12 Aug 2020

12 recommendations for generating new business

There’s no denying that the last few months have been tough. Many translators and interpreters have seen a drop-off in work and a question ITI receives frequently from members who have experienced a downturn is ‘How can I gain new business?’ 

In this blog ITI Membership Manager Jacqui Flint has compiled a list of 12 suggestions for you to try.

1. Telephone regular clients and agencies to remind them you are available and to keep your name fresh in their minds. An email can all too easily get lost in a crowded inboxes and a call also gives you the opportunity to put a softer edge to your communication than a typed message. So bite the bullet and make that call! Prepare notes in advance so you can discuss your specialist areas and experience, and anything new you’ve been working on.

2. Register with some new agencies. Start with the ITI Corporate members you can find in the ITI Directory as they will immediately understand your shared professional values.

3. Research and contact potential direct clients. Ideally call the contact first, and then follow up with your CV.

4. Be persistent (it may take a lot of calls before you secure any work) but be tactful: you don’t want to give them the impression of a hard sell.

5. Update your CV, highlighting your specialist subjects and areas, so it’s ready to send to agencies/clients as a follow-up from your calls. Make sure it is no more than two pages long and the most important information (language combination, specialist areas/subjects and contact details) is on the first half of the first page.

6. Network among your ITI Regional and Language Groups, build contacts, and forge professional relationships for the future.

7. Seek out and join some business network groups near where you live – many are currently running virtual events, but in the long term this could also be a great source of social and professional contacts.

8. Update your LinkedIn profile – put your ITI designatory letters next to your name so potential clients can easily identify you as a professional working to the highest standards in the industry. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, now is the time to create one. Send an invitation to and/or follow potential new clients and, of course, ITI.

9. If you have a website, check that it is up to date and that all the links work. Consider writing a blog that you can promote on your LinkedIn profile. If you don’t have a website it’s worth developing one (you can build a basic one quite easily and cheaply).

10. If you are an MITI, ensure that your ITI Directory profile is up to date, includes a professional looking picture of yourself and that your contact details are correct.

Running a freelance business is never an easy option but now is the time when you may have to step outside your comfort zone

Jacqui Flint

The ITI Directory is used hundreds of times each week to search for translators and interpreters. Make sure your profile is presenting you in the best possible light. Include a link to your ITI profile in your email sign-off so potential clients can easily check your credentials.

11. Develop your specialist knowledge in existing or new areas so you can promote yourself as the expert in your field. Complete and log your CPD hours to gain your ITI certificate and add it to your CV. This will demonstrate your commitment to your career and your profession, and boosts your profile with new and existing clients.

12. Consider undertaking some pro bono work; it will help you maintain your skills, and you never know where it might lead.

Running a freelance business is never an easy option especially in the current circumstances, but now is the time when you may have to step outside your comfort zone and start chasing some business. And remember that these strange times won’t last forever so don’t give up!

A version of this article first appeared in the July-August 2020 edition of the ITI Bulletin.