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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Networking Tips for Freelance translators

I found a good article on networking.
Read and use it for your benefit-\Ostom

This Article gives a little insight into the mechanism of onlinenetworks and their benefits for self-promotion and marketing offreelancers and small businesses.
This is an edited reprint of an article written for babelport.com, theTranslation Industry Information and Project Portal, andnakedtranslation.com, Céline Graciets excellent Translation web-log.The article offers a little insight into techniques of virtualself-promotion and networking for freelancers and small companies,especially in the translation industry. As a self-employed programmerand project manager I’ve had my share of experience in this but still Iam far from being an expert. Nonetheless, here’s my compacted knowledgeof what networking means and how networks are created, maintained, andextended.
What is networking?
Technically, a network is a collection of interconnected uniqueentities allowing for and generating multilateral transfers withredundant ways and strategies of interaction. Translating thistechie-jibberish: a network is made up of individuals communicatingwith each other. To use an analogy: like a spider in his web you can gofrom one spot to another using the paths that connect the individualpositions: The more connections are established in a web the morestable it is. In fact, personal and business networks very muchresemble the web of a spider.
Through networks, new contacts are made: Imagine, your best friend’sfriend introduces you to one of her acquaintances who will at a laterpoint introduce you to your future chess club fellow whose cousin willturn out to become your wife/husband/friend - or may be a new client.There is a theory, called The Six degrees of Separation (moreinformation) which basically says that you only have to know sevenpeople who know seven others and so forth to know everybody on thisplanet. By making use of personal contacts you create and maintainnetworks daily.
In real life everybody has social networks: your family, your friends,your business partners etc. Networks are the most valuable resources wehave - not only in business. When it comes down to business, however,it is vital to understand that you cannot have enough of them. As aprofessional in your specific field you are most likely alreadynetworking daily: Making sales contacts, calling colleagues, showing upregularly at your local professional association meetings, knowing yourlinks to the Chamber of Commerce etc. Through this, you certainly havegotten most of your jobs so far and will in the future. If you areexperienced in this kind of networking you may also be a member of abusiness group, which usually only allow a small number of eachprofession to join. This is real life networking you are mostexperienced with if you have not just started freelancing yesterday.
This article will concentrate more specifically on on-line marketing orself-promotion instead of repeating what everybody most likely knows.On-line self-promotion works along the same principles as itsreal-world sibling: You need to create networks, leave positive firstimpressions, and make sure your connections are redundant. In order togo into detail, however, it is necessary to have an idea about userbehaviour and of how search engines work.
Search engines and your virtual self
Search engines gather addresses from header information sent bybrowsers when user point their browsers to Google and Co, as well asfrom threads in Usenet groups, news services, and, of course, web sitesthey have previously indexed. These addresses are stored into databasesand spiders or robots, little programmes that browse these sitesautomatically, are sent to these websites regularly. My own site, forinstance, is indexed by robots daily for new content (1.000 views perday) and every 5 or 6 weeks completely (25.000-40.000 views per day).
When indexing websites robots usually call pages more than oncedepending on the number of internal links. In that sense, a website isits own little network. Search engines distinguish between internal,incoming, and outgoing links. Internal links help to evaluate the‘weight’ of the single page and its content, outgoing links arerelatively unimportant for the evaluation of the site itself butrepresent incoming links for the sites linked to. Incoming links,however, represent the most important factor, apart from content, ofcourse. The more incoming links a website gets the more valuable itbecomes: it is represented in Google’s internal database and robotswill index it more frequently. Like an introvert in real life a websitewithout incoming links is practically isolated and virtually unable tonetwork, hence it becomes vital for a business website to get as manyincoming links as possible.
Apart from links a major factor that helps to promote your website -your virtual self - is well represented content. Search engines buildtheir catalogues of key words from textual information you offer andcombine them with the number of incoming links registered for yourwebsite. Of course, the information about you, your experience,expertise, products, services, and prices represent the core content.But surplus you offer on-line may be the key for virtual success. Anews section, a web-log, or a glossary of your expertise representssuch additional information. Larger companies offer forums, references,dictionaries etc. The important fact is that the content needs to beoriginal - continuously reprinting is rather harmful. Blogs are goodexamples: Many offer little original content apart from copying textsfound elsewhere; others, however, paraphrase and comment on recentpublications, news, and events - thus, they create a surplus ofinformation - an expertise. Remember, robots index your contentregularly. It pays off to regularly provide up-to-date surplusinformation since more content will get your site being linked to morekeywords in search engines.
