How to market myself without client references?
Thread poster: xxxT_Herrmann
xxxT_Herrmann  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:25
German to English
+ ...
Jul 8, 2003

Dear colleagues,

Maybe somebody could enlighten me about a problem I am facing here. For about 5 yrs. I was employed as an in-house translator of a large, but also very specialized translation- and localization provider. As a matter of fact, they were so specialized, that they had to file bankruptcy

Now my problem is this, when I separated from those guys I thought to myself, I will work on my own bill. One thing though I forgot to consider is, that the non-disclosure agreement I have signed some five years ago was so strict, that by now I can't name any of the companies they translated for as reference ;~(

True, they are bankrupt, but the NDA very explicitly states that I may not reveal any clients, even after I separate, or they've dissolved.

So basically my situation ist this, I did highly specialized translations for five years, but I have nothing to show for it. The only reference I was indeed allowed to name, went bankrupt and doesn't exist anymore.

On top of this I relocated to Germany, and the German battle-cry when it comes to translations is "Diplom - Diplom!!!" anyway.

So, (after a lengthy story) my question is, is there another way to "sell" without an impressive list of references, than throwing around dumping-prices and hoping for some pity?

TIA for any "nifty" ideas
Regards
T_


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 09:25
SITE FOUNDER
Own your specialty Jul 8, 2003

Lets say your client was specialized in basket weaving.

I suggest you create a website that clearly highlights your specialized ability in the translation of basket weaving texts into German. Talk about your years in the field, put in links to basket weaving sites, have a "primer" for those new to basket weaving, and publish an impressive glossary of basket-weaving terms.

Then, register with the search engines. Put your specialty in your ProZ.com tagline, on your business cards, etc. Send letters to the remaining basket weaving companies, and follow them up with calls. As you come across other translator with specialized basket weaving expertise, form a loose team for when the large jobs surface. Share a TM among the team.

Also, join the online and offline basket weaving communities of your choice. Become known as "the translator" among them.


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xxxT_Herrmann  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:25
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
For starters.. Jul 8, 2003

Thank's a lot. To be honest I haven't thought of approaching the problem from this side. Basically I always concentrated on "explaining" the lack of references, as opposed to highlighting qualities.

Thanks a lot
T_

Henry wrote:

Lets say your client was specialized in basket weaving.

I suggest you create a website that clearly highlights your specialized ability in the translation of basket weaving texts into German. Talk about your years in the field, put in links to basket weaving sites, have a "primer" for those new to basket weaving, and publish an impressive glossary of basket-weaving terms.

Then, register with the search engines. Put your specialty in your ProZ.com tagline, on your business cards, etc. Send letters to the remaining basket weaving companies, and follow them up with calls. As you come across other translator with specialized basket weaving expertise, form a loose team for when the large jobs surface. Share a TM among the team.

Also, join the online and offline basket weaving communities of your choice. Become known as "the translator" among them.


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Evert DELOOF-SYS  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 15:25
Member
English to Dutch
+ ...
Bankrupcty: no longer a legal entity Jul 8, 2003

The company is dead...

Hence, I'm pretty sure the NDA you signed is no longer valid.

Good luck!


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Mats Wiman  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 15:25
Member (2000)
German to Swedish
+ ...

MODERATOR
Do never mention clients Jul 8, 2003

Although Evert might be right legally (which I doubt, because there are the clients, that might have got assurances from the agency that their names should never be mentioned) its good strategy, NOT to build your own status on the names of others:
1. The validity is doubtful. Of course it could be good to be able to say: I have made translations for the EU commission, parliament, IBM, Daimler-Chrysler, Siemens etc BUT an outsourcer must know much more in order to attach much value to such statements.
2. Revealing names might offend the client, destroying one of the most valuable items between the two of you: TRUST.
3. Revealing the names of your clients might hurt you. Interesting clients are often regarded as free prey for hungry competitors, so it might be wise to be tight-lipped.

Instead, follow Henry's advice and tell them speciifcally what YOU are good at.
An additional advice: Earn KudoZ. I can vouch for their blessing influence.
They do not constitute final proof but many outsourcers see them as indicative of expertise.

BR

Mats J C Wiman
Übersetzer/Translator/Traducteur/Traductor > swe
http://www.MatsWiman.com
http://www.Deutsch-Schwedisch.com
http://www.proz.com/translator/1749
(ProZ.com deu>swe & forum moderator)
eMail : MatsWiman@tele2.se
Street: Träsk 201
Post : S-872 97 Skog
Tel : +46-612-54112
Fax : +46-612-54181
Mobile: +46-70-5769797


[Edited at 2003-07-08 16:36]


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xxxT_Herrmann  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:25
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Absolutely Jul 8, 2003

I absolutely share your point of view. Especially to mention that a bankrupted corporation does not cease to exist, it merely looses control over its actions to appointed adjusters.

