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How Linguists Can Harness the Power of Networking

Human Touch Translations values the contributions of our linguists. We take the time to bring current issues to your attention to help you further your career as freelancers.

While being a great linguist and continually working to hone your craft are essential elements for getting repeat work as a translator and interpreter, unfortunately they aren’t guarantees for a steady stream of work. Simply put, if people don’t know who you are and what you are capable of, they won’t hire you. That is where networking comes into play.
Networking involves getting yourself out there and building relationships so that when people are in a position to give you work or help in some way, hopefully you are the first person (or among the first) they think of. But as a linguist, who should you network with and how?

The Networking Mindset

First things first: It must be said that networking is not about presenting your sales pitch over and over. You don’t want to annoy people and have them tune you out right from the start. One of the most effective ways of networking is making it not about you, but about them. Be helpful. What problem of theirs can you solve? What do you have in common? Once you have helped someone, they are all the more likely to help you.

People to Network With

There are three types of people linguists should consider networking with: those who hire linguists, fellow linguists and personal prospects.

If your primary aim is to get more work, seek out the people doing the hiring or who mete out work. If you want to work for a translation agency, that person is typically the vendor manager or project manager, or in smaller agencies possibly even the agency owner. It is a good idea to present yourself as an expert in your field and show them how you can make their lives easier. They probably get contacted by lots of linguists, so think about how you can make yourself stand out from the pack. One linguist I know distributes a specialized newsletter. He showcases his expertise and provides specific, helpful information. Another chronicles his book fair trips and adventures as a translator on Facebook. His updates are professional but interesting, and he keeps himself top of mind.

Another good group to network with is fellow linguists. Chances are you could learn from your peers’ suggestions, resources and experiences, and with all the language pairs, specializations and other factors out there, you are probably not competing with them for the same jobs anyway. In addition, working as a linguist can get lonely sometimes; your peers can relate and lend you some support.

The third group of people to network with is the people in your life. Your family, friends, neighbors, etc. Comparatively speaking, it’s a longer shot to translate networking with this group into more money, but it is also the easiest to do. These people will probably not need your services, but hey, you just never know who grandpa will talk to. If the people in your life know what you can do (not just that you work from home or “do something with words”) and they like you, your name will come up if they need a linguist or are asked for a referral.

Networking Strategies and Tips

Online networking is the most popular and cost-effective way to network. Here is how:

LinkedIn: Keep your LinkedIn profile sharp and up to date. Make connections and keep in contact with them through this professional networking site.

Twitter: Join in the conversations with decision makers and/or fellow linguists on one of the most popular social networking platforms, Twitter. Just be careful about managing your time there and if you decide to mix personal and business conversations. A few people do successfully integrate their personal and business personas, but it can be a difficult feat to pull off without alienating some people. For that reason, a lot of people keep separate Twitter accounts for their business and personal lives.

ProZ.com: One-stop shop comes to mind. At this linguist network you can get help, offer help, network, find work, as well as get yourself on the radar of people who hire linguists.
There is nothing like face-to-face networking though. Assuming you have a modicum of people skills, face-to-face interactions often leave a bigger impression on people and open doors that might not get opened through online networking only.

Conferences: If you have the time and professional development budget to do so, attending industry conferences can be a great way to keep up to date and make connections with colleagues and decision makers.

Local Events: While the Internet has opened up the world, local networking has suffered. Attend networking events in your area and play up your common local connections. Chances are that your competition won’t and you will have earned the advantage.

Once you have gotten on someone’s radar and established a networking relationship with them, your work is not done. Like any sort of relationship, you need to check in once in a while and keep the bonds alive. After all, you do want them to be able to remember your name and how to contact you when they need you!

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