How to Have a Super First Year in the ATA: Go to Your First ATA Conference

ATA 57th Annual ConferenceWelcome to the fourth and final article in the series How to Have a Super First Year in the ATA. This time, I’ll be talking about why you should attend your first ATA conference this year, what you can expect and some tips for success.

This year’s annual conference, ATA57, will be held in San Francisco, California from November 2-5, 2016. Over 1,500 translators and interpreters will attend the conference, so your chances of networking and creating meaningful connections are pretty high! Not only that, but you’ll have the option to attend over 175 educational sessions. I went to my first conference last year and have nothing but good things to say about my experience.

Registration and Opening Ceremony

From the second you arrive, you’ll feel the warm welcome from conference organizers. Pass by the registration booth to get your nametag, which will have a bright “FIRST TIME ATTENDEE” flag attached to the bottom. I thought of this tag as a ‘get out of jail free card’ to use during the whole conference. Use it as a free pass to ask as many questions as you want, walk up to strangers and strike up conversation by saying “I’m alone and new!” and wander around looking lost without feeling silly about it.

The opening ceremony is the first step to get everyone pumped up and for an extra boost of newbie confidence before diving headfirst into four days of networking and learning. Last year, I was pleasantly surprised by the huge emphasis the ATA President put on welcoming and helping newbies in her speech. She got me to walk out of the auditorium with my head held high!

Buddies Welcome Newbies

As a first-timer, you absolutely must go to the “Buddies Welcome Newbies” session. This program is designed as an icebreaker for those attending the conference for the first – or even the second – time. The session starts off with some tips for success and ends with you being matched up with a buddy, someone who has attended the conference before and who will answer any questions you may have. Your buddy is also there as a kind of support for you throughout the entire four days, someone to say hi to in the hallways or to approach during a coffee break if you’re alone.

Networking Events

Most divisions hold a dinner or networking event at the conference. If you’re a member of a division, make sure to attend whatever it is they’ve planned – you’ll already have something to talk about with other members, so it’s the perfect place to feel at home within the bustle of the conference.

Using Social Media

If you’re on Twitter, follow and participate in the #ATA57 hash tag. At last year’s conference I met someone who is now a dear friend and colleague through tweeting: “I love your tweets about this session, would you like to meet at the next coffee break?”

Financial Worries?

There are plenty of ways to make the conference more affordable. First off, make sure you register by September 23, 2016 for a discounted price. Last year and this year, I’m staying within walking distance of the conference hotel for half the price. Last year I also ate the majority of my meals at the Whole Foods buffet for under $10.

I’ll be honest, I haven’t quite made back my investment in last year’s conference with paid work, but I did manage to get some work from two new agencies and started collaborating with other freelancers I met at the conference on direct client work. My freelance reach has broadened, and I now have a long list of people I can go to when I have questions (linguistic or business-related) or refer work to when I can’t take it on.

Make the Most of it

There’s anywhere between three and five one-hour educational sessions every day and last year I only skipped out on one hour. I also attended every single networking event I could in the evenings. In short, I was busy for about 15 hours every day. My recommendation would be… do exactly this! If it’s your first year, you’ve got to test the bugs and see what you like and what you don’t like. Thanks to last year’s over-effort, this year I know what I’m okay with skipping and what I consider to be my best investment of time and energy.

I was really nervous to be the new kid on the block, but use that “first-time attendee” flag to your benefit. I was so surprised to feel so accepted at the conference. Our profession is full of great, compassionate people who are excited and willing to accept newcomers. I couldn’t encourage you more to take the leap, make the investment and head to San Francisco this 2016!

You can learn more about ATA57 here https://www.atanet.org/conf/2016/ and sign up for the Buddies Welcome Newbies session here http://www.atanet.org/events/newbies.php.

