Posts Tagged ‘networking’

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.

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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.