Twitter: how to tweet well at live events & conferences

 This post was originally published on Espirian. It is reposted with permission from the author.

Here are the questions and answers from my guest appearance on the #TwitterSmarter chat with Madalyn Sklar on 4 July 2019.

The topic was about the power of live-tweeting at events and conferences.

Step 1

Do you use Twitter at events/conferences? What do you tweet?

Always! Tweeting is my most effective way to take notes. Rather than scribbling things down or waiting to receive slide decks (which might not arrive anyway), I put my thoughts into tweets.

I tweet speaker quotes, facts, figures, onstage photos and emoji-powered bullet lists of action points. They’re all great for giving a flavour of the event.

John Espirian@espirian

“People never compare you fairly. They’re never comparing apples with apples. Use your content and personality to be an orange.”

🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍊🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏🍏@MrAsquith

See John Espirian’s other Tweets

Good-quality photos of slides – where the text is actually legible! – are great for giving people a bit more detail about what’s being discussed.

John Espirian@espirian

Snappy title for today’s talk by @AndrewAndPete

View image on Twitter
See John Espirian’s other Tweets

If I have any insights to add as we go along, I’ll share those, too. When I come to produce a write-up of the event, those tweets are gold and can be embedded as is.

Live Twitter videos of snippets of talks are a good way to give people a sense of the event, too. No one expects entire talks to be streamed – a few minutes is plenty.

Because rich-text formatting isn’t really possible on Twitter …

  • I use emojis to add a bit of life to my tweets.
  • They’re great as list item markers.
  • And they’re easy to insert.

Emoji shortcuts for Mac and Windows

Emoji desktop shortcuts for Mac (white) and Windows (black).
(Click to enlarge.)

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Step 2

What kind of content do you expect to see from fellow attendees?

Speaker quotes, stats and images are the most common. I like to reuse these in my write-ups, which adds value to my content while also recognising the sharer.

It’s useful to see tweets that help to set the mood music, too. Photos of the venue and activities outside are good, as are those about things that happen during breaks and lunch. It all adds to the “wish you were here” vibe.

Jemima Willcox Photography #CSMDay2019@JemimaWillcox

You know its a @AndrewAndPete party when your greeted by fire dancers 🔥🔥🔥

View image on Twitter
See Jemima Willcox Photography #CSMDay2019’s other Tweets

Look out for those who go above and beyond with their live-tweeting content. You can learn loads from the following people, to name but a few:

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Step 3

What are some ways to engage with fellow attendees on Twitter?

Follow people who are using the event hashtag before and during the event.

Be findable by adding the event hashtag to your bio at least a few days before the event. That gives Twitter time to update its search index before the event. Don’t wait until the day!

Some events use special graphics so you can update your profile photo to show that you’re attending the event. Using these and spotting them on others’ accounts can help you find people to engage with.

You can create your own public Twitter list ahead of time if you know who’s attending the event. When people see a notification that they’ve been added, they may be more like to engage with you. You can become a mini-hub for the event chatter.

The #TwitterSmarter chat might not be a live in-person event, but even things like this are good spots to engage people ahead of time. Here’s a quick promo video I made in Camtasiato promote the chat:

John Espirian@espirian

See you later today for @MadalynSklar‘s chat?

🇺🇸 10am PT
🇺🇸 1pm ET
🇬🇧 6pm UK

Today’s topic: tweeting at live events and conferences. ✊🏻

Embedded video

See John Espirian’s other Tweets

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Step 4

Do you draft posts/visuals in advance to tweet during an event?

I have a blog template ready to go so that my tweets can fit into a write-up of the event.

I sometimes create speaker visuals. I find 1200×630 pixels is best, as this works well on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook (great for repurposing).

Smart organisers have a library of hi-res images ready for this purpose, so check before doing unnecessary work. Here’s one I put together based on images provided by the CMA:

See John Espirian’s other Tweets

I find it’s best to keep speakers’ Twitter handles and relevant URLs handy (e.g. YouTube videos or ebook links, if you know they’re likely to mention them). Being the first to link to such content often gets your tweets the most attention.

Be sure to share only resources that the speaker is likely to be comfortable with being in the public domain. Content and links mentioned during a talk might be special goodies for the benefit of delegates only.

I sometimes use my BitmoJohn visuals to add a bit of personality to my tweets. Anything that makes your content stand out is good!

John Espirian@espirian

This is everyone the day after the SfEP conference.

