Barbara Jungwirth of reliable translations llc writes about language and the business of translation.

Finding Clients Across the Ocean

Berlin August 2014
Berllin in August 2014 for FIT Congress
To get clients, you need to go where the clients are – either virtually or face-to-face(s). When you are physically an ocean away, a virtual connection is obviously preferable. There are a few ways to do this:

  1. Join LinkedIn groups for the industries in which you specialize. Simply receiving notifications of the group’s activities may keep you informed of events within the industry, but to become known to anyone within the group, you will need to participate in discussions.
  2. Join industry organizations in your target countr(ies) and/or at home. I am on the board of my local STC chapter, but since the parent organization also has foreign chapters, I have met STC members working in Europe. One such connection indirectly led to my speaking at the IEEE conference in Ireland this July.
  3. Follow individual people within the industry/compan(ies) you are targeting on Twitter. Again, you will need to actively participate in order to catch someone’s attention.
  4. Consider joining the translator’s organization in your target country. While you cannot attend their meeting, it gets you listed in their directory.

Meeting in real life makes a more lasting impression than just a virtual connection. This does not always have to involve travelling:

  1. Some local conferences draw international attendees. Prepare recommendations for unusual restaurants or points of interest not covered in tourist guides. Such information will help establish you as an expert – even if you don’t translate tourism texts.
  2. If you live in/near a big city, local groups may host events with visiting executives from foreign companies. New York has a Meetup group that features representatives of technology start-ups from a different country every month or two. Local knowledge can again establish you as a source of information.

Then, of course, there is travelling to your target countr(ies). It may be expensive, but it is also a great way to keep up with changes in the language and culture:

  1. Speak at industry conferences. Your listing in the program broadcasts your expertise beyond the attendees at your presentation. Also use the speaking engagement in your promotional materials and on social media. I tweet a few days before I present at a conference and often write a blog post about it afterwards.
  2. While you are there, meet with other translators. Attend an event by the local translators organization or contact individual translators and organize an informal exchange at a local coffeeshop.

If you want to learn more about attracting clients , listen to some of Corinne McKay and Eve Bordeaux’s podcasts or attend my ProZ seminar on the topic later this year.