Author: martinaeco

Building a marketing strategy for your translation business

 

Are you still struggling with building a marketing strategy for your translation business? Do you want to know more about the difference between marketing strategy and tactics? Do you want to learn some of the basics of marketing strategy? I’ve got good news!

Tomorrow I’ll be joining the amazing Dmitry and Elena for a live episode of Translators on Air. If you don’t know what it is, Translators on Air is the first live talk show for translators and interpreters. It streams live every Wednesday at 12pm EST (5pm GMT), and some of the show’s past guests are Vasiliki Prestidge, Jo Rourke, and Gio Lester.

If you want to join me for the live show tomorrow, simply click on the link below to save your spot – places are limited! During the live you’ll have a chance to ask questions: if there’s something you’ve always wanted to know about marketing strategy, this is your chance. The show will also be recorded, so if you can’t make the live stream, you can catch up later.

Click here to save your spot

If you do attend the live show, let me know in the comments below. See you tomorrow!

Personal branding for freelance translators and interpreters

Personal Branding for Freelance Translators and Interpreters

As you may know, a couple of weeks ago I delivered a presentation at the London Language Show 2017 focussed on personal branding for freelance translators and interpreters. Here you can find the slides I used for my presentation. I hope you’ll find them useful!

The content of the presentation is mainly based on my master’s dissertation research, which was a highly requested topic for the blog. Now you’ll learn all about it, from the context and the question that started it all, to the research design and findings. Part of the findings can also be found in the presentation I delivered at the Chartered Institute of Linguists in April, but bear in mind those were provisional results.

The second part of the presentation is a collection of recommendations and tools that you can use to build, manage and communicate your personal brand to the world.

Have any questions? Leave a comment below.

Back to school

When I was a kid, I hated September. It meant that the summer was over and that school was about to start again*. When I was doing my BA, September meant exams, so it wasn’t pleasant either. Then, when I moved to London, September somehow became the month of new beginnings and possibilities. This September I’m going back to school, but with a positive spirit. Here’s what’s going on.

Back to School: new projects, new beginnings

A NEW COLLABORATIVE PROJECT

Next Monday I will be launching a brand new newsletter called Perk it UP. It will be a growth journey for freelancers, entrepreneurs and small business owners who want to take their business to the next level through marketing.

Every Monday from 4th September 2017 to 1st January 2018 subscribers will receive an email with a brief introduction to the weekly topic and an activity to carry out during the week. They will have access to a secret Facebook group where we will exchange our ideas, suggestions and thoughts and share the results that we achieve. We’re all going back to school together.

Intrigued? Click the button below to sign up.

Sign UP

A NEW JOB

At the end of September I will go back to school as a seasonal lecturer at London South Bank University. I am excited and terrified at the same time, but I know that I’ll have all the support I could possibly need. My focus will be on small businesses, entrepreneurship, and innovation. A new piece of the puzzle that is my professional path.

If you teach and have suggestions for a first-timer, please share in a comment!

A TRIP ALONG THE WEST COAST

In five days I’m leaving for my graduation trip. This is something of a tradition I have: after graduating, I reward myself with a trip. For my BA, I went to Ibiza; for my PG Dip, I went to Elba; for my MA, I went to New York. This time for my MSc, I will be travelling from Vancouver to San Francisco, stopping in Seattle and Portland on the way down.

I will share my highlights from the trip on Instagram, so keep an eye on my profile to join me and follow me around.

Are you from the area? Do you have a favourite restaurant, spot or attraction in one of these four cities? Let me know in a comment!

NEW EVENTS

Ok, technically these are in October, but I just wanted to give you a heads up. I will be giving two seminars at this year’s Language Show Live. One will be a collab with the oh-so-amazing Jaquelina from Translator in London, and we will talk about professionalism and professional growth in the translation industry. The other seminar will revolve around personal branding for freelancers, the topic of my Master’s dissertation.

Personal branding for freelance translators and interpreters – Saturday 14th October 17.00-17.45 

Top tips to succeed as a professional translator, with Jaquelina Guardamagna – Sunday 15th October 12.30-13.15 

Details on the seminars and the complete programme can be found here.

The Language Show is the biggest European event dedicated to languages. It features an amazing exhibition area, a CPD certified seminar programme and loads of language classes. Fees for the CPD seminar programme start at £10/day, but you can get an exclusive 10% discount on the seminar programme and the language classes by using this link to book your tickets.

