Oct 22

Translator! Don’t be afraid of LinkedIn!

Is LinkedIn for me?
I was very sceptical about using LinkedIn or any other social media platform for promoting my business or even networking. After giving it a try, I must admit that my attitude was dictated by my little knowledge on how LinkedIn works and what it can do for me. I do not think I even understood what networking was.

I am posting this since there have been a few discussions on one of the translators’ portal recently, where majority of contributors did not see any advantage of using LinkedIn. The most common question was whether it could actually bring any work and my answer to this, based on my example, is: of course!

What to do when you don’t have a clue?
When, like me before, you have no idea on what exactly you should be doing on LinkedIn, give yourself time and learn from others. It is exactly the type of learning like with using CAT tools – your knowledge and expertise comes with time. On the Internet, one can find an abundance of materials on how to work social media, but to me they were useful only to some extent. Perhaps this is because each and one of us is unique and what applies to others does not necessarily apply to me.

If you don’t know where to start, just observe. It can be other translators, but also translation companies, people from your subject domains and anyone who is active. This is what I have been doing – learning from those more knowledgeable than myself.

After about a month, you will have an idea of what you can do on LinkedIn. Amongst other things, you can:
1. Share updates on your work and professional development.
2. Share interesting content that relates to translation and your subject domain.
3. Participate in group discussions.
4. Invite colleagues to join your network.
5. Use LinkedIn as a database for potential contacts.
6. Make yourself more “findable” on the Internet.

How do I connect with people?
OK. I hope by now all this sounds great and you are starting to develop a liking for LinkedIn, but what if you have no connections or your connections are not yet from the translation industry? Where do you get connections from?
You invite people to join your network, BUT you do not just send random messages, saying “Hi! Let’s connect.” You will not probably make a good first impression, so let’s think how we can make it more natural?

1. Take part in group discussions or just observe what people say. If you like their comment, send them an invitation saying what you liked about them and that it would be great to connect. Always relate to your addressee and never try to sell them your services!

2. Follow translation companies and direct clients with whom you would like to do business or with whom you have already worked. Say company A shares an update that they are moving offices. Fantastic! This gives you a change to strike up a “conversation” with them. You can comment on their status update or just like it. But in this way you are getting some exposure and thus increasing your chances of being noticed.

This works even better with direct clients as by following their updates, you receive, right onto your desk, a piece of information you would otherwise have to search for. If your prospect shares an update on some industry-related article, read it and form your own opinion to share, too.

3. One other method of connecting with people is to refer to your mutual connection. I have received a few of such invitations and I do not mind. However, this method, and in fact all the other methods, do not guarantee your success. Yet, it is worth trying and in the worst-case scenario, your recipient will decline your offer. I think worst things can happen in life.

What groups should I join?
All the ones that relate to you, to your job as a translator and, of course, to your subject domains. Search for groups using the LinkedIn’s search engine and pick and choose your own selection. The most likely source of work would be groups related to your subject domains, however, work from referrals of other translators cannot be underestimated.

Is LinkedIn time-consuming?
Yes and no. Liking people’s updates is not time consuming, but at the same time, you won’t see many benefits just from this. Decide on how much time or what activities you want to do and how often. For a start, after you have warmed up to LinkedIn, share one status update every two days and see if you are comfortable with this.

If you are, and want to move to the next level, start a discussion. “What do I want to discuss? I have nothing to say” – you may think. No, this is not true. Everyone has something interesting to share with others.
Something did not work out as expected? You took a job and then problems came? Share it with a relevant group! You translate IT and there is a new software being released next week? There you go – you already have something to write about.

What content do I share and where do I take it from?
The answer is: from the Internet! To start with, search for and subscribe to interesting blogs on translation, the industry, CAT tools, translation institutes, conferences, etc. When you receive updates to your mailbox, select the most interesting ones and share them with your peers.
If you write a blog and have just posted a new entry, share it with your LinkedIn colleagues.
If you read newspapers daily, make it also a source of interesting and related content.

What content should I not share?
Firstly, anything personal. Folks on LinkedIn do not want to know that you have an upset stomach or you are getting a new fridge this week. Decide how you want to come across and I ask yourself: what do I want LinkedIn to do for me?

Possible answers – I want LinkedIn to help me be recognised as a:
1. Translator
2. Medical/technical/financial translator
3. Experienced proofreader/editor
4. Ex-engineer, now translator
5. A friendly person who is always ready to help others 😉
6. Your answer

Once you have answered, all your actions on LinkedIn have to be directed at that and there are no excuses, because you do not want to confuse your followers. It takes long enough to build a convincing online image, so once we commit to something, we should stick with it.

LinkedIn in numbers
So how many jobs have I received via LinkedIn? Well, it does not really work like this. Being active on this platform will not instantly bring you more work. But in the long run, it should. Back to the point: I have been approached with 5 CV requests in the past month. Two of these requests resulted in jobs – one big, one small. So considering the fact that I have a free account and spend 1 to 2 (rarely) quality hours on Linkedin weekly, I think it is a good result.

Now, participating in groups is a whole different story. Whenever I post something, other colleagues visit my profile and ask me to join their circle of professionals. This is great, as I am constantly meeting interesting professionals, mainly from the translation industry, but not exclusively.

If I see that someone has visited my profile, I approach them with an offer to connect, which almost always works. In this way, you can be constantly expanding your network.
With time, you will also have more confidence sending your connections messages and discussing subjects interesting to both parties.

Bonus – your tagline
Your tagline is what appears under your name, and often this is what other people will see first. Do not make it boring “freelance translator”, “freelance ES-EN translator” or worse “professional translator”. How many such translators are there? Probably hundreds. You have to ”differentiate or die” as I once read in one of the marketing textbooks. Comforting, isn’t it? So how do I differentiate from other translators?
Yes, this is a very difficult question, one that I probably do not know how to fully answer myself. But let’s think and look at my example: when I started using LinkedIn, my goal was to get more connections so I put it my tagline and got invitations from people through this way.
However, let’s think about you. What is so special about you that makes you different from the rest?

Ideas:
1. A recent 10K marketing project you did in 3 days. Your tagline: ES-EN creative translator capable of delivering 10K projects within 3 days.
2. Member of a renowned institute. Your tagline: RO-RU translator and a member of highly renowned XYZ for all your legal translations
3. You work with a proofreader as a team. Your tagline: Such and such comprehensive translations, inclusive of independent proofreading – superior to all others.
4. You are doing a course in law since you are a legal translator. Your tagline: PL-EN legal translator currently pursuing a course in law for premium services to clients

So off you go, work on your LinkedIn presence and don’t forget to connect with me on LinkedIn.

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