Pathway through the social networking jungle

Signpost in blue sky with clouds“Don’t judge a book by its cover”. The social networking virtual world is a true jungle and the wide range of offerings available can be overwhelming: as a translator, which networks should I use? Which ones are useless? What do I need? What can I realistically expect from each network and which networks can help me reach my objectives and/or respond to my needs? Many colleagues have decided – arbitrarily I shall add – that social networking and social marketing are “a waste of time”, “useless and stupid”, “for desperate amateurs” and the like. Is that really so?

This webinar version of my presentation at the ITI conference 2013 and the ProZ.com Porto International Conference has two objectives: hopefully break some prejudices by showing that nothing is black or white, and provide a neutral yet hopefully thought-provocative overview of the main social sites, which ones don’t make sense for our profession, which ones do make sense and are useful , what can be realistically expected and achieved with them.

The aim is to provide students with concrete and translation profession-oriented information. For both industry newcomers as well as seasoned translators – any translator wondering about social networking, considering doing it but not sure how or already doing it.

Date: July 23rd.
Complete info and registration: click here

Individual LinkedIn profile reviews for translators

385960_265050020213274_264923873559222_829098_1029931420_nIt has been on my mind for a while, finally it is there: using the Alexandria platform to offer individual LinkedIn profile sessions for translators.

A very powerful and efficient way of promoting your services to the world, your LinkedIn profile should be a true shop-window of who you are, the services you provide, your expertise and your skills. With the new LinkedIn profile rolling out, many things have changed!

If you’re interested in a tailored, interactive and private review and help with your translator LinkedIn profile, this is a good opportunity – it will take place on April 16th.

There are 5 slots of 30 minutes each available throughout the day in the virtual classroom. Registration is limited to one person per slot, so there are only 5 seats available. If the concept works and if there is further demand, such an afternoon may be organized on a regular basis again.

Make sure you have a microphone – it will be very interactive!

Complete information and registration here

I’m looking forward to help you boost your LinkedIn profile! ;)

7 myths in using Facebook for business (and in general)

amis-facebookRandom thoughts… 7 myths or mistakes you may be doing, without knowing it, on Facebook.

Myth 1: no, it is not possible to know who has seen your Facebook profile, so pleeeaaaaaase stop installing apps that claim the contrary and that post status updates to your profile calling your friends to install it. Really, please, stop.

Myth 2: no, sharing your tweets on your Facebook Profile/Page is not such a great idea. It is counterproductive and extremely annoying for anyone following you on Facebook. And for those following you on both: even worse. Facebook has a very different netiquette from Twitter. You don’t tweet on Facebook. You tweet on Twitter Same goes for “RTing” people on Facebook, by the way: huh?

Myth 3:  no, the copyright and privacy disclaimer that you have to post as a status to prevent FB from using your data is not for real. It’s a hoax, and it’s been ciruclating for months. Please, please, stop sharing it. (“In response to the new Facebook guidelines I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, comics, paintings, professional photos and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berner Convention). For commercial use of the above my written consent is needed at all times!(Anyone reading this can copy this text and paste it on their Facebook Wall. This will place them under protection of copyright laws. By the present communique, I notify Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, disseminate, or take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and/or its contents. The aforementioned prohibited actions also apply to employees, students, agents and/or any staff under Facebook’s direction or control. The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of my privacy is punished by law (UCC 1 1-308-308 1-103 and the Rome Statute).Facebook is now an open capital entity. All members are recommended to publish a notice like this, or if you prefer, you may copy and paste this version. If you do not publish a statement at least once, you will be tacitly allowing the use of elements such as your photos as well as the information contained in your profile status updates.”)

Myth 4: no, your professional contacts don’t care about your workout stats, so pleeeaaaase stop sharing the runtastic report of your latest run (or any other sport tracking app, for that matter) with said business contacts (your personal contacts are a complete other matter –  you do what you want, personal stuff is personal stuff. But there is personal stuff your business contacts really don’t need to see/read. No? )