Also these end-clients would know the project manager of my former employer, and not me. And who wants to be associated with a bankrupted firm anyway

Thank you all for the much appreciated feedback though.
T_


Mats Wiman wrote:

Although Evert might be right legally (which I doubt, because there are the clients, that might have got assurances from the agency that their names should never be mentioned) but its good strategy, NOT to build your own status on the names of others.
1. The validity is doubtful. Of course it could be good to be able to say: I have made translations for the EU commission, parliament, IBM, Daimler-Chrysler, Siemens etc BUT an outsourcer must know much more in order to attach much value to such statements.
2. Revealing names might offend the client, destroying one of the most valuable items between the two of you: TRUST.
3. Revealing the names of your clients might hurt you. Interesting clients are often regarded as free prey for hungry competitors, so it might be wise to be tight-lipped.

Instead, follow Henry's advice and tell them speciifcally what YOU are good at.
An additional advice: Earn KudoZ. I can vouch for their blessing influence.
They do not constitute final proof but many outsourcers see them as indicative of expertise.

BR

Mats J C Wiman
Übersetzer/Translator/Traducteur/Traductor > swe
http://www.MatsWiman.com
http://www.Deutsch-Schwedisch.com
http://www.proz.com/translator/1749
(ProZ.com deu>swe & forum moderator)
eMail : MatsWiman@tele2.se
Street: Träsk 201
Post : S-872 97 Skog
Tel : +46-612-54112
Fax : +46-612-54181
Mobile: +46-70-5769797


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Evert DELOOF-SYS  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 15:25
Member
English to Dutch
+ ...
Don't agree here Jul 8, 2003

T_Herrmann wrote:

I absolutely share your point of view. Especially to mention that a bankrupted corporation does not cease to exist, it merely looses control over its actions to appointed adjusters.

Also these end-clients would know the project manager of my former employer, and not me. And who wants to be associated with a bankrupted firm anyway

T_



A company that has been declared bankrupt simply doesn't exist anymore.

Unless you'd have been notified by the new owners (if any) that you can't work for X or Y, nobody would be able to stop you from mentioning whom you've been working for.
But you'd need solid proof and yes, you'd better ask for some references.

The fact that you now added that those companies wouldn't even know you, constitutes a whole new ball game.

In short, don't reveal the names of companies if you can't prove you worked for them and/or if you didn't ask them for a reference.

If some of these companies know about you and your work, asking for a reference would definitely be your best choice.

By the way, where's the shame in e.g. having worked for a separate division of a large multinational that filed for bankrupcy in a given country?


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:25
German to English
+ ...
References Jul 8, 2003

T_Herrmann wrote:
I can't name any of the companies they translated for as reference

You can, though, presumably still name the "large but also very specialized translation- and localization provider"? What's wrong with that? That's a reference in its own right.

I worked for a translation company for two years, and I can say so. I wouldn't expect to be able to name their clients. Even if I did, I don't know what it would prove.


As a matter of fact, they were so specialized, that they had to file bankruptcy


Perhaps they became too dependent on too small a customer base? That is not the same, though, as specializing.


the German battle-cry when it comes to translations is "Diplom - Diplom!!!"

I have been selling my services here for almost ten years now, and hardly ever has a customer been interested in my paper qualifications. Or, for that matter, in references. It can be hard getting started, but I think the lack of references or qualifications is unlikely to be the reason in your case.

Marc


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:55
English to Tamil
+ ...
Why don't you take the end-client into confidence Jul 9, 2003

Deal with the end clients one by one. To a typical client you tell that you worked for the now defunct firm and offer to take up his translation work if any. If he does not have one, ask him politely whether he would mind if you tell that you worked on his documents through the defunct organisation. Tell him frankly your dilemma. More often than not he will agree as all these secrecy agreements are generally the result of being too careful and by the time you pose your query, the secrecy might not be a big deal. If you can prove to that particular client that you did his translation and he was satisfied with the work, there is no reason why he should not give you future jobs. By the way, have you any arrears oustanding from the bankrupted firm? If so raise this matter in all possible fora and even if you do not get any money, many people would come to know that you did translation for so many years. Don't allow yourself to be too helpless.

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HRiley  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:25
Spanish to English
+ ...
You can still market your experience without naming names Jul 9, 2003

What's to stop you from listing key projects in your CV or on your web site or ProZ profile page?

For example:

- "X thousand pages translated in field yyy"
- "technical manuals for major multinational software manufacturer"
- "marketing brochures for well-known US-based fashion house"
- numerous technical articles for in-house magazine published by European electronics firm
- and so on...

Be as vague or specific as you like.


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