How to successfully network at a translation conference

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Courtesy of Unsplash, by Matthew Henry

Those who know me well are quite aware of the fact that I am a conference rat. I love conferences and, most of the time, they are an “excuse” for traveling somewhere and visiting some place new. So much so that whenever I travel my mom asks if I am going to attend any conferences. Well, sometimes I do travel to visit friends, you know?

After attending so many conferences, you end up naturally mastering this networking thing. However, I know how difficult it can be the first or second time we attend one. We feel lost, most of the times we do not know absolutely anybody, we are shy, and we want to dig a hole on the ground to hide and simply disappear from this frightening place. See? It is normal, it happens with anybody. I never feel comfortable whenever I go to a new place either, like a new gym, for example. But I will not stop exercising just because of that, am I? Well, I know this may be more than an excuse for some people though…

Keeping this conference newbie tiny issue in mind and the fact that the Abrates Conference is just around the corner, I decided to share with you some tips for successfully networking at conferences without simply throwing yourself at the people either.

  • First of all, having and carrying your business cards with you at all times is a must. And this is valid for any occasions. Have a bunch of business cards in your wallet, purse, gym bag, car. Whenever someone asks for your email or phone number, just handle them your card and make a good impression with your professionalism. 😉
  • However, do NOT just randomly start giving your cards away to simply anybody with no reason whatsoever. Wait for the right time. Timing is everything when you want to make a good impression.
  • In order to find the right time, first, you need to be open. When we feel shy, we tend to bury our heads in our notepads, mobiles, or even in the coffee break food. (Who never?) Look up, not down, and keep a smile on your face at all times. Do not be afraid of saying hi to people even when you do not know them, especially those who are sitting right next to you during the numerous talks. This openness is key to finding the right time to “strike,” besides making it easier for people to approach you.
  • Approaching other attendees is not necessarily the worse thing ever. Small talk is there to rescue us! Comment about the icing cold air conditioning, the horrible Wi-Fi connection, the nice venue, the amazing lunch you just had, that coffee you terribly need, you name it, with the person who is sitting next to you. After breaking the ice, show interest and ask the person their name, what they do, where they are from, etc. And take the chance to ask for the person’s business card, so you can keep in touch. Naturally, they will also ask for yours. There you go. It does not hurt, does it? And you cause a way better impression when you show you are interested in knowing about the person than if you make it about yourself from the beginning. This approach can also be used during coffee breaks: comment about the amazing food, the interesting talk you just attended, how sleepy and in need of coffee you are… And repeat the same next steps: show interest to know who the person is and ask for their card.
  • Another way of approaching other attendees is when you “know” them somehow: you always see them commenting/posting on Facebook groups, you like their blog/what they do, you are Facebook “friends,” you name it. These are great ice-breakers.
  • Do not leave a conference without talking to presenters you like or whose presentations you enjoyed! There is no better ice-breaker than approaching the person to say you watched their presentation and loved it. Ask for their card so you can follow them on social media, and there you go. Or, if given the chance, you can even approach them before their talk (even if you are not really planning on attending it), saying you saw they are presenting, you are interested at the topic but unfortunately will not be able to attend it, so maybe they could give you their card so you can keep in touch? 😉

In a nutshell, the key is to be friendly and open at all times, and take every chance to start a small talk and take it to the next level by showing interest at the person. Only make it about you if the person opens the floor for you to do so.

If you engage with as little as one person per period (morning and afternoon), you end up with four contacts to follow up at a two-day conference. If you adequately follow up with them after the conference, these four people may introduce you to other people throughout the year and at the next conference as well. It is a vicious circle that only gets bigger with time, and one that works for itself, with no need to make such a great efforts anymore.

Now, last but not least, it is also important to know how to properly follow up.

  • Write an individual and personalized email to people you really liked meeting showing your appreciation.
  • Do NOT simply add people on social media without sending them a private message reminding them exactly where and how you met, or where you know them from. Actually, this should be always applied, like a best networking practice. It is hard to remember every single person we meet at conferences, and anywhere for that matter.
  • Now, I know this is hard to ask nowadays, but I actually prefer to follow their blog, like their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter, etc., instead of adding them as friends on Facebook or LinkedIn, especially those I did not really have a chance to connect that much.

Those who are at the the ITI and NAJIT conferences can already start applying these tips. If you do, let us know if it worked. And for those who are attending the Abrates Conference next week, like myself, you can start practicing in the shower. 😉

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Por que você deve ir ao Congresso da Abrates?

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O VII Congresso Internacional de Tradução e Interpretação da Abrates começa oficialmente daqui a exatamente duas semanas. Caso você já tenha feito sua inscrição, ótimo, nos vemos lá. Caso ainda não tenha feito, pense bem e leia este texto com carinho, pois só tenho motivos irrefutáveis para você participar. 🙂

O primeiro Congresso da Abrates do qual participei foi em Belo Horizonte, há três anos, quando ele passou a ser anual e não mais bianual. Depois disso, não perco mais nenhum. Fui ao Rio de Janeiro no ano seguinte e a São Paulo no ano passado, e vejo ele ficar cada vez maior e melhor com o passar dos anos. Se, na minha opinião, a edição do ano passado foi incrível, não consigo nem imaginar como será a deste ano.