About the author

Molly YurickMolly Yurick is a Spanish to English translator specialized in the tourism, hospitality and airline industries. In the past she has worked as a medical interpreter in Minnesota and as a cultural ambassador for the Ministry of Education in Spain. She has a B.A. in Spanish and Global Studies and a Certificate in Medical Interpreting from the University of Minnesota. She is currently living in northern Spain. You can visit her website at: http://yuricktranslations.com/

Networking at a Conference: Chris Durban on and off stage

By Cynthia Eby & Bianca Dasso

Networking at a Conference Chris Durban on and off stageThis April, I attended the VI Congreso Latinoamericano de Traducción e Interpretación: El traductor después del mañana (6th Latin American Translation and Interpreting Congress: Translator after tomorrow) in Buenos Aires. I was there watching and learning as I often have this year in my job as an administrative assistant for my mom, Helen Eby, and then we spent some time visiting family.

ATA member Chris Durban was also there—as a speaker in the opening roundtable and also for her own presentation: “The Business of Translation: 8 ideas to implement as soon as you exit this room.” Over the three-day conference, I had the opportunity to get to know her as both a speaker and a friend, and it made me more aware of how newcomers to the profession can—and should—take full advantage of opportunities that might otherwise pass them by. In a nutshell: by all means attend official sessions and make note of ideas and concepts that can shape your practice. But also make a point of connecting with speakers—actually going up and talking with them. Because most are far more approachable than you’d think, and genuinely interested in feedback on their talks, which in turn leads to connections and new ideas for you.

I’ll use Chris as an example—keeping in mind that I was meeting her in person for the first time in Argentina.

Chris: The Speaker

When you attend one of Chris’s presentations, probably the first thing you will notice is her energy. She brings life and passion to her speaking, a sense that she really believes what she says.

But what, exactly, does she say? Well, in Buenos Aires her main topic was how to grow your business—a subject that seemed to resonate with many attendees, students and others. Here are the five points she made which I consider most important:

  1. Get out of the house. Go to places where clients gather, like the local chamber of commerce or a relevant association. Don’t be afraid to phone a client. Be proactive in looking for customers and also getting to know the ones you already have.
  2. Look for GOOD clients, not BAD ones. The good ones are reliable, the bad ones are not. The good ones pay well, the bad ones go for the lowest bidder. The good ones will also force you to raise your own bar, which is all for the better.
  3. Don’t go it alone. Have a mentor, a reviewer, or a small group of people in your language pair that you meet with to discuss and compare translations. You need the feedback to grow, and you need the community to remind you that you aren’t the only one.
  4. Go out of your way to help clients and colleagues. Point out mistakes to potential clients in published translations courteously—but be sure to congratulate people on translations that are well done, too. Generosity sets the stage for all sorts of interesting developments: for example, consider at least three freebies you might offer potential clients when you contact them, like translating their “About us” page or bio blurb. Another idea is to tweet tips about difficulties in your field for clients or colleagues, or email them to clients.
  5. Think of your online presence like a resume or a cover letter. Focus on your real specialties. Don’t list everything you’ve ever done, just the ones you know you do well. This is often the first thing a potential client sees about you, so be sure to put your best foot forward.

As you can see, there was already plenty of food for thought in her “official” presentation. But why not take it a step further?

Chris: The Friend

I’ve described Chris on stage, microphone in hand, but who is she off stage? As luck would have it, after Chris’s session I met Bianca Dasso, an interpreting student from Buenos Aires. During a lull in the conference program we formed the beginnings of a friendship with each other—and with Chris. After chatting for a while about various things, the three of us went off to a park to escape the crowds for a bit. There we spent time chatting and joking in a more relaxed environment, surrounded by kids playing soccer, people talking, and the general business of life.

As the daughter of a friend, it was fairly easy for me to strike up a conversation with Chris, but Bianca didn’t have those advantages. I wondered how she went about it. After the conference, she told me this story:

I started talking to Chris after the opening roundtable. I was sitting at one of the tables downstairs next to her, although I didn’t realize it was her at the time. She was working at her computer, frustrated that the Wi-Fi wasn’t working right. And I laughed under my breath. In five minutes, we were talking. We kept talking for another half hour.

The next day, I saw her at the conference again in the morning. As I passed her, she recognized me and said hello. So we talked again that morning.