Myth 5: no, the status update asking your Friends to hover over your name and change their settings so that friends of friends of friends don’t see what you like or post is a fake too. This is a hoax that has been circulating since May 2011. (“To all my FB friends, may I request you to please do something for me: I want to stay PRIVATELY connected with you. However, with the recent changes in FB, the public can now see activities in any wall. This happens when our friend hits “like” or “comment”, automatically, their friends would see our posts too. Unfortunately, we cannot change this setting by ourselves because Facebook has configured it this way. So I need your help. Only you can do this for me. PLEASE place your mouse over my name above (do not click), a window will appear, now move the mouse on “FRIENDS” (also without clicking), then down to “Settings”, click here and a list will appear. REMOVE the CHECK on “COMMENTS & LIKE” by clicking on it. By doing this, my activity amongst my friends and my family will no longer become public. Many thanks! Paste this on your wall so your contacts would follow suit too, that is, if you care about your privacy.”) – and similar ones, there are some variants of it.

Myth 6: no, Facebook will not become a paying service anytime soon, so please stop sharing hoaxes pretending otherwise…

And if you don’t believe me, see Facebook’s FAQ – Common Myths about Facebook.

Myth 7: no, your phone number is not accessible to anyone on Facebook. Unless you entered it yourself and made it public. So, the status update claiming “ALL THE PHONE NUMBERS IN YOUR PHONE… INCLUDING YOURS are now on FACEBOOK! go to the top right of the screen, click on ACCOUNT, click on EDIT FRIENDS, left side of screen and click CONTACTS. you will see all phone numbers from your phone are published that you have stored in your mobile phone. TO REMOVE, go to RIGHT column, click on “this page.” please repost this on your status, so your friends can remove their numbers and thus prevent abuse if they do not want them published.” is just a big hoax… and an old one, from 2010 or so.

There are many more! Which ones come to your mind?

Medizinische/pharmazeutische Übersetzungen: Trends 2012-2013

Weather Vane with Dollar SignIm Januar 2012 hatte ich für das Jahr 2011/2012 folgende Aussagen gemacht:

  • Zunehmendes Auftragsvolumen
  • Steigendes Preisniveau für qualifizierte Übersetzungen
  • Soziale Netzwerke gewinnen an Bedeutung
  • Technisierung hilft, aber Definition von Austauschformaten und Workflows muss weiter vorangetrieben werden
  • Die maschinelle Übersetzung hat ihre Versprechungen bisher nicht erfüllt
  • Übersetzerverbände sind gefordert, das Aus- und Weiterbildungsangebot auszubauen
  • Die Interessenvertretung der Übersetzungsbranche muss gestärkt werden

Den kompletten Artikel finden Sie hier.

Nachdem das Jahr 2012 jetzt vorüber ist und die Welt nicht untergegangen ist, macht es Sinn, sich anzuschauen, ob sich bezüglich dieser Aussagen etwas geändert hat, bzw. ob sich neue interessante Trends entwickelt haben.

Auftragsvolumen/Preisniveau – wir könnten zeitnah verlässlichere Daten brauchen

Die ersten zwei Aussagen für den medizinisch/pharmazeutischen Sektor sind meiner Meinung nach immer noch gültig, allerdings basieren sie nur auf Daten einer sehr kleinen Gruppe von LSPs, mit denen ich diesbezüglich im engeren Austausch bin. Allerdings nehme ich in verschiedenen Blogs und Foren zunehmend Stimmen war, die möglicherweise darauf schließen lassen, dass der Markt wesentlich dynamischer sein könnte, wie ich es von meiner Warte aus beurteilen kann. Ich würde mir mehr Informationen über Auftragsvolumina und Preise wünschen. Diese Informationen könnten uns helfen, saisonale und absolute Trends zu identifizieren. Anhand dieser Daten könnte man reagieren und die Daten könnten vielleicht auch dieses, teilweise hysterische Ausmaße annehmende, Hintergrundrauschen über sinkende Preise, das meiner Meinung nach der Industrie schadet, beruhigen.

Soziale Netzwerke/Internetkultur

Die sozialen und professionellen Netzwerk-Tools (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Xing und Google+) werden immer wichtiger und die bisherigen Übersetzerplattformen (Proz.com, Translatorscafe etc.) verlieren zunehmend an Bedeutung. Dies zeigt sich unter anderem an der steigenden Zahl von Übersetzergruppen z. B. in Facebook, LinkedIn, Xing, über die zunehmend Übersetzungsaufträge vergeben werden, aber auch im Angebot an Weiterbildungsmaßnahmen, die über diese Gruppen angeboten werden. Die Fachverbände wie z. B. der BDÜ sind zwar erst spät in die sozialen Netzwerke eingestiegen, haben aber inzwischen ihre Bedeutung erkannt und präsentieren sich professionell auf diesen Plattformen.