What do you have in store for September? Have you already planned it out? Do you feel the wind of change, too? Share your thoughts in a comment!

*In Italy, kids don’t go to school from mid-June to mid-September, as the weather is generally too hot.

Customer service for freelancers: 3 steps to success

Customer service is often considered a prerogative of businesses that have access to a great deal of human and financial resources. While it is true that customer service departments require such resources, it doesn’t mean that freelance professionals shouldn’t think about delivering excellent customer service, too.

As service providers, making sure that our clients have the best possible experience when dealing with us is crucial. It helps us make them happy and keep them loyal, stimulate word of mouth, and establish a good reputation. If you’re a freelance, customer service is something you really need to think about. Here are three steps to follow to deliver excellent customer service to your clients.

Be flexible

Negotiating the terms and conditions of a collaboration can be a daunting task. A client may not be happy with the delivery time you offer, or your rate, or your terms of payment. Instead of sticking to your guns obstinately, find some room for flexibility. If the client needs your services very urgently, they may agree to pay a bit more to get things done quickly. If they think your rate is too high, you may suggest lowering it by 5 or 10% if they agree to pay in advance or extend the deadline. Flexibility allows you to add value for the client right where it’s needed. Just make sure that you’re not losing value yourself.

Be responsive

Freelancers usually manage several clients at once, which means that email inboxes and phones could be buzzing all day, taking time away from actual paid work. True: emails and phone calls can be distracting and have a negative effect on productivity. Also true: no one likes delayed email replies and unanswered phone calls. So, what is best: ignoring emails and calls to get work done, or always replying immediately to the detriment of productivity?

To get around this conundrum, you can do two things. The first is to organise your day and allocate specific time slots to emails and calls. For example, you could reserve the first 30 minutes of your workday and 15 to 30 minutes after your lunch break to emails and calls. The second thing is to educate your clients. Let them know when is the best time to call you, or tell them to send you all project files/comments/questions at once rather than sending you 15 emails a day. Make sure to take into account and manage potential urgencies, as these will need your immediate attention.

Bonus tip: set up an automatic “out of office” email reply when you go on holiday, specifying when you will be back and able to reply. Here’s how to do it in Outlook, Gmail and Apple Mail. Unless you’re going on a desert island, however, check your inbox daily just in case there are any urgent emails.

Go the extra mile

Going the extra mile doesn’t necessarily mean throwing in freebies or giving discounts. Sometimes excellence is in the little things. When you receive a text to translate and you spot typos and errors, let your client know. When a client needs a service that you don’t or can’t provide, tap into your network and refer someone you trust. And if you can’t refer anyone, point your client in the direction of professional associations or databases they could use to find someone. Always offer a solution. Send your clients a card for Christmas or the New Year. Send them links to articles they may find useful. There is a lot you can do to add value and show your clients that you care.

Have you ever thought of customer service for your freelance business? How do you offer your clients excellent customer service? Write it in a comment below.

Dear freelance translator…

email prospecting

Email prospecting is a great way to find new translation clients for your freelance business. If written properly, an email can be the starting point of a good business relationship. However, a poorly written email has the potential to ruin that relationship before it even has a chance to begin.

Since I launched my website in 2013, I’ve received countless emails from other translators and interpreters looking for work. None of them made me want to contact them back. However, those emails inspired me to write this post, where you will find 5 mistakes to avoid when doing email prospecting.

For this post, I asked a few colleagues to share their thoughts on what irritates them the most when receiving emails from other translators. You’ll find their contributions throughout the article.

1. STARTING WITH “DEAR SIR/MADAM”, OR WORSE

Opening your email with an impersonal greeting tells the reader that you don’t know who they are, or worse, that you didn’t care enough to do some research. For example, if you click on my homepage, my name is there, clearly stated and visible. My About page states it again, and it’s clear to see how 3P Translation is a one-woman business. This makes it unacceptable for me to receive emails that begin with “Dear Sir/Madam” or “Dear Account Manager”, “Dear Project Manager” and the like. Once I even received an email that started with “Dear Sir”! And I’m not talking about scammers, here.

Francesca Manicardi, Punto F

If you want your email prospecting to be effective, you should do some research into the company that you are approaching. Have a look at their website and find the name of the best person to speak to. If there is no “Meet the team” page or similar, try finding employees of the company on LinkedIn. If you can’t find names anywhere, pick up the phone and ask who would be the best person to send your email to. The impersonal greeting should be your very last resort if everything else fails.

