Being a successful freelance translator is a fabulous thing! You get to set your own schedule, create a palette of regular clients with whom you work well, and can often work in your pajamas for the entire day. The flip side to freelance work is that without proper attention and maintenance, your network, your skills and job viability can begin to shrink.
10 Networking Tips for the Freelance Translator
- Help Others. You know the old saying, "You learn the best when you teach others?" Well, you network the best when you are networking for others. The more that you work with, and assist, your fellow freelance translators, the more likely they will be to think of you - or provide requested assistance - when it's your turn to need a helping hand.
- Invite Guest Bloggers. One of the best networking tools is to read and share your favorite translation blogs and/or websites. Find a handful of freelance translators with great websites and then offer your appreciation of their work by inviting them to guest blog. Then offer to do the same for them. This is a win-win for everyone.
- Travel. Unless you are a native speaker of your target-language, it's imperative you keep up with the times, cultural changes, and idioms. Maintaining your language skills is key to your success as a freelance translator. There's no better way to do this than to hop on a plane and immerse yourself. Aaaaah. While there, look up professional freelance translators of English and grow your network.
- Identify Your True "Friends." While your 8,756 LinkedIn friends are impressive, we wonder how many of them are truly beneficial. When it comes to professional networking and contacts, quality is much more important than quantity. Cull your contacts to accurately represent the network you want to work within.
- Hone Your Initial Contact Skills. Don't you just love long-winded introductory phone calls, or spending 10 minutes reading novel-length emails from strangers? Right. Nor do the people you're contacting for the first time. Keep introductions brief, get to the point, and respect their time by asking, "is this a good time?" If not, they'll be more likely to re-schedule.
- Pass it On. Did you read a great book you know Translator X would love? Did you just learn a new trick others in your network would benefit from? Send them a copy. Pass helpful links via email. Share your tricks and lucky finds so others will keep you in the loop when they have helpful materials to share.
- Forge Connections. Introduce people in your network whom you know would benefit from one another. Connect like-minded people. Share contacts in Foreign Country A with someone you know who is traveling there.
- Follow Up. Did you just make a new connection? Follow up a day or two later with an email or voice mail to express your appreciation for the conversation about ________, and re-invigorate their impression of you.
- No Offense. Don't take, "No" as an insult. It might just mean the person is busy and really can't help you. Or you might have caught them on an "off" day. Try again, or send an email thanking them anyway and offering for them to get in contact if/when they are able to in the future.
- Volunteer. When you put yourself out there in the community, or in someone else's community, it's provides the prime opportunity to forge new relationships with people you might not have met otherwise.
Building a healthy professional network can be the key to keeping viable work coming your way, and ensuring you deliver the most current and professional translation work for your clients.