This is a guest post by Karen Tkaczyk, PhD, a French to English translator specializing in chemistry and its industrial applications. Karen’s LinkedIn profile is here and her business website is here. Thanks to Karen for sharing her experience using LinkedIn, and specifically LinkedIn Groups and Discussions as a marketing tool.
Earlier this year Corinne posted some thoughts on whether LinkedIn is useful for translators. The post raised lively discussion and several people who are actively using LinkedIn gave their experience and described the value they see in it. Corinne was interested in my use of “Groups” as a means of marketing to direct clients, so here are my thoughts on that.
I have used the LinkedIn features “Groups” and “Discussions” to raise my profile and make new contacts with a view to expanding my business. My strategy was to join groups in my specialized subject areas, so I was targeting certain industries and professions. We all have specialties. Mine happen to be deep and narrow as I became a translator after a previous career, but the concept applies to all of us, and also to agencies who are
specialized. If you are not a highly specialized translator I suggest you pick an area you wish you had more work in and target that. The unknown in
joining groups is that you can’t really tell until you’ve joined whether a given group is active and full of interesting discussion, or whether it is quiet or recruitment focused. I have joined a number of groups that I later left. Note from Corinne: if you’re looking for some new LinkedIn Groups to join, click “Groups” then “Groups Directory,” then you will see a search box where you can type in keywords.
If you’re not sure where to start, search based upon keyword or region, and see where that leads you. I joined a group today, as it happens. My “Updates”
told me that one of my contacts had joined a technical group and it was a natural fit for me. Looking at the updates on your LinkedIn home page is a good way to see new things that might be of interest to you. Note from Corinne: to see your Updates, go to your LinkedIn home page and scroll down past your Inbox.
So you’ve joined the group, and you know no-one. What next? Read the discussions and news articles there and see what kind of people are members. Would you like them as clients? Are they likely to have business for you? When they look promising, I try to ask an intelligent question or post a news article to start discussion, or I comment on something that is already there. One question I saw on a chemical industry forum was “How is globalization affecting your business?” My answer was entirely different than those already there, and it sparked some lively discussion. Another time I was planning for a large conference I had not previously attended,
and I asked the group for tips: what to see and avoid. There were lots of responses, and I arranged to meet several people as result of that discussion alone. I was even asked to speak at a subsequent conference.
Then a second point: it’s not all about connections. For me some of these discussions lead to connecting, but the majority do not. Sometimes I do invite
people to connect when I think it would be in my interest for them to see my ‘updates’ (therefore to be reminded of me). Another point is that as soon as
you become visible there are open networkers who will ask to connect. I’m not a fan of expanding my network for the sake of it, so I usually refuse
those (“archive”) unless they are of obvious interest to me as a future client, but that method works for some people.
To conclude, here are examples of actual LinkedIn emails I have received: “I got to your profile from one of the discussions you participated in. I
wanted to understand if you can provide a one day turn around for translating an Italian claim set to English? You are in which time zone?”
The answer was no because I don’t do Italian, but it was a set of chemical patent claims so it confirmed that my efforts were clearly getting me seen
by people who might need my skills. Another with an invitation to connect: “I handle IP at my company, and we need translators every once in a while. I
would like to give your contact info if something comes up.”
So LinkedIn comes down to a common premise: you get out what you put in. If all you’ve done is create a static profile, I would be surprised if it ever
brings you business. You have to start conversations that may lead nowhere, then be pleasantly surprised when you receive an email weeks later.
Thanks, Karen for this informative look into LinkedIn’s more advanced features. Readers, any insights into how you’ve used these techniques?