2. SENDING A BULK EMAIL

Similarly to point one, sending the same email to a long list of contacts shows a lack of research and genuine interest towards the company. Remember that the most important person in the world for a client is themselves. When a client receives an email that was clearly sent to a large group of people (and maybe the sender didn’t even bother to hide the whole contact list!), they are likely to think that you have no particular interest in working with them specifically. They will feel like you consider them one of the many fish in the pond, and that you don’t really have anything to offer to them directly.

Luca Lovisolo

Customising your message will lead to much better results. Similarly to networking, take a genuine interest in the person (or company) you’re addressing: find out what their core values are, what their vision is, how they communicate, etc. This will give you a lot of talking points for your email, and will demonstrate that you really care about the recipient. Similarly to fishing, if you use a poorly chosen hook and a generic bait, you’re not likely to catch much. If, on the other hand, you choose a specific hook and craft a customised bait for the specific fish you want to catch, you have a lot more chances to achieve your goal.

Jonathan Downie, Integrity Languages

3. LACK OF PROFESSIONALISM

This is true not just for email prospecting, but for all aspects of freelancing: professionalism is key. Using a greeting that is too informal, making spelling mistakes, replying late or impolitely are all mistakes to be avoided when contacting potential clients via email.

Jo Rourke, Silver Tongue Translations
Francesca Airaghi, Francesca Airaghi Traduzioni

Even sending emails after office hours and forgetting about time zones can be seen as a lack of professionalism.

Martina Lunardelli

When you meet a potential business partner or client, you want to make an exceptional first impression. You wouldn’t meet them wearing a bathing suit and flip flops, you wouldn’t start your conversation with “Yo, mate!” or knock on their door at 10 pm, would you? The same goes for emails: your recipient will form their first impression about you based on your email, so make sure it is spot on! And don’t forget to make your CV clear, concise, visually appealing and relevant, as Valentina Giagnorio pointed out!

4. TOO MUCH INFORMATION

Sending an email with three pages worth of text and a 6-page CV in Word format (argh!) can be perceived as a lack of respect towards your recipient. The person you’re writing to probably has a million other things to do, and they simply can’t spend too long reading about all the modules you completed at uni, every single project you’ve worked on, your hobbies and so on.

Alessandro Zocchi

To know more about how to write CVs and cover letters, you can read this article I published last year.

5. ASKING COLLEAGUES FOR WORK

This is something that most colleagues can’t stand. A lot of translators and interpreters collaborate with each other and have a network of trusted colleagues they refer to clients when they can’t take on a project. The key to being part of someone’s referral network is, you guessed it, networking. Building a good relationship with colleagues can go a long way, but don’t make the mistake to approach them for work and treat them like an agency.

Valentina Ambrogio, Rockstar Translations

Furthermore, if a colleague gives you suggestions following your email, make sure you reply, and do it politely. They are taking their time to help you out even if they don’t have to.

Alice Casarini

Gaining the trust of fellow translators and interpreters can help you build a good reputation, which in turn can lead to referrals and more work. Be honest with the colleagues you approach and show a sincere interest in building a relationship with them.

IT ALL BOILS DOWN TO TWO THINGS…

The first is obviously research. Make sure you have as much information as possible on the company or person you are approaching with your email prospecting: read their website, their blog, have a look at their public social media profiles and so on. If you know who you’re talking to, you’ll be able to customise your message and you’ll have much better possibilities of sparking the interest of the reader.

The second is honesty. Telling someone you read their blog and then asking a question that has been extensively answered in said blog, as Federica Bruniera from Ikigai Translations pointed out, gives a very bad impression. As with anything in life, being honest and transparent is always a good idea. It will help you establish a better relationship from the get go, and it will form the basis of trust for the future.

As a rule of thumb, think of the things that drive you mad when you receive unsolicited emails, and avoid doing them!

Bonus tip

In some countries, there are laws in place that regulate email prospecting, cold emailing and email marketing. Make sure you are familiar with those laws and regulations before you carry out any of these activities.

What are the things that drive you mad when you receive an unsolicited email? What other mistakes would you add to the list? Share your thoughts in a comment below.

 

Digital marketing for interpreters

A couple of weeks ago I was invited by the Chartered Institute of Linguists to talk about digital marketing for interpreters.

