Best Face Forward: In Person Marketing Skills for T&I Professionals
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After you've mailed your resume to a thousand
agencies, sent out brochures detailing your
services, or paid dearly for a display advertisement,
how else can you market your services? Consider
meeting potential clients in person. After all,
some of the greatest business relationships
in the world were initiated person-to-person.
Here are a few steps to finding your most desirable
clients in person, while making a great first
Start with an outline of what kind of clients
you want to develop. Then identify places where
they gather to network, such as their trade
associations. You will find the same net-working
opportunities they do there. You can identify
these by the titles of the people that hire
you or the name of their profession. Often there
are local divisions of national associations
listed in the telephone book by their title
under "Association." Sometimes they
break down into gender (Association of Women
Engineers) or even race. Do you want more exposure
to people who would hire you to translate engineering
material? Look to the American Council of Engineering
Companies. Do you want more work in medical
translation or interpreting? Look up the local
chapter of the American Academy of Medical Administrators.
You can also find the non-competitive professions
that are seeking the same people you are. If
you are a literary translator, authors are also
in the market for publishers. Are you a legal
interpreter? Videographers and court reporters
are always soliciting law firms. Every international
association is a source of work for conference
interpreters. I have listed a few as examples
for you [see sidebar]. You will need to verify
if they welcome guests at their meetings, lectures,
or Programs. Another option is attending one
of their fundraisers or social functions.
Before you go, do your homework. The more relevant
your services are to the people you will meet,
the more you can maximize their receptiveness
of what you have to offer. On the web you can
learn about the association and the profession.
Target meeting people who will have the power
to contract, hire, or recommend you.
Prepare yourself for the face-to-face meeting.
In almost any business or social situation,
in the course of a person-to - person introduction,
you have between 45 and 60 seconds to capture
the interest of the person you are meeting.
First impressions are comprised of your appearance
and the initial information received about you
and from you, in other words, how you are introduced
and what you say about yourself. For purposes
of this article let's focus on clients for the
translation and interpreting professions.
Both professional translators and interpreters
often face the burden of an uneducated market.
Our clients don't always know how we work or
what we do even if it is critical to their own
profession. I have found the best way to conquer
this problem is to learn as much as possible
about my client's work and responsibilities.
This allows easier conversation with a potential
client besides impressing them.
The initial information received about you in
the introduction is critical, whether you are
being introduced or are introducing yourself.
You can capture their interest to learn more
about you just as you can with the first words
you place in your display advertisement of your
services or the first few lines of your resume.
They need to know your name and what service
you provide. Since you are still in that 45-
to 60-second window, inform them of your services.
Even the catchiest company name won't tell them
that you are capable of the work.
Compare these two introductions:
"Hello, I'm Robert Waterman with Around
the World Incorporated."
"Hello my name is Robert Waterman; I'm
a professional science and technology conference
It is then natural for them to comment on what
you've said. In the latter introduction it will
be about your profession as it relates to them.
This potential client will either mention how
his business employs people like you, such as
his last experience with a conference interpreter,
or if they don't recognize the profession he
or she will ask you for more information.
Be careful to avoid the lethal introduction;
when someone introduces you and misstates your
services. Picture this scenario. Here you are,
already employed as the senior translation project
manager at a major company, but you are in the
market for a better position. A former student
of yours from the "make ends meet"
days when you taught is about to introduce you
to the human resource director of a Fortune
500 Corporation. Imagine the damage done if
you are introduced only as his former Spanish
teacher. The 60 seconds are gone and you cannot
tactfully correct this per-son doing you this
great favor. I suggest avoiding this by briefly
reminding your host with the exact wording of
your expertise and goal: "I really appreciate
your introducing us, as I am looking to move
on from my translation project manager job at
XYZ company." If the potential client then
expresses an interest in your work, remember
to be brief and considerate of their time.
Your progress in achieving your goal can be
measured by every subsequent question they ask
about your work. Design a maximum ten-word,
single-sentence description of your key services
to start with. Offer your business card as you
are speaking, and ask for that person's card.
If you've done you homework and know about the
company, then show interest in their work and
company. Don't tell them about their work, such
as why they suffer failures in translation or
interpreting. Let them be the expert. When you
are asked about your work, avoid personal aggrandizement.
Calling yourself or your company the best, the
oldest, or the largest begs a challenge to the
claim. Measure their interest in what you are
saying by watching their body language and ensuing
questions. Only offer to send them more information
or to meet with them if they express such an
interest. It really stings to be told "No
thank you, I'm not interested" in person.
You can contact them a few days later if you
are not sure about their interest. Whenever
the conversation moves away from you or your
services, be polite and don't bring it up again.
You may have made a good impression already,
and trying to refocus on yourself would demolish
Before you go, put your business card to the
professional litmus test. There is nothing more
unprofessional than a cluttered business card.
It should be limited to the company name, your
name, address, phone number, email, and website.
If necessary, a description of services should
be limited to a maximum of five words. A tagline
under your logo serves the same purpose. Adding
the acronyms for professional memberships are
a good sign of your dedication to your work.
Physical addresses are less mandatory as contact
information in today's cyberworld, so removing
this can free up space on your card.
You are now armed with the right appearance,
the right script, and the right approach. Now
go out and get those clients!
Diane E. Teichman, a Licensed Court Interpreter for the State of
Texas and translator has specialized in legal work since 1980. Diane, a member
of ATA, NAJIT, HITA, FLATA and AATIA was also the first administrator of the ID and the
editor of the Interpreters Voice. She is the Series Editor for the book series
Professional Interpreting in the Real World. http://www.linguisticworld.com/diane/multi_matters.htm She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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