Contributions please!

network
I’m working on a presentation on networking and social media for an audience of translation professionals. I’d love to hear what others have to say on the subject and any experience or insights you think might help me deliver a speech based on real-life examples.
Do you network? Is it an integral part of your marketing strategy? Is offline networking more efficient than online networking? What platforms/websites/tools do you use? What do you think of social media? Is it useful to your career?
Leaf photo by Adam Pniak.

By | 2009-02-02T19:15:33+00:00 February 2nd, 2009|Marketing and networking|14 Comments

About the Author:

Celine
I am Céline Graciet, a freelance English to French translator. Since 2003 I’ve been writing on all sorts of areas linked to translation and the life of a translator.

14 Comments

  1. Mariana Idiart February 2, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    Hi!
    I am English-Spanish translator and Spanish proofreader from Argentina. I think social media is a great networking tool for translators and for any web based professional. Having and updating a profile in LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and such may bring us more visibility and opportunities. From the ones I have mentioned, my favourite is LinkedIn, where it is possible to interact and network with other professionals and companies in so many ways. You may join all kind of groups, run a people or company search to find just the type of people you would like to connect to. I also use LinkedIn as a great market research tool and to find job opportunities.
    I hope my comments help.

  2. Richard February 2, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    I’ve been networking properly for just over a year, and now do it probably twice a week although I am going to step back a little as I’m getting very little return. I only network with one organisation, having tried a few different ones and found them not to be at the right level for me. There is also a lot of really crap networking organisations out there, promising instant business leads.
    What you get out of networking varies so much between industries. However, networking is not a quick fix solution, it can and does take months (and even years) before someone completely out of the blue gets in touch, or via someone who you once met. (This happened to me last week; they had one of my business cards from at least three years ago.)
    Networking is a major part of my marketing plan, but I am going to be trying direct sales for a while, mostly via email and newsletters.
    I’m signed up to Twitter, Linked In and like but for my industry I’m not sure of their value. The downside is also those people who just want to collect names and therefore devalue the service.
    I’m sure that in the IT sector, offline does work. With PR, it can take months of “courting” a client.

  3. JLibbey February 2, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    We’ve used LinkedIn and Twitter for a relatively short period of time with some success. We’ve gotten some projects from clients that we found on both sites and have “met” translators as well. Social networks will play a bigger role in our marketing efforts this year.

  4. Ángel Domínguez February 2, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    My main activity has been on Proz.com and it has proven really helpful getting work. I guess the quality of your content is the first step to getting noticed; the other part would be being active in whatever social network or website you decide to use. It has helped me get translation work. I am also trying my luck with LinkedIn, but nothing cropped up yet.

  5. Gita February 3, 2009 at 4:29 am

    So far as being an “integral part of marketing strategy” goes, most of my translation work post adopting the PC/Internet world has been via translator sites.
    The forums and other pages on these have been invaluable components of the work. As we mostly work as freelancers, it is thus that we can keep an ear to the ground about the field: what’s going on, who’s who, and keep a human face on this “anonymous” industry.
    As for things like LinkedIn and Face Book, for the moment I feel that it’s merely a question of more exposure: the more places you leave a “visiting card” the more the chances of things coming your way.
    While I have not taken up many an offer that has landed on my lap through all these options, I do get asked about people, asked if I know anyone who could take up such and such project, and other inquiries of the sort with more than a fair amount of regularity.
    Lastly, I’ve made some really close friends through all this. Since translators are online way into the night most days, we seem to extend hands across the globe, bending rules of time and space.
    Wishing you all the best with your presentation!

  6. céline February 3, 2009 at 8:38 am

    All very useful, thanks, maybe I should post my presentation after I’ve given it.

  7. Jaime Bonet February 3, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    My best “networking technique” by far is referring clients to trusted colleagues when I’m too busy or when my expertise doesn’t quite match a project’s requirements. I’ve done this a few times and it wasn’t intended as a networking technique, but it always comes back to you!