Still, a great few days of editorial learning! Thanks, all 👍🏻

View image on Twitter
See John Espirian’s other Tweets

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Step 5

How much time do you spend tweeting at an event? How much is too much?

All the time during the main sit-down sessions. It’s the best way for me to remember what’s happened: log it all via Twitter and then write a follow-up blog to piece it all together.

But during the breaks, I prefer to talk to people. Then I catch up later with the tweets people have used to capture the ambience (group photos, food, etc.).

Making the effort to capture as much as possible means you can revisit your tweets in future and remind yourself of the lessons learned on the day.

It can be hard to keep up but if you have any spare time, check for tweets by others on the same hashtag and engage on them, too. If you support others’ stuff, they’ll support yours and everyone wins.

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Step 6

Share some tips for live-tweeting at events

Have the speaker’s Twitter handles ready in a text file so you can tag them quickly when sharing quotes.

Make the event hashtag a temporary text shortcut so that you can quickly and easily include the event in every tweet.

I use TextExpander to do this, but you can also use the native features in macOS and iOS to get the same job done.

TextExpander

TextExpander speeds up your writing

Sit in a position where you can get good photos of the speakers. Visually appealing tweets are more likely to be read and retweeted.

If you can get a preview of what the speakers are going to be talking about, that can help you prepare what you’re likely to tweet when the sessions are underway. Do your homework!

If you can meet the speakers beforehand, that’s even better. You get to understand their thoughts about the event and their mindset ahead of the presentation – and that leads to more valuable and insightful tweets during the sessions.

If you’re doing a temporary takeover of another Twitter account, remember that you’re representing them. Don’t make it about you or sneak your own links into the tweets.

Remember that it’s always polite to tag the speaker in your tweet. If they don’t have a Twitter account – imagine that! – then still mention their name and perhaps their organisation when including a quote or photo.

If you’re tweeting on another account’s behalf, make sure you have access ahead of time. A wrong password or need for 2-step mobile verification could throw you off balance at the worst time. Prepare!

Make sure your devices are fully charged or in range of a power outlet. Have a backup battery on standby, especially if you’re doing a lot of video.

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Step 7

What tools do you use to tweet during an event?

I always find it’s faster and more accurate to tweet from a device with a hardware keyboard, so my MacBook Air is an essential when I want to cover an event properly. Only if space is cramped would I use my iPhone only.

To get the best photos in my tweets, I often use a DSLR camera and connect it to my laptop with a cable. Get the camera to save images as JPEGs and you can share the results on Twitter very quickly.

John Espirian@espirian

“The future of marketing is relatability.”

👆🏻 There’s no time for ivory towers. Remember that we trust people who look like us. Not literally – but the way we think and act.

Trust is *everything*.@iSocialFanz

View image on Twitter
See John Espirian’s other Tweets

If a grown-up camera isn’t an option, a smartphone will do for the photos. I’d still recommend using a phone-to-laptop cable, so that you don’t need to rely on wireless tech to move images between devices.

If you want to create visuals to enhance your tweets, common tools worth checking out are Canva and Adobe Spark.

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Step 8

How do you follow up with people after the event? Do you use any tools?

I don’t wait until after the event to make a social connection. LinkedIn’s mobile app has a Bluetooth-powered “Find Nearby” feature. I use that with most people rather than swapping business cards on the day.

LinkedIn Find Nearby

LinkedIn Find Nearby feature (inside My Network tab on mobile).

When I do a write-up, I check in with some delegates to see whether they’re interested in contributing any further thoughts to the content. It’s good exposure for them (they get a backlink) and adds more value to everyone, whether they attended or not.

For those I’ve connected with online, the next step is always to try to have a conversation. But not a sales conversation! Simply be interested in getting to know people and see where it leads.

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Finally, in case you’re wondering about the value of being on a Twitter chat, here are my stats from the above chat about live events:

John Espirian@espirian

This is what being on the chat did to my analytics yesterday. Almost 31K organic impressions!

Thanks again for having me, @MadalynSklar 🙏🏻

30,937 organic impressions on Twitter on one day thanks to the #TwitterSmarter chat
See John Espirian’s other Tweets

PS. If you want another write-up of this chat, check out this summary on Madalyn’s own blog, kindly put together by my buddy Narmadhaa.

Five ways to make your presentation better

 This post was originally published on Seth’s blog. It is reposted with permission from the author.

