Everybody seems to be giving advice on networking these days and we thought we would like to join the bandwagon and share with you a few things that have worked for us. We hope you’ll enjoy reading it.
Go places. There are meetings, conferences, webinars, courses, all kinds of events you can attend. And nowadays you don’t even have to leave home “to go places” to go places: plenty of online events for armchair potatoes like you and us.
Make yourself visible. However, there is no use going places and keeping quiet in a dark corner. In the case of “live” events, making oneself visible is easier: introduce yourself, exchange cards, talk to people during coffee breaks. In case of online events or social networks, you have to actually write something to be noticed.
Be nice to people. Compliment the speaker of a session you really enjoyed. Try to find something in common with people you talk to. Be friendly: people tend not to bite if you are polite.
Make yourself useful. Even if you are a beginner, there will be occasions where you can help. Don’t waste them. Show you are trustworthy, reliable. It may be something simple, like an MSWord shortcut nobody seems to be familiar with. But perhaps, for some reason, you know the perfect translation for that word old hands are struggling with. In case you are a newcomer and have very little experience to share, take part in off-topic discussions, just to show that you are a polite person who can write well. That also says you are there to stay, to learn and become a better professional. And, when you get your first job or referral, do the best job you can and meet the deadline.
Ask intelligent questions–and ask questions intelligently. The best way to ask an intelligent question is to do your homework before asking. Look it up in dictionaries and Web, try to explain why you are not happy with what you have found. And, for God’s sake, supply context. Context is a phrase or two of the source text where the word or expression is used. It is of no use to say only “in a legal context.” Just provide context. Please.
Don’t be a leech. Don’t be the guy who only shows up to ask for help—or, worse, one of those guys who asks help to be delivered to their private letterbox, because they do not have the time to read group messages. And be careful with the amount of help you ask. If you don’t know and can’t find 3 out of 4 words, maybe you should not accept the job.
Never ask for work. Let’s repeat it: never join a group to ask for work, unless that is the main purpose of the group. In general, people tend to dislike and distrust those who tell a tearjerker and beg for work. When we recommend colleagues or share work with them, we are risking our own necks, and so we tend to recommend those who have proved their competence. Saying that you have been abandoned by all clients and have five children to feed doesn’t seem to be an indication of professional capacity.
Look before you leap. Too often people dive head first into an online community and immediately start talking their heads off and making themselves generally obnoxious. The same thing happens with the groups that form during coffee breaks. In an online group, read messages for a couple days before even introducing yourself. Then introduce yourself. Basic stuff. No reason to write an autobiography. Five lines will do. But do not participate in discussions before introducing yourself. In a “live” group, join and smile and do not open that big mouth of yours before there is a break in the conversation and do not change the subject or try to monopolize the conversation. Remember that every group has its own rules, most of them unwritten, and the best way to make yourself undesirable is to break them.
Go easy on the irony. Aggression is not the best way to make friends, you know. But many people love using sarcasm and cannot resist outsmarting their colleagues and attacking others just to show their mettle. Sure way to make lots of unfriends.
Don’t be arrogant. You may be sure that in any professional group there will be someone who knows more than you do. Far more.
Be grateful. Don’t forget to thank colleagues for their help. And if several people try to help, don’t forget to tell the solution you favored and why.
Write well. Good grammar and spelling are de rigueur. Nobody will share a job with someone who doesn’t know how to use an apostrophe. Would you trust your teeth to a dentist with cavities showing?
Create a professional identity. Ma & Pa identities on Facebook, for instance, are a pain. We never know whether we are talking with John or Mary. It’s free, create an individual professional profile. But don’t call yourself SlobovianTranslator: everybody here is a translator here and if you are in a Slobovian group, most people translate Slobovian and we don’t go round calling one another SlobovianTranslator. Also, create a decent e-mail address, please. Johnny_1998@gmail.com ain’t one.
Photos. We know it was a great party, but people are prejudiced and usually avoid paying too much professional attention to those who appear to be drunk even in their avatars. We also know you are in terrific form, but there is no need to humiliate everybody by showing it.
Show commitment. “I am not really a translator. I just need some help with this big headache of a translation I took up while I am between jobs.” Take two Aspirin and go to hell. This is a group for pros.
Published - July 2013
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