How to use Facebook as a professional tool

Spoiler: This is not a judgmental post! It is strictly aimed at our professional image based on true reality and does not reflect any personal opinion.

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I always see translators using Facebook as if there were no tomorrow. I mean, they simply do not think before publishing anything publicly, to absolutely anyone who is their friend.

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I like to think of Facebook like real life, but on-line. Do you wear mini-skirts and speak bad language in church? Well, although I am not the most religious person out there, I do hope you do not do that. Do you behave with your parents or treat them the same way you treat your closest friends? Do you speak to them the same way? I am positively sure you do not do that. You may drink A LOT at a wild party and even end up in hospital, but your mom or your boss will not even dream that has happened, right? So why… why, oh, why do people do not follow those same society rules on-line? Yeah, yeah, I know, the page is yours so you do whatever you want with it. Yeah, right. But then do not complain about your professional reputation being damaged because of your personal behavior on-line. You can certainly do whatever you want, but you should not share everything with absolutely all your Facebook friends. You could lose a potential client because of that. Think about it.

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Just like in real life, social media also has its best practices, if you do not want people judging you by the cover (literally). Therefore, choose your profile picture carefully. Of course it would be fantastic to have it taken by a professional, but it is not essential. Choose one where your face can be easily recognizable, no sunglasses, not taken by faraway. Your profile is yours, right? So why use a picture of your cat/dog/bird/husband/wife/sister/boyfriend/girlfriend/whatever-you-like? Also, be careful with the position the picture is taken. If it is taken from above and you are wearing a low-cut blouse, it may look vulgar. (Before judging the previous sentence, please read the spoiler in the top again.)

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The same holds true for pictures in general. The difference is, for pictures added in albums, as well as other general posts on your timeline, you can control who has access to them. So, bottom line is, yes, you can publish anything you feel like publishing, provided that you separate them by lists.

The chunk of my presentation was to explain how to create lists, send friends to those lists and restrict your posts using them. I already covered this step by step in a blog post, How to manage your Facebook friends like a pro, so I will not repeat it here. Read it and, should you have any doubts, do let me know.

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When sharing some article or post you found on the internet, always check the source. Make sure it is reliable and not something made up or some gossip. Also, I always read the article before sharing it, because the title can be misleading, and the content itself may contain something you do not agree with, for example. I do not like sharing texts with poorly written content either, for example, with grammar mistakes, typos and the like. The content itself may be fantastic, but the way it is written can affect your image, because whether you like it or not, you are sort of endorsing what you are sharing. So be extra careful.

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Topics that involve religion, football and politics are always controversial, even in real life, right? People usually try to avoid them in conversations. Do the same on social media. Avoid or carefully restrict controversial topics. If you have a strong opinion on politics, for example, that is totally against your potential client’s strong opinion, it may affect their decision to contact you for a job or not. Unfortunately, that is the naked truth. And since we have plenty of friends on Facebook and we even end up unfollowing some of them, we may lose track of who is following us or not, and we can simply forget we are friends with that person. It happens a lot with me.

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I also briefly mentioned about the difference between a profile and a page. I have a personal profile and a professional page. Both are different and serve different purposes. I usually like saying people will not be friends with your brand, but like and follow it. Besides having analytics information about your followers, you have plenty of other functionalities you do not have in a profile. For example, you can add action buttons, your working hours, a customized link, among others. In the presentation, I mentioned how I was able to add “Tradutor” (translator) right below my page name. Many people asked me how I was able to do that, so I decided to give it a special mention. However, unfortunately, they have changed it in the past weeks. Now, your username is displayed right below your name. Anyway, you can choose how you want it to be displayed, and your customized URL will be created accordingly. Well, play around with your own page on the About tab and find out everything you can add. Remember, should you have any doubts, do let me know. 😉

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You can find the PowerPoint presentation of my talk on SlideShare.

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Guest post: Working with agencies

Welcome back to our guest post series! Our guest today is Alina Cincan, from Romania, but currently living in England. Alina is learning how to speak Brazilian Portuguese, can you believe it? And did you know Romanian is also a Romance language? So they are quite similar. 😉

Welcome, Alina! 🙂

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5 Steps to a Project Manager’s Heart

Standing out in a competitive market is a must, no matter the industry you work in. The translation industry is no exception, and it’s not just translation companies that need to stand out, but translators too, maybe even more so, especially if your language combination is not exactly rare.