I had a great time at the event, where I met lovely colleagues, and enjoyed both Jonathan Downie‘s presentation on how to get your content into your clients’ publications and Meg Dziatkiewicz‘s talk on websites for interpreters.

My presentation revolved around the basics of marketing, and the digital marketing tools that can be used to promote your interpreting business online. Here you can find a summary of my presentation, and the slides I used.

Why digital marketing for interpreters

We are living in a digital world. Half of the world population is online, and they spend a huge amount of time surfing the net. Chances are that your dream clients are online too, and if you want to be noticed, you have to be where they are. Being online does not only give more visibility to your business, but also increases your credibility. When I hear about a company or brand I instantly look for them online. If they’re nowhere to be seen, I feel they’re not committed enough, and I’m less likely to buy from them.

Having an online presence can also help you establish and communicate your personal brand, which I’ll talk about in detail in a future post. All of this should lead to gaining more clients and, consequently, more sales… and what’s not to like about that!

Marketing strategy is like baking a cake

The first thing to think about when you design your marketing strategy is what you want to achieve, your objectives – the cake. These will determine which ingredients (the marketing mix) and tools (marketing activities) you will have to use. Digital marketing should be part of your overall marketing strategy.

Another crucial element to keep in mind when designing your strategy is your target client: if you’re baking a cake for a vegan, you know you shouldn’t use eggs and dairy, right? The same principle applies to marketing strategy. Try to define smaller targets so that it’s easier to get to know your clients and their behaviour. Make sure that you are where they are, both online and offline. Speak their language, and get to know how their world works. And finally, find out what they need, and be the person who can meet that need. You can find out more about your target clients by looking at their websites, social media profiles, as well as reading their newsletters. Research is key!

Digital marketing for interpreters

There are many tools that you can use to put your marketing strategy into practice online. Having your objectives in mind, choose the appropriate tools to achieve those objectives. Define SMART goals that will act as milestones to track your progress. Measure the results of every activity you carry out to make sure you’re not wasting your time. You should choose your metrics on the basis of your goals. Finally, evaluate whether these activities are giving you the results you want, and review your strategy based on this evaluation.

Another crucial aspect of digital marketing for interpreters is, obviously, the target client. Knowing where they hang out and how they communicate online will help you find the tools that you can use to reach them, and will also tell you how to use them. For example, if you interpret for financial institutions, Instagram might not be the best social platform to use. Conversely, if you mainly work for the fashion industry, Instagram might be a great way to reach the right people within the industry.

Finally, integration is key: you should be able to use multiple tools together to achieve your objectives.

The magical recipe doesn’t exist

You may think that this is all very general, and that there must be a secret magical recipe that I don’t want to share. The truth is: there is no magical recipe. Digital marketing for interpreters has many variables, and what works for me might not work for you at all. It all depends on what you do, who your target clients are, what you feel comfortable with, and what you want to achieve with your activities. It may take some time and a good amount of trial and error to find your strategy, but you can definitely achieve good results and grow your interpreting business.

You can flick through the slides I used for this presentation below, or head over to my Slideshare profile to download them.

How do you carry out your digital marketing activities? What do you find most challenging about digital marketing for interpreters? Share your thoughts in a comment!

End of the tax year: business growth, development and success

Yesterday was the end of the tax year 2016/17, and although the tax return deadline is still a few months away, I decided to do some maths. I wanted to see whether last year I achieved business growth.

A lot has happened since the end of the previous tax year, so let me sum it up. First, in April last year I contributed to the creation and launch of the Business Solutions Centre, an advice centre for small businesses where I still work two afternoons a week. In May, I delivered the last piece of coursework for my Master’s degree. In June I started working in the Marketing Department of my university, helping out on several projects involving product marketing, copy editing, USP recognition and communication, among others. This lasted until January this year, when I really started working on my Master’s dissertation. No rest for the wicked, right?

As I was saying, yesterday I did some maths, and I was extremely pleased with what I saw.

Despite working in different roles and a Master’s dissertation to write, I was able to achieve a business growth of 11%. So, you might ask yourself, how did that happen?

New business skills

I worked hard on deepening my knowledge of marketing, business strategy, and communication. My studies have definitely helped, of course. But working with small businesses, and finding creative solutions for their problems, has allowed me to step back and take a more objective look at my own business. I’ve learnt that sometimes detaching yourself from your freelance business can be really beneficial. As freelancers, we tend to identify a lot with our businesses. As people, we tend to overlook potential problem areas that are dragging us down. Taking a step back and analysing your business can help you spot those problem areas and find ways to work on them.

