By: Araceli Patino
During the last few years, my purchasing job in the automotive industry gave me a good idea on how to apply networking to grow professionally and to get the best results from my work. I thought I would have to start from scratch to develop my new translator career. However, I pretty soon discovered I could use my previous experience to start my own translation business.
Networking as a newbie (newcomer), especially at a large conference, can be overwhelming. But, fear not! Networking can be fun and you will have the best of opportunities to practice during the upcoming ATA Annual Conference. Don’t be shy and try these tips to get the most from your attendance and develop new business opportunities:
- Keep it simple
Try to establish an easy and nice conversation. People often like to talk about themselves, so aim at simple questions that they can also ask you in return, giving you the biggest opportunity… to talk about your career! Good questions will make your conversation memorable. These are some good starters:
- Are you a translator or an interpreter?
- How did you start as a [translator/interpreter]?
- Which are your language pairs?
- What are your specialization areas?
- How long have you been a member of this organization?
- Where are you based?
- I saw your profile on LinkedIn and I’m impressed by…
Always keep your voice soft and firm, using a warm and positive tone.
- Practice makes perfect
You don’t need to be a pro to start building a network. The only thing you need is a little extra effort at the beginning, confidence, and practice. Then, you will realize that it is becoming second nature to you. Suddenly, you won’t be nervous anymore and will even enjoy it!
- Buddies Welcome Newbies
I really think this the go-to event. This is the best approach to learn about the conference for those attending for first time. Don’t forget that through your buddy you will be able to connect with other seasoned translators, and continue to increase your network. Everybody started where you are. You will be amazed to see how much people are willing to help you out.
- Image is everything; dress for success.
Do you know that people form an impression of you within the first 30 seconds after they meet you? You’ll never get a second chance to make a great first impression, so you always need to keep a professional appearance and outlook.
- Be authentic and always smile
Connect with people at a personal level, don’t be afraid to show yourself (avoid impersonating other people), and be true. This will create a meaningful connection with the other person. When talking about your business, share your achievements, but don’t try to make a hard sell.
- Make it count
It’s no secret: A good chunk of us are introverted people, which makes networking particularly difficult.
One approach could be setting up small goals to achieve one at a time. Your first goal could be to meet at least five new people at the Buddies Welcome Newbies event. Then, as your confidence increases, your new goals increase too. Now, you can attempt to meet ten new people the following day.
This strategy is perfect for tasks that you believe impossible. Stick to your goals no matter what and it won’t fail!
- Be unforgettable
When meeting potential clients, make sure to be ready to be remembered when job opportunities come. Be in your client’s head so the next time they need translation or interpreting services, they’ll think of you. But most importantly: Make it easy for them to find you!
Follow these guidelines:
- Business cards. The best way to distribute them is by first establishing a meaningful connection and then asking for a card. Most people, when asked for a business card, will ask for yours in return. Yes, the same strategy as the return questions!
- Marketing materials. Social media sites are truly important nowadays; update your LinkedIn profile and any other media-business sites you have. If you own a website, you could show recent samples of your work or new accomplishments in your career. Also, sharing your participation in professional events on social media is an excellent way to stand out from the crowd.
- Resume. Prepare an updated version and have it ready, both online and in print.
Networking is an art that can be mastered with commitment. Start joining local and virtual groups. Online networking is a key tool nowadays. Try as many groups as possible and then become a regular visitor to the ones that fit well and that you feel a connection with. Everybody needs something different, so nobody can tell you which ones are better than others.
Joining several groups will increase your business opportunities because you never know where your next customer will come from.
My best recommendation: Always show your passion for what you do.
I’ll see you at the ATA Annual Conference in New Orleans!
About the author:
Araceli Patino is an English>Spanish translator who received an English/Spanish Translation Certificate from UC San Diego Extension. She also holds a BBA degree at Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. She has more than ten years of purchasing experience, focusing in the automotive field. She specializes in business translation, editing, transcreation, and localization.