Leider hat diese Entwicklung nicht nur positive Aspekte. Als Freelancer kann man unmöglich alle Gruppen verfolgen, in denen interessante Aufträge angeboten werden, und auch als LSP wird es schwieriger, auf den verschiedenen Plattformen den Spezialisten für einen bestimmten Auftrag zu finden.

Es wird daher nötig werden, Aggregatoren zu entwickeln, die die unterschiedlichen Angebote gebündelt zur Verfügung stellen. Auf Twitter haben wir mit unserem @Translate_Jobs Konto einen ersten Schritt getan, um Jobangebote aus verschiedenen Quellen zusammenzuführen. Ähnliche Angebote bieten wir für Nachrichten aus der Übersetzungsindustrie mit @Translate_News, Interessante Blogs und Ereignisse aus der Übersetzungsindustrie auf @Translate_Blogs und @TranslateEvents.

Diese Lösungen sind leider durch die Möglichkeiten, die Twitter bietet, eingeschränkt, was einer der Gründe ist, weshalb wir für den Bereich Fortbildungsmöglichkeiten unsere Alexandria-Plattform (http://alexandria-library.com) ins Leben gerufen haben.

Technisierung/Interoperabilität/Crowd and Cloud Services

Im Bereich Interoperabilität tut sich Erfreuliches; die beiden Platzhirsche Trados und MemoQ bekommen immer mehr Funktionen, die die Interoperabilität zwischen den einzelnen Programmen verbessern. Da scheint es nur natürlich, dass in der Industrie in den letzten Wochen massiv Kritik an dem abgeschotteten Design von across geäußert wurde. Ich bin da etwas vorsichtiger, da ich durchaus die Notwendigkeit für geschlossene Workflows erkenne und mir eine entsprechende optionale Funktionalität auch bei den anderen Anbietern wünschen würde. Gleichzeitig würde ich mir natürlich auch wünschen, dass sich across öffnet.

Was ich allerdings nicht verstehen kann, ist, wie man als Übersetzer mit den wie Pilze aus dem Boden schießenden Cloud-Services arbeiten kann. Das ist eine TM-Lösung, die dem Übersetzer bisher fast nur Nachteile bringt. Kein eigenes TM, keine Nachverfolgbarkeit der eigenen Arbeit usw. usw.

Maschinelle Übersetzung

Ich hätte gerne ein funktionierendes System. Leider habe ich noch keines gefunden. Mehr ist dazu eigentlich nicht zu sagen. Aber ich bleibe dran. Interessant finde ich zwei Aspekte:

a) Es wird uns Übersetzern immer häufiger erzählt, dass es einen riesigen, ständig wachsenden Markt für schlechte (d. h. Maschinenübersetzungen) gibt. Das ist ja schön für diejenigen, die den Schrott lesen möchten. Beispiele dafür findet man im Internet zur Genüge. Das einzige Problem, das ich dabei sehe, ist, dass die Leser irgendwann tatsächlich anfangen zu glauben, dass das Übersetzungen sind.

b) Ebenso häufig höre ich, dass gut trainierte MT-Systeme inzwischen in begrenzten Domains und bestimmten Sprachpaaren Ergebnisse produzieren, die besser als die von menschlichen Übersetzern sein sollen. Hier ist der spannende Punkt, dass bisher niemand in der Lage war, mir ein derartiges System oder das nachweisbare Ergebnis eines solchen Systems zu zeigen. Im letzten Jahr habe ich mir von einigen MT-Herstellern erklären lassen, wie gut ihre Systeme sind, aber wenn es ans Eingemachte ging, gab es außer irgendwelchen beeindruckenden hohen Scores ohne Aussagewert nichts wirklich Bemerkenswertes.

Nachdem ich Trados Studio mit TMs mit mehreren Millionen Worten und Autosuggest-Dictionaries von bis zu 1 GB Größe aufgerüstet habe, erreiche ich eine Produktivität, bei der ich mich frage, ob ich MT für unsere Sprachpaare und Fachgebiete überhaupt brauche.

