I would like to conclude this mini-series about Starting out as a freelance translator (here you can find part 1 and part 2 if you missed them) talking briefly about the importance of networking with colleagues. Translation can be a fairly solitary job and translators tend to be an introvert bunch, so we risk to overlook the necessity of interaction with colleagues, in the continuous and strenuous effort to get more clients, more work, enough money to make a decent living.
I am not going to turn this post into the story of how, twenty days after graduating, I packed my bags to move to the other side of the world with no clear life plans, nor am I going to talk about the hardships and challenges of building a new life from scratch and blablabla. Professionally speaking, however, during that “I don’t know what to do with my life” moment, finding online a supportive group of enthusiastic, competent and non-judgmental translators and interpreters was the psychological breakthrough I needed to decide that freelancing was the way to go for me, that I could do it and I had to believe in myself. Since that day I have found other groups and platforms, I have been to events, conferences and workshops whenever I got the chance to and I can legitimately say that networking with colleagues can only be beneficial to your business. Why?
- There is always something to learn from colleagues’ experiences and expertise
2. You can talk about translation without getting the “Whatever, yours is not even a real job” look from your interlocutor
3. You can share your views, get support and advice
4. You can find help when you’re stuck on a particularly difficult terminological issue while translating a text
5. It can be an occasion to create solid work relationships and collaborations, to refer someone or be referred for translation projects
6. You can make friends and consolidate existing friendships
That said, the networking opportunities available both online and offline are countless.
Facebook and LinkedIn are undoubtedly the best platforms for online networking, as there are many groups dealing with specific specializations, language pairs or aspects of the translation business. My absolute favorite is the Facebook group called Standing Out®, as the community is extremely welcoming, supportive, enthusiastic, positive and open-minded. Another social media platform that works really well for me is Instagram. Photos often offer a more personal portrait of a translator’s life and interests and therefore can lead to non-business related conversations, connecting colleagues on a deeper level.
Last but not least, I highly recommend The Open Mic, an innovative platform where translators can discuss, blog, showcase their expertise and share their views. After creating and personalizing your own profile, you can follow colleagues, be contacted by clients, write and share blog posts with the community.
For what concerns offline networking, there are plenty of national and international translation conferences, pow-wows, specific specializations-related events, workshops, symposiums, lectures, fairs and so forth. These ones are wonderful occasions to combine networking with CPD and to consolidate professional relationships built online. Basically, it’s like going on a date with someone you met on a dating website, but without the awkward silences or the pressure of a second date. Conferences may seem scary and overwhelming at the beginning, but they become addictive soon enough. Some examples? The Translation and Localization Conference, the BP Conference, Elia Together, Proz conferences, all the translators’ associations conferences (ATA, ITI, IAPTI, AITI, etc), just to name a few.
Bring your smile, your business cards and good luck! 🙂