I really enjoyed taking advantage of opportunities like these, to get to know her and other speakers at the conference. It might seem intimidating to approach someone as prominent as Chris, yes, but she can also sit and talk comfortably like other people. Take-away: You can learn so much from just going up and talking to people who’ve taken the time to prepare a presentation and clearly enjoy what they do. Wonderful opportunities can come from losing your fear and taking the first step.

Like Bianca, I enjoyed the time I spent with my two new friends, and can attest that “even” speakers who have their own professional networks can be very approachable. In Chris’s case, she enjoyed taking time out of her day and spending it with young people, whether she was being asked for advice or talking about something else entirely.

Lessons Learned

First, I strongly advocate taking Chris’s “official” advice to heart. I’ve seen those same tips work in my mom’s business, when, for example, she calls the local hospital and gives them information from the concerns she hears expressed in the community about their services. It helps her develop a stronger relationship with them, as her client, and helps them serve the Spanish-speaking community better—win/win. My Savvy teammate David Friedman has also been applying these principles to help grow his business. He mentioned as an example how grateful two of his clients were recently when he pointed out some typos and inconsistencies in the source text.

Second, don’t put speakers on a pedestal: remember, they are people, too. Don’t hesitate to go up and talk to them. I was able to approach Chris naturally because my mom is her friend. But Bianca didn’t have that advantage, and she still struck up a conversation very comfortably. The message here is to be proactive: do something to overcome your fear, whether it’s helping with the Wi-Fi or something else. Go up and shake a speaker’s hand, and have a conversation—say you enjoyed their talk or ask for clarification on a point or two. Or ask what books or courses they’d recommend.

Finally, don’t think this applies solely to speakers. On the contrary: as a first-time or young attendee at a language event, you should consider initiating a conversation with the more experienced folks as a matter of course. Most translators really are welcoming and happy to share their thoughts. And you’ll be happy you did so when you see how taking the first step can open so many doors.

Header image credit: Unsplash
Header image edited with Canva

Author bio
Bianca Dasso is a 19-year-old Argentine interpreting student in her second year at Universidad del Salvador in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She started learning English in preschool, at the age of 3, and continued taking the regular courses until she graduated from high school. At the age of 8, she began attending English classes at Cultural Inglesa de Moreno, a private language school, where she currently teaches the language to young learners (from 2 to 10 years old). You can contact her by email at: bianca.dasso@gmail.com

Working the Room tips by Chris Durban

By Catherine Christaki
Reblogged from Adventures in Technical Translation with permission from the author (incl. the image)

Working the Room tips by Chris DurbanDuring the ITI conference in Gatwick in May 2013, I had the privilege to attend Chris Durban’s Working the Room masterclass.

Chris always offers numerous great tips about generating leads and finding direct clients. She inspires her audience to be and look more professional and better marketers. Below you’ll find some of the pearls of wisdom she shared during the masterclass.

Required skills for translators

  • Writing skills. A specialization (or two). The ability to translate.
  • Marketing skills to be able to identify and approach good clients.
  • Invest in specialization and be/get passionate about your projects.
  • Don’t start looking for direct clients right out of college. Get some experience first, translating, revising, working with colleagues.
  • Speak your client’s languages fluently and write it well too (invoices, pitch etc.)
  • Read the business press and specialized magazines/journals, as well as your colleagues’ blogs

Before contacting potential clients

  • Make sure you are up-to-date about their industry; the terminology, the technology etc.
  • Research the company and identify key people using industry publications, their websites and social media
  • Read up on the person you’re planning to contact before meeting them.
  • Potential good clients are passionate about what they do.
  • SMEs are easier to approach than big companies.
  • Be prepared to invest time and budget, this is a long-term project.

Attending conferences/events

  • Training events are also marketing events. Pick your events carefully.
  • Find out which events your potential clients are attending.
  • Dress the part and carry professional business cards.
  • Prepare and rehearse your elevator speech.
  • They must think you are one of them.
  • Use the Q&A part in presentations. Identify yourself quickly and ask a pertinent question.
  • Attend at least a few events per year; practice makes perfect.
  • Find [target language nationals] in international client events, they’ll be more open to talk about translation issues.

