Networking: No Reason to Fear

As translators and interpreters, we often shudder when we hear the word “networking”. It’s sort of the freelancer’s equivalent to a job interview; we feel that we need to be prepared to share our three biggest weaknesses or explain our job history or validate our qualification for our jobs. We fear that if we don’t say every word of our well-practiced 30-second elevator speech, then we’re failures. But does it really need to be so scary? Of course not.

Networking is significantly less daunting if you think of it as a combination of the following activities that we already do in our everyday personal and professional lives:

  • Connecting with colleagues
  • Making friends
  • Helping others
  • Building teams

Networking can be as simple as sharing notes with your neighbor at a conference session when one of you has missed what the speaker said. It can be sitting down at a breakfast table where no one is speaking to each other and striking up a conversation. Networking can be thanking someone you see in the hallway for their contributions to a listserv or their interesting Tweets. It can be connecting a person who has a specific need or question with someone who can answer it for them. And most importantly, networking can be a learned skill. Don’t let your introversion or social anxiety get the best of you! Seeing networking as something to be feared rather than embraced will only hold you back.

As a freelance translator, I think of the ATA conference as one of my only chances throughout the year to connect in person with colleagues I usually only get to converse with digitally. This makes my networking time all the more significant but also all the more fun! It means that the connections I make during the conference have the potential to become my virtual office, my digital colleagues, for months and years to come.

Advice about networking from past conference attendees:

Go to more than just the education sessions: try attending the conference dance party, go to the poetry reading, go to the speed networking session… try things that allow you to interact with people in a more casual setting.

– Mary @McKeeT9N

Ask lots of questions. It can be really nerve-wracking to think of what to talk about, but if you ask good questions and actively listen to the responses, conversations will come more naturally. I feel really weird talking about myself, but when I start with questions, usually they are reciprocated so it becomes a more natural conversation.

– Victoria @VCKTranslation

You will receive a pink ribbon to wear on your nametag that says “First-Time Attendee”; wear it proudly! People will definitely welcome you warmly and ask you what you think of the conference so far. Take part in Buddies Welcome Newbies and stay close to your Buddy for answers to your questions, great tips and introductions to other attendees.

Don’t forget to exchange cards so you can remember all the new people you meet and follow-up after the conference with a “nice to meet you” note/email/message.

Have a list of short conversation-openers ready, like which has been your favorite session so far, or favorite part of the conference, how many times have you been to the conference, what do you specialize in, where do you come from, etc.

– Catherine @LinguaGreca

If you set in your mind a goal to learn new things and get to know people, and get marketing yourself out of your head a bit, you won’t feel as nervous.

– David @LTTDave

Don’t worry about not “clicking” with everyone you come into contact with. It can feel daunting to chat with someone you’re impressed by or who you think or hope might offer you work, but remember to just be yourself. It’s never worth it to pretend to be someone you’re not just to impress others. Be your authentic self and be willing to let it slide right off your back when you feel like an interaction was awkward or unfruitful. It’s natural not to jibe with everyone you meet.

– Emily @saffrontrans

What other tips do you have for feeling more comfortable about networking, readers?

9 Things You Can Do Today to Get the Most out of #ATA58

By Anne Goff (www.aegtranslations.com), reblogged from The Savvy Newcomer with permission from the author

This October, some 2,000 language professionals will swarm the Hilton in Washington DC for the 58th Annual ATA Conference. They will push through crowds of people to find the next packed presentation room, will sit in a sea of unfamiliar faces, will spend their entire waking day taking in new information and trying desperately to remember the name of the person they met two seconds ago. It’s overwhelming. It’s exhausting. It’s also exhilarating.

Even the most introverted among us feel a thrill being around people who understand our career and share our interests. In the chaos, it is easy to miss opportunities and come away from the conference feeling disappointed. Below are nine ideas for how you can prepare to get the most out of ATA 58.

1) Double-check your marketing materials

Update your resume and triple check for any mistakes. Do the same for your business cards and order extras now.