Case in point: from our list of approved translators for English into German, we only work with a few of them regularly. Why? Because we LOVE them. Why we love them? See below.

For those translators who have not yet embarked on the anti-agency wagon and who like their agency clients, and want to forge a goodgreat relationship with the project managers, here are some tips.

1.     Make a good first impression

You know what they say: first impression counts. Make sure your first email shows your enthusiasm and willingness to work with them (by addressing the person not Dear Sir/Madam), as well as impeccable language skills (a sloppy and full of mistakes email will not look good). All it takes is a little bit of research (the About section of their website, LinkedIn, social media) to find out a few things about the agency and person you want to talk to. Proofreading before hitting Send also helps, of course.

2.     Respond quickly

One of my favourite translators replies within minutes. This is not always possible and sometimes it may even hurt your productivity. But there are ways to make this possible. For those who are not at their computer all the time (or checking their email regularly) and cannot give an answer as to whether they are available for a particular project, a short email explaining when you’ll be able to have a look and give an answer will do. Especially when the agency is not one to send a mass email and select the first translator to answer (we at Inbox don’t), meaning they want you to work on that project and any delay in replying is a delay for the project. If you are busy, a short line saying so as soon as possible makes all the difference. Automatic emails are another option too.

3.     Respect deadlines

Pretty obvious, right? While we try to ‘educate’ (I’m not exactly fond of this term in this context) the end client about what constitutes a suitable time frame, sometimes urgent projects (or with not the most generous deadlines) do land in our inbox and ultimately in the translator’s. So, once a deadline has been mutually agreed, it should be adhered to. Sure, if there’s an earthquake, volcano eruption or some other natural disaster, no one would blame you for not sticking to them. Otherwise, if you encounter technical problems (we all have, I’m sure) or are going to deliver later than agreed (for various reasons), let your PM know as soon as possible. Depending on the project, a new translator may need to take over or, in most cases, the deadline extended.

4.     Communicate effectively

Sometimes the source texts we have to work with as translators are not exactly the great literary pieces we’d love taking apart and putting back together in another language. It may be about typos or grammar mistakes, or maybe ambiguous sentences. When it comes to the latter, don’t just assume what it may mean, let the PM know (especially if they’ve been working with that particular client for a while, they may be familiar with what the client expects or style guides etc.); if they cannot help clarify the meaning, they can pass your questions on to the client. Of course, pointing out mistakes or suggesting improvements will always raise your profile in a PM’s eyes (and heart). Another important aspect here is to ask the questions before starting the translation or when you come across an issue while working on the project, not after you’ve delivered the translation, which will mean going back and forth with amended files.

5.     Learn to say ‘No’

If direct clients may take this as rejection, a good agency should understand when you cannot take on a project (whether it’s not exactly a topic you are familiar with or have a very busy schedule which doesn’t allow you to accommodate a particular project) and, moreover, they should be thankful. They will appreciate a translator who only accepts a project if they can do a great job. So, don’t be afraid to say no.

Thank you, Alina, for accepting my invitation and kindly taking the time to write such an interesting and helpful article. I’m sure our readers will appreciate it as much as I did. I also agree with every single point you made. I’m a fully believer that a primeira impressão é a que fica (as we say in Portuguese), that’s why dressing adequately, having a polite behavior, writing properly, having professional profile pics, among others, are fundamental. I’m also a huge advocate of responding quickly to messages in general, but specially emails. I get instant notifications of incoming emails and whenever possible I immediately respond to them, and I appreciate when people do the same. Although obvious, #3 is a huge issue, right? How come people simply do not respect deadlines and not even bother to communicate the agency? Well, that’s it, otherwise, I’ll write another post myself.

How about you, readers, do you have any comments to add? Do you agree or disagree with any points made by Alina?

About the author
inbox-translation-alina-cincanAlina Cincan is a former teacher, translator and interpreter with over 10 years’ experience, now Managing Director at Inbox Translation. She is a language geek who likes to keep up to date with what’s happening in the industry. When Alina is not writing on her own blog, she is writing on other people’s. You can get in touch on TwitterFacebookGoogle+ and LinkedIn.