How to approach clients in events

  • Listen carefully to what they’re saying.
  • Never start with “Hi, I’m a translator, do you need anything translated?”.
  • Be friendly and positive. Never be negative about our profession with clients and don’t complain about bottom-feeders, competitors and CAT tools. When they ask “Do you make a living being a translator?”, say “Absolutely and my clients/texts/projects are super important etc.”, nothing negative.
  • Start with a nice comment as the ice-breaker; thank the organizers for a fabulous day/event etc. when talking/asking a question.
  • Express genuine interest about the industry.
  • To start up a conversation ask: “What did you think of the speaker?”, “Which presentations did you like best?”.
  • After you get them talking about themselves, go into business mode: “Do you export to [X]?” “Do you have any documentation in [language Y]?”
  • Other examples to get them to talk about translation:
    • “I just started to specialize in your industry which I find fascinating. Can you recommend events I should attend in 2013?”
    • “I see your company specializes in [X]. Based on texts I’ve translated recently, some of my clients need those services; can I give them your name?”. Don’t mention your clients’ direct names; your work is confidential.

Few more tips

  • After meeting potential clients: Send email to people you met with terminology questions, things you were talking about.
  • When quoting prices: The right price is not when they agree immediately; they should wince first (otherwise your price is probably too low). If they tell you “That’s expensive”, reply “But it’s worth it” or don’t say anything.
  • Educate clients: Explain that language services are a long-term investment rather than a quick fix

Chris also talked about the rationale behind translators signing their work. Check out her interview in Catherine Jan’s blog: To sign or not to sign? Chris Durban strikes again.

You can also read the German translation of this post by Alain Rosenmund.

Following up after the ATA conference—How to ensure your efforts and expenses don’t go to waste!

by Jamie Hartz

Follow up and follow throughATA 56th Annual Conference #ata56 Miami

Within two weeks

Review your notes from the conference sessions and networking events. Make a to-do list of people to follow up with, and save all the business cards you collected. You can upload them to an electronic contact file, but be sure to save the business cards too in case you want to check them later. Organize the cards by what type of contact the person is—potential client, colleague in your language pair, interesting person you want to get to know more, etc.

Reach out to each of these people within two weeks after you return from the conference. Send them an email with a friendly but professional message. One tip is to include a tidbit of interesting information that is relevant to that person, ask them a thought-provoking question, or give them an update on a topic that the two of you talked about. Be specific about where and when you met the person, and be sure to thank them for their time. Person #1 on your list of people to contact should be your Buddy! Here’s an example:

Dear Mary, it was great to meet you at Brainstorm Networking during the ATA conference. I was really curious about what you said about medical terminology. I’ve been studying in some crazy ways, but I never ran across your method, and you said you had a description written down. Would you be willing to send it to me? I think it will really help me solve some of the translation problems I run into. By the way, would you like to work with me on some of the translations I do? Maybe you could review some of my work, and we could see how it goes.

People tend to appreciate it when you connect them with a good resource or a person they have something in common with, so if you see opportunities, don’t hesitate to make these connections. Here’s another example:

Dear Mary, as I was talking to Joe at the ATA conference, I realized he is working on exactly the same problem you are trying to solve. I think if you and Joe got together you would do great work. You can find his contact info in the conference app. Tell him I mentioned this to you, because I was talking to him about you today. I hope it goes well!

This type of connection is mutually beneficial to both Mary and Joe, and it also makes you look good! Keep an eye out for opportunities to help others.

Within two months

Reach out again to everyone you met at the conference within two months. Ask questions about specific conversations you had or situations they told you about; show that you are interested in them and that you want to keep in touch. This is a good opportunity to briefly share the progress you have seen in your business/job/other endeavors since the conference or how you’ve implemented what you learned and are using it to grow your business/job/other endeavors.

Within six months

Reach out once again to the people who responded to your initial correspondence. Follow up on your more recent discussions and keep the correspondence going so that the person remembers you and recognizes that you are taking an interest in your professional relationship. You can ask if they are going to the conference next year and how business is going for them.

