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 an almost infinite 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
Author: Heather McCrae
HJM Technical Translations – Your texts are in safe hands with me
After an exciting life touring around Europe, Heather gained her Masters in Translation in 1994, following a BSc in Chemistry with German in 1993. Heather has translated millions of words as a freelance technical translator over the past 23 years. Favorite activities? Learning, reading, handicrafts. And translation, of course.