Aus- und Weiterbildungsangebot

Es tut sich was. Der BDÜ, der DVÜD und auch andere Anbieter haben das Angebot an online Fortbildungsangeboten deutlich ausgebaut. Da mag es überflüssig erscheinen, dass wir mit einem eigenen Angebot (http://alexandria-library.com) auf den Markt kommen. Mit dem Alexandria Projekt verfolgen wir allerdings mehrere Ziele. Wir möchten damit z. B. eine zentrale Plattform (durch Kollaborationen mit möglichst vielen anderen Anbietern, z. B. Localize.pl aus Polen und Diléal aus Frankreich) schaffen, auf der wir Weiterbildungsangebote und Ressourcen für Berufsanfänger und Spezialisten in den unterschiedlichen Sprachen anbieten. Zusätzlich möchten wir Spezialisten eine Plattform bieten, die es ihnen ermöglicht, sich zu präsentieren, um ihre Reputation in der Industrie und bei zukünftigen Kunden zu verbessern. Und drittens möchten wir so schnell wie möglich damit beginnen, mit dieser Plattform potentielle Kunden auf die Notwendigkeit qualitativ hochwertiger Übersetzungen aufmerksam zu machen, und sie zu schulen, wie sie geeignete Sprachdienstleister identifizieren können, bzw. was sie dazu beitragen können, um optimale Ergebnisse zu erhalten. Noch befinden wir uns in einer frühen Phase, aber wir werden das Angebot schnell erweitern. Über Rückmeldungen und Anregungen würden wir uns freuen, denn schließlich soll Alexandria möglichst vielen Übersetzern und Kunden ein interessantes Angebot bieten.

Interessenvertretung der Übersetzungsbranche

Bisher stelle ich mit Bedauern fest, dass die Übersetzungsverbände viel zu wenig (öffentlichkeitswirksam) unternehmen, um die Industrie nach außen zu repräsentieren. Übersetzer und Übersetzerverbände scheinen mir bisher zu sehr mit sich selbst (d. h. mit Übersetzern) beschäftigt zu sein und gehen viel zu wenig auf mögliche Kunden zu, bei denen der Mangel an Informationen über Übersetzungsqualität, Abläufe und Preise dazu führt, dass sich die Pest der Billigheimer weiter ausbreitet. Es wäre schön zu sehen, wenn sich einige nationale Verbände zu mehr Zusammenarbeit entschließen könnten, und im Bereich Kundenschulung und Repräsentanz nach außen aktiv werden würden. Auch ein gemeinsames europäisches Jobportal der Übersetzungsverbände könnte helfen. Hier hätten Kunden, die nach Sprachdienstleistern suchen, zumindest die Gewissheit, dass die Übersetzer bestimmte Mindestkriterien an Professionalität erfüllen. Den Internetplattformen wie Proz und TC, bei denen sich die ganzen Billiganbieter tummeln, die oft nur schlechte Qualität liefern, würde dadurch das Wasser abgegraben werden, da Kunden auf der Suche nach Qualität endlich ein qualitativ höherwertiges Angebot zur Verfügung hätten.

Schlussfolgerungen

Ich bin mir nicht schlüssig, ob sich 2012 in der Industrie wirklich viel geändert hat, aber ich sehe einen vorsichtigen Trend, dass die Übersetzer langsam mehr Verantwortung für ihr eigenes Schicksal/ihren Erfolg übernehmen und sich aus den Fängen der großen Organisationen/Unternehmen emanzipieren. Diese positive Entwicklung kann 2013 dazu führen, dass sich eine breitere Bewegung organisiert, die uns als Industrie weiter bringt. Es würde mich freuen, wenn wir mit Alexandria und der Trikonf 2013 unseren Beitrag dazu leisten könnten.

The new LinkedIn profile is here: what’s new?

Yay, it’s finally here – annouced months ago and rolling out since October, we are all finally getting the new LinkedIn profile.  So what’s new, how much has changed?

Well, actually not THAT much. I mean yes, but no. The layout and feel are different, and a few fields have moved. Let’s see what’s changed:

Activity
Your activity (posts, links, new connections, etc.)  is now right below the top box containing your picture – it used to be in the right sidebar. This change is interesting because your posts get a much better exposure – particularly links you post with an eye-catching image. Definitely a plus for your content marketing strategy. You cannot change the position of this box.