 

  1. Make it shorter. No extra points for filling your time.
  2. Be really clear about what it’s for. If the presentation works, what will change? Who will be changed? Will people take a different course of action because of your work? If not, then why do you do a presentation?
  3. Don’t use slides as a teleprompter. If you have details, write them up in a short memo and give it to us after the presentation.
  4. Don’t sing, don’t dance, don’t tell jokes. If those three skills are foreign to you, this is not a good time to try them out.
  5. Be here now. The reason you’re giving a presentation and not sending us a memo is that your personal presence, your energy and your humanity add value. Don’t hide them. Don’t use a prescribed format if that format doesn’t match the best version of you.

And a bonus: the best presentation is one you actually give. Don’t hide. Don’t postpone it. We need to hear from you.

A presentation is expensive. It’s many of us, in real time, in sync, all watching you do your thing. If you’re going to do it live, make it worth it. For us and for you.

How to Scope Out Associations’ Cultures, Keep Up with Their Conferences, and Learn from Them

This post was originally published on the EditorMom blog. It is reposted with permission from the author.

Here is a 3-part tip for those who can’t afford to attend annual conferences of editorial associations and/or who are considering joining one or more associations:

  • First, bookmark links to the websites of associations you’re interested in. If you want to know about more associations than just the few you’ve already heard about, check out the association links in the “Networking” section of the Copyeditors’ Knowledge Base (CKB).
  • Second, watch those websites for notice of upcoming conferences. During conference time, head to Twitter to find the associations’ Twitter accounts. (Follow the links to those Twitter accounts that appear in the “Networking” section of the CKB.)
  • Third, follow those accounts’ tweets that are about the organizations’ conferences. (Most associations include an appropriate hashtag, or topic marker, in their conference tweets. For example, the Society for Scholarly Publishing is using the hashtag #SSP2018 for its tweets about its 2018 conference. You can search Twitter for that hashtag if you know it.)

You’ll get a good sense of what the organizations have to offer you, and you’ll also be engaging in some continuing professional development. Note: You do not have to have a Twitter account of your own to follow those tweets.

 

The Author

My photo

East Setauket, New York, United States

Networking for Newbies

By: Araceli Patino

During the last few years, my purchasing job in the automotive industry gave me a good idea on how to apply networking to grow professionally and to get the best results from my work. I thought I would have to start from scratch to develop my new translator career. However, I pretty soon discovered I could use my previous experience to start my own translation business.

Networking as a newbie (newcomer), especially at a large conference, can be overwhelming. But, fear not! Networking can be fun and you will have the best of opportunities to practice during the upcoming ATA Annual Conference. Don’t be shy and try these tips to get the most from your attendance and develop new business opportunities:

 

  1. Keep it simple

Try to establish an easy and nice conversation. People often like to talk about themselves, so aim at simple questions that they can also ask you in return, giving you the biggest opportunity… to talk about your career! Good questions will make your conversation memorable. These are some good starters:

  • Are you a translator or an interpreter?
  • How did you start as a [translator/interpreter]?
  • Which are your language pairs?
  • What are your specialization areas?
  • How long have you been a member of this organization?
  • Where are you based?
  • I saw your profile on LinkedIn and I’m impressed by…

Always keep your voice soft and firm, using a warm and positive tone.

  1. Practice makes perfect

You don’t need to be a pro to start building a network. The only thing you need is a little extra effort at the beginning, confidence, and practice. Then, you will realize that it is becoming second nature to you. Suddenly, you won’t be nervous anymore and will even enjoy it!

  1. Buddies Welcome Newbies

I really think this the go-to event. This is the best approach to learn about the conference for those attending for first time. Don’t forget that through your buddy you will be able to connect with other seasoned translators, and continue to increase your network. Everybody started where you are. You will be amazed to see how much people are willing to help you out.

  1. Image is everything; dress for success.

Do you know that people form an impression of you within the first 30 seconds after they meet you? You’ll never get a second chance to make a great first impression, so you always need to keep a professional appearance and outlook.

  1. Be authentic and always smile

Connect with people at a personal level, don’t be afraid to show yourself (avoid impersonating other people), and be true. This will create a meaningful connection with the other person. When talking about your business, share your achievements, but don’t try to make a hard sell.

  1. Make it count

It’s no secret: A good chunk of us are introverted people, which makes networking particularly difficult.

