Greater than 3 minutes, my friend!
I receive messages from translators willing to work with me almost every day and there is nothing bad in trying to establish cooperation with fellow translators. Actually, the word of mouth and personal connections are among the most efficient methods to get more translation gigs in our competitive environment (based on my survey conducted among translators).
However, misusing this method may have an opposite effect. Intrusive and unsystematic communication may only harm your reputation. That’s why I decided to prepare a short list of Dos and Don’ts.
Let’s start with things you should NOT DO when contacting a colleague:
Don’t come into a begging position!
You might be surprised, but many newbie freelance translators contact me with the following message (or something very similar): “I need a work, please help me!!!”
Such messages out of nowhere are senseless. You don’t know a person and he/she does not know you either. Asking for a work from translators just because you found their contacts on Facebook/LinkedIn does not mean they want to outsource translation jobs to strangers.
The majority of independent translators do not outsource translation jobs at all for objective reasons. Therefore, learn more about your potential new contacts (their language pair, fields of expertise, whether they work in a team or alone, etc.) before making any communication attempts. And remember: be ready to give before you ask for something!
Never send mass spam messages!
I wrote about this topic in my previous post about mistakes freelance translators make on startup, but I’d like to touch upon it once again.
According to surveys, email marketing still heads the list of powerful marketing tactics, but every tactic should be applied in a wise and consistent manner.
Purchasing XXX-size email database from TranslatorsCafe (damn, I did not want to mention this scrap, but I have to provide an example) is the worst shopping idea for a translator. Using such lists to spam colleagues and agencies (because they sell not only LSP emails but other emails as well) can ruin your reputation! Moreover, your message will get into a SPAM folder in 99% of cases.
Don’t be pushy and never leave irrelevant links or unsolicited sales messages!
While being the members of interest groups (such as Successful Freelance Translators), some translators try to publish sales messages or leave comments with irrelevant links. These tactics won’t bring you any new contacts or translation jobs because people come to such groups for another content (like pieces of advice from seasoned translators, interesting industry-specific articles, how-to guides and information about events to learn something new). Your message will miss the target and, in many cases, you will be simply banned from the group.
What about the best practices? How should you approach fellow translators?
Take an active part in community discussions on forums, websites, and in specialized groups
Try to leave meaningful comments and be helpful where you can. Friendly and courteous communication will make it easier to find colleagues that have similar interests.
Visit translators’ meetups in your city
If you live in a big city, I bet there should be at least one local group of translators who arrange meetups for language specialists. Try to run a search on Facebook and you’ll definitely find a useful event nearby.
Join online webinars and workshops
The Internet made informational and learning opportunities available for almost every person from around the world. Spend a couple of minutes to google some webinars and workshops for translators. My personal recommendation is Translators On Air — regular free webinars for translators delivered by translators. Dmitry and Elena invite colleagues to share their knowledge about translation business every week.
I know it is hard to find time for this kind of communication, but choosing a simple path (as those bad practices mentioned at the beginning of this post) is not a good solution at all.
Try to allocate about 30 minutes for communication with colleagues daily, share your point of view and knowledge if you are a seasoned translator, try to bring value to the community, don’t be too shy to ask questions, make friends and support discussions in your favorite groups.
This way you will earn credit among like-minded people and next time when they have a relevant job offer, they will immediately contact you!