Find something extra to bring to help you stand out. This could be a personalized name badge, a lanyard—something pretty, crazy, or specific to your specialization, stickers or pins to show your language or specialization… Anything that encourages others to approach you about something you are interested in is helpful.

As you update your marketing materials, write out previous jobs and relevant experience. What stands out? What are you most proud of? What might be funny (and positive and professional)? What showcases your talent, knowledge, and drive?

Add to this list any time you take on a new job, and always note why the job is important. (A challenge you overcame, an impressive client, new information learned, etc.) If you don’t have a lot of job experience, consider classes you’ve taken, volunteer work you’ve done, research you are excited about. Review this list before the conference so that you will have specific, positive, professional responses when people ask you about your experience.

2) Research the presentations… and the presenters

Does the presenter have a website? Social media accounts? Find what information they’ve made public. Look for common interests, common languages, and anything you would like to ask about. Write all of this down and review it before the presentation. After the presentation—introduce yourself!

If you’re really excited about a presenter or a topic, feel free to send them an email in advance sharing your excitement, asking a question, or pointing out a shared interest. Everyone likes enthusiastic people in the audience. And while we’re at it, why wait until after the conference to follow them on Twitter?

3) Research the companies at the job fair and the exhibit hall

Look for specific things to discuss with any company you are interested in. What skills are they looking for? Why are you a good match? Why do you like this company? Research can make you stand out in a busy job fair. If you can find out who will be representing the company, why not drop them a line today, and tell them how much you’re looking forward to meeting them?

One easy way to start this now is with the ATA Conference App. During the conference you can use it to keep track of the schedule and stay up-to-date, and you can use it today to look through the list of represented companies as you start your research.

4) Reach out and make friends

Whether you’ve met fellow attendees in past or only know them online, a quick social media post or a brief email to let people know that you look forward to seeing them or to plan a coffee together can go a long way.

5) Research the area around the conference

A little research saves a lot of time and stress during the conference. Find a place you can recommend for lunch or coffee. Find a place you can slip away, where others can’t see you, for some quiet time. Find cultural places in the area specific to your language/specialization/interests. Look up a few practical places around the conference: ATMs, drug stores, phone stores for chargers, etc.

6) Set specific goals

Goals give focus and clarity in the midst of chaos. Set a goal for each presentation: “I want to meet two people who translate in this field into my B language,” “I want to learn X, Y, Z.” Don’t assume it was a bad presentation if it didn’t cover your specific question. Asking your question at the end of the session is a great way to meet people.

7) Prepare for questions

If you feel awkward when asked the standard conference questions, prepare for them now. “Why are you here?” “Did you come last year?” “What did you think?” “Are you enjoying the conference this year?” “How did you become a translator?”

“Last year I was just too overwhelmed and intimidated to come,” may be true. But it might be better to try something like: “I’ve been developing my business this year, learning about the profession, expanding my client base, and I’m so excited to be here!” Focus on what you’ve learned, what you look forward to learning, what excites you, how it fits with your work or a new avenue you are interested in exploring. Be honest, positive, and professional.

8) Post to social media

Everybody recommends this, but I’m going to be the one negative voice here. Posting to social media that you are going to be traveling on specific dates is a potential safety risk. You don’t have to do it. However, if you’re comfortable with it, it can be a great way to connect with people before the conference and can make it easier to plan coffee dates, lunches, trips to cultural sites, etc.

But remember, you can do much of this via email, phone calls, and private messages if you prefer not to post about it publicly. Where appropriate, you can also contact favorite clients to tell them that you will be attending a presentation pertinent to their field.

9) Schedule time after the conference

Immediately following the conference, you will have so much to go over, you will have work that’s piled up, and then there’s the laundry… If at all possible, schedule a few days after the conference to catch up and recharge before diving back into your routine. Otherwise, you may never get to your post-conference to-do list.

After the conference is the time to post to social media about what you learned and who you met. Write an article or two… Blog…  follow up with the people you met. This is the single most important thing you can do. Send emails, private messages, tweets. Connect on LinkedIn and Twitter… And be prepared to do it all again in a week or two.

This is where you will really stand out. So prepare for it now.