Networking

This past year I’ve been networking like never before. I’ve been to translation conferences and language events, as well as events for freelancers, entrepreneurs and businesses. This has led to new clients, referrals and a lot of useful contacts. Since I’ve already talked about networking here, I won’t go in any more depth. Can I just say that networking is super-important once again? 😉

Rates

As a result of my participation in Silver Tongue’s Challenge 500, in January I assessed the state of my client pool. I realised that the rates agreed with a couple of clients had been the same for years. This meant that I had added value over time (new skills, a deeper knowledge of the subject matter, faster delivery, etc.) without adjusting my prices accordingly. All other clients were paying my current rate, which reflects my value added and my positioning. So I increased my rates with those clients, explaining the reasons behind it and communicating my value. It was scary, but it was a necessary move to achieve business growth. And it worked.

The secret to business growth and success

The secret to your business growth and success is one, and it’s simple. YOU are the secret to your business growth and success. As a freelancer, YOU are your own business. Unless you do something about it, your business is not going to grow substantially. Unless you do something about it, your business is not going to be successful. My best advice is to regularly assess your situation, develop your existing skills, learn new ones, and communicate your value effectively. And don’t forget to celebrate your own success: it will help you work towards the next goal with more determination.

How has your business done this past year? Share your success story in a comment below.

#MarketingMarch: marketing tips for every day of the month

You may have noticed I haven’t been writing articles this month. This is because I’ve been focussing on my Master’s dissertation (if you’re a UK freelancer, please participate in my research and share the questionnaire with your fellow freelancers). However, I started the #MarketingMarch social media campaign, which promotes marketing knowledge sharing across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Every day this March I am sharing a marketing tip that can benefit small businesses and freelancers alike. Just search for the hashtag #MarketingMarch to find my tips, and share your own tips by using the same hashtag. Let’s make this March a #MarketingMarch!

I will collect here all tips shared on my social media channels.

Day 1

#MarketingMarch: Marketing strategy

Day 2

#MarketingMarch: PESTEL analysis

Day 3

#MarketingMarch: Competitor analysis

Day 4

#MarketingMarch: Resources analysis

Day 5

#MarketingMarch: SMART objectives

Day 6

#MarketingMarch: Marketing Mix

Day 7

#MarketingMarch: Be where your clients are

Day 8

MarketingMarch: tone of voice

Day 9

MarketingMarch: research clients

Day 10

MarketingMarch: consistency

Day 11

MarketingMarch: pricing

Day 12

MarketingMarch: market research

Day 13

MarketingMarch: track and measure

Day 14

MarketingMarch: social media behaviour

Day 15

Design your marketing strategy as if you were going on holiday_ start from where you are, envision where you want to go, assess what resources you have and what you need to get there.

Day 16

Design your marketing strategy as if you were going on holiday_ start from where you are, envision where you want to go, assess what resources you have and what you need to get there.-2

Day 17

MarketingMarch: follow-up

Day 18

MarketingMarch: customer retention

Day 19

Marketing March: customer feedback

Day 20

MarketingMarch: events

Day 21

MarketingMarch: blogging

Day 22

Day 23

Day 24 – 25 – 26: pause 🙂

Day 27

Day 28

Day 29

Day 30

Day 31

 

Liebster Awards: my nominations

Yesterday morning I woke up to good news: I’ve been nominated for the Liebster Awards!

The Liebster Awards are online awards that bloggers give to other bloggers to encourage them, help them spread the word to other users and increase connections and visibility.

After receiving the nomination, each nominee has to:

  • – Write a blog post about their nomination
  • – Thank the blogger who nominated them and link their blog
  • – Answer the questions attached to the nomination
  • – Nominate 5 more bloggers, let them know they were nominated (on social media, for example) and ask them 5 questions
  • – Add the Liebster Award badge to their blog

Liebster AwardsSo, first of all, I’d like to thank Debora Serrentino, aka the Foodie Translator, who nominated me for the Liebster Awards. I’ve been following Debora for a while and her blog is one of my favourites: if you love translation, languages and food (I mean, who doesn’t!) you really can’t miss it.

Now, time to answer Debora’s questions:

Is there a field that you consider your bete noire, a field you’d never accept any work in?