Se você foi a uma das últimas edições sabe exatamente do que estou falando. E se pensar como eu, não perde esta edição por nada.

Mas vamos aos números da edição do ano passado:

– Participantes: quase 900.

– Palestras: mais de 70.

Você consegue ter ideia dessa proporção e do que ela significa? É impossível você não achar nenhuma palestra interessante.

Na minha opinião, estes são os benefícios de participar de um evento desse porte:

– Primeiro motivo fundamental: aprendizado. Como eu disse, é impossível não se interessar por nada, pois são várias opções no mesmo horário. Os assuntos são os mais diversos possíveis, apresentados por profissionais estabelecidos no mercado, tanto nacionais quanto internacionais. Todos têm a aprender: tanto iniciantes quanto profissionais já estabelecidos.

– Segundo motivo fundamental: networking. Pense bem: você tem 900 possibilidades de conexão. Estou falando de conexões reais, olho no olho, tomando um cafezinho, trocando uma ideia, formando parcerias. Você tem a chance de encontrar, em um só lugar, todas aquelas pessoas que você só conhece pela internet. E ainda tem a incrível chance de conhecer inúmeras outras pessoas novas, além de poder conversar com aquele palestrante ou tradutor que admira em um ambiente mais descontraído que possibilita essa abordagem.

– Terceiro motivo importante, na minha opinião: inspiração. Você sai de um evento desses extremamente inspirado, cheio de ideias, com uma vontade fantástica de trilhar caminhos novos e promissores. As baterias são recarregadas de uma forma que nenhum período de férias, seja onde for, consegue fazer, porque você volta inspirado para trabalhar e fazer acontecer.

– Último motivo, mas não menos importante: descanso. Embora você esteja aprendendo e toda a carga horária seja, de certo modo, cansativa, é uma oportunidade de sair da toca, ver pessoas conhecidas e novas, tomar um café, almoçar, passear… É a união perfeita do útil com o agradável. Melhor, impossível! Além das festinhas, é claro. Teremos um happy hour organizado por mim, pela Dayse Boechat e pelo William Cassemiro na quinta-feira (mais informações abaixo), o coquetel de abertura do próprio congresso na sexta e um jantar no sábado.

Agora vamos ao investimento, afinal de contas, é um investimento profissional. O que você realmente ganha com isso, além do já exposto acima?

– Além das 95 opções de palestras, este ano teremos cursos pré-congresso. Eles são pagos separadamente, mas os inscritos no congresso têm desconto. É a chance de você fazer cursos presenciais em diversos temas.

– Haverá duas palestras de treinamento do Studio 2015 com direito a certificado na programação normal.

– Espaço reservado para agências, nos quais os participantes poderão conversar diretamente com os recrutadores com a possibilidade de fechar parcerias.

– Presença de grandes empresas de CATs, como memoQ, MateCat, Memsource e Wordfast.

Ou seja, é um investimento que vale cada centavo. Além de ser possível parcelar o valor da inscrição, a Abrates também tem parcerias com hotéis que oferecem desconto aos participantes.

Veja a Programa preliminar do congresso (quase final).

Minha palestra, Como usar o Facebook como ferramenta de divulgação do seu trabalho, será no sábado, às 14h10. Além disso, também participarei da apresentação do Programa de Mentoria da Abrates no mesmo dia, às 15h10, com um coffee break especial da mentoria após a apresentação.

Sobre o happy hour na quinta-feira:

Local: Inverso Bar, Rua Mena Barreto, 22 – Botafogo
Horário: 18h

Caso queira se juntar a nós, basta confirmar presença aqui nos comentários ou entrar em contato diretamente comigo por e-mail ou qualquer outra rede social.

Esses são ou não são motivos irrefutáveis para você participar do congresso? Vejo você daqui a duas semanas?

 

Guest post: Networking

Welcome back to our guest post series! This is the first one after my holidays, but they already seem so far, far away… I could use some break again, but, hey, the good news is I have a long weekend ahead of me! And this time I’m not working. Yay!

While I enjoy my three days off, I hope you enjoy our next guest post, by Alison Hughes.

Welcome, Alison!

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Softly, softly…

Networking: love it or hate it, it is part and parcel of any freelance business.

Does it fill you with dread or do you look forward to getting out and meeting real people in the business world? Have you family responsibilities and/or a limited budget that stop you getting to that all-important client event? Or do you just beaver away on your own and hope you’ll never have to do it?

Changing times

I began freelancing in 1997. At the time it was common practice to work for agencies who all paid roughly the same rate. Life for me was straightforward and I could earn a decent living. But in recent years, with the advent of machine translation and other price pressures, I found I was constantly battling to keep my rate and I knew I had to do something.

Although I had always been an active member of ITI and its local networks, I decided to specialise and up my marketing and networking endeavours. But where to begin? It was obvious I was going to have to go further afield to meet potential clients.

