Archive for the ‘Social Networking’ Category

Machine Translation Will Never Get Better…

December 21, 2007

… than that.

But this one’s cool!

As found on StumbleUpon.

Thanks to this excellent post.


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?

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.

Social Networking and Specialist Networks

November 28, 2007

Out of curiosity more than anything else, I was a member of ProZ for a couple of years. Ironically, it did one thing for me that social networks are meant to do: I became reunited with one long-lost friend.

I joined ProZ in order to have a bird’s eye view of what is going on in the translation industry on a global scale. Yes, I mean ‘industry’ in the literal sense. And I was amazed -an understatement. Because I am in the fairly privileged position of having a “slash career“, being both a translator and a conference interpreter, I can afford to be fairly selective. New genuine opportunities are what I am always on the lookout for, not jobs that pay 0.02 US dollars per word (yes, that’s true!). I can volunteer to translate for nothing, and it will get me more personal gratification, and gratitude, than such impossibly low rates.

The questions section of ProZ was addictive. But once I made it to Page 1 of the list of best technical translators, that was it. I knew who my ‘friends’ were, I knew who was friends with whom, the dynamics behind all that striving to be #1 (impossible in my language combination, the position is taken forever: he’s still up there), but being on Page 1 didn’t prove anything. If I got the point, it just meant that those who had developed a liking for my style of translation were 1) online, 2) paying attention, 3) quick enough. But it never gave me any visibility, although, if you google me, you will find a trace left. You would think that when you cease to be a member, all your data and contributions disappear. Well, that’s not true – these things have a strange staying power in cyberspace.

However, ProZ was an eye-opener in this sense too: it reinforced me in the way I define my own performance. I want to give my clients the highest quality I can provide, to have with them professional, clear and cordial exchanges. And I want to be paid in proportion, and on time. And that order sums up the nature of my business relations.

Paid vs. Unpaid Translation-Take 2

November 19, 2007

After this first experience, I retreated from formal voluntary work for a long time. I don’t have the guts to work for Amnesty International, for example, and I feel a little guilty in that department.

Having thus lost myself in translation for many years, there came a point in my life when I wanted to make myself ‘useful’ again, and I started voluntary translation (written).

But, how do you reconcile a busy schedule with voluntary work?

Voluntary organizations, especially the smaller offices, need a commitment that makes your work meaningful. I assigned one day per week to one particular organization. One day can mean a lot of money for a translator, so it wasn’t a fixed day, I was able to move it in the week as I needed in order to cover an urgent deadline, or I couldn’t work around a paid project. And with modern technology, I was still able to receive notifications of projects offered by my clients on my mobile, so I wasn’t losing anything.

From my observations, I can list at least 3 good reasons for doing this kind of voluntary work during your working life, and I can tell that this was truly a win-win venture. It has broadened my expertise into the field of community development, where I can now work with confidence and get paid, it has broadened my social network, as I made a few friends through my voluntary work, and my personal perception is that you can assert yourself more as a professional than when you are just a student or a beginner. I phased out after the one-point-five-million-word mark, it was probably more because I didn’t start counting from Day 1. I wasn’t bored, but I needed more personal time for other pursuits.

I also do occasional unpaid work for friends, but also for young people (not homework, though!). There is a young lady out there in a US university, whose transcripts I translated so that she could get accepted. I was so proud for her when she did (she got in because of her brilliant ratings, not because of my translation)!

Paid vs. Unpaid Translation-Take 1

November 19, 2007

When young translators look for jobs to improve their practice, the first thing that comes to mind is ‘voluntary work’. A good idea, as it provides real-life practice, something that one is keen to get after a couple of years of learning how to translate.

When I started out as a translator, about 30 years ago, one of my first assignments was voluntary interpreting at a conference of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament held in Bradford, England. We were a small group from the same Paris university. Bradford seemed cold and grim, even in July, but the first evening, we ventured outside in search of a restaurant, only to find what seemed to us a crowd of Pakistani young men hanging out in the streets, just standing, not moving, looking very sad and idle and lonely… so -those were the days- we hurried back into the conference, into the comradeship of (unpaid) workers for a Good Cause. Our working conditions were very amateurish, probably violating every single rule ever devised by our international association, but this was offset by the warm, genial atmosphere.

View Nadine Touzet's profile on LinkedIn

I did it!

November 13, 2007

I can’t believe I did it! Up until now, I’ve been reading other people’s blogs. Now I have my own.

In the past few months, I read a couple of articles about Facebook, MySpace, and Web 2.0 in general. But I didn’t really have the time, or even the courage, to look into that. A couple of weeks ago however, after reading about the use and the impact of Facebook and other social networks for small businesses, I decided to go for it. I created my Facebook profile, I have now created this weblog, and I am developing my year-old domain that has been waiting for my attention. It’s a work in progress, but it will be done.