Archive for the ‘self-promotion’ Category

Stealing A Good Story

January 6, 2008

I can’t help pass on the story I found from, here.

The title of this blogger’s post is: Who writes articles for $1. And why?

Don’t think that the topic is irrelevant to us, just substitute ‘translates’ for ‘writes’.

Anyway, the supporting anecdote is taken from a book by marketing expert Harry Beckwith.

It runs like this:

‘To hammer the point home, Beckwith adds a story about a carpenter. In this tale, a man who has a squeaky floorboard calls in a carpenter, who quickly finds the problem and fixes it with three precise blows of his hammer.

The carpenter pulled out an invoice slip, on which he wrote the total of $45. Above that line were two line items:
Hammering, $2
Knowing where to hammer, $43.’

See the link? Enjoy!


Can You Get By With Globish?

January 5, 2008

The United Nations have declared 2008 the International Year of Languages.

But if you listen to the global buzz, you might think that you don’t need ‘languages’ any more, Globish (Global English) is THE language that will get you everywhere, in particular in business.

A number of companies consider it as the way to save.

Save on what? On one essential aspect of international communication: language diversity. So if that is the case with your company, you will undoubtedly find some interesting insights in this excellent broadcast on Radio France Internationale.

The title was: ‘Interpreters in the world of business’, and several professional interpreters, as well as top players in the field of global business were interviewed.

It’s true that for medium-level meetings and communication, conference interpreters will be less and less needed. Why is that so? Because business executives are increasingly made to use English in their daily interaction with their foreign counterparts, and even among themselves! But it also means that they need to be trained (and this has a cost too).

Did I say ‘made’? That’s because I’ve had many opportunities to discuss this with French business executives, some of them extremely FLUENT in English. They resent the fact that some meetings held in France have to take place in English. They would very much prefer to use their own native language to work faster, and better.

For important business negotiations and top-level meetings, interpreting will continue to be needed, if only to ensure that the top management are allowed to speak in their own languages. But not only them: one case in point are the EWC‘s (European Work Councils) set up by European multinationals. The participants in EWC meetings are management and employee representatives, and the latter do not necessarily have the command of English (nor do they receive the kind of language training…) that would enable them to follow the meetings in any meaningful and positive way.

So interpreters now have a bigger role in business. They have made the switch from diplomatic conferences (their main line of business when simultaneous interpreting was invented, just after World War II) to business conferences, and they are a most valuable part of them, not only as language interpreters, but as cultural mediators too.

Take Chinese. As the Chinese interpreter points out in the interview, the Chinese are not giving up on their language, quite the contrary. Why should they, anyway? Very high-quality Chinese interpreting is essential to many business deals. If the two sides can’t communicate efficiently, what happens? The deal falls through or is delayed. The Chinese have enough suitors at the moment to afford to pick and choose.

So, the United Nations have declared 2008 the International Year of Languages. Are you doing anything for your language this year? Any plans? I’d love to hear about them.

The Perfectionist Speaks…

January 4, 2008

The New Year is a good opportunity for a new start, the easiest way being to make a few tweaks and adjustments. And as I said in a previous post, there’s a perfectionist somewhere nudging me, telling me that my blog is not exactly as I want it to be.

Don’t mistake my words. I’m also very thankful: more than 900 hits in just about 6 weeks, for a first blog on an obscure topic (obscure for all the internet marketers out there, and those who are quite happy to use any technological tool that has ‘trans’ in it, not for us in the know *wink*), is NOT BAD. But I want to learn more, and to improve. The hit figures, by the way, are purely there to keep me happy, because this blog is not for monetizing.

So some overhaul is going to happen here.

1. I’m planning to move this blog to my own domain. I’ve had a domain for 2 years now, but as I said earlier, it’s been hacked because I was too indecisive about it, and I now have to recover it. I recently acquired another one, also in my name, and I’m shifting the blog to that one. Sometime…

This is taking time, for a good reason. When you are not a master of a given technique, you have to rely on others to do it for you, or you do it on your own, and that’s painful. By the way, that’s a good lesson for those out there who think they can translate, but haven’t realized the full implications. I ran a enlightening search on Twitter the other day, on ‘translate’ and ‘translation’. As always: leave it to the professionals.

2. I’m not happy with the blogroll, so I’m going to reshuffle things, maybe reorganize it completely. I suppose that could be termed ‘growing pains’. I keep adding to it as I find new interesting links, but it’s become a mixed bag of things.

I want the sidebar and the blogroll in particular, to be the most useful part of this blog. My views of the profession are interesting, no doubt. I have enough anecdotes on clients, colleagues, etc. for at least one year of posting, but that’s not the point. I consider myself more a messenger, a link between those who don’t know our work very well, be them clients or young translators/interpreters, and useful sources, documents, interesting people IN the profession, and sources of inspiration OUTSIDE the profession. So in the coming months, I am going to work on that. I asked a question on LinkedIn the other day, and received a dozen very interesting answers. I’m still leaving the question open for a few days, then I’ll close it and analyze the responses.

3. So if I can achieve those 2 objectives in the next 3 months for Objective 1, and 6 months for Objective 2, I suppose I’ll be reasonably happy with myself.

