Guest Post: Mastering LinkedIn with Sara Colombo

HOW TO BE YOURSELF, ATTRACT THE RIGHT PEOPLE AND USE LINKEDIN EFFECTIVELY

Hello all and thank you for having me here today. How are you? Joseph invited me to write a guest post for his blog and I am glad today we’ll be talking about LinkedIn. Yes, the once professional network that became a social utility and is now functioning as a professional social network… a sort of in-between platform.

“But social media are a waste of time for freelancers!” you might think. And you are right. Social media won’t lead you far if used only to play games, share selfies and chat about cats, soups, cars etc.

However, if used for business purposes, social media can really help you to get in touch with potential clients (agencies as well as direct clients), discover new niches, turn followers into customers and establish yourself as a leader.

The only thing you have to do is clarify who you are to attract the right people – the people you get on with who will be happy to work with you (and will also benefit from your translation services) –  which, to be honest, is not exactly an easy task.

Keep in mind that people work with people, not nice brands. They want to see the human behind the digital surface. And when I say this, I mean that they want to connect with a nice human, someone they like, find interesting, someone they would hire because they understand their business and can help them. In other words, when you create a LinkedIn profile, you have to be human, personal, find out what your values are and who might benefit from those values/skills.

Why? Well, because (a) you don’t want to attract all the random bonkers annoyingly hanging out around your contacts and (b) why the heck would you waste time to create a very general and anonymous profile, a universal washout, when you could spend the same amount of time on a clear, effective, specific profile? You tell me.

We need to understand this: creating general profiles to please the whole world and attract all the damn clients we can think of is tiring, pointless, useless. You need to attract the perfect client for you, not thousands of pests.

Think about it: isn’t it better to be a business that solves problems rather than being just another business? And who can you help if not the people experiencing the problems your skills and expertise can solve?

The solution? Be yourself, learn to value your skills, know who you want to talk to, understand what they want to hear from you, and create a specific, clear, effective, LinkedIn profile.

Let’s put it this way: use LinkedIn to attract the right people.

IF I HAVE TO BE SPECIFIC, HOW CAN I DO IT?

Many people think that specialization is something that comes with their brand, as if colours and logos could tell the whole story of your life at first glance. Failures and milestones included.

Wrong. As I say in my book: you are your brand. A brand might be cool and definitely an important part of your business, but this is the time to show your personality and talent to the world. Because this is how you will build your career and attract the right people.

So, to create a great LinkedIn profile, forget rules and fixed CV standards and learn to interact, be true and tell your story. Here are some ideas:

  1. Use your picture, not your logo. People want to work with real people, and unless you come from Mars, you should be one nice, interesting person.
  2. When writing your summary, be focused, clear and personal. Use your creativity to link all the steps and create a compelling presentation: show your love, motivation and share your areas of interest or your specialisations. As I have said, being specific helps you attract the right client, but it is also the only way to tell people more about your values, opinions and, as a consequence, stand out from the crowd. Because you don’t want to be just ‘another translator’…right? Great. Then ‘neutral’ should not be in your vocabulary, especially when it comes to describing your career. On the contrary highlight your skills, specify the important milestones or steps that led you to where you are now, charm people with your lovely wink and (finally!) close the deal. Use that damn ‘call to action’ to bring people to your blog, website, to contact you… to work with you!
  3. Add multimedia content to personalise the profile and give more details about you as a freelancer. Specifically, there are two elements that could work for you: an infographic and a presentation of your company. Visual content is really popular these days because it can help you shrink a lot into a tiny digital surface. Create a fun, personal, memorable infographic to show your CV or skills. Alternatively, and especially if you run a blog related to your field of specialisation or simply a blog about translation, link it to the profile to attract traffic and let potential clients explore your website.
  4. Don’t link Twitter to LinkedIn and don’t spam people with posts and updates that have nothing to do with your profile. Yes, I have told you to be yourself, but I meant the best professional version of you (who said professional can’t be fun, witty or interesting?!). Despite being a social platform, LinkedIn is still a professional network. If you really want to share a post on all of your social media, make sure the content is right and it won’t damage your reputation or make your prospects run away from your initial promise.
  5. Connect properly: when sending a message to someone, specify why you want to connect with them and add a couple of details about yourself as well. I keep on receiving invitations from people I have never heard of and sometimes find myself declining them as the profile looks incomplete, unclear or simply unprofessional. Why should your ideal client work with you if you don’t even know how to introduce yourself in a catchy way?