Take some time to evaluate how the conference went for you the previous year and consider what you need to do to prepare for next year (it’s never too early to start thinking about this). Perhaps you need to develop a professional website or set some career goals for yourself. If there were things you felt you could have done differently, either in preparation or during the conference itself, review your notes and consider what you need to do to get the most out of your time this year.

Access the resources you need to succeed

Local chapters and affiliated groups
ATA is affiliated with a variety of local translator and interpreter associations across the U.S. that help professionals stay involved in their own regions throughout the year. This map shows the locations of regional T&I organizations across the country.

There are three types of local T&I organizations: local chapters (official chapters of ATA), affiliated groups (affiliated with ATA but not officially chapters), and other T&I groups. To find out how to join the local T&I group nearest you, click on the aforementioned links.

These local translation and interpreting professional organizations offer the opportunity to connect with people in your profession who live in your geographical region, which means that you will be able to meet in person more often and share advice, stories, and questions on a more regular basis. Local chapters and other groups also hold regular events for networking and professional development. Much like ATA, they also typically provide various levels of membership, which includes a listing in the organization’s directory of translation and interpreting professionals.

ATA Divisions
Each person’s ATA membership includes free membership in the various divisions, which are organized groups within the association for special interests, such as languages or language families (Spanish, Nordic, Slavic, etc.), specializations (Medical, Science and Technology), or service types (Interpreting). These groups convene at their annual meetings during the ATA conference, but they also provide benefits outside of the conference in terms of member forums, newsletters, webinars, and more.

Joining a division is simple. Just log in to your ATA membership profile on the website and click the word “Modify” next to “You belong to __ divisions”. Select the divisions you would like to join and then click “Submit”. There is no limit to the number of divisions you may join.

Once you have joined the divisions of your choice, visit each of their websites to see what they are up to. On these sites, you will be able to sign up for listservs (member forums), newsletters, blogs, and more. You can also visit these sites periodically to keep up with the current news and events for each division.

Other resources

Business Practices list
The Business Practices forum is a lively and active Yahoo group where ATA members can collectively discuss issues related to business practices in the translation and interpreting professions. You can opt to receive an email each time a new post is made, or you can receive a daily digest of the discussions. Some forum members choose to lurk in the background, following the conversations but not necessarily contributing, and others choose to participate in the discussions on a regular basis. Either way, you are sure to learn a lot from your colleagues in this forum.

The Savvy Newcomer
The Savvy Newcomer is a blog that ATA volunteers started in order to provide resources and advice for people who are just getting started in translation and/or interpreting careers. We post articles weekly with relevant content for newbies, and we always welcome feedback and questions.

Mentoring Program
The ATA Mentoring Program matches newer translators or interpreters with more experienced ones in a one-on-one, year-long program wherein the mentor offers ongoing advice and support to the mentee to foster his/her professional growth. Learn more and see if you are currently a good candidate for mentoring here: https://www.atanet.org/careers/mentoring.php.

Endless possibilities
Don’t underestimate the benefits of other resources you may have in your own backyard!
– Your local chamber of commerce most likely has networking events where you can meet potential clients or other professionals.
– Many cities have coworking offices where you can rent a desk or workspace and meet other freelancers or small business owners.. You can build great relationships and pick up some useful tips this way
– Every town has freelancers—you just have to look for them! Try searching for Meetups in your area (www.meetup.com)

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.” Dale Carnegie

How to Get the Most Out of the ‘Buddies Welcome Newbies’ Program at the ATA Conference

ATA 56th Annual Conference #ata56 Miamiby Helen Eby

This post contains some of the information we provide in a presentation for the Buddies Welcome Newbies program we hold the day before the conference (Wednesday). Our goal is to help you think about how to prepare for the conference. We hope these tips will serve you well at other networking events too.

Why did we start Buddies Welcome Newbies?

  1. Because it’s fun! We love getting to know you.
  2. Because, truth be told, I was scared when I came to my first conference. And my second. And my third. And people kept saying, “Hi, Helen, so nice to put a face to your name!” No matter. The crowds intimidated me. So this is to give you exactly the kind of help and tips I would have liked to have had back then.
  3. Because we think people of courage should get a nice welcome mat rolled out for them! It takes a whole lot of courage to come across the country to face over 1,000 strangers!
  4. Because we believe we have a lot to learn from those who come to the ATA conference. As Buddies, we expect to learn from you!