LinkedIn1A new “Background” box
Your sections such as “Summary”,”Languages”, “Specialities”, “Experiences”, “Education”, “Certifications”, “Skills” etc, are now all together in one big “Background” box – but in Edit mode, you can still change the order you want each section to be displayed – if you want your languages to appear before your Summary for example, click the arrow shown in the screenshot here in red. Then simply drag and drop the section where you want it to be displayed.

The middle icon (left from the arrow) is a new gadget that came with the profile redesign. It is a simple tool that enables you to add a link to a section – it can be a link to a video, a publication, an image, a blog, etc. This is a small additional way of creating backlinks to your contents (good for your SEO) and showing your expertise/experience.

Editing is now easier
Each section now displays the icons shown in the screenshot above when in Edit mode, which makes editing them even simpler than it was before. Click the blue pencil icon left available for each section and just navigate the information you wish to edit.
In Edit mode, you also now have a right sidebar “Recommended for you” where LinkedIn suggests fields/information to add to your profile – these are personalized, based on how complete your profile already is. For example, LinkedIn suggests me to add the following based on my profile information and completion level:

LinkedIn2
“People you May Know”
This box is now displayed on your own profile when you edit or view it – it used to be only available on the homepage.

“Profile Strength”
Still in the right sidebar, there is a new “Profile Strength” box. You actally already know that feature – it used to be a blue bar at the top of your profile showing how complete it was, in %. Now you even get a status for profile completion… Yay!

LinkedIn3

“Your Network”
Now, this is probably the most interesting new feature in the revamped profile – it gives you a visual and colored overview of your LinkedIn network based on Company, Location, Industry or School.  Having that kind of overview at hand is very useful. For example, if I look at my network by country, I see that most of my contacts come from France (left screenshot).
Each other circle around the main one is another location, arranged in size based on how many contacts ou have in these locations. It’s exactly the same for companies – the main circle shows the name of the company where the highest number of your contacts work, same for School and Industry – the latter can be particularly interesting for agencies and freelancers using LinkedIn for end-clients prospection in a few selected industries.

General thoughts

More colorful
Ok, this is a silly one – or is it? I often found the old profile design boring – black and white text. Now there is more color in your profile thanks to 2 minor changes:
– the logos of the companies listed in your “Experience” section are displayed – if these companies have a LinkedIn company page and uploaded their logo on it.
– thumbnails of profile pictures of people who recommended you are also displayed below each “Experience” entry.

Cleaner
What I personally like about this new profile – it’s clean, neat, simpler to edit and navigate. Section titles are bigger and bold, which makes them easier to spot when navigating a profile.

What about you? What do you think of the new profile ?

Lyon conference workshop – Boost your use of Twitter

Last weekend, I attended the annual ProZ.com France conference in Lyon, which was not only a great opportunity to return to the city where I studied and lived for five years, but also to see the French translation crowd again – many I hadn’t seen since the Nice conference in 2009, the Paris event in 2008 or for some, even the Aix en Provence conference in 2007! We had a great time and the atmosphere was relaxed and happy.

The event was the opportunity to give a presentation on Internet Marketing for the first time ever in French – which is quite amusing when you think about it, given that I am French. Anyway, it was also the first time that I spoke to a French audience on those topics and I was curious to learn about the relationship between social media tools and my own fellow translation country(wo)men. Although the group was very small, the presentation was extremely interactive – just the way I love it! Actually, forget I said “presentation”. It was a discussion, and a very interesting and lively one at that. It was a pity I didn’t have more time – again, I know! How time flies when you’re in good company with interesting questions and feedback.

The topics I presented were 1. Twitter (how to use it to gain visibility and boost your online reputation) and 2. Facebook – privacy issues to protect your personal life and reputation on the Web (unfortunately not enough time for that one, we had to rush through it, but we covered some main points presented in this article and in this one in very basic terms).

Here is the Twitter presentation (in French) available for download: Twitter presentation FR Lyon 2012 -

- many thanks to the attendees. I hope you enjoyed the workshop and more importantly, that it helped you in some way. That was, after all, the objective. And as promised, if you have any questions or need anything, just send me an e-mail!

Thanks again to John for once more giving us the opportunity to meet, exchange and party. I’m really looking forward to the 2013 French conference!