Finally, two more tips you might find useful:

  1. Update your profile regularly and remember to check LinkedIn updates too. Social media change quickly; keeping your profile updated and fresh is the only way to stand out.
  2. Use keywords all around your profile: from the tag line to the summary, the description of your educational background and your interests. If you want your prospects to find you, you need to be clear about what you do.

PUTTING IT INTO PRACTICE: YOUR DAILY SOCIAL MEDIA WORKOUT

Apologies for the fitness reminder, but the subtle connection is easily understandable: just like training regularly, you also need to use social media on regular basis. That is, on a daily basis. First of all because engaging people often enhances your visibility and, secondly, because if you want to find clients, establish a connection and lead them to your website or even close a deal, then you will have to take steps, connect and be present. Ultimately, it will take time to negotiate the deal, just as it would offline.

So, here are some things you can do every day:

  1. Research LinkedIn to find potential clients. Or do some online/offline market research and then go to LinkedIn to find those people/companies.
  2. Connect with two-three new people and do it in a pleasant way (aka: see point 5 above!)
  3. Update your profile: tell people what you are working on, share an interesting business story, ask a question, post a valuable blog post/video.
  4. Follow one or more companies. Weren’t you looking for potential clients?! Then stalk freely. Which brings us to the next point…
  5. Turn your LinkedIn contacts into potential clients and do market research to examine their websites, services, reputation… Anything you might need before contacting them and introducing your services as a freelance translator. How? Well, that’s a different story!
  6. Join a group/conversation and contribute by giving your opinion or asking a question. This, I’ll be honest, is something I used to do a lot in the past but that I have recently dropped because my schedule doesn’t allow me to do so anymore. It worked though. Or at least it helped me to get noticed within certain marketing groups. I am not saying chatting brought me clients, but it did garner a few connections and, eventually, a couple of projects as well.

Heres another of my tiny secrets: if you want to be noticed, engaged and contacted, you have to be personal, clear and engaging rather than screaming to the whole world about your slogan and spamming people with annoying stuff like self-promoting posts, it’s-all-about-me updates and very low comments based on your personal frustration. People hate haters and they find your obsessive advertising vain and arrogant.

If you’ve recently contacted a potential client through LinkedIn but he/she never replied after accepting your request, then start asking yourself what went wrong and how you could introduce yourself properly, rather than persistently posting your CV, the link to your ‘services’ page or showing off how great you are. This is not a TV commercial, this is a social platform based on conversations, engaging people and using your positive skills to attract and connect with the right people.

If that person simply ignored your request or you are still waiting for him/her to call you, then take the first step and send another message, let them know that there is a reason why you connected with them (which is not just because you were desperate to share your new CV). Make them feel like a valuable connection.

Do you want me to be honest? Alright then, let’s face it: not everyone is interested in working with you and repeatedly sharing your CV is of NO use whatsoever. Believe me. I mean, I am happy to know you’re a great professional, someone always available to help with a new project, but stop it because after the fifth time we all know that you are.

You have to work your ass off and put your motivation on the table to overcome the digital surface and bring your negotiation to the next level. This is why being specific and choosing the right people is mandatory. Because they are the clients who will be happy to work with you, they will find your profile interesting, your projects an example of your skills and your values similar to theirs.

Want to know more? Get in touch? Of course!

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Oh, and remember to #balanceyourwords!

Joseph: All that remains is to thank Sara for such a brilliant post. I myself have been looking for ways to make LinkedIn more effective recently but didn’t know where to start. As such, I hugely enjoyed reading such expert insight into the topic and I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did! Ciao.

Translation Ethics: A Different Perspective

This post represents a long-overdue contribution as the question of ethics within translation is both a topic I find fascinating and one to which I have devoted considerable research. In fact, with it being the topic that was at the heart of my MA dissertation, I’d probably go as far as saying that it is my ‘specialist subject’ within translation studies – if such a thing exists.

I must also note that this post is merely an introduction to this vast area and I hope to write further posts on the topic in the future to expand upon the basic ideas set out here.

