Networking friends with benefits

In quick succession, I was contacted twice via my LinkedIn profile by prospective new clients.  I joined this professional networking site about the same time as I joined Facebook, in 2007.  For years, it seemed this was just another social network site where it’s nice to be present, but no tangible benefits were in store.

Well, no tangible benefits until a few weeks ago. A few days before Christmas a direct client contacted me from Hong Kong, a law firm specialized in patents. Just when I was hoping to do some last minute Christmas shopping and buy a tree at the local market, I had to quote on a highly technical text.  The client accepted my higher-than-the-average quote, I brushed up my high school physics, and delivered the project in the first week of January as agreed. As of last Friday, the payment was already on its way 🙂

Now another prospective client contacted me, this time from the U.S., with a large and interesting job. We’ve been in touch before, but now that I browsed through my email correspondence with them, I realized they had also contacted me first via LinkedIn back in 2010, but our first actual project will start only now.

I do encourage all freelance translators out there to be active on LinkedIn. It does pay off to be connected to former classmates, other translators, project managers, former non-translator colleagues, etc.  It’s a good idea to join several interest groups. There are many that are related to the translation business, these are obvious starting points. But if you have any specialties, join those professional groups as well, whether it be IT development, medical imaging or lean manufacturing. In such groups, you may be THE translator, the first point of contact for prospective and hopefully well-paying direct clients.

A recently introduced feature on LinkedIn allows you add “skills” to your profile from a pre-determined set. For example, my profile includes skills such as “Localization”, “Medical devices”, “Financial translation”, “MemoQ”, etc.  These labels will help others to find you if they are specifically looking for translators with such skills.

Good old offline social networking may also bring you new clients. A few years ago a direct client, a manufacturer of a specific machinery contacted me from California. They received my name and contact details from this Italian translator they had been working with.  And the Italian translator happened to be a colleague I had met at an international translators’ conference in Poland a couple of years earlier.  When the Californian manufacturer asked her if she could recommend a good Hungarian translator, she gave them my details, as I was the only Hungarian translator she knew (and luckily enough for the client, I also happen to be a good one).  Networking does pay off, as I received the client’s 20k word job.

If you’re a freelancer who spends way too much time in front of an LCD screen, cut off from the real world, it’s compelling to attend translator conferences in your own country and abroad.  For example, Proz.com conferences are great events to mingle. Hand out and collect business cards, and quickly follow up by adding people on Facebook and LinkedIn (nobody will keep those business cards anyway…).

To round off my post in style, I’d like to ask you to “like” my blog (in the upper right corner of this page).  You’ll be better off as you’ll receive useful updates from me, and I’ll also benefit from the greater visibility of my translation blog 🙂

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About bancsaba

Discovering the world, step by step, word by word
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