  8. Sarah Dillon February 4, 2009 at 1:22 am

    Some really interesting comments here Céline, thanks for starting the discussion. Warning: you got me thinking, always a dangerous thing: a lengthy comment follows!
    Networking does form part of my marketing strategy, and indeed my business plan more generally, in two different ways.
    First, as a means of meeting my professional goals. These might be specific to marketing or my business overall. For example, if my marketing goal is to get one new direct client in the software/ localisation industry, then I think about what exactly I need to do to achieve that. Chances are that will involve contacting someone, somewhere along the line. Whether the contact is face-to-face or virtual depends on many things, e.g. 1. geography 2. my relationship with that person 3. time/ money, etc.
    Second, in order to build up my pool of contacts, so I know where to go to find the right person to talk to in the first place. I think this part is particularly influenced by my personality and personal preferences. I like to get involved, try new things, meet new people, in both my personal and professional life, so meeting people is easy. But keeping in contact and building something more meaningful is harder and this is where a bit of effort is required on my behalf. Here again I employ a range of techniques (face to face, online, or a combination) as appropriate. Some things I tend to steer clear of because I know they are not the best use of my time. For example, experience has taught me that organised business networking clubs don’t help me meet my goal of quality over quantity, for example. Ditto to inviting all and sundry to buddy up with me on LinkedIn. Horses for courses.
    Ultimately I think everybody networks whether they realise it or not, from the first conversation in the morning to the last one at night. Keeping in touch with friends, family and/or colleagues, catching up for a coffee, participating in committees or community groups, recommending a plumber or a favourite restaurant to a neighbour – all these things are networking. I’m not saying all this to be a smarty-pants, but because I think viewing networking in this way makes it much easier to have a conversation about ‘social media’ – which, after all, is just about how we can use web-based tools to carry out this particular every-day, basic human activity.
    I participate in a lot of face-to-face networking. I also use lots of social media, to varying degrees, including as a means of setting up face-to-face ‘encounters’. I think it’s worth being clear about which platforms you’re going to use actively, and on which you’ll maintain a more passive presence. I outlined my overall approach to using specific social media tools such as LinkedIn, Proz, Twitter, blogging, etc. to meet my marketing goals in a blogpost (http://www.dillonslattery.com/2008/10/social-media-for-translators.html), in case it’s of interest. It’s about marketing, rather than networking specifically, but it does sort of overlap.
    So I just keep trying new techniques, or revisiting old ones, refining my processes as I go along. I choose to explicitly plan for things like this because I like to be clear on where I am spending my time, and for what purpose, especially when it comes to work. This also means I have no one to blame but myself if my networking activities are a waste of time 🙂 (Incidentally, I’ll also plan time each month to experiment as part of my CPD, to keep up with new technologies, and for fun).
    For me, wondering whether offline or online is more efficient is a bit like asking how deep is a hole! It’s about choosing tools that are fit for purpose. A tool or technique isn’t bad just because we don’t know how to apply it appropriately to meet our goals.
    Good luck with the presentation! It would be great to see what you come up with 🙂

  9. céline February 4, 2009 at 11:30 am

    Many, many thanks to everyone for your help. Much appreciated.

  10. Simon February 4, 2009 at 11:34 am

    I’m not a translator but a language teacher, teaching live online. I would say that one of the major issues facing social networking for professionals is the challenge of aggregating and filtering information, and keeping on top of all of one’s networks. I use LinkedIn, a number of professional Ning networks (particularly difficult to keep on top of), Twitter, Diigo, StumbleUpon, Digg etc, and have started experimenting with FriendFeed. A lot of it is still quite experimental for me as I am still not convinced that the time spent is directly enabling mutually beneficial contacts from a business point of view. From a personal learning point of view, it has been invaluable – I would have never discovered the world of virtual classroom based teaching otherwise, and I have noticed that people who are good at online social networking are often very giving of their time and expertise. I am trying to also be a “giver” – I think this is key, being willig to give whether or not there is anything obvious in it for me.
    Very difficult to assess the value of social networking. I expect that the most successful new apps in the coming year will be those that help social networkers get on top of all the “buzz”.

  11. Masked Translator February 7, 2009 at 10:46 pm

    I hate social networking both in person and online. I’m an introvert and a very bookish, translatory sort of person. And social networking never works very well for me. I hate doing it and even when I pour my heart and soul into it, it never pans out into anything because my clients don’t find translators that way. I find the best way to network is 1) to do excellent work when someone does find me (they will almost certainly use me again then), and 2) network with other more experienced translators who work in my language pairs and ask them to pawn off any extra work they don’t want to me (this has been extremely beneficial).

  12. Éric Léonard February 8, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    Céline,
    As were on the subject of social networking, make sure you post your presentation on slideshare.com!

  13. Audrey March 17, 2009 at 11:38 pm

    My opinion may come in too late to be of any help Céline. I am definitely an advocate of face to face networking. I find it highly energizing to leave my computer, meet real people, exchange experiences and come back buzzing with ideas.
    I have made valuable contacts by going to conferences aimed at the translation industry, but I also enjoyed meeting people coming from all ranges of sectors. I regularly attend Women’s Business Groups because I find them very friendly and highly informative.
    I recently attended an Everywoman conference where BT Tradespace was highly promoted, but I am not sure I will have a lot of time for it.
    At the moment, I am more interested in joining a business dating website, where you offer your services as a potential supplier.

  14. Sure Languages April 8, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    From my experience, one of the important things to remember with networking is that it’s something you need to work at. The more you give, the more you’ll get.
    Whether face to face or online, people buy from people. Relationships have to be nurtured and trust developed. This is as important when networking in the translation industry as it is in any other.

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