If you plan to mail cards after the conference, buy them now. Address them if possible. Write up ideas for what you might say. Streamline your social media. (Link your accounts so one post will go to multiple accounts, learn to schedule your posts, etc.)

The key is to be intentional and organized about what you want out of any large conference. After all, you are setting aside time and money to be there. Why not make the most of it?

Local Favorites and Things to See in D.C.

If ATA58 will be your first visit to Washington D.C. – or if you haven’t been there in many years – it is definitely worth your while to take a break from the conference, or even arrive a day or two early, to take in the sights of this historic and beautiful city. D.C. is a little of everything: a capital city, a college town, a hub for major corporations, and a booming metropolis. Below are a few ideas we came up with to keep you busy sightseeing whenever you have downtime during the conference. Almost all of these locations are free to enter and view, though some may require an admission fee for tours and other sightseeing. The nearest Metro station to the conference hotel (Washington Hilton) is Dupont Circle on the red line. The Hilton is north of the National Mall and most of the historic sites, though you can find adventures in any direction!

Dupont Circle area (source: Carolyn Yohn at https://untangledtranslations.wordpress.com/2017/08/29/get-ready-for-ata58/):

Kramer Books http://kramers.com/

The Phillips Collection http://www.phillipscollection.org/

St. Arnold’s Mussel Bar http://starnoldsmusselbar.com/

North of Dupont Circle

Smithsonian National Zoo https://nationalzoo.si.edu/

National Mall area

Lincoln Memorial https://washington.org/DC-guide-to/lincoln-memorial

Reflecting Pool http://www.nationalmall.org/explore-national-mall/monuments-memorials/lincoln-memorial-reflecting-pool

Washington Monument https://www.nps.gov/wamo/index.htm

White House https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_House

Ford’s Theatre https://www.fords.org/

Chinatown Express (fun eatery in Chinatown) http://www.chinatownexpressdc.com/

Holocaust Memorial Museum https://www.ushmm.org/

Jefferson Memorial https://washington.org/DC-guide-to/jefferson-memorial

Smithsonian Museums https://www.si.edu/museums

National Archives (may require advance planning) https://www.archives.gov/

Capitol Building https://www.visitthecapitol.gov/

Library of Congress (may require advance planning) https://www.loc.gov/

Northwest of the National Mall

Georgetown University https://www.georgetown.edu/

Georgetown Cupcake (be prepared for a long wait) https://www.georgetowncupcake.com/

Southwest of the National Mall, across the Potomac

Arlington National Cemetery http://www.arlingtoncemetery.mil/

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier http://www.arlingtoncemetery.mil/Explore/Tomb-of-the-Unknown-Soldier

Readers, what other landmarks or sites are you excited to see in D.C. this October?

Budgeting for the ATA Conference

Now that you’re convinced that you need to attend ATA58, you’re probably asking yourself how much it’s going to cost. What do you need to budget for? What are some ways you can save money? Here’s the basic layout of an attendee’s budget for the ATA conference – be sure to also take into account the fact that you may lose out on some income since you won’t be working during these business days. Based on numbers from this blog post, you are potentially missing out on an average of $185/day for four business days, for a sum of $740. Let’s examine some of the other expenses involved and consider how the ATA conference just may be an investment that pays for itself!

Item #1: Conference registration

$540-1,210

http://www.atanet.org/conf/2017/registration/

Be sure to do your math… The early registration fee (which ends 9/15) is $540 for ATA members, versus $715 for non-members. ATA membership dues for one year cost $285, so if you’re considering joining the Association, make sure you do so before the conference in order to receive the discounted rate! Rates for all attendees increase starting 9/16 and then again starting 10/6, so the earlier the register, the bigger the discount.

Item #2: Transportation

$200-1,000

Depending on where you’re traveling from, travel could be a big expense. Coming from the East Coast, you may consider driving (in which case you’ll need to pay for parking) or taking a bus or train. From anywhere else in the country or world, you will probably want to fly into either DCA (Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport), IAD (Washington Dulles International Airport), or BWI (Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport). Regardless of your origin, remember that you will most likely need to factor in the cost of an Uber, taxi, or bus from the airport or train station to your hotel.