Buddies Welcome Newbies is something we dreamed up right at the same time we conceived The Savvy Newcomer. Both are resources for people starting out in the field. One is a resource for networking. The other is an online resource. But the same people run it, which keeps the online resource real. In our mind, they are two sides of the same coin.

Travel light! Carry as little as possible.

  1. Your smartphone, for the ATA conference app.
  2. A small notebook. I like the Moleskine notebooks.
  3. Business cards. Never leave home without them.
  4. Your wallet, because you’ll probably impulsively take off for coffee with someone.
  5. Your room key and ATA conference lanyard/ID. We’ll show you the most effective way to use it.
  6. A pen! Electronic notes are not the answer to everything, folks… We process things differently with a pen.
  7. Emergency rations if you can fit them in, but there is fruit and coffee at the coffee breaks.
  8. Your bag should be as small as you can get away with so you can just grab it in one swoop and move on quickly. You don’t want to be the one who forgets your stuff in the session because you changed your mind about what session you wanted to be in!

What sessions should I go to?

  • I find that I learn a lot from what I expected to disagree with, so I make sure I go to at least one session per conference that I expect to thoroughly disagree with—I mean learn a lot from, of course. Those are great! As an interpreter, I was skeptical about online training. I went to a joint session by some online interpreting trainers, and they convinced me they had worked out important kinks and it was an important option for some of our members.
  • Go to a session about something thoroughly impractical. Relax! Open your mind! After all, this is a conference. You never know when this other material might come in handy. It might even be a session in a language that isn’t yours. I went to a session on literary translation into Hebrew once. It was fascinating! I learned that literary translation skills help us in all fields.
  • I attend presentations of speakers I want to encourage, especially they are my friends. So, go to your Buddy’s presentation, or to a presentation given by someone else you connect with along the way! After the presentation, have lunch or send the speaker an email with your thoughts.
  • And last but not least,, sessions on topics you are interested in should always be on your list.
  • During the sessions, keep in mind that the people next to you are interested in the same things you care about. Watch for people who ask interesting questions and strike up a conversation with them right after the session. Exchange cards with them. Those could be your best contacts! Sometimes I even quietly move to where they are during the session and give them my card to make sure we connect before they leave. I figure if this can happen at the Capitol, I can do it at the ATA, right?

With all these great choices, you will surely be able to fit in at least one session with your Newbie or Buddy, regardless of your respective languages, specialties, etc.!

The conference is hectic, so take time to relax.

  • Go to your room for a nap.
  • Take a walk on the beach.
  • Go to an art gallery.
  • Hang out with a new friend over coffee, during a session.

Just don’t obsess about being there every minute of every day. If you do, you will be so tired you won’t actually be able to take advantage of it. Take breaks, and the best breaks are actually during the sessions. I’ve been known to go off to visit friends who live in town during a session, especially if they are totally disconnected from the interpreting and translation field. Or loiter the halls networking with other attendees playing hooky.

And make sure you sleep well!

Networking is a very powerful tool.

However, it is often misunderstood. You have to use it wisely, appropriately and professionally. Be aware of these guidelines:

  1. Thou shalt not just count cards. It is not just a question of seeing how many people you meet, but of establishing relationships with people you can count on.
  2. Thou shalt give without expecting reciprocation. It is an investment of time, energy, sharing ideas and resources without expecting anything in return.
  3. Skilled networking will put you a step ahead of the competition: People do business with people they know, like and trust.
    • Know what you want and need.
    • Know who you need it from. Anyone you might want to meet or contact is only 4 or 5 people away from you. Your contacts will recommend you to their contacts.
    • Know who you are and what you do
      • Be an expert in your field
      • Be able to clearly and quickly tell others what you do. If you can’t explain it, why would they trust you with it?
      • Become a resource for others.
      • Be the best professional you can be. It will show.

