ome time back at a
conference in London, a fellow translator shared with me and everyone
else in earshot that she was done using Twitter as a professional tool.
She claimed to have invested way too much effort and time with
virtually no return. (I assume that I could have overheard a similar
discussion about Facebook, LinkedIn, Xing, Google Plus, or any other
I've been thinking about this ever since, wondering how
much I've benefitted from my investments into social media (which are
pretty much limited to a very active presence on Twitter and much less
active participation on LinkedIn). To make it short: I have benefitted
and continue to benefit. A lot.
Twitter in particular is the fastest place to gather current, relevant
information that is important to me, because I can trust that one of
the folks I follow will post it. Twitter is also a phenomenal way to
get my message out. Most of the time I share tidbits that I find
interesting or informative (think of it as a bona fide shared bulletin
board of virtual sticky notes). At other--much less frequent--times I
can even tweet something a little less altruistic. More often than not,
my followers read my tweet and then retweet it
on to their followers as well. Twitter is also a great place to forge
relationships with colleagues and, just as important or maybe even more
so, with potential clients and influencers who can open doors to
interesting opportunities. For me it hasn't been a place to find
regular translation jobs, but I have found plenty of opportunities that
go far beyond the regular two- or three-day engagement.
Look at some folks who are
successfully using one or more of those media. See what they have to
say, who is following them, and whom they follow.
There are many, many places where you can find
information about what to do and what not to do on social networks, but
I would suggest three considerations as an over-arching strategy for
First, pre-determine what you want to achieve on any or
all of these networks. For instance, if you "just" want to build
relationships with colleagues, you might want to engage yourself within
certain Facebook or LinkedIn groups. If you also want to interact with
the outside world, you might want to use Twitter and a slightly
different strategy on LinkedIn, Google Plus, or Facebook.
Next, specify how much time you want to spend every
day. For example, I have found deep involvement in some of the
discussions on LinkedIn too time-consuming, but my Twitter activities
easily fit within, say, 20 minutes a day.
Lastly, decide if and how you plan to separate your
private from your professional life (yes, yes, many translators can
only dream of a private life...). I tend to un-follow folks who make a
regular habit of sharing their dinner plans or levels of fatigue
(they're always tired and overworked anyway!), but others seem to like
it. Essentially, you determine who will follow you by what you share
and how you share it. Your very close translator-buddies are most
likely going to follow you either way, but the idea of social
networking as a professional is to make that circle larger by having
others see what you have to say as well.
Where to start? Look at some folks who are successfully
using one or more of those media. See what they have to say, who is
following them, and whom they follow. And for Twitter, be sure to check
the patron saint of the modern translator. ;-)