Item #3: Accommodations

$300-1,200

The Washington Hilton is the host hotel of ATA58 and offers special rates for conference attendees. However, these rooms fill up quickly and you may need to search elsewhere for a place to stay. You can look for a roommate or roommates to split the cost of accommodations by visiting the ATA Roommate Finder. Some conference attendees opt to stay at other hotels or even Airbnb in order to save on money and experience more time outside the conference hotel.

Item #4: Food

$200-400

Depending on your food preferences and schedule, you can choose to take advantage of the low-cost options that will be available through the conference, from free continental breakfast at the conference hotel to evening receptions that include hors d’oeuvres. On the other hand, if you want to truly experience the city of D.C. and enjoy spending time with new and old contacts at local restaurants, your budget needs may be a little different. Some ATA divisions offer dinner receptions at an additional cost to conference attendees, so be sure to sign up for any you may be interested in and calculate these expenses into your budget as well.

Item #5: Miscellaneous expenses

$???

Remember that while you may have travelled a long way to attend the conference, you’re also in a beautiful city with a deep and rich history. It’s a great idea to get out of the conference hotel and take in some of the sights of D.C.; the Smithsonian Zoo, White House, and George Washington University are a quick mile and a half walk or taxi ride from the Hilton and you’ll be glad to get a breath of fresh air.

I’m sure you’ve been adding up these costs as you read and you’re asking yourself if it’s all worth it. I can tell you unequivocally that for every year I’ve attended an ATA conference, it has paid off not only in terms of meeting new clients but also making great contacts, learning invaluable skills and lessons, and getting the intangible yet invaluable sense that I am part of a larger professional community of translators and interpreters. Don’t be afraid to invest in your career by going to the ATA conference; you’ll be glad you did!

What are some ways you’ve thought of to save on conference expenses? We’d love to hear them!

Free Webinar: Tips for Navigating Your First ATA Conference

This webinar by Jill Sommer is chock-full of great advice for first-time attendees to the ATA conference. Both practical and encouraging, the webinar details the steps you can take now in order to be prepared for four days of networking and education. The free webinar will help you conquer some of your nerves and will prepare you to develop strategies to make the most of your time. Be sure to let us know what you think!

http://atanet.org/webinars/ataWebinar116_first_timers.php

What does it mean to be a Buddy/Newbie?

You have heard about this Buddies Welcome Newbies session at the ATA conference and you are all signed up to go to it, but you may not be sure what you have signed yourself up for! Here is a breakdown of what Buddies’ and Newbies’ roles are and what to expect:

Buddies are “veteran” conference-goers; if you’ve attended at least one ATA conference, then you qualify to be a Buddy! Your job is to make a first-timer (or a few of them) feel more at home.

Newbies are first-time attendees to the ATA conference; they aren’t necessarily new to the industry or green or inexperienced, but they aren’t sure how to navigate their first conference and are looking for a friendly face.

Buddies will be paired up with their Newbies at our Buddies Welcome Newbies session on Wednesday, October 25th at 4:45pm. We’ll talk more about networking and how to navigate the conference, as well as engage in a few ice-breaker activities to make you feel more comfortable right off the bat. Here are some activities we encourage you to do with your Buddy or Newbie:

  • Head to the Welcome Reception together for a bite to eat (the Welcome Reception occurs right after the Buddies Welcome Newbies introductory session and can be quite overwhelming if you don’t know anyone there!)
  • Attend a session together (maybe something you are both interested in; maybe something your Buddy is interested in that you could learn more about)
  • Get a meal together (this is a good chance to talk about your work and learn more about each other; your Buddy can offer you candid advice on how to best use your time and energy at the conference)
  • Walk through the Exhibit Hall together (it can be a scary place, but your Buddy will point out ways to make it more manageable and make the most of your time there)

Choose one or two of these and enjoy getting to know your Buddy! Don’t be afraid to ask questions; your Buddy will be happy to share their experiences and remind you that you are not alone.

Looking forward to the conference? Have unanswered questions? Write to us in the comments!