New series of webinars – autumn 2012

I’m happy to announce the freshly baked new webinars for translators for this upcoming second semester of 2012!

October 24th, 2012: Build yourself an optimized LinkedIn profile

LinkedIn is now the most powerful ally of freelance businesses in general – it is an amazing shop-window. But how to sell yourself there? How to make that shop-window attractive so that potential clients and partners look at it and open the door to the shop? Your LinkedIn profile is where it all begins and in the web 2.0 era where everything goes so quickly online, you only have a few seconds to grab your visitors attention. Get some keys in this webinar to boost your LinkedIn profile and mak it one of your best online shop-windows!

Duration: 1 hour with Q/A

Complete information, sign-up and registration here


November 7th, 2012: Social SEO basics for translators

In the jungle of Web marketing today, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) has become a must when doing business via the Internet. SEO is “the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s “natural” – or un-paid, search results”. In other words, as a freelancer, how can you make your potential clients find you before they find your competition on a Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. search? By making sure to rank among top results in given searches.
Social SEO is the art of using social platforms and social media to help boosting your Google ranking. Without entering into too technical considerations (we are not all Web developers!), this webinar will cover the basics of social SEO for freelancers.

Duration: 1 hour with Q/A

Complete information, sign-up and registration here


November 21, 2012: Social Media Marketing for translators 2012: a must or a should?

An overview of the state of Social Media Marketing in 2012 in / for the translation industry and keys for attendees to take a better enlightened business decision: investing in Social media Marketing or not.

Duration: 1 hour with Q/A

Complete information, sign-up and registration here


Remember that on-demand replays of some of my previous training courses for translators are still available as follows:

Social Media Marketing for translators: Do’s and Don’ts
view course feedback
watch video

Why you should seriously consider Google+ and Facebook marketing
view course feedback
watch video

Boost your use of Twitter
view course feedback
watch video

LinkedIn good practices for translators
view course feedback

watch video

Workshop: Harness Social Media Marketing for your business (160 minutes)
view course feedback
watch video

Translators: 5 ways to get more followers on Twitter

Some basic but always efficient tricks!

1. Follow people

While you don’t have to follow everyone who follows you, it’s still important to follow those accounts that are of interest to you – the criteria are up to you. Quite simply, it just looks bad if you have 800 followers and you are not following anyone yourself. Ditto the other way round: the more people you follow, the more you increase your chances of being followed. I’ve observed that approximately 30 to 40% of the people you follow will ‘return the favour’ and start following you.

2. Tweet interesting stuff

This should be obvious! Whether it is your own content you are sharing, or interesting content from all over the Web (regardless of the subject matter), aim to be interesting. If your followers like what you’re giving them, they’ll let you know with retweets, favourites, etc.,and they’ll say so to their own followers, who will, in turn, follow you and so forth and so on. Snowball effect!
You need to figure out your content strategy first – more in an upcoming article!

3. Be a giver 

The key word in the term ‘social networks’ is the word ‘social’, and Twitter is probably the most social of all. This means that you should not just be a receiver, you have to be a giver as well if you want it to work out in your favour. A giver shares content from other people, colleagues, even competitors. A giver makes recommendations of other people to follow, engages in discussions (serious ones as well as exchanges about airline food), reports on news (upcoming industry events, news from colleagues, industry news, etc.), shares experiences and expertise, retweets and always tries to meet new people and network. Give and you shall receive – it’s the core spirit of social networking, and sometimes we tend to forget that.

4. Use hashtags

Increase your visibility on Twitter by using hashtags. Find those that influencers use, or simply browse through your timeline and see which hashtags are used by the people you follow and which ones are hot right now – and use those relevant to your content! This way, your tweets will appear in searches for a certain hashtag and this increases your chances of gaining followers interested in that particular topic or who follow that hashtag. Here is a list of some popular translation industry hashtags.

5. Include your Twitter info everywhere

An effective, quick and simple trick is to include your Twitter username in your business contact details – e-mail signature, Skype, CV, LinkedIn profile, ProZ.com profile, business cards, website… Use either the URL or just your @Username.

