CHAPTER 3 - BRAND AND REPUTATION
As a professional in the field of language services, it is worth bearing in mind that everything that you do tells something about you – in other words, either builds up or weakens your brand. Working with both your clients and colleagues affects your reputation and brand. Even the smallest details can make a big difference. For example, it may pay off to get your own email domain instead of a free email address. This gives the client a more professional impression of you.
It’s also professional to communicate and be available during business hours. If you want to, you can, of course, do your work during the night, but this is something the client doesn’t have to know. If you prefer to work outside regular business hours, remember that it’s by your own choice. The clients will most likely be available only during their office hours, and they presume they can contact you during this time. You could, for example, time your e-mails to be sent during the morning (while you’re still having a snooze), or send them after you wake up. This also reinforces the idea of the professional full-time translator who makes a living with their work. You can use this to explain rush fees or working during weekends: “I don’t usually work during evenings/weekends, but because your schedule requires this, I’ll make an exception and add a rush fee to the final invoice.” The client also does not have to know that you work from home. Arrange your work environment so that a client who is calling you believes you are a professional who should be taken seriously. This means that there shouldn’t be any wailing children or howling dogs in the background while you’re on a work-related phone call. Don’t interrupt your call to shoo away the child that is clinging to your legs. It won’t help you uphold a professional image. If you’re having a bath, avoid answering the call, but return it when you’re back in work mode instead. Remember to keep your work phone locked when it is in your pocket. This helps you to avoid the awkward possibility of pocket-dialing clients. It’s extremely embarrassing to explain that your phone has indeed called a client eight times, who could only hear a strange grunting caused by its owner working in the garden. In other words, don’t forget to separate the professional self from the personal self and the entrepreneur self from the private self.
The use of social media can have far-reaching effects. In principle, you can choose one of the following two ways of conducting yourself online. You can either use a private profile in small circles where you speak freely, or you could post only that which you do not mind people seeing. Technology, terms, and conditions are ever-changing, and what is private right now may become public in the future.
Do not foul your own nest by speaking ill of your family, colleagues, or clients, especially in public or on a public forum. Avoid making guesses about what sort of income levels and methods are common in your field. If the cooperation between you and one of your colleagues, agencies or clients has ended, don’t speak about the reasons publicly. Of course, if asked, you can give the reasons privately in a civil manner, but be aware that there are always two sides to a story. Avoid taking the role of a victim or acting like an amateur in social media. Don’t complain about long days at work, and don’t share the fact that you’re cooking food during work hours, either.
Be polite and professional when communicating with clients. Don’t get worked up if the client suggests a rate you think is too low. You can politely say what the rate for your work is. If the client doesn’t want to negotiate with you, you can say that you will find other commissions with this rate (even if this isn’t true), and end the negotiation from your part there.
It’s pointless to waste your time fretting over the rates of foreign bulk-posting agencies. These agencies aren’t potential clients for Finnish translators, so it’s better not to waste your energy on them. You could either create a reply template in which you politely state your rates, or you could ignore their messages instead. The following examples demonstrate how to communicate with clients professionally.
Client Case 1:
A regular client asks if you could translate a document for next week. You send them an offer with the cost of translation at 1,000 euros. The client responds that they’re unable to pay that rate, and requests a discount of 200 euros. Your schedule for next week is more or less empty, the topic of the source text is familiar, and you know that you can complete the translation quickly. You explain this to the client and state that you can accept the offer this one time, because it’s a familiar topic for you and you want to be of help to a valued client.
Client Case 2:
A new client asks for an offer on a topic you’re relatively familiar with. You offer to translate the text for 1,000 euros. The client says that they’re unable to pay that rate, and request a discount of 200 euros.
You’re quite booked, and you’ve never worked for this client before. You don’t accept this client’s counteroffer and stick to your original rate. You explain that you can’t give the discount as the client and project are new for you.