One approach could be setting up small goals to achieve one at a time. Your first goal could be to meet at least five new people at the Buddies Welcome Newbies event. Then, as your confidence increases, your new goals increase too. Now, you can attempt to meet ten new people the following day.

This strategy is perfect for tasks that you believe impossible. Stick to your goals no matter what and it won’t fail!

  1. Be unforgettable

When meeting potential clients, make sure to be ready to be remembered when job opportunities come. Be in your client’s head so the next time they need translation or interpreting services, they’ll think of you. But most importantly: Make it easy for them to find you!

Follow these guidelines:

  • Business cards. The best way to distribute them is by first establishing a meaningful connection and then asking for a card. Most people, when asked for a business card, will ask for yours in return. Yes, the same strategy as the return questions!
  • Marketing materials. Social media sites are truly important nowadays; update your LinkedIn profile and any other media-business sites you have. If you own a website, you could show recent samples of your work or new accomplishments in your career. Also, sharing your participation in professional events on social media is an excellent way to stand out from the crowd.
  • Resume. Prepare an updated version and have it ready, both online and in print.

 

Networking is an art that can be mastered with commitment. Start joining local and virtual groups. Online networking is a key tool nowadays. Try as many groups as possible and then become a regular visitor to the ones that fit well and that you feel a connection with. Everybody needs something different, so nobody can tell you which ones are better than others.

Joining several groups will increase your business opportunities because you never know where your next customer will come from.

My best recommendation: Always show your passion for what you do.

I’ll see you at the ATA Annual Conference in New Orleans!

 

About the author:

Araceli Patino is an English>Spanish translator who received an English/Spanish Translation Certificate from UC San Diego Extension. She also holds a BBA degree at Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. She has more than ten years of purchasing experience, focusing in the automotive field. She specializes in business translation, editing, transcreation, and localization.

Almost show time!

Can you believe the Annual Conference is less than 24 hours away? We can’t wait to see you tomorrow at 4:45 in the IBR West Room at the Washington Hilton. But before taking off to D.C., we thought we’d touch base one last time.

In the last couple of days, we’ve received a few emails from people who are unable to make it to tomorrow’s opening session. Though we may not be able to pair you with a Newbie or Buddy at this point, we have a couple of suggestions:

  • For Saturday-only first-time attendees, we will have a table at the hotel’s continental breakfast marked “Newbies” and you’re more than welcome to join us there. Breakfast is from 7:30am to 8:15am at the International Terrace.
  • Our wrap-up session will be on Saturday at 12:30, at the IBR East. Even if you couldn’t make it to the opening session, our debriefing will be packed with useful information to help you process and organize all the information and contacts you’ve made in the last few days.

Also, please keep in mind we might not be able to answer questions via email. We will not be monitoring our email as often during the conference, but we’ll be sure to get back with you next week.

And finally, before closing your suitcase, don’t forget to include:

  • A tote bag or backpack to comfortably carry any handouts, brochures, pen, notepad, tablet or small laptop, and personal items during the conference. A water bottle and granola bar or similar snack would also be good additions to your bag. But above all: Be sure to travel light! Please remember conference tote bags have been retired.
  • Your business cards, and copies of your résumé or any other business material you’d like to distribute to your new contacts or to potential employers.
  • Comfortable shoes.
  • Loads of enthusiasm and a positive attitude!

This is our last post before the conference, but we’ll be back next week with some post-conference thoughts before this blog goes into hibernation until next year!

Over and out.

My Routines for Transportation in an Unknown City

Helen Eby, frequent intercontinental traveler and conference-goer, shares her tips on how to prepare for a visit to a new city, a few indispensable apps, and what you should know about getting around DC in particular.

Familiarizing yourself with transportation is key when visiting a new city. I look for apps on my iPhone that provide support for public transportation. Today there are apps for subway maps, bus maps, train routes, train ticketing, and even light-rail ticketing. Some of the apps I will be using in DC are DC Metro Map and iTrans DC Metro.

No matter where you are, Google Maps is indispensable for general navigation. Taxi drivers abroad even use this app for directions, and it has excellent information on how to connect with public transportation.

My first stop when I get off the plane is the information desk in the baggage claim area. They often sell loaded cards for the subway system and can tell you where the nearest stop is. They also tell you which subway line to take to get to your hotel and can provide paper maps of the city. Alternatively, they can recommend the cheapest shuttle for getting to the hotel or to a taxi stand. I often take a taxi, because I don’t always want to walk around alone in an unfamiliar city with suitcases.