How (not) to contact a translation company

This article has been at the back of my mind for ages and at the bottom of the articles priority list, but after receiving the same email from the same translator eight times since 9:00 this morning (it’s 1 p.m. now, just to give you an idea) and though I know it will not stop those translators who have been spamming us for months (yes, spamming), I feel it needs to be written – some may find it basic and I apologize in advance to them, but it seems it’s not that basic for many.

So here we go. Of course it is perfectly normal for translators to send their CVs to agencies, to get known, to say “Hey guys, I exist” in an industry where gaining visibility is anything but easy. We receive about two to three spontaneous applications per day, and sometimes a true gem may be found among them, someone who becomes one of “our” translators. By no means do we want to stop receiving applications, quite the contrary. So, just to be clear, I am not questioning the “why” of applications here; we are on your side. But what matters is the “how” – and here, take our word for it, is where many translators get it wrong.

When agencies don’t answer, most translators think it is because we are drowning in applications every day. I’m talking here about spontaneous applications. For most of the smaller, specialized agencies, like us, three unsolicited applications on average per day is not exactly ‘drowning’ and we at GxP do actually take the time to read every single one of them. However, when the application is clearly sent via a mass-mailing system and the contents do not match our needs at all, why should we reply? It feels like being spammed with something we don’t need.

So here’s tip 1: don’t send out mass-mailings to agencies. You’re just spamming them when doing so – at least that’s how it may feel for them.

Logically, the second tip is to personalize the email as much as you can. I always reply to applications starting with “Dear [title plus last name or first name]“, even if the translator applying does not match our needs at all. After all, it’s only normal to reply to someone who took the time to research the company, who we are, our names, etc. Starting an email with things like ” Dear Sirs”, “Dear Mrs or Miss” etc. is, um, off-putting. If you can’t find the name of the person who is going to receive your email, then be creative, something like “Dear [Agency name] Team” for example – something nice, warm and attention-getting. Personally, I’m much more likely to read until the end of an email starting with “Dear GxP Team” rather than one starting with “Dear Sir or Madam”.

So, tip 2: personalize the email as much as you can, which means doing a minimum of research about the agency.

Which brings me to the third point: also research what the agency does. If an agency clearly states on their website, ProZ profile, etc., that they are doing only medical translations and you are specialized in architecture and household appliances, applying is probably a waste of your time – and theirs. Even worse, it shows you did not research the agency at all and if they ever coincidentally get a job from an end-client that fits your areas (you never know, a medical devices company might need a different text translated), they might not contact you because you will be remembered as a “spammer”. So, take the extra few minutes to research what exactly the agency does.

Of course a medical translation agency does not only need medical translators. Sometimes, their own clients need a contract translated, user manuals, etc. Use your best judgment; if there’s a link, even small, between your area of expertise and theirs, it may be worth a shot to apply. If you do, be sure to phrase it this way, for example: “I see you work in the medical field – I myself am a legal translator, but if your clients ever need agreements/contracts translated, feel free to contact me…” etc.

Tip 3: research the working fields and areas the agency works in and trust your common sense : if your fields have nothing to do with theirs, applying may be a waste of time. Ask yourself whether your expertise may still be useful to them (e.g., medical instruments manufacturing companies still need contracts, user manuals, marketing brochures, annual financial reports, etc. to be translated). If this is the case, say so in the application email to show you have done your homework, that you are aware your fields are not entirely compatible but that they might need you sooner or later.

Next is the content of the actual email. Don’t recite your CV; remember, you’re enclosing it. Keep the email short and to the point, you want to make the PM curious enough about you to want to open your CV attachment. So, if you’re applying to a legal translation company and you’re a former lawyer, then that info is the only thing you need to put in the email. Ditto if you weren’t a lawyer in a former life, but already have some large or highly specialized projects behind you – put the most mouth-watering ones in the body of the email. In short, what makes you different from another translator?  The same goes for your language pairs – where you learned English is irrelevant (“I spent 2 years as an au pair in London when I was 18″), but your working pairs should be right there – personally, it’s very annoying having to search everywhere in the email and the CV to find a translator’s language pairs. They are the first elements that differentiate you from other translators, so highlight them.

So, tip 4: Keep the email short and simple, but to the point. The basic, yet important facts about you as a translator should be right there: language pairs, specialties and experience in these fields. No need for a long list of past projects in the email; this is what your CV is for. Just include the most “mouthwatering” experience you have. Remember, what you want is to capture the attention of the PM reading your email, so that they want to learn more about you and open your CV. The first few seconds after they open your email are the most important: this is when they decide if they want to know more.

