Silly question about networking
Thread poster: Trisha F

Trisha F  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:29
English to Spanish
+ ...
Jul 26, 2014

Well my question is: can you avoid it? Really, can you just kill it with fire?

I know everybody says it is essential but I simply cannot network, do not know how to or where to start and, as of late, I have ended up living in small-ish places with no translation companies and certainly no potential clients willing to use translation services. I have tried visiting hotels and other places where translation would be required, I have left my card but all the the while I knew they already had a big agency doing this for them. I have tried phoning and e-mailing, even using classified ads websites. I have no friends in the industry and, those who are, are young and do not have many contacts either.


Online networking has not worked for me either and I find it is very hard to trust or know people when you only contact them via e-mail or social networks. Likewise, it is immensely difficult to get people to see you are good when sometimes you are talking to a project manager who has no idea of your target language. There are too many people using the Internet to get in the translation business, some of whom, are just bilingual with no qualifications and there you are, entirely overwhelmed and having no idea of how to proceed.


To be honest, I am a very shy person sometimes. I have never been good at establishing relationships that are not proper friendships. I feel I am using them and do not want to use people for my own means. I do not know, it must be a very wrong way of seeing it but I do not seem to be able to get the knack of it. My social skills online and offline are simply awful. Stlll, I am good at what I do, have slowly moved forward but it is obvious I cannot stay in the business for long like that.



P.S. Every time I ask a question about the translation business, I get vicious comments about my profile and once I had to ask admins to kindly delete a thread. Please be aware I have not worked much on this profile simply because I use several websites to get work and it is a bit difficult to build a solid profile on all of them. Pay no heed to my profile, I know it is bad. Thank you.

[Edited at 2014-07-26 12:55 GMT]


 

Triston Goodwin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:29
Spanish to English
+ ...
It has its benefits Jul 26, 2014

I know what you mean, but I think that it might help to look at it in a different light.
In my own case, I really like translating video games. I don't know much about 3d modeling, I don't know anything about the programing that goes into the game, all I know is that I enjoy my downtime playing them and getting paid to translate them. In order to find more video game clients, I started looking for places where people that made video games gathered together (namely, Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin).

I really just ask questions.

Now, whenever an opportunity arises, I can chime in with my translation/language experience. They think I'm some sort of translation deity with an endless supply of language knowledge (if they only knew the truth...), and I'm the guy they call when they have questions or projects that they want to translate.

I think networking can be as simple as being where your client is (figuratively speaking) and making sure that they know you're there too.


 

Emma Goldsmith  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:29
Member (2010)
Spanish to English
Yes, but... Jul 26, 2014

Trisha F wrote:

Well my question is: can you avoid it? Really, can you just kill it with fire?



Yes, I'm sure you can have a successful career without ever Tweeting anything, logging onto LinkedIn or writing a blog. But people have still got to know you exist and that you're a good translator. You've got to market yourself somehow.

So, let's start with the assumption that you're a good translator. The samples on your profile certainly support this - I think they're very good. In fact, they're worth much more than the rates you mention in your profile. (Check out my profile to see how much I think my translations are worth!)

You acknowledge that you're bad at the active networking/marketing side of things. In that case maybe you should concentrate on other aspects of your Internet presence.

Answering Kudoz questions is a good way of getting known, and getting points helps you improve your ranking in the ProZ directory. I know you don't want to discuss your ProZ profile, but don't forget it's an essential part of your online image. If you don't want to Tweet or blog, then the other less dynamic forms of marketing will have to pull their weight.

Do your online profiles and your CV speak directly to translation buyers? Do they convince outsourcers that you are the person they need? If you find it challenging to shape your online presence, here are some places that will help you:

Getting Started as a Freelance Translator
http://translatewrite.com/?page_id=30

How to stand out as a translator
http://alexandria-translation-resources.com/product/video-standing-out/

Business School for Translators
http://www.ecpdwebinars.co.uk/page_2799144.html

Good luck!







[Edited at 2014-07-26 08:42 GMT]

[Edited at 2014-07-26 08:49 GMT]


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:29
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
You're doing it now Jul 26, 2014

Starting a thread on ProZ.com is a form of networking: you're going online to tell others about your skills and ask for advice. This thread isn't just coming to the attention of fellow translators. Some translators also outsource, and there are agencies present here, too.

I'm not saying you should clag up the forum with useless threads, but contributions can be valuable for all sorts of reasons. As has been said, KudoZ is another way of getting yourself known, not just as someone with terminology knowledge but as someone who backs up what they say with clear and reasoned explanations.

