Thoughts on Translation will be running some guest posts over the next few months; to inaugurate the series we’ll hear from Marianne Reiner, an English>French legal translator based in California. I first met Marianne when she was a student in my online course for freelance translators, and with her French and U.S. law degrees, she immediately struck me as someone with a bright future in the industry.
Recently, Marianne has been expanding into the direct client market, and her guest post is on using your university alumni network for direct client marketing. Enjoy!
I am stating nothing new when I say that I would like to work less and earn more money! While thinking of original marketing strategies to grow my base of direct clients, I received an offer from my Alma Mater to purchase their recently released Alumni Directory.
I attended the University Of Connecticut Law School. I specialize in legal translations from English into French. So I thought, why not market myself to my fellow U-Conn grads! In France (where I come from) there is no such collegial feeling towards the school you attended. (I am still waiting to hear of an Alumni Directory issued by the University of Paris XI Law School!) So the strategy and use of my Alumni network was all new to me!
After an investment of about $90.00, I received a hard cover directory along with a CD-ROM. The task was immense and the font really small! But I strategized and familiarized myself with the different categories used in the directory. The Alumni are organized by geographical region and by area of practice. I started with the regions, and first contacted via email my fellow Alumni in my area (I remembered a great advice from Corinne’s class: the chance for a face-to-face meeting could always go a long way).
I then tackled the list by area of expertise. I selected the area of practice where my experience can be used: contract law, environmental law, European Union law, foreign investments, human rights, immigration law, intellectual property law, international law, mergers and acquisitions, securities.
For each attorney I am contacting, I have researched the firm they work at, any law journal article they may have written or their list of past clients.
The task is daunting but I am confident it will yield the results I am hoping for. Although I have not yet had a new direct client, I am confident that this strategy will eventually pay off. The feedback I have already received is very positive and promising.
And one last note on using your Alma Mater network: do not forget those academics whose classes you enjoyed. They publish articles which may need to be translated to be published in international journals. Or in the case of a law school like mine, the various legal clinics are also a good place to sell your translation services.