Last but not least: don’t spam. If an agency doesn’t reply, it’s pointless to send the same copy-paste email over and over and over again (even more so if they have actually replied at one point). Pointless and extremely annoying. And copy-pasting the entire email you sent and putting it in a LinkedIn invitation is even more annoying. If you want to connect on LinkedIn or other sites with the PM you already contacted, don’t copy-paste the email you already sent to that person. Keep the invitation text simple, it’s an opportunity for you to remind them that you exist: “Hi, I contacted you a while ago about my translation services. I’d like to connect with you here as well and look forward to having you in my professional network”. You’re trying to get the person to be interested in your services, so don’t do it online using an approach you wouldn’t use if you had met that person in the flesh at a translation conference.

Tip 5: Keep a clean and up-to-date list of your prospects in which you enter whom you have contacted and when, whether they replied, and what the reply was. Send a follow-up email every six months for example, in the event you don’t receive a reply, but make sure it’s a different email (“I was wondering if you had received my email from last January in which I offered my translation services”). Don’t resend the exact same text you have already sent – and the same goes for social network invitations.


On the topic of translators’ CVs, I can only recommend these two very useful resources from my friend Marta Stelmaszak from Wantwords (she’s the expert for translators’ CVs!):
CVs and Cover Letters that Work (Webinar replay)
Download her e-book: How to write a translator’s CV

Barcelona conference presentation – Social Media Marketing for translators : why, what, how…

Last weekend I attended the ProZ.com International Conference 2012 in Barcelona. It was really fantastic seeing old friends again and making new ones, and to finally have a chance to see some of the wonders the city of Barcelona has to offer.

The conference was also the opportunity to give my presentation on social media marketing and online reputation – 1 hour is terribly short to cover the topic, but some basics were thrown at the audience and hopefully all attendees got something to chew on. The purpose, as outlined in the introduction, is not to make anyone a Social Media expert (and in an hour, that’s impossible), but rather to help translators in the decision-making of investing in that marketing strategy – or not – by giving them as many elements, pros and cons as possible to help them decide whether it’s something their own business could use/need  – and of course, for those who decide it may be something for them, make them curious to find out more and take the next step.

The presentation felt relaxed and was quite interactive. I don’t like to push the Q/A at the very end, attendees can just interrupt me if they want to rebounce on something I just said. IMO it is simply more comfortable and informal that way. Hopefully people feel this as well, because it not only creates a relaxed atmosphere, but it also makes the presentation more lively and ultimately (hopefully) fun. And well, egoistically, I have to admit it’s much more fun for me as  it makes each presentation different from the previous one and the audience has often really interesting, original and unexpected questions, comments or experiences to share. So, no routine. As always, I wish it could have gone on for another 3 hours – and hope attendees do as well!  ;)

A really big thank you to all of you for our attention and patience, I hope you all left the room with a clearer idea of this wide Internet marketing world and some (more) elements at hands to make your decision – if that’s the case, then I did the job in Barcelona (if that’s not the case, feel free to contact me via e-mail and shout at me ;))

An interesting thing happened during the session and in the plane back from Barcelona – or at least I consider those thoughts interesting. It occured to me that, compared to a year ago, I was focusing less on actual Social Media and always more on SEO, online reputation / online presence – that was the case at the Germersheim University a few weeks ago when I gave that same presentation and, to an extent, at the conference in Warsaw in April. This is definitely material for a future article (and sooner than later), but for the past 3-4 months, it seems social networks themselves are loosing the importance they had a year ago in online marketing – they are still important, no questioning that, but SEO and online image in general seem to grow more and more important. Social sites actually always were SEO and online reputation tools but this was maybe not always clear, or hidden behind the WOW factor of social sites. I have this feeling that perspectives are changing – client don’t ask “How can I be on Facebook for my business?” anymore because it’s Facebook and it’s hype. They ask today “Why would I be on Facebook for my business?”.

Interesting shift in perspectives here – but again, this is material for a future article.

In the meantime a big thank you to Patricia for the organization of this great conference, and a big thank you to all – it was simply fantastic being there with all of you. See you next year at the Porto 2013 Conference!