Physics. I just don’t get it. When I was in high school, physics was my least favourite subject because it was too abstract and theoretical to my very practical mind. I am fascinated with the concept of quantum entanglement, but that’s about it.

Social media: if you had to choose one and only one platform, which one would it be?

I guess Facebook. It’s the only platform where you can combine your personal life with your professional one. You can interact in so many ways (chats, groups, pages, etc.) and you can choose what to show and to whom.

Thinking back to the beginning of your career, what would you change and what are you proud of?

I would definitely not work with some of the clients I worked with at the beginning of my career. I was eager to build a portfolio, so I swallowed some very bitter pills just for the sake of working. I’m very proud of the drive and enthusiasm I’ve always had, even in the driest of spells.

If you had to go to a country you’ve never visited before, where would you go?

Can I say EVERYWHERE? 🙂 If I had to pick one right now, it would be Mozambique. I mean, look at this place!

What is your favourite recipe, the one you make when you want to impress someone?

I don’t really have a go-to recipe because I like to experiment with ingredients and preparations. If I had to choose, I would say lamb leg steaks in a red wine sauce as a main, and tiramisù (made with Pavesini rather than Savoiardi) for dessert.

And now, my nominations:

The following bloggers really deserve these Liebster Awards, as their blogs are informative, entertaining and inspiring.

Words in Wonderland, by Federica Bruniera aka Ikigai Translations: a bilingual blog where Federica tackles some aspects of being a translator by telling her own story. A very inspiring blog! (Italian and English)

Translator Talk by Jo Rourke, aka Silver Tongue: Jo’s blog is full of precious advice on a lot of topics, ranging from finding clients to using Canva for your business. I absolutely love Jo’s style: funny, clear and very informative! (English)

Gioia Gottini: Gioia is a branding and marketing expert whose job is to cultivate success in enterprising women. A must read for all fempreneurs. (Italian)

Punto F by Francesca Manicardi: a new but very promising blog written by a hurricane of a woman/translator/entrepreneur/teacher/mentor/and much more! (Italian)

Stefania Marinoni Translation Studio: another newborn blog that will talk about translation, writing and freelancing. Check out Stefania’s article on working comfortably, it’s really interesting! (Italian)

Here are my questions for the nominees:

If you could start a business with a historical character, who would it be and why?

What is your favourite word (in English or Italian) and why?

Business success as a cocktail: what is your recipe?

If you had Aladdin’s lamp in your hands, what would be your three wishes?

What is the album or song that changed your life (we all have one!) and how?

I can’t wait to read all your answers, I hope you have fun as much as I did!

Networking: top tips to improve your skills and learn to love it

Raise your hand if you hate networking!

Obviously I can’t see your hands, but I imagine there’s quite a few up in the air. Everybody hates networking, right?

I used to hate networking. I thought of it as a way to sell my services to people I didn’t know, with the embarrassment of having to walk up to them, present myself, duly recite my pitch and hope they would drop me an email with a translation or interpreting project.

Then, a year ago, I went to a networking workshop at London South Bank University, and it changed my world. The speaker said something that turned my idea of networking upside down. He said that the goal of networking is not selling your services, but building relationships.

Since then, I’ve been networking on a regular basis. And I LOVE IT. I’ve been attending events, workshops, conferences, lunches and drinks just for the sake of meeting people and building relationships. And it’s paying off: I found new clients, new collaborators, and new friends.

Here are my top tips to improve your networking skills and learn to enjoy it.

TOP TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR NETWORKING SKILLS AND LEARN TO LOVE IT
Pics by Patrick Ozorio, from the last two Flylancer events in London, UK

Analyse the room

Have a look at the room and the people around you. Find the person who is awkwardly standing in a corner, looking at their feet with a drink in their hand. They’re probably too shy to initiate a conversation, and they will be oh-so-grateful that you took the first step. If every participant is engaged in a conversation, try to join a group conversation. A group with an odd number of participants will be better than a group with an even number. Exchanges tend to be between two people at a time; in a group with an odd number of participants you’ll have a better chance to join the conversation without disrupting the group dynamics. Remember to read body language as well: a group forming a circle probably doesn’t want anyone coming in. A group with an open shape is communicating that they’re open to new participants joining.