I decided to invest in one main conference a year plus a visit to my source language country, France, but beyond that I had a very limited marketing and CPD budget.

So I started looking for local events in my specialist areas and was astounded at how many there were. And most were either free or inexpensive.

But what is the value of a local event if you don’t live in your source language country? The chances of finding potential clients at these events can be fairly slim. So is there really any point?

If you specialise, I believe there is.

Why?

1) These events are wonderful learning opportunities. Listening to experts talking enriches not only your knowledge but also your vocabulary. The more you attend, and the more you learn, the more you gain the confidence to use the correct terms in your own translations. And clients are going to love a translator who speaks their language.

2) I won’t use the stereotype of the introvert translator but – let’s face it – we do spend a lot of our time alone in front of our computers so even the best communicators don’t get much face-to-face interaction. And often the pressure to make a good impression leads to panic and, ultimately, disappointment, when we attend a networking event.

However, if you know you are unlikely to come face-to-face with the ideal potential client, the pressure is off. You can be yourself, talk about your business naturally and listen to what other people say about theirs, without the worry of saying something that will ruin your chances.

3) While you are there you can use the opportunity to promote the translation industry as a whole. At smaller events you will be asked to introduce yourself and I always say:

‘I am a French to English translator working mainly for the creative industries. So this event is an excellent opportunity for me to learn about your industry and to reassure you that excellent, specialist translators are here to stay. Contrary to what you might think, we won’t be replaced by machines any day soon.’

4) And if you do this often enough, when you do splash out on an important industry event, networking will have become second nature. You will have some first-hand knowledge of the industry, you will speak their language, and you will have the confidence to approach important potential clients.

An example:

The Glasgow University College of Arts organises an annual industry day. This year I went to a breakaway session by the dress and textile department. As fashion is one of my specialist areas, this was of particular interest to me and I learnt a lot about Paisley pattern shawls and Singer sewing machines, both local to me in Glasgow. Also, one of the speakers happened to mention she had a background in fabric design and I happened to have a question I could ask her. We have now made contact so I have someone to approach with future queries.

Next month I have invested in the Costume Society Conference in London. I now feel confident I will be able to converse knowledgeably about at least one area of dress and textile design that will perhaps even be new to other attendees. It doesn’t make me an industry expert but does show that I’m taking a close interest.

So now with my well rehearsed introduction, my little bit of knowledge, and my practice networking at much smaller events, if I do come face-to-face with the ideal client, I would hope to be able to handle the situation professionally and see a return on my investment.

Soft networking

Yes, there’s even a term for it. Indeed, any sort of business ‘socialising’ without a strategy or strict targets probably qualifies as soft networking. Engagement on social media is another example.

Have you tried the ‘softly, softly’ approach?

Thank you so much for accepting my invitation to write a guest post for our blog, Alison! It was a real pleasure hosting you.

Alison has also kindly written a poem about the topic. Here it is:

Networking

Of course I’ll go, it’s something new
And definitely time my business grew

The event is free so that’s a plus
Networking? Don’t understand the fuss

I’m no shrinking violet, or so I’m told
So what’s the problem for one so bold?

New cards, nice suit and business head
I’m ready for action… what’s that you said?

No, it’s my first, of many I hope
It won’t be easy but I’m sure I’ll cope

Damn and blast it where’s the map?
Not yet a panic, just a bit of a flap

OK I’m not early, but not that late
Just remember it’s not a date

No-one is waiting just for you
But, oh my God, what do I do?

With a beating heart of increasing pace
I scan the room for a familiar face

I’m on my own, there’s no other way
I’ll just have to think of something to say

I approach a group deep in conversation
But stop in my tracks as the topic’s inflation

Deciding I need some time to think
I head for the table to have a drink

I grab a water and down it in one
Desperately fighting the urge to run

Group number two looks a better bet
Just need to do it, no time to vet

‘Do you mind if I join you?’ I say to be nice
It does the trick and breaks the ice

‘My name is Jan’ one says with a smile
Is this your first event in a while?

‘Yes’ I say, ‘well to tell the truth.
First event ever, shaky hand’s the proof.’

‘Only my second so I feel your pain.
But little to lose and lots to gain’

Her words of encouragement are all I need
I join the group and am soon up to speed

Explaining the work of a freelance translator
I discover a client who may need me later

Cards are exchanged and it’s time to move on
Somehow I no longer feel so forlorn

It certainly wasn’t as easy as expected
But a couple more and I could have this perfected.

So, did you like it? Nice, huh? 🙂

About the author

After 17 years in the wines and spirits industry, Alison Hughes embarked on a freelance career and is now a French to English translator and copywriter for the creative industries. Her specialisms are food and drink, fashion and cosmetics, tourism and the arts. She has been coordinator for the ITI Media, Arts & Tourism network since 2010.

This guest blog post expands on one of the points of the talk Alison gave at the 2015 ITI Conference in April: It’s not what you spend but the way that you spend it.

You can contact Alison on her website, Facebook, Twitter (@AHcreattrans) or LinkedIn.