I have already mentioned it before, it is important for a freelance translator to create their own network. In fact, it offers many advantages.
1. Potential clients: let us be honest to ourselves, as a freelance translator, finding clients is one of our main worries. The bigger your network is, the bigger will be the chances of finding a potential client. Personally, I have found 3 clients thanks to social media. They may not be many, but they are quality clients who have personally chosen me; I did not approach these clients. Choosing me means that they recognize my value and are ready to pay a higher price, and offer more wonderful conditions. And, for your ego, it’s good to be chosen instead of having to sell yourself :-)
2. Advice: this is very important, especially when you are beginning. Be active on LinkedIn or Facebook, visit forums, meet people from your sector (yes, not only virtually, real life is important too), it also allows you to acquire knowledge from other professionals of your field, ask questions, read articles that teach you interesting tips...
3. A bigger visibility/credibility: since I have been writing articles, I have become more and more solicited by young translators or even by old professionals. And this always gives me great satisfaction., As time passes by, the number of people who say “I love this” on my Facebook page is increasing, same as the number of people visiting my LinkedIn page. What is the importance? The client who visits my web page and sees 300 expressions of “I like this” and many positive opinions will perhaps take me more seriously than if I had 50 . It makes it a little bit more professional, I think. Furthermore, my colleagues hear about me, read my articles and sometimes when they have a lot of work, they think of me to give a helping hand - and that is always great.
4. A reassuring occupation: in the beginning when I had peak periods, I used to be somehow stressed out. I thought I was the only one in such a situation, I was almost ashamed, I thought my business was not working properly. But by visiting translators’ blog, reading my colleagues’ articles and following discussions on LinkedIn, I realized that I was not the only one in such a situation. We all go through hard times in the beginning. Thus, visiting social media gives me a double advantage: I busy and reassure myself. (And then I write articles to reassure you in my turn. Huhu).
In conclusion, we often tend to neglect networks when we start. It was certainly my case. I thought I had to apply over and over. I had a Facebook page, a LinkedIn page, but I would not update them. I was using Proz and TC to see job offers, but I never glanced through forums. And then, during a boring day, I started reading the discussions on LinkedIn and participating as well. Then, I asked a question. And I ended up finding a client. And I decided that LinkedIn was actually good. (One may think I am sponsored by LinkedIn…).
Do not just forget some basic rules on social media: do not ever be oppressive. Go ahead gently. Do not start by publishing 5 conversations per day on the same group of Linkedin, or answering questions beyond your qualification. Make useful and discreet contributions. Imagine yourself at a social event, you definitely will not run from group to group handing out your business card without it being requested or giving your opinion indiscriminately on topics you know nothing about.
I talk much about social media because it is the simplest within everybody’s reach - especially translators who are not always the best fans of social media, (Sorry, no offence intended!) - but that does not stop you from also building a network in your town . Sometimes, there are meetings and training sessions for translators.