Ok, so you have set your rates, you learnt about bookkeeping, you’ve been training your linguistic skills for quite sometime, you have acquired experience and has been mentored by colleagues. It is time to contact clients. How should you make your move?
There are many ways, and they can be combined. If you’re part of websites for the translation community (such as ProZ, Translator’s Café, etc.), you’ll receive job offers through them. This will let you know what companies are in need of translators with specific qualifications, and might also be a good channel for prospects, by making contact when you know your skills are being requested.
You can also try cold-calling. I have never done this, because it seems a bit like telemarketing to me (“hi, are you interested in a new cell phone?”), but you can always try it. Remember you have A LOT to lose. Everyone knows everyone, so you can be known as the weirdo that can’t speak professionaly, so be sure to practice before going into action. There’s some good advice on cold calling here.
Something else you can do is research, and this should be done whatever contact method you choose. Try to find out if a translation agency or company is looking for translators with your expertise. You can find that out by searching a HR website.
Another option is “cold emailing”. If their website says “you’re welcome to send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org”, your chances of having someone reply to your contact are higher. If this message is not clearly displaid, this can be considered spamming – that is, sending an unrequested message offering something. However, if chance is on your side, this company may be in need of your skills, and you might score a client! Keep in mind the risk and don’t be eager for replies, you might not get them for each message sent.
Whatever the method you choose, you must come across as a professional offering services that might be helpful to this potential client. If you’re trying the telephone, make sure the person who answers it have time to talk to you, otherwise, no fruits will come out of this. If you’re trying the email, be careful not to misspell any word, and also try to be as clear and direct as possible. The quicker your potential client knows what your services are, the less time will be wasted – to work or to jump to the next potential client.