15 Nov Got Social Media?
We grew up hearing that first impressions are lasting. The internet has redefined the meaning of “lasting” in that sentence, and social media added one more characteristic to it, “pervasive.” In the 21 st Century most of the people you will ever deal with will either have seen or will have the opportunity to see a profile of yours on the internet. Nowadays, first impressions are not always made in person.
Social media is here to stay and you best take advantage of it. No one is ever too old for that. There are outlets for all tastes: small exposure, big exposure – you pick. What? You are a staff interpreter and don’t need social media? Guess again: the lawyers you are going to meet in court use social media, and if they do not check you out before hand they will do so afterward. It is to your advantage to have something for them to look at because that may motivate them to ask for you by name next time.
The bare minimum: have a profile in one of the many translators and interpreters directories. There are many free services available and you can customize content, upload your résumé for free, etc. The best thing about these services is that they target translators and interpreters, so their options of style and filler texts are usually closer to what we would pick, and that expedites the process.
Social media is usually divided into fun and business. That line has been blurred by many businesses that wanted to be closer to the masses – their public and consumers – than the professional networking sites allowed. These businesses use social media to test programs, products, marketing strategies, etc. And social media has also become a screening tool.
Don’t think of social media platforms only as places for virtual family reunions or staying in touch with friends. As Jennifer De La Cruz points out in her article “Social Networking for a Cause” (November 9, 2012 on the NAJIT blog), Facebook offers many opportunities for professional networking also. The platform has evolved and offers “Pages” so you can separate your personal from your professional profiles. A tip: to make your professional Page work you should “Like” all the organizations you are involved in that have a Facebook page, this ensures that you will receive their updates directly to your Page’s Home section and they can easily be uploaded to your main page – so your clients can see how committed you are to your profession.
My main issue with Facebook is the lack of a practical option for closing an account. Pictures have to be erased one by one (last time I checked, a few months ago), though they offer interesting options such as memorializing a deceased user’s site and keeping profiles in the freezer just in case you are not 100% sure of the deletion.
Google+ resolved the issue of account deletion by linking your online album to Picasa, their online photo album, Blogger, their blogging platform, and your events get posted to your Google Calendar. It is all centralized, easier to manipulate and administer, and you can even hold a “conference” call with up to 9 people on the fly. And if you ever decide to delete your account, all of the other services used that are ancillary but not commingled with Google+ remain: your pictures are still available in Picasa, your blog is waiting for your next entry in Blogger, your calendar is still connected to your Google mail (if you have it). Impressive and practical.
Linked In is still my favorite site for connecting professionally. And they keep implementing it, offering more services, different ways to connect, different ways to set yourself apart from other professionals in your same field. The secret to best take advantage of LinkedIn is to identify groups in your field or areas of interest, visit them, join those that attract you, participate in their discussions, and make sure you are notified when someone replies to your comments.
And there is Twitter. I first joined the service to try it out for a professional non-profit I represent and ended up liking it so much that I am still there. Do you remember those colorful and intriguing kaleidoscopes of your younger years? That is how I see Twitter: a lot of information comes your way, you can gloss over it, without reading everything, and pick what to focus on. I have learned a lot since I joined Twitter (see text box, above), and met some interesting people who have enriched both my professional and personal lives.
Going back to professional T&I directories, no one can ignore ProZ. Yes, I have heard all the negative comments: auction block, proztitutionalizing the profession… ProZ is a tool. Nothing else. Users make good or bad use of it. As a professional directory, it offers services none had offered before: group buys, an interactive calendar for professionals to communicate availability to their clients, an invoicing tool, glossary builders, user email accounts, great customer service and more. I do hate the “auction block,” but I do not use ProZ directly for client procurement, and many Language Service Providers (LSP) use it to check profiles and then contact the professionals directly. As T&I portals go, there are many others: Translators Cafe, Translatorsbase, Aquarius – and also professional associations offer online profiles to their members.
Now, how can we stay abreast of all this and avoid information overload? You are not the first one to ask that question, and the folks at BitRebels have your back. Their Social Media Cheat Sheet explains a lot.
The Take Away: mind your manners and your profile because you never know who is going to visit you next or where. That goes for your picture choices too.
Make sure you don’t get lost in the clutter
Networking sites for business: http://www.sitepoint.com/social-networking-sites-for-business/
A cheat-sheet to guide you: http://www.bitrebels.com/social/the-small-business-social-media-cheat-sheet-infographic/
How to tweet-speak: https://support.twitter.com/entries/166337-the-twitter-glossary
You on the eWorld – ORM: Online Reputation Monitoring tools:
Scribd – your words published online, archived for a few to see: http://scribd.com
For the less courageous: http://visualcv.com – many limitations as it is designed for conventional employment
If you still have doubts: http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/33734/20-Common-Social-Media-Marketing-Myths-BUSTED.aspx