an interview with a well-respected corporate training company. The first thing the interviewer said when she saw me was, "Oh, but you're just a little girl!" She then clapped her hand over her mouth and looked like she wanted to fall through the floor - it broke the ice and I got the job. I don't know whether that says more about me or the interviewer, but I think the moral is that sometimes what you think of as being your weakness may not turn out to be a bad thing after all...


 

Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 13:04
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
No worries Jan 12, 2007

If your clients want to take you to their client, they have a lot of confidence in you!
Depending on you task, I do not think you have to proof much to the client, otherwise they would have told you ( but you can ask your client to be sure).

In order to feel a bit more safe and confident:
- ask them if you are supposed to do anything, or speak about something, or if you are just there for bakup/ moral support / proof of concept (yes, THIS is the great native speaking translator WE have)
- check with your client to see what the dress code is for this event
- do not wear pig tales, a pink Hello Kitty outfit, or anything that might make it look like "bring your kids to work day".
- business cards is a good idea
- and if you want to look older, a pair of glasses might work
(but only if you've done that trick before)

- I don't think you have to be "to eager to please/ prove"
Only show references when asked. Official diplomas do not guarantee good quality. When asked how you learned you can state your dual nationality, xp in living abroad, or simply " I'm a natural". ( sorry, did not check your profile)

Ed


 

Adi Al-Ka'bi
Local time: 15:04
Arabic to English
+ ...
Go Mar 4, 2007

I don't think you have anything to fear. Or in other words what is it that you fear?

Maybe the end client does a lot of business with people or an important client in the other language and now needs a good interpreter. Maybe he's doing so much business with that language that he wants to appoint someone to attend to correspondence. It might be a part time or flexible time job of so many hours per week at some good salary. Maybe the end client is within walking distance from where you live or a single bus ride away with hours free to choose. Loads of possibilities.

If you are afraid of being murdered tell everyone you know about your date and give them their phone numbers and addresses. Get someone to call you during the time of the meeting and answer to why you are out, with whom and for what. When you feel that they are going to kill you tell them that you've told all your friends. Or take someone with you and claim that you don't have a car (or don't have one that day) and your friend was good enough to take you for the meeting and back.

Maybe he's looking for someone to represent his company in that other country.

Whichever way, there's most probably nothing to fear. Most likely that end client found your translation most suitable for his work and wants to know how much he can rely on you for further development in a new area.

My best client in nine years was met because a client told me that one of his acquaintances wished to meet me and discuss some work possibilities. I now get an average of 12-18,000 words monthly from that client and I've got bad teeth from smoking in case you wondered if they wanted to see how beautiful or handsome I was.

Though I was told to wear a suit and tie for that appointment which I did at the time. But I generally weak jeans and sports shirts. It's not my clothes that translate. It's my fingers and tongue, even if I have crooked nails, with my thumb the longest and mid finger the shortest and most fat and a square shaped tongue. The guy is most likely impressed with your work and has more work for you on mind.

Tell us what happened once you go. We'll be worrying about you till then.

Best of luck. But it's good to be suspicious, though not always.


[Edited at 2007-03-04 00:19]

[Edited at 2007-03-04 00:20]


 

Natalia Eklund  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 13:04
Member (2005)
French to English
+ ...
Everyone's right! May 14, 2007

You are who you believe yourself to be.

Without trying to sound cute, that's the core truth of the matter.
Who says you're not qualified? only you!

Anyway, I went through the same thing, and for years fought a sneaky feeling that I was just a big fake. What helped was when I talked to my brother, also a freelancer except he's a programming architect and software developper. He told me he had the same feelings until about his 3rd or 4th year of activity.

I think almost everyone goes through this, so you're just going to have to keep repeating to yourself that you're a pro, until you wake up one morning and finally believe it!

I don't know what your meeting is about, but the advice the others give is right on. The only suggestion I would make is, unless this is a job interview, don't bring your CV, instead bring some professional looking business cards. If you have a website, make sure to include your CV on it.

When I go to first time meetings, I pull my hair back, wear a sober business coat with pants and low heels, but I always make sure to add some kind of detail or accessory to show my personality. It makes sure you're remembered and that you're confident in who you are.

Good luck!


 


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