An introduction that makes all the difference…

Greater than 3 minutes, my friend!

First impressions are important.

Sadly, this is where many of us fail miserably.

And it’s not because our job is boring or unimportant.

Translation is BOTH exciting AND important, but we don’t actually get many chances to practice pitching our services.

Many of us are freelancers.

This means we spend most of our time glued to our screens, enveloped in the comfort of our homes.

Quite often our interactions with fellow humans are minimal, and to make things worse, when we do interact with other people and tell them what we do for a living, most of the times it looks like this:

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And herein lies one of our biggest challenges.

99,99% of the people I know have never met another translator in real life.

They’ve never had the need to hire a translator and I’m the only representative of this seemingly rare profession in their social circles.

Add to this that our profession is not that “hip” and practically invisible in mass media.

We have no shortage of movies, sitcoms, books and articles being written about lawyers, doctors, architects, web-developers and many other fine folks in service industries, yet translators mostly stay in the shadows (with a few exceptions).

So when I start explaining what I do for a living to strangers I’ve met at birthday parties and other social gatherings, I often get mixed responses.

A lot of times people have a hard time trying to understand what it is I do and how I can make money translating. Why on earth would anyone pay a translator when we have Google Translate?

Of course, for me it’s an exciting opportunity to show my passion for this amazing profession and enlighten these people.

After all, the world as we know it cannot exist without translators.

We build bridges and connect nations. We help develop global trade, contribute to conflict resolutions and help people understand each other. This world would be lost without us.

That’s why I think it’s very important to get our message across and shine a more focused and brighter light on our profession.  Let’s make translation sound more enjoyable, exciting and relatable, so that the general public can easily understand what it is we do.

In the spirit of making my profession sound more fabulous I’ve come up with a simple formula for introducing myself that I use whenever I meet new people and they ask me what I do for a living.

Here’s what I say:

I’m a {your_source_language}-{your_target_language} {specialization} translator. I have my own company where we help {who} translate {what} into {what_language}.

This formula does wonders for me because I specialize in video games.

Every time I say that I have my own company where we help video game developers translate their video games into Russian I can see genuine interest in the eyes of my conversation partner.

And using I have my own company instead of I’m a freelancer makes it sound like what I do is extremely important and serious. I mean, come on! The guy has his own business!

I'm kind of big deal

And this simple formula can work for other fields of expertise too. The key here is being able to give a clear, interesting example of what you do.

For example:

I’m a German-French medical translator. I have my own company where we help heart surgeons translate manuals for medical equipment into French.

I’m a English-Polish financial translator. I have my own company where we help Wall Street financial institutions translate their quarterly reports into Polish.

You get the picture. 🙂

Since I started using this formula, I’ve seen a significant increase in interest from people I meet at events and social gatherings.

It’s very simple, yet highly effective, and I think you should give it a try.

And if you do, don’t forget to let me know about it, ok? 😉

D.K.  (proofread by J.T.)

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Dmitry Kornyukhov

About Dmitry Kornyukhov

Founder of The Open Mic. Video game localization specialist. I help video game developers, game publishers and localization studios bring their projects to the Russian-speaking gaming community.

21 thoughts on “An introduction that makes all the difference…

  1. Awesome!

    There are many ways to say it. My advice is to look for something linked to emotions, make sure it’s linked to an emotion of your own, and then to an emotion of the person you are talking to – Link the two together. It’s gonna have a great effect. 🙂

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    1. Excellent advice, Otávio! Indeed emotion plays a very important role in how you choose your words. Any profession can be boring if you don’t sound genuinely excited about it. So, yeah, emotion is key to making an impactful introduction 🙂

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  2. It’s very funny, because where I live people are always impressed when I say I am a translator. For a while I actually worked as an agile project manager and people weren’t as impressed. I decided to quit and go back to translations. Now I get again the admiring look when I say what I do.

    I fully agree though that in the world of business translation is definitely not a major player. Sometimes I feel like people think translations just happen without anyone doing much effort, like out of thin air…

    That’s why the open mic is such a great place!

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    1. “Sometimes I feel like people think translations just happen without anyone doing much effort, like out of thin air…”

      You’re not alone! That’s why client education has to be an ongoing effort across all channels. The Open Mic is an excellent place for that, but we also need to do it in other places to: on our personal websites or offline when we meet people in real life.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, Claudia!

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  3. Most people I meet looked stumped when I said “translator and interpreter.” So, now I say “I am a Language Consultant, and I help business men and women convert their ROI easier when doing business in [language].” The language will vary (English or Brazilian Portuguese) based on what language the other person speaks.

    Where I live, they think the only other language spoken in the world is Spanish. When I say I speak Brazilian Portuguese, things get more interesting. People want to talk about politics in South America, samba, carnival, soccer… I usually steer them back to business.

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    1. “So, now I say “I am a Language Consultant, and I help business men and women convert their ROI easier when doing business in [language].” ”

      That’s a good way to put it, Gio! I think the word consultant sounds very fancy and it makes you look more important. Like as if without your consultation they’ll be lost in translation 🙂

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  4. You’re so right, Dmitry. We translators should be the first to take any chance to explain and show our work. No one else will do it for us!
    I’ve recently learned from a book on branding what a “mission” is and how to write one for your business, and it’s both extraordinary and straightforward how easy you can get people’s attention by stating what you can DO for them. You’d think your title was self-explaining but, apparently, it’s not 😀

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    1. “You’d think your title was self-explaining but, apparently, it’s not”

      So true! Especially considering how many people think translators and interpreters are the same thing 🙂

  5. Yes, the world can not exist without translators.
    We build bridges and connect people.
    We help develop global trade.
    This world would be lost without us.
    We role play, and it depends on our knowledge on different fields , including law, medicine, business, engineering, psychology, and so many fields.

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  6. “I have my own company” – thanks for the formula, Dmitry! Of course, it’s a way more impressive than just being a freelancer. In Russia when people hear that someone is a freelancer, they think of him/her as an unemployed person with occasional earnings.

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    1. Thanks, Zoya! Yes, freelancing has gathered some really bad rep in the past few years (largely due to a very (if any) low barrier of entry). Only a few people really understand that it’s a huge commitment and that it requires an extraordinary set of skills to run a business successfully.

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      1. Dear Dmitry,

        Although freelancers are not as popular as formal translators, but they are different.
        Some freelancer’s are retired but work online at home, they earn money more than even formal translators.
        Some freelancer’s are teachers too because they have got their certificate and they earn money for teaching too.
        However , you Dmitry are my active friend , and I take great pride in you.

        Kind regards, Qasem

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  7. Thanks Dimtry for your formula. I use also TSP “Translation Services Provider”. I always say to my colleagues that we should see us as service providers not employees.

    Best Regards
    Ali Saad
    Translation Services Provider


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