Another way to easily produce a little bit of content is integratingnews feeds. Some websites offer xml-based or javascript-generated newsspecific to your industry. Babelport.com, for instance, offers a NewsFeed for the translation industry that can be configured according toyour needs. Babelport.com News Feed covers topics including translationmarkets, workshops & events, news about CAT-Tools and PC-Securityrelevant information up to six times a week. Using the Configurator youcan generate html/php/javascript code that allows to integrate new andup-to-date content on your website easily and according to yourlayout-needs.
Content is best represented as text in plain html, with a well-done butsimple design. Company websites should not have the most fancy design -in fact this may influence your ranking negatively. Flash drivenwebsites are more difficult to index and don’t forget that many usersdisabled such features. Also robots only index plain html-links nopopup, javascript, or flash-based links (See Google for moreinformation how search engines index sites). Furthermore, as in reallife a positive initial impression is everything: Users not getting theimportant information immediately will turn elsewhere - don’t expectthem to spend minutes searching. Now that Google & Co havesomething to index you need to make sure they will findA your virtualself. Here networking and on-line self-promotion starts.
Creating networks online
If incoming links are so important to your site - how do ensure you getthem? First, by regularly providing content: if you provide valuableinformation visitors will link to your site. Second, virtual businessnetworks allow you to create profiles and get promoted for free orlittle money. Third, find means to demonstrate your special knowledge:engage in expert exchange forums, publish articles about your area ofexpertise on portals like babelport.com, etc.. Whatever you do makesure you provide your unique signature and your URL. Thus people willremember you more easily and you also become more visible (and yoursearch engine rankings are improved).
Moreover, put a tagline to your signature in emails, forum posts, etc:A short but catchy slogan that represents what you do and how you feelabout the kind of work you do. For some good examples you may have alook at the user profiles visible at babelport.com. Make sure, however,you don’t put superlatives in there - calling your self the fastest,most reliable, or best begs a challenge to this claim.
Joining business organisations and business portals is another majorkeys to successful virtual networking, whether you wish to bid for jobsor not. There are some out there addressing translators (includingbabelport.com) and some excellent general ones (e.g. www.openbc.com).Apart from the direct benefits of such platforms (creating personalnetworks, getting access to information, and, possibly, a job) you canonly profit from signing up with such business portals. The reason issimple: Due to the amount of content, keywords, and incoming linksportals like these are more frequently indexed than the website of asmall business or freelancer. If you have a profile page on theseportals, participate in forum discussions, or publish articles thAereyour name, profile, résumé, tagline, and your URL will be indexed everytime robots crawl the site completely.
Lastly, ensure a steady visibility on business platforms. Beingadvertised as featured member for only a day creates additionalincoming links valid for some weeks if a robots indexes the page duringthat time (remember the daily indexing by robots). This will have moreeffect than paying for keywords on Google or banner ads in generalweb-directories. Also, the more articles and forum threads you post themore incoming links are generated for your own website. Redundancy onlyhelps to strengthen your virtual networks (remember the spideranalogy?): Be listed and engage in more than just one business portal.By creating profiles on and actively participating in multipleplatforms your virtual self will be ranked higher in search engineresults and connected to more keywords.
Continuous investment
As in real life, maintaining virtual networks is time and, sometimes,money consuming. You do not need to provide original content daily -but do it regularly. Give yourself at least three hours per week towrite some content for your website and to participate in onlineforums. If you have gathered unique information in your business, orwritten essays on translation, tips for freelancers, or wish to publishnew linguistic research results, contact our administrators who willput them online for free at babelport.com. Doing this you gainexpertise and reputation directly and add to your virtual network atthe same time.
Joining business portals does not need to cost money - there are manybenefits you get for free. Investing in annual member fees for two orthree portals, however, may cost you a couple of hundred Euros peryear, but remember it is investing into your business and may earn youmore reputation than spending the same money in printed newspaperadvertisemenAt. It certainly creates more lasting links immediately andpays off in the long run. Especially if you are running a business withglobal reach - and as a freelance translator you most likely are - youwill need to promote yourself as heavily internationally as locally.Business portals offer great opportunities for this.
Creating, maintaining, and extending your personal and virtual businessdemands continuous engagement and investment with success often notimmediately visible. The benefits, however, will be measurable insteadily increasing website-traffic in the long run.



Anonymous said...

Hi! I just found your blog and I already can tell I'm gonna visit it quite much! I think it's great what you're doing here, congratulations. I'm still on my first year studying translation (and my marks are not actually going so great, but I do like the studies), but it's never bad to know some of these things.
Thank you for your useful and interesting work! :)

Unknown said...

Thank you Lena for visiting my blog and caring to keep your comments which helps me in continuing writing this blog.

If you have started your translation career I wish you the very best.

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