Why do translators find face-to-face networking so difficult?

I recently attended a translators’ event where the subject of networking came up. The consensus of opinion seemed to be that face-to-face networking does not work for translators: we do not like doing it and we hardly ever get results. But why is this the case?

It has been claimed that translators (as opposed to interpreters) are introverts and do not like talking about themselves or their business. While my experience of attending non-translation events with other translators suggests that this is indeed true, it is certainly not the case at translation events where conversations about the translation industry and our individual businesses can last for hours. So why do so many translators become shy around non-translators?

One possible reason why translators struggle with in-person networking is that they are unsure what they hope to get out of it. Obviously, our main goal for our businesses is to have lots of clients and it can be frustrating to prepare for a networking event which we then spend precious time attending only to come away with no solid leads.

One thing I have noticed from reading translation blogs is that American translators appear to be more confident when it comes to in-person networking than British translators. I suspect that this is the result of wider cultural differences since the British are often more reserved than their trans-Atlantic counterparts and Americans are more willing to openly talk about and promote their services.

As the speaker at the recent translators’ event I mentioned at the start of this post pointed out, it might be better to think of networking events as an opportunity to make yourself known in your local area or to learn from experts in your specialist fields rather than as a chance to make a hard sale.

 

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