I also contact the hotel ahead of time to ask them what the best way to get to the hotel is. The front-desk staff has that answer memorized! (Bonus app: Hilton Honors, which offers a digital key to your room!)

For affordable alternatives to taxis, check out apps like Uber and Lyft. Download the app before your trip to explore your options and avoid having to find wifi or use data to download the app when you land. (The app automatically detects your location using GPS, but you can manually set your pickup spot and destination to investigate pricing and travel time in advance.)

A word of warning: Shuttles are often less expensive, but they make lots of stops before you get to your destination. In one city, my 20-minute ride lasted an hour and a half. I got off the plane late at night and ended up wishing I had paid for the added convenience. Ask first. In big cities like Madrid and New York, I take a taxi to the hotel, but on the way from the hotel to the train or the airport, I might do things differently (by then, I’ve gotten my bearings.)

Rush-hour traffic in Washington, DC can be either a nightmare or a spectacle worth watching, depending on your perspective, because of the motorcades for government officials. On my last trip, a 15-minute taxi ride took 45 minutes. This time I am using the subway.

When taking the trains, there are often many lines using the same track. The locals know exactly how to identify them. I ask them to help me, because I have ended up in the wrong place before.

I make sure I have good walking shoes. If something is five blocks away or even 10, I am more likely to walk than use a transportation system I’m unfamiliar with. After all, this is faster than walking to the stop, waiting for the train or the bus, and then walking to your destination.

As for DC, the city redefines the city block—government buildings are huge and can take up a whole DC block. On that note, if you visit any government offices, check your pedometer after visiting several offices in the same building! Let’s just say many people who work there have comfortable shoes. Leave the hotel with what you can carry easily for a good walk! If you are sightseeing, keep in mind water fountains can be few and far between. You might want to have a way to carry a water bottle. And check the weather to see if you’ll need an umbrella. No one likes being wet and cold!

I always arrive at conference cities a day early to get my bearings, get over jet lag, take in a few sights, find my favorite restaurants, and just feel relaxed. I often meet other attendees, and we do some sightseeing together. No business talk; we are in “off” mode. It’s also nice to stay after the conference. Going to DC and not seeing the Smithsonian, for example, would be a real pity. Last year I went to the Congreso San Jerónimo in Guadalajara and saw the book fair and attended the conference, but didn’t see the city at all. I really missed out. (I was rushed because I was getting ready for my daughter’s wedding two weeks later!) This year, I’m making up for it by taking an extra week in Guadalajara with my husband. I can hardly wait to get to know the city better in November!

But for now, DC awaits. See you at the conference!

Helen Eby, prolific conference-goer

Helpful Tips from the Slavic Division

Excerpt from How to Tackle an ATA Conference by Natalie Mainland (Reblogged from the Slavic Division blog with permission)

[…] I have to admit, I wasn’t sure about attending the 2016 ATA conference. I have a degree in translation and have been translating for a few years now, so I didn’t know how useful it would be, and I am—like I think many translators are—extremely introverted. Given the choice between getting a root canal or chatting up a room full of people I don’t know, I’ll take the root canal, please. However, I keep in touch with my former classmates, and not a single one of them has said that attending the conference was a waste of time or resources. I wasn’t sure if going would be helpful, but I figured it couldn’t hurt.

What next? Well, my personal philosophy is to always have a plan. Once I’d decided to attend the conference I immediately started planning so I could get the most out of it. I had a look at the first-timer’s guide in the ATA’s “Savvy Newcomer” blog, downloaded the conference app, and immediately began organizing my schedule. By the time I landed in San Francisco, I had each day planned for (supposedly) optimum effectiveness.

Educational sessions held throughout the day are organized into subject-specific tracks and are a major part of the conference. I’m trying to expand my business, so I planned to attend sessions in the “Independent Contractor” track. These were great, and I picked up tips and tricks for getting more work and running my business smoothly, but by the second afternoon I was feeling burnt out…so I decided to change things up. I went to a few medical sessions, even though they focused on language pairs other than mine. Were they helpful? You bet! Although the target language examples didn’t apply to me, I still learned strategies to improve my medical translations. Overall, I’m pleased with how much I learned, and in the months after the conference I even put that knowledge to use when I worked on a large medical project.

