The power of networking via social media

The power of networking via social media

Ein Gastbeitrag von Heather McCrae.

I’ve been to various translator get-togethers over the past few years, some organized by translator associations, some via social media. The surprising thing is that many translators out there are rather scared of social media, especially Facebook. When I start expounding about the fantastic advantages that can be found there for translators (and interpreters, of course), they get this strange look on their face. But what about privacy, they ask? I don’t want everyone to see what I am doing, they cry fearfully.

My response? Rubbish! You can set your privacy settings so tight that no-one can actually find you, if that is what you want. Whatever. The thing is, you can benefit in a multitude of ways. The primary one that should interest any translator is you can find really good jobs on Facebook, not via Facebook itself, but via networking.

The important aspect here is to build up a good reputation by showing you know what you are talking about, by answering questions, by providing help and support to new or inexperienced translators, by being reliable. I have even had a client write to me asking me to translate their website because “I like the way you write”. I still work for that client on a regular basis. Other clients are translators themselves or translators who manage small translation agencies. The great thing about this is, they know exactly what you are talking about, they are open to questions and ideas, and you can discuss difficult translation issues with them directly online if necessary. You build up a working relationship based on trust, reliability and cooperation – which benefits everyone, including the end client. And you get word of mouth recommendations, worth their weight in gold.

Another great feature of networking is that we share knowledge: Information about useful resources, such as dictionaries, glossaries, useful newsletters, webinars, seminars, databases, etc. There are groups for numerous language combinations, specialist fields or even hobbies translators may have. And let me tell you, even the hobby groups are really, really useful for translators. You love food, you translate food? Well, there is a bunch of translators out there who deal with food – all potential clients and sources of information. Same goes for all sorts of topics. Even handicrafts.

Another benefit: All these translators come from around the world, so you also get an international perspective, useful if you want to query differences in UK/US English for instance. Or ask how a marketing metaphor might come across in a certain land.

You can discuss topics to your heart’s content with other specialists in that field, discover that there is a webinar coming up that will really benefit you, like a really detailed tourism translation webinar that will provide a rich source of information for newcomers and experienced translators looking for new markets. You will discover links to great CPD sites, links to get-togethers, regular meet-ups and fantastic powwows around the world where you can get to meet lots of different translators and discover new places. You will learn about upcoming conferences, both real and virtual. Find out about special offers for software and training. The list is endless.

And, last but not least, you will make friends, find colleagues and create a great support network of people. People who know where you are coming from and understand when you have a little rant about PMs or terrible texts. People who know what you are talking about when you go on about cats, dogs and dragons. People who post interesting images, motivational posts and things so funny, you almost spill coffee on your keyboard.

Maybe I paint too pretty a picture? Where is the catch, you ask? Well, translators are just normal people too, so things are not always warm and happy, but on the whole I would personally rather be on Facebook and interact with thousands of other translators, interpreters and other linguists (and, in my case, knitters, crochet hook wielders, book fans, etc.) than sit in my office and hardly ever meet anyone.

I’ve met more people, gone out more and made more friends in the past five years via Facebook than I did in the 20 years before that. My rates have gone up, my client base has improved, my source texts are more interesting, I have plenty of places I could go visit and stay with translator colleagues, I have good translator friends who come and stay with me and my family, and my horizons are far broader these days. It is always good to know that I have a whole translation support network at my fingertips.

If you know someone who is not on Facebook and you think might profit, feel free to pass this little blog on.

See you on Facebook!

Heather J. McCrae
HJM Technical Translations

  1. Excellent stuff, Heather. Meine Rede! Thank you.
    Found your contribution via Lucy Brooks‘ recommendation in her eCPD monthly round robin.
    I’d add a couple of other benefits of networking via social media.
    In a profession where some feel isolated, more than ever we translators need to use our power to foster solidarity and unity (not uniformity!) in promoting and defending the core interests of the profession. Social media enable precisely that. The professional associations do it to some degree, of course, but navel-gazing, an introspective siege mentality and a marked lack of lateral thinking can be problems – one reason I don’t belong to any.
    My experience of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and the like has also been immediate worldwide sharing of knowledge, skills and experience to the advantage of one and all.
    Long may it flourish!

    • Hi Clive, absolutely! I am constantly working on making translators aware of pricing issues and building up the confidence to charge more. Thanks for reading my article, hope you will share it on. See you on Facebook?? Best regards, Heather

    • Herzlichen Dank, liebe Ilona, fürs Teilen und für die Erwähnung als „Lieblingsblog“.

  2. I couldn’t agree more! I am very active in a Dutch translator Facebook group (Vertalerskoffiehoek) and occasionally visit some international groups as well. I recognise virtually everything Heather writes in her guest blog. The advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Having said that: the biggest disadvantage for me is not the occasional unpleasant conversation (most translators are actually quite nice people, also online) but my own weakness. This particular group is so vibrant and ‚gezellig‘ that I often find it difficult not to have a look while I should be doing other things. So it does require some self-control, but all great contacts, tips and sometimes assignments are worth it.

    • Hi Edith, I know what you mean about succumbing to the Facebook temptation, but I know each time I post, I’m making myself known to other translators. They in turn have a look at „me“ and that sometimes develops into a business relationship – one direct client PM contacted me because she liked the way I wrote – still working for that company 3 years on. So, some might consider Facebooking a waste of time, but it isn’t really 🙂
      Hope to say hello to you on Facebook soon, regards, Heather


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