Although it has been widely acknowledged for some time that ethical considerations are an area of key importance for translation studies research and translation as a whole, relatively few scholars have sought to tackle the issue and even fewer bloggers or professionals writing upon translation have looked into this area.

One notable problem is that the very definition of ethics varies greatly between texts and people can find themselves addressing wildly differing concepts while still contending with the same umbrella subject. Furthermore, traditional concepts of ethics do not apply to translation in an adequate manner; sticking to ideas such as utilitarianism (used in the sense of the most happiness for the greatest number of people) or intellectualism (which dictates that the best action is the one that best fosters and promotes knowledge) can be viewed as a limitation of conceptions of ethics in this context.

Ultimately, ethics remains a challenging subject in any field and its breadth of applications ensures that no discussion of the subject will prove to be clear-cut. Indeed, as Sherry Simon puts it in her 1999 review of Lawrence Venuti’s The Scandals of Translation: ‘[w]hat more difficult notion is there in translation studies than that of the ethics of translation?’

However, whether or not that is the case, many of the posts I have read on the subject are particularly out of line with what I see as the key issues and I believe that some ground can be gained by looking into precisely what it is we are aiming for.

More specifically, the majority of posts I have read addressing the area are concerned with individual convictions and value judgements. One perfect example is this post from Jensen Localization entitled ‘Ethics in Translation’ that questions how differing views on topics such as religion or politics, or texts that may cause offence to the translator can lead to ethical problems. This is undoubtedly an important aspect of the profession and questioning the impact that these issues have on your output is extremely interesting, yet I don’t feel that this is a part of ethics proper.

Similarly, while an issue such as translators’ rights and drawing up a professional code of conduct for translators are both undoubtedly important, they place focus solely on a deontology, or professional ethics, while separating a personal ethics from the discussion.

For me, professional codes of conduct represent a different area of study while considerations such as whether or not a translator is willing to accept a text based on grounds such as religion or politics are individual decisions that lie within the distinct category of morality.

It is important that ethics contends with the question of how to translate; previously mentioned issues are not ethics of translating or translation, but of the translator.

As Anthony Pym puts it (a leading voice on the topic who himself continually refuses this distinction between deontology and ethics and seeks to address the profession and the act together in an attempt to develop one all-encompassing ethical code):

‘If any decision includes moral aspects, it follows that any act of translation, and any theoretical treatise on it, can be read from the point of view of ethics.’

In this statement he equates the act of translation as a whole with an ethics of translation and as a result implies that the ethics of translation is inextricably linked to a methodology of translation – the individual choices in the translation process, or that question of ‘How to translate?’

An ethics of translation lies in deciding upon the right course of action within the act itself, deciding what is the right or wrong treatment of the text we are translating and knowing how to implement those decisions. It implies an acute awareness of your own role in the translation process and a keen awareness of the impact of your decisions on the world around you.

One example which serves to demonstrate the distinction I have attempted to make is this provocative post that is currently causing some heated discussion among professional translators. Within the post, the author details and glorifies their method of ‘faking it’ in translation – getting work in the profession despite being wholly unqualified.

In terms of a professional or translator ethics, this is highly questionable as the client is not given an honest reflection of the translator’s capability to complete the work (the line ‘managed to convince some poor fool to pay me to translate Japanese for them’ really drives this home), while in terms of a translation ethics the translator is in no position to fully appreciate the significance of their choices or the subtle shades of meaning that are being erased, mangled or mistreated and is thus acting in an unethical manner.

Overall this is an extremely difficult area to address and I hope that this introduction has served to shed some light on what I believe is the true heart of a translation ethics.

Talking Translation – Reflecting on Reflective Practice

I was going to say that this post will be a little bit different but, as I seem to say that at the start of most of my posts, I guess that this could be entirely expected.

This post is based around the link below (click the Soundcloud image) which heads over to a podcast from ‘Transcast’, a collection of podcasts and recordings relating to different aspects of the field of translation. This particular podcast involves a discussion between Dr. Sarah Maitland, Dr. Fruela Fernandez – Translation Studies professors at the University of Hull – and myself, centring on the importance of reflective practice in translation training and professional work, and I just wanted to quickly run through a few key ideas here before leaving you to listen to the podcast.

