Freelances tend to work well by themselves; however, there are certain things no freelance, however excellent their skills may be, can do alone. Whether it’s as natural as breathing or as painful as pulling teeth, networking is as important to a successful, satisfying career as the work itself.
A great place to begin networking is where most freelance translators already find themselves: online. Build a website that can serve as a centralized profile of your skills, experience, and expertise and can connect your social media profiles. Adding fresh, original content to your website will raise its priority in search engines (as will incoming links from Facebook and Twitter). Add a blog to your site and show off your creativity, interests, and personality at the same time!
Once you have a website set up, become an active member of professional networks and forums on the web. Being consistently engaging and helpful in these spaces says a lot about your attitude toward other people to potential friends and clients.
In addition to putting yourself out there virtually, make yourself known in the real world. Attend local translation industry events. Travel to the countries of your target or source languages to keep up with the evolving culture and diction and to bump into people who may need your services later. Seek out communities of foreign translators.
As you build a fan- and friend-base of people interested in what you’re doing and capable of, make sure to leverage the connections you make for the sake of your fellow freelances. Introduce the people you know to one another, or invite someone you met at a conference to be a guest blogger on your site.
Don’t be afraid to talk about your work and make your skills known to friends, family, and acquaintances. A friend of a friend of a cousin, who happens to remember your name when her company needs translation work done for the first time, could become your best client overnight. The potential of social relationships is endless.
A good networker knows it’s not all about them and their career – networking is about a group of people helping each other and getting things done. What next step can you take in your engagement with the translator community on- and off-line?