We all know about the importance of networking in our professional lives. Strategic networking, however, is a valuable tool for growing our translation businesses. Here is a guest blog written by our fellow ATISDA member, Maryam Abdi, with her insight on this topic. Enjoy!
It’s not what you know, but who you know that matters when it comes to succeeding as freelance translator.
This is especially true for landing the high-paying translation jobs. Most jobs are found through personal contacts (past clients or colleagues) and not through translation job portals where you’ll most likely bid your way to the bottom.
It’s how in my business I’ve been able to land some of my most lucrative projects.
So then why do a lot of us spend our time designing logos, business cards, attending fruitless networking events, and on social media when the big results are in building a network of top translators?
(Note this is different from attending random networking events. It’s strategic and requires connecting with people in a non-superficial way.)
The answer isn’t all that surprising. … Building a network isn’t easy. You don’t get instant results. It requires you to build relationships and put yourself out there but the rewards are HUGE.
The good thing is people have a genuine interest in helping other people out. Top translators love sharing their experiences. Use this to your advantage to grow your business faster while cultivating relationships with key translators excelling in their business.
How to build a powerful network to bring in high-paying translation jobs
Imagine what it would be like to work with Apple, Sony, or Deloitte. How do you go about getting your foot in the door and landing translation projects with those companies?
One of the best places to start is to find other translators working for the companies you want to work with and connect with them.
The point is to find other people doing what you want to do (and of course doing well) and get in their inner circle (more on that in a little bit).
Your personal network is more valuable than the amount of experience you have. Building a network takes 5X the effort of the typical marketing tactic but will give you a huge return on investment.
Still not convinced? Well, one industry that has strict advertising regulations is the legal field. But does that stop lawyers from getting new clients?
So how can you leverage your network to increase your earnings and grow your business faster?
Step-by-step method of building your high-end network from scratch
We talked about how you can benefit from building and growing a network, but how do you get started?
Step 1: Reach out to others in your industry and “get inside their head.” Think of this as the “research phase.” To find the right people to reach out to, ask yourself…
- What type of clients do I want to work with?
- What translators are already working with those clients?
This is a methodical approach deconstructing the process to landing the clients of your dreams. It’s not a mindless tactic to connect with everyone that crosses your path.
Step 2: Search on LinkedIn. Find 10 translators you want to reach out to based on the information you’ve collected in your “research phase” and find ways you can get in contact with them. Try to find…
- Warm contact (mutual contacts who can provide an introduction)
- Connecting factor (similar professional or educational experiences. Same alma mater, job experience, professional organizations, etc.)
Now that I’ve told you how to find top translators in your specialization, what do you exactly say when you reach out to them?
Below I’m going to share the word-for-word scripts I’ve used to build a network of top translators which has generated thousands of dollars for my translation business.
This is the best way to get high-paying clients that appreciate the work you do. You’ll leap-frog months, even years, of potential struggle of figuring things out on your own. Just because you’re a freelancer doesn’t mean you have to do everything by yourself.
Word-for-word scripts to authentically connect with top translators
(If you have a warm contact)
SUBJECT LINE: Michelle suggested we get in touch
My name is Tonya and Michelle recommended I get in contact with you.
You have an impressive work history, having worked with clients such as Sony. I’m a freelance translator specializing in multimedia translation (French <-> English) and I’d love to get your advice if you have 5-10 minutes to spare.
I’d like to hear what your experience has been working with Sony. We can set up a time to talk or I can meet you for coffee at your convenience. Let me know if it’s possible for us to talk or meet.
If you’ve noticed, the email subject line is attention grabbing. Mentioning the mutual contact ensures it gets opened and read.
Also, note how the email is under 90 words? Keep it short and sweet. Short enough for someone to read the email in a few seconds off of their smart phone.
(If you have similarities)
SUBJECT LINE: Fellow ATISDA member and translator in San Diego.
For the past couple of weeks I’ve invested considerable research on companies like Apple and Cisco. During my search, I’ve come across your impressive LinkedIn profile. I would like to hear what your experience was like working with them.
I have 3-5 brief questions to ask you. Would you be available for a quick call or coffee meeting on Tuesday at 11:00 am?
Let me know if this works for you.
Hint: If you’re a member of any professional translation association, use this to warm up a cold email. Get even more specific and use a chapter division of your professional association in the subject line.
Give and you will receive
It doesn’t stop there. After your talk or meeting make sure to follow up. Remember you want to nurture your network.
Send a genuine email thanking them for their time. If they gave you personal suggestions, tell them you’ll apply it in your business and keep them posted on the results. Building and nurturing a network is a win-win situation.
How? For example, in my business I use it as a tool to provide premium customer service. I encourage my clients to call me when they’re looking for translators and interpreters in other language pairs.
Not only do they get to tap into my network and get peace of mind, but I also help my colleagues land translation projects that don’t get advertised. A network is something that’s mutually beneficial. It’s an ongoing process, not something you do once in a while. The more effort you put in, the more you get out of it.
Maryam Abdi is a translation consultant (Somali > English), court interpreter, and the founder of Translators Academy which hosts hundreds of readers on marketing, sales, and career strategies for freelance translators.