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4 Ways to Network as a Freelance Translator

Updated: Sep 13, 2021

You'd be forgiven for thinking that networking as a freelancer is purely about making connections with potential clients and agencies, but it turns out there's more ways than you think to build your network and find new and exciting clients and opportunities.

4 ways to network as a freelance translator:

  1. Build your local/home network

  2. Join professional associations

  3. Create an active social media presence

  4. Attend industry events - in person and online

In a recent survey, Inbox Translation found that 75% of new business came through referral or word of mouth. That's a staggering statistic. Even after all the effort you might put into getting your SEO just right, writing blog posts and using paid Google Ads, at the end of the day networking is by far the best and most effective method to find new clients.

So let's take a deeper look and I'll try to debunk the myth that networking is solely for organised events such as conferences.


Build your local/home network

Start by getting the word out locally about who you are and what you do. Make sure your friends and neighbours know what you do - you'd be surprised just how often a friend of a friend might have need of a freelance translator!

Carry out an evaluation of your pre-existing network - Do you have any friends or contacts who have links to international businesses? Do you offer any linguistic services such as translation of legal/personal documents, that people locally might have need of - for example, travel documentation, marriage certificates, etc.

Try to think of all the scenarios locally where your business could be of use and then reach out.

Don't go straight for the sale though, start by taking an interest in their business, follow them on social media for a while, get a feel for what areas of the market they operate in and how you, specifically, could help them. Then over time, speak up about who you are, with a view to building that relationship into more than just an acquaintance.

Join professional associations

If you want to attract professional and reliable clientele, then you need to be professional and reliable, too.

Not everyone has the skill to be a freelance translator, but this isn't always obvious at first glance. How can you show your commitment, knowledge and dependability? By being affiliated with the right organisations i.e. those that offer proof of quality and are nationally/internationally recognised.

Most professional organisations offer different levels of membership, so you can start with a student membership and a smaller commitment in terms of the cost of membership, and then move on to memberships which require more in terms of certification, ability and price, but return more gains for a freelance translator. Gains could be things such as, a professional listing on their website, CPD events and networking opportunities.

In the UK, a good start would be to look at membership of the Chartered Institute of Linguists and the Institute of Translation and Interpreting.

In addition, it is always worth joining local affiliated organisations, such as the North West Translators' Network in the UK, or one of the many Institute of Translation's Subject, Geographical or Language networks.

Create an active social media presence

Surely it's just LinkedIn and a website that's good for business and helps you network as a freelancer, I hear you say.

Nope, these days having a social media presence across a variety of platforms offers many benefits to freelance translators looking to network and grow their business.

Having said that, try to steer clear of trying to maintain a presence across all the social media channels at the same time. It's not simply a case of cutting and pasting content from one provider to the other. Content has to be appropriate for each platform it appears on. LinkedIn users aren’t going to be as engaged as Instagram users, when you show your morning coffee and cuddle with the dog before you get down to work!

I’ve heard many freelance translators say that LinkedIn offers good networking with direct clients, agencies and allows you to showcase what you do, in a non-salesy way. Whereas Instagram offers freelance translators to connect in a more personal way with their virtual colleagues, enabling more of a virtual co-working vibe, which is often lacking when you’re behind your screens working from home or the local coffee shop.

Twitter also seems to be great for networking and showing your personal areas of interest and specialisation, where Facebook offers some great groups where work can be found and contacts made.

Attend industry events – in person and online

This doesn’t just mean conferences, CPD webinars and seminars. Just this week I attended an event hosted by the North West Translators’ Network in the UK, which was a wild swim in Lake Windermere.

The session was hosted by local open water swimming specialists, Sleeker Swim, and this meant that the pressure was off and we could all relax and enjoy the unique opportunity to chat and swim through some pretty inspiring scenery. I’m far more likely to remember the translators I swam with and shared a warming cup of coffee, than a face on a computer at an online event where tens of other people are present.

Don’t be scared off by industry events that are seemingly unrelated to the work you do as a freelance translator. These often provide the best opportunities we have to create honest and meaningful relationships.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share on expanding your network and finding new clients? I’d love to hear from you, so please get in touch!

Check out the blog post I wrote on the NWTN website about the amazing wild swim with the North West Translators’ Network to get an idea of the kind of event you could be networking at soon!

Find out more about the Institute of Translation’s Networks.


To read more of this kind of material or if you would like to speak to me about freelance translation (Russian, German, or Dutch), localisation, or proofreading, please click here to see a list of my services and get in touch today.

Thanks for reading!

Marjolein, The Native Crowd

Russian, German, Dutch Translation

Cumbria, North West, UK

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