Attending conventions in the translation industry is just like attending conventions in any other business – equal parts exhausting and exhilarating.
The translation industry is like every other industry in the universe in many ways: It’s a business, after all, and as such has a complex ecosystem of buyers, sellers, support staff, and interested onlookers. And like every other industry in the universe, we have a tradition of conventions every year where professionals in all aspects of the translation services business gather to exchange information, make sales pitches, strike deals, have a few drinks and some good dinners, and socialise.
For some of us, the convention is great fun. You get to catch up with former co-workers or employers, make new connections, and do a little business – what could be better for a capitalist? For others, they are dreadful occasions, filled with forced socialising with people they would normally avoid at all costs, deadly boring and just a huge inconvenience. As with everything else in this modern world, the key to a successful convention season can be summed up with one word: Planning.
Before the Convention
Before you even decide to attend a convention, you have to look at the agenda and determine whether it’s worth your time in terms of presentations and attendees – in both a business sense (clients or services you could benefit from connecting with) and a social sense in terms of friends and colleagues you’d enjoy seeing. This balance between business and pleasure is crucial, and yet too often ignored. Just because you’re going to have a little fun during the convention doesn’t decrease the value it represents in more practical terms – and a little socialising will make it much more palatable. Would you rather have a three-day Death March, or three days of information and conversation?
During the Convention
Once you’ve arrived, you need a battle plan:
- Plan out your days – which seminars and presentations you want to attend, who you want to make time to meet for drinks or lunch or just a harried conversation between events. Believe me, the more planned your days are, the more you’ll accomplish.
- Find a Buddy – having someone to accompany you to events and have meals with is crucial for your sanity. They protect you from having to socialise with people you’d rather avoid, and offer a slew of services from seat-saving to bill-splitting.
- Take Breaks – it can seem like the only way to get the most out of a convention is to run yourself ragged – but taking a nap in the middle of the day even if you miss something worthwhile will pay off in the end.
After the Convention
When you get home, make some notes so you capture things you’ve learned. Send out networking emails telling new contacts it was great to meet them and confirming any discussion points. And above all – catch up on your sleep. No doubt you’re several hours behind if your convention experience is anything like mine!
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