Reflective practice, for me, represents one of the best working methods available for the practicing translator as well as providing a rare opportunity to integrate theory and practice, which remains a key issue in the discipline. Reflecting on your own work as you translate forces you to question and to justify your translatorial decisions in relation to an end goal (a translation brief in this case) and this in turn allows a deeper understanding of your own working process and a better grasp of your areas of strength and weakness.

But beyond this added certainty in your choices, the act of questioning and justification also leads to a greater level of replicability in your work: I may be able to unwittingly produce the best translation in the world, but without an understanding of the processes leading to it, chances are that I won’t be able to reach this same high standard on a consistent basis, something of key importance to the practicing translator.

On a different level it also stands as an extremely useful pedagogical tool in the way that it allows assessors to gain a valuable insight into the creative process that a student follows in their work as well as their overall understanding of the discipline.

The reflection does, however, need to be based upon a solid knowledge of the underlying principles involved in translation in order to soundly justify decisions. This knowledge can be drawn from professional experience, translation theory, hermeneutics or many other fields.

Ultimately, if you can amply justify a decision to yourself, then you can be much more certain of the quality of your work and can assuredly justify that same decision to a client. Anyway, listen to the podcast and reflect on considering reflecting in your own work. Ciao for now!

The Magic of Translation

After recently posting on issues that don’t relate directly to translation in the traditional sense, I wanted to try to write something firmly on topic while still being accessible and targeting popular culture.The area of discussion in this post is literary translation which, while evading the majority of professional freelance translators, is still a huge part of the profession.

While much of the current focus in Translation Studies hinges on the acceptability of the prevailing strategy when working with literary texts which, due to a prioritisation of commercial interests, is to ‘domesticate’ the foreign text – to make the text read fluently so as not to pose difficulties to the reader and, ultimately, to give the impression that what you are reading is not a translation (one great metaphor I’ve come across likens translation to contraception in the way that the less it is noticed, the better it seems!) – I wanted to look at a quick example to try and simply demonstrate the extent of creative re-writing involved in literary translation in order to offer a small indication of the challenges posed by attempts to transfer meaning.

And what better example to use than the biggest of the big bestsellers: the Harry Potter series.

This series of books poses a huge range of translational obstacles and the overall aim of the translations is to try to reach the foreign audience with as much as possible of the many levels of meaning still in tact.

Features of the original such as the creation of new words, the repeated use of rhymes, anagrams, acronyms and cleverly formed names are just a few examples of such challenges and, by taking a few examples of wordplay and showing how they were dealt with, hopefully the strength of the translations – which ensured that the series became a global bestseller – will be clear.

As briefly mentioned above, names in the book often contain small plays on words and descriptions of the very character they name, with the example of Mad-Eye Moody being one prominent case in point. The French translation as Fol-Oeil Maugrey (with ‘maugréer’ meaning to grumble) manages to replicate much of the sound of the original while also maintaining this semi-hidden characterisation. Similarly, Madame Pomfrey (sounding like ‘frais’ meaning ‘fresh’) is neatly translated as Pomfresh in the French. Further still, the Sorting Hat of the original is cleverly renamed as La Choixpeau Magique (cleverly linking ‘chapeau’ (hat) and ‘choix (de) peau’ (choice of skin) to produce a magic skin choosing hat!)

One final, excellent example of the creativity in the translation lies in the key anagram of Tom Marvolo Riddle and ‘I Am Lord Voldemort’: the French translation of his name as Tom Elvis Jedusor initially seems rather strange, until you realise that this is an anagram of ‘Je suis Voldemort’. Then, when you add in the fact that Jedusor sounds like ‘jeux du sort’, meaning ‘games of chance’ and paralleling the English surname Riddle, you have an extremely clever translation.

Of course, certain languages have been left with versions that are less successful (the Italian ‘Cappello Parlante’ (‘talking hat’ for Sorting Hat) is much less effective, and Madame Poppy Chips (for Pomfrey) is simply bizarre) and I can’t come close to even scratching the surface of the vast range of interventions that have been made throughout the entire series, but hopefully with these few examples I have managed to hint at the amount of linguistic gymnastics involved in transferring even small aspects of meaning that we take for granted from one language to another.