Get to know your interlocutor

Networking shouldn’t be about selling your services to the person in front of you. At least, not at first. Start by building a relationship with your interlocutor: take an interest in who they are, what they do, what they love and what they need. Make the conversation revolve around them: they will feel valued, and they will instantly have a more positive attitude towards you. They will also be more likely to take an interest in you afterwards, ask about you and your business or job. Bonus tip: if one of their needs happens to be related to what you do, talk about what you do in terms of how you can meet their need.

Talk about things you are passionate about

Again, ditch that sales pitch (nice rhyme, huh?). The best way to be remembered and build a good relationship is to be someone people like to spend time with. Instead of being all work and no play, talk about a topic that you’re passionate about and that your interlocutor might enjoy. If you get to know the person in front of you first, this will be a piece of cake. I, for example, love food. Italian food, in particular. It’s the thing I miss the most of my home country (and the nice weather, but hey, that’s for boring conversations). And Italian food is something most people mention when I tell them I’m Italian. This gives me a great talking point: everyone knows something about food and pretty much every person with a brain enjoys it. I usually tell some funny or memorable stories related to food, and that makes me easier to remember. Plus, it gives me something to mention in my follow up email, which brings me to the next point.

Always follow up

This is absolutely essential. Only 2% of sales happen when you meet a potential client for the first time. Which means that if you meet someone, give them your business card and then wait for them to email you with a translation project, you have a 98% chance to never hear from them again. Now, as said above, networking is not about sales, it’s about relationships. But relationships (and trust) are built over time. Collect business cards or contact details from the people you meet when networking, and drop them a line the next day to follow up. It can be something as simple as “It was really nice to meet you yesterday” or “It was great to see there’s someone else who loves *insert delicious food here* as much as I do”, but it will let the person know that you listened to them, that your interest was genuine, and that you valued what they said. Make them feel special, that’s the trick.

Write on business cards

Ok, I have a confession to make: I’m terrible with names. I’m pretty good with faces, but names are my worst enemy. That’s why I always write on business cards. The morning after a networking event (or the same day if I’m being very diligent) I write down where I met that person and when, and I add a little detail that will make me associate the name with the person. This can be something like ‘loves *insert food from previous paragraph*’ or ‘grew up in Paris’: something that really sparked my interest. This makes it much much easier for me to follow up and make sure I’m addressing the right person with the right words.

Network with your peers

Meeting people in your industry is a great way to keep up to date with the newest trends and discuss common issues. It’s also a great way to find collaborators, such as translators who work in your opposite pair or with completely different languages. This way you’ll be able to refer your clients to someone you know (and trust) if they ask for a service you can’t provide. The client will be happy and will keep coming to you for their translation or interpreting project. The other translator will be happy because they got a new project, and they will be willing to return the favour when they have a chance. You will be happy because you kept your client happy and you might get some projects from your colleague in the future. It’s a win-win-win situation. To meet more translators and interpreters, conferences and language events are a great place to start.

Network with other freelancers

Translators are not the only freelancers facing daunting work-related issues on a daily basis. The struggle is real for all freelancers. From graphic designers to marketing consultants, we can all benefit from a cross-industry exchange of information, advice and knowledge. Finding some common ground with freelancers from other industries is easier than you think. Gaining insights from different perspectives can help you find new and unexpected answers and solutions. Plus, you could find creative ideas for new, shared projects, or exchange skills with other professionals. Or, again, have someone to refer to your clients when they ask for a service you don’t provide.

Network with people in your target market

Ok, this might sound more sales-y than the other types of networking, but there are major benefits to networking with your target clients. First, you’ll have a chance to learn what they really need and fine-tune your marketing and communication efforts accordingly. Second, you’ll be able to learn more about that particular industry. You’ll become more knowledgeable and your services will have more value. Third, if you played your cards right, they’ll remember you when they need a translator or an interpreter.

Seize every opportunity

There are tons of opportunities to network pretty much everywhere.

➥ Attending workshops and seminars on a topic of your interest is a great way to meet like-minded people. Have a look at what your local university is doing, or search on Eventbrite.

➥ Have a look at what your local library, business hub or cultural centre have to offer.

➥ Search for a MeetUp in your area.

➥ Join Flylancer, a community of location-independent freelancers with hubs all around the world. I started going to their events in December and they’re absolutely great! There’s usually a group discussion on a topic of common interest, and a fun game to make networking easier. Plus, there’s free beer 🙂

Do you have any tips to improve networking skills? What do you love the most about networking? What do you hate? Do you have any success stories of your own? Share them in a comment below!