Networking is something we learn how to do. Many of us are shy—even interpreters, who are used to expressing the ideas of others. Here are some clues:

  • Watch those in the room who look effective, and try taking a page out of their book.
  • Get to the room early and stay late.
  • Establish a goal, e.g. today I will hand out three cards to people I had not met before.
  • Start easy, maybe with people you feel it’s OK to not do a great job introducing yourself to. You’ll see it goes great! They will introduce you to others, and you will start to introduce others yourself.
  • Bring lots of business cards, but don’t be handing them out every time you shake someone’s hand.
  • Dress professionally.
  • Wear a nametag high and on the right hand side. As you shake hands, the person’s eyes will be drawn to your name.
  • Stand by the food line. It’s a great place to chat with people.
  • Start by focusing on others. Be genuine. Ask why they are here, how you can help them. After you get to know them, you might find a way to help them, or maybe you will decide to tell them your services aren’t quite what they need, and you might send them to someone else. They’ll remember your honesty. People work with people they know, like, and trust!
  • Be involved. When you commit to something, follow through. Remember, volunteering is a great way to build your reputation as a professional!
  • Be consistent. Attend as often as you can. People like to know they can count on you. People work with people they know, like, and trust!
  • Don’t sound like a tape recorder! It’s great to have an elevator speech, but I will never forget the guy who I noticed gave exactly the same forty-second speech every time he shook hands with people… When he shook mine, I just didn’t feel connected. Being a good listener and asking plenty of pertinent questions will give you a better idea of who you are speaking to and how to present yourself, as well as make you more authentic.
  • If you want to meet someone specific, ask for an introduction. Someone will know someone who can introduce you.

Confused?

Yes, it’s easy to feel lost. So please, in the crowd of 1500 people, 180 sessions, 3 days of non-stop excitement…

Relax. Remember why you came. Maybe you might have it written in the front of that Moleskine notebook you carry around. Check it and see if you are on track with that.

Keep notes. Most of us don’t remember most of what we think we are going to remember. “Yes, I’ll call you later.” Especially now that people have some much information in the app, it’s easy to trust the app to remember it all for us. I still write it in my notebook. “Just a minute. Let me write this down. ‘Call Mary Jane Brown, from Texas, about how she studies medical terminology.’” Now you can have a way to really get back to her! She will love knowing that you care enough to make sure you don’t forget.

Then… follow up! Write to Mary Jane:

Dear Mary, it was great to meet you at the conference. I was really curious about what you said about medical terminology. I’ve been studying in some crazy ways, but I never ran across your method, and you said you had a description written down. Could you please send it to me? I think it will really help me solve some of the translation problems I run into. By the way, would you like to work with me on some of the translations I do? Maybe you could review some of my work, and we could see how it goes.”

Bingo! You probably got a new partner! Because Mary would rather review the work of someone who respects her opinion and who she trusts than someone else.

Give lots of referrals:

Dear Mary, as I was talking to Joe at the ATA conference, I realized he is working on exactly the same problem you are trying to solve. I think if you and Joe got together you would do great work. Why don’t you connect with him? His contact information is in the app. Tell him I mentioned him, because I was talking to him about you today. I hope it goes well!

Then others will give you referrals, and you thank them:

Dear Peter, thanks so much for recommending me to Client X! The work I did for them was incredibly interesting, and I believe this relationship will last a long time. Thank you so much for trusting me with such a great job! I will keep you in mind in the future, and I really appreciate this! The next coffee at Starbucks is on me, buddy! Let’s catch up and compare notes on the work we are doing.

Just remember this. Networking isn’t just about you. It’s about connecting with your community. As you connect, you will see where you fit in, and will be able to serve others better and wow them.

So don’t start with your pitch before knowing anything about the person you are talking to. Listen first. Look for ways to be helpful. You’ll get your chance. And enjoy the process of getting to know others.

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.” -Dale Carnegie

We hope these pointers help you in your networking events as you visit local conferences with your ATA chapters, ATA affiliates and other groups, local chambers of commerce, and other groups you might decide to go hang out with. Go connect!