So watch this space…

Food for Thought

December 19, 2007

I’ve just read this excellent piece written by a freelance interpreter, the Editor of Communicate!, A.I.I.C.’s newsletter.

What can I add? Nothing. It’s clear, to the point, and describes the usefulness, indeed the need for interpreters and translators worldwide.

We are not an industry, we are not products, we are real people doing real jobs and needing to be considered, and paid, accordingly.

The Killer Business Card

December 13, 2007

Do you use business cards a lot?

I’ve never used them much, but over the years an assortment of sizes and blurb, in the classy creamy color that I love so much, have accumulated at the bottom of my purse.

After a while, each new batch ended up as note cards for shopping lists, other people’s phone numbers, etc.

In our field, business cards are a big issue among those who are starting their business, but after a while you don’t need to rely on them so much, because your clients and/or colleagues are the ones who do your own word-of-mouth marketing.

But recently, I found the topic of business cards discussed a lot in many different places, on LinkedIn, in FreelanceSwitch, etc. so I decided to re-vamp my own bland cards, if only as a test.

My new cards are to be seen here, although the view is so small that it provides only a general idea. If anyone would like to comment on them, please feel free. Color is a real novelty for me, I normally go for much more subdued, traditional business cards. But as I said, this is a test, and I liked the design, so I took the plunge.

What’s your view on business cards? Do you think that they are useful?

I Really Admire Your Work!

December 12, 2007

Wow. We’ve all heard it. It’s always sincere.

And it’s the perfect ice-breaker at lunchtime, but once the ice is broken, it doesn’t take us very far, especially at a —— meeting (you may fill in the blank as you like, anything ‘technical’ will do).

‘I really admire your work!’ ‘I don’t know how you do it!’ ‘I don’t even speak English fluently’ (from French speakers).

The problem is, WE know how WE do it. We know it so well that it has become standard practice for us, and we tend to under-promote our wonderful skills, to put it mildly. So we mumble a few words of appreciation, about learning the job, practicing, and so on. If we start to describe what it takes to become an interpreter or a translator, people begin to get bored.

How can we promote our skills in an environment that is simply so different from our practice? I’ve been pondering this for ages, in particular during those lunchbreaks where we end up eating (the team of interpreters, I mean), separately from our audience.

The story is quite different when I am hired to do consecutive interpreting. I accompany my clients to meetings, they get used to me as I get used to them, we sit in traffic jams together. We have time to exchange, mainly on their subject. I can be of value to them, in particular to those visitors from America, as they see me not only as their ‘French voice’, but also as a source of information, especially on study tours. One visitor used me once as a sounding board on the subject of GMOs in France.

Their message is important to them, and so it’s important to me, and I make sure that they know it. That’s probably our best promotion tool.

The Meeting That Wasn’t

December 12, 2007

In defiance of all the laws that govern good (understand: aimed at attracting readers) writing, I’m beginning this post with a negative title. There!

The ‘meeting that wasn’t’ was planned with a client of my translation services who happened to be in Paris this last weekend. I ‘met’ her and came to work for her by e-mail. True, it was in fact a ‘word-of-mouth’ encounter, as I had worked for another member of the staff, but that person ended up being a good client, so I was pleased to get to meet her in the end.

She had to call it off, so I was left to ponder the difference between ‘meeting’ people professionally by e-mail and ‘in the flesh’.

I am a believer in human interaction, but networking is probably not my best skill. I still see fairly regularly a few friends I made more than 30 years ago, and I have no problem being reunited with people I haven’t seen in decades, and I keep making new real life friends, but work connections are different.

My work connections are generally very busy, and increasingly so, in a generally difficult economic environment. I have one client whom I haven’t seen in months, maybe years now. She’s not a frequent user of my services, and I know that she is really very, very busy. When she needs my services, she e-mails me, I produce a quote, and off we go. She doesn’t have to be a ‘friend’ although I think our feelings for each other are cordial.

With her, as with this client I almost got to see, what is important for me is to have at least one meeting. It’s important from a human point of view, but not necessary for work. I can’t really explain why it is important, maybe only to reassure myself that we are more than just machines.

Facebook and Professionals

December 9, 2007

I’ve just had the good fortune of being featured in Marci Alboher’s blog.

I’ve been reading Marci’s column in the New York Times for some time now. I like her approach to Small Business (that’s why the link to her column is in my blogroll on the right, under, appropriately, Small Business).

I am a member of the Slash “/” Careers Facebook group she has set up on Facebook and that is where the material for the feature comes from.

I hear a lot of fierce criticism in France from quite a few people (mostly older ones, but not just them) about the dangers of Facebook. Because they are scared of it, they won’t even take a look. Others are curious, despite legitimate concerns regarding privacy. I don’t look up the France network any more, although I am a member of it geographically, because I don’t share most of their interests (too old for that), but Facebook has enabled me to get in touch with a number of professionals worldwide, and this is a new way of looking at it.

Understandably, no single social network can replace good old face-to-face meetings (more on that tomorrow), but the professionals who have embraced it are prepared to go the extra mile to meet and connect with people they might otherwise have never had the opportunity to meet.

Variation is the spice of life. And we professionals shouldn’t stick to only one way of communicating with the rest of the world.