Like most jobs, being a translator or an interpreter requires professionalism, punctuality, and a positive attitude. These are things that will be honed over time, but what about with your first client? There’s obviously something special about your first clients, as your interactions with them could make or break your entrance into the industry.
That’s a lot of stress, so why don’t we take a step back, calm ourselves with a breath or two, and look at the list below regarding some good practices when dealing with your first client.
Don’t Over Think it
Like any other client that will come throughout your career, this one is no different. Sometimes we might think the best thing to do is to over-prepare, over-do whatever it is the client wants or doesn’t want of us; if your intensity is too much, it could prove disastrous for the client. Get to know your client so that you can accommodate your work ethic to match their needs, being more low key or upbeat, showing that you have their best interests at heart.
But be warned: even if things don’t work out exactly as you plan with them, it may still lay a foundation for how you will continue to interact with clients. This could lead to a burn out on you or the client, if you don’t play your cards right. It’s obviously important to care about what you’re doing, but do it in a way that it’s enjoyable to you. If you’re not happy that could show in your work performance, and in turn make your client unhappy.
They’re People Too!
This goes back to the first argument on over thinking the situation. Your client probably isn’t the “all-knowing” being that you envision them to be. They’re a person, just like you or me, and should be treated with respect, but the right amount of respect. This client doesn’t want to be pandered over, or ignored. What they want is a product or a situation handled thoughtfully and carefully.
By making them out to be something they’re not, you might end up demeaning yourself in the process, turning a passion into something you dread to do. Make sure to understand the situation, what’s happening, and how the client feels, then go from there. You want this to be as much of an enjoyable experience for you as it is for them, so remember who they are and what they stand for.
Keep it Professional
This may seem a little counterproductive, but given the importance of the assignment to your client, it’s important to maintain a professional attitude throughout. If you’re too close to the client, it may change how you interact with their employees or clients. This is something to keep in mind in order to uphold their perceived notions of the subject, or not to ruffle your client’s feathers, even if that’s what the other party intended.
Just like with any work relationship, you have to see this person for an extended period of time; you may even continue to work with them after that particular assignment is complete, so why muddle things up now when it could turn into a mutually beneficial professional relationship?
While it’s true that friendships or romantic relationships can be harmless, they could become strained when combined with a business relationship, so you may need to take a step back and see if this is the best solution. While I’m not trying to discourage any office romances, it’s probably safer for your career not to get too involved with clients that you know you will continue to work with or are working with.
Know Your Limits
Ever tried to take something on but ended up taking on something else, just because another client asked you to? Make sure to know if you’re capable of working with more than one client or project at a time. While at first it may seem like a no-brainier, later down the line, when life happens, or when things keep piling up, you may find that what you were once capable of, is no longer possible.
Understand where you want to go in your career. Do you want to be more involved? Can you handle multiple jobs or products at once? It’s easy to think of yourself as the “best” in the beginning, when you haven’t had enough experience to tell you otherwise, but often times, because there isn’t enough experience on your plate, you’re not the best. That isn’t to say you can’t become the best, but being the best takes more than just talent, it takes experience and understanding of clients.
All in All
While this is just a small dip into what more you could do with a first client, it’s enough to get you thinking.
Get involved with the translation and interpreter community. See what experience can be gained from both small and large jobs.
And remember: The best jobs are sometimes the smallest, or lesser known ones.