Tuesday, December 6, 2011

How to attract clients as a translator

Many translators ask their self, why aren't I getting work? I'm registered with almost every translation community/company/agency available on the Net, but I haven't gotten more than a few assignments!

How many of us are thinking the same thing right now? Taking the first steps in the world of translation is always hard. And now, with an army of wannabe translators who offer services at prices with which no one can compete (see our previous articles), even professional translators are having some problems. Here I would like to discuss a few tips on how attract clients and agencies, and how to establish a fruitful relationship with them. This is not The Final Guide for Translators… just few pieces of advice from a PM.

When sending a CV, be sure to insert as much information as possible about the way you prefer to be contacted: PC email, mobile email, telephone number, mobile number, MSN, Skype etc. (Please avoid Facebook…)
It is a good idea also to specify a number for "emergencies" and time of availability during which you can answer the phone or reply to emails.
In most cases the first jobs will be "by tomorrow", or "I need it within the next three hours". Of course you are free to reject these tasks, but by accepting, you're sure to score points! Without a doubt, showing flexibility will increase your appeal to clients.
Another tip: each of us has a specific field, but showing adaptability even to other translation contexts is not a bad thing. Of course you can't just say "I'm the most qualified translator for medical/law/technical/IT/software/machinery field"… you'll be taken for a liar. Try something like: "I'm strong in XXX and have some experience also in YYY".

Do not underestimate the "visual" aspect- among hundreds and hundreds of similar CVs: a well-compiled, original but at the same time clear CV will have a stronger "visual impact". Use colors or a particular layout, but don't be too childish or "extreme". A CV with a portrait will impress much more than a text-only one. This is especially true in translation communities. Usually the most requested translators are the ones who have a portrait registered in their profile. I suggest using your picture, but if you are too shy you could use one of your dog/cat/car/whatever. Of course this is only for communities! When sending a CV directly to a company, use your own picture.

You should keep track of all the places you've sent your CV to. If you update or change something in your CV, send a reminder to everyone. It can also provide you with an opportunity to tell companies and agencies "Hello! I'm here! If you have a job, give me a call!" PMs can't remember all of their contacts and when they have to choose a translator from the database, they usually prefer to pass the assignments on to translators with whom they keep contact. Especially in cases of emergency or with important assignments, there is the tendency to look to familiar collaborators, on whom it is easy to rely. This leads directly to my last piece of advice: smile!

Speaking seriously, when writing emails or answering the phone, it's better to be informal but polite than to be formal and too stiff. Most people working in translation agencies are relatively young. "Hope you're doing fine!", "It's been a long time…", "Have a nice day!" and expressions like these give a good impression to the PM and will surely leave a good impression. Of course if the PM on the other side's reply is cold as ice, this kind of approach is not useful… Creating a friendly relationship with the agency is a good way to get more jobs. Show a bright and energetic personality – but, even in this case, without exaggerating it! In the end it's still business!

In conclusion, smile: it's the strongest weapon, not only in work but in every aspect of life! So smile, and think positively, and good things will surely come!