But I agree that it isn't worth the effort to go all-out for networking if it doesn't suit you. You can waste your life on it. Personally, I still haven't got to grips with what Twitter IS, yet alone how to use it, and I find Facebook very weird, although I do occasionally contribute on LinkedIn.

Do you get alerted to discussions of potential professional interest? If not, I think that would be a good idea for you. Nobody should feel they have to participate, but I think it would be impossible to claim to be a dedicated professional if you're totally out of touch with what's going on in the profession. Sooner or later, you'll find there's something you feel you could usefully contribute to.


 

Rachel Waddington  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:29
Member (2014)
Dutch to English
+ ...
It's not a silly question Jul 26, 2014

To be honest, I am a very shy person sometimes. I have never been good at establishing relationships that are not proper friendships. I feel I am using them and do not want to use people for my own means.


This is a very common attitude about networking, but I think you are looking at this the wrong way. Instead of thinking about what you can get out of a person, why not turn it around and ask yourself how you can help them? Say you find yourself talking to a small business owner who wants to sell into the market of your target language, but has had bad experience with the quality of translations he/she has received in the past ... or just has no idea how to go about getting something translated. You may be able to be of real service to that person. You may be just the person they want to meet. Trying to think in those terms can take the pressure off you.

Networking is not the same as selling either and can bring a lot of benefits other than just work. Just feeling that you are part of a supportive community of translators (or business owners) and sharing hints and tips can be invaluable.

Social skills tend to improve with practice for most people so I would say it is worth sticking at it. Most of us don't find it easy or natural at first. And, as Sheila says, you're doing it now!


[Edited at 2014-07-26 09:48 GMT]


 

Trisha F  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:29
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Very valuable ideas. Jul 26, 2014

Many thanks for your replies so far. Each of your contributions has been very helpful and I could perhaps change my perspective on the matter.

Emma: I do need to work on my rates section. I set them like that when I signed up on Proz a long time ago and had no idea of what to put there. I was still going to uni and was very naïve on what to expect. They stayed like that because I started working on subtitles and the rates there are very different so I pretty much forgot about my awful Proz approach.

Thanks for the comments on the samples. They are samples of early work as a matter of fact, perhaps I should add something more recent. It is not that I do not want to discuss my profile if criticism is constructive, like yours, but a year ago or so I had a pretty bad experience and my then profile seemed to cause a bit of an uproar. Granted, it was a bit sarcastic and tongue-in-cheek, not the best sales strategy, but I had already warned people about that. I told them I would change the wording but I still got basically bashed and had to request the removal of the thread as things got really ugly. A couple of people got the humour (it is no surprise one of them was British and replied in a similarly humorous way), they did not advice me to keep the profile but understood it was a joke. The strange thing is that a day or two after that I got a job via Proz. O_o

Sheila: Yes, I am sort of out of touch with the profession. I have been basically writing copy and subtitling films for a living. It has not been that bad, given my poor networking skills but I know I could definitely thrive instead of just getting by. I have used Twitter but I still have to figure it out, I have been considering setting up a purely professional account to see what happens. Facebook is just for trivial, fun stuff with friends in my case. I mostly use it to get in touch with people who are a bit far from me. I haven't explored it in a professional setting but it is mostly because my FB profile is not professional at all, nor is it intended to be. I keep it to be the type of person I normally am when I am not working. I have a LinkedIn account but it's dead, it's never helped me much, except for one time it landed me with a good job interview ages ago. None of my contacts are very active. However, as Triston & Gaby pointed out, social networks could be very helpful. I will perhaps think about it all in more detail.

Rachel Waddington wrote:

... I think you are looking at this the wrong way. Instead of thinking about what you can get out of a person, why not turn it around and ask yourself how you can help them? Say you find yourself talking to a small business owner who wants to sell into the market of your target language, but has had bad experience with the quality of translations he/she has received in the past ... or just has no idea how to go about getting something translated. You may be able to be of real service to that person. You may be just the person they want to meet. Trying to think in those terms can take the pressure off you.


This post has made my day. Thank you. I acknowledge I am looking at it the wrong way but it has been difficult to get out there and be more proactive about it. People who know me don't think I am that shy because I am capable of making conversation and seem to be laid-back. I have also a somewhat smooth way about job interviews for instance. However, when making contacts for my translation business I freeze, even when I phone or e-mail! It is mostly because I have this warped view about networking and it shows. I feel like a pushy saleswoman. Thinking of networking as a tool to help potential clients is definitely better. I had never seen it that way.


 


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