The other major part of the conference is networking, and that’s the part that worried me. I went to the Welcome Celebration on the first night, where everyone from the ATA divisions can mingle and learn more about one another, and I honestly felt a bit like a deer in the headlights. However, the whole process became markedly easier when I realized one obvious thing: everyone else is here to network, too!  They want to meet new people and talk with them, and all the people that I spoke with were wonderfully welcoming. After making it through that first hectic evening, everything else—such as talking to agency reps in the Exhibit Hall—was no problem at all.

Now for the big question: do I think going to the conference was worth it? I absolutely do. I picked up new skills and met other people working in my field. This profession can be a solitary one, and having actual, face-to-face contact with other humans was, for me, one of the best parts of the entire experience.

So, now that I’ve (hopefully) convinced you to go, what are my suggestions for your first conference?

Go. I was on the fence about going, but I’m glad I did. Although I’m no neophyte, I still learned a lot of things that will help me improve my craft. I also met a multitude of wonderful and interesting people, and found new prospects for my work.

Leave. Just because you’re at the conference doesn’t mean you need to attend every single event. In fact, that’s a good way to wear yourself out. At the conference in San Francisco, none of the early morning events made my ‘must-do’ list, so every morning I took a walk along the bay instead. Not only did I get fresh air and exercise, I also got a chance to take a break from being ‘on’ all the time. This helped me recharge and gave me the energy to do all the other things that I wanted to do.

Participate. If you’re introverted, never fear! There are plenty of ways for you to make connections without having to walk into a crowd of strangers and start cold. I signed up for the “Buddies Welcome Newbies” program, which partnered me with an experienced translator and conference-goer (hi Jen!) who showed me the ropes. She answered my questions, introduced me to people in the division, and was a very welcome familiar face in a sea of strangers. I also attended division events. The great thing about this is that people in the division know each other and know that you’re new, and they really do go out of their way to be welcoming. My worries of being the silent person standing awkwardly in the corner never materialized.

Ditch the plan. Or rather, be willing to ditch the plan. I had my entire conference schedule laid out before I stepped off the plane. Yet, some of the best experiences happened when I deviated from that schedule—skipping a mass networking event to go to dinner with some newfound colleagues, for example.

All in all, my first conference was a resounding success. I’m glad I went, and I would encourage anyone else to do the same.

 

Excerpt from How to Survive Your First ATA Conference by Jen Guernsey (Reblogged from the Slavic Division blog with permission)

[…] Actually, you aren’t going to SURVIVE it, you’re going to LOVE it! Below are some tips that will make it a little easier for you to hit the ground running. […]

So, prospective newbies, here is your pre-conference to-do list:

1) Register for the conference BY OCTOBER 6 to take advantage of lower rates. [This date has passed but it’s not too late to still register for the conference!]

2) Download the conference app. I find it very helpful for planning my conference and finding event locations. You can input your resume and other profile info to help both colleagues and prospective employers find you.

3) Review the conference program to get an idea of the sessions and events you’d like to attend. A list of presentations in the Slavic languages track and by SLD members can be found in the SlavFile Preview.

4) Join Buddies Welcome Newbies to be paired up with an experienced conference-goer who will show you the ropes. Many newbies mention this helpful program, scheduled for Wednesday 4:45-5:30 (Debriefing Saturday 12:30-1:30) http://www.atanet.org/conf/2017/newbies/. […]

And while at the conference:

1) Wear your pink First Time Attendee ribbon with pride. It will spark a lot of conversations…kind of like wearing a “Please Welcome Me” sign on your forehead…but more comfortable.

2) Come to the Welcome Celebration. It is huge! It is crowded! It is loud! It is daunting! Never fear—just seek out the table marked SLD [or another division you’re interested in]. You will encounter some familiar names, soon to be familiar faces, and introduce yourself. Plus, hey, free food and a couple of drinks. Wednesday 5:30-7:00 […]

Working the Exhibit Hall

Over the years, I have come to realize that new conference attendees may perceive the Exhibit Hall as a vast, unknown territory. People often don’t know what to make of it. Is it the conference watering hole—a place to fill up on water, coffee and tea? A farmers’ market made up of T&I merchants selling their ingenious products and wares? Endless rows of booths from T&I companies and agencies looking for new talent? Oh—wait—and there is an area where you can meet and sit down with experts from CAT tool companies who can answer your technical questions and help you with that CAT-tool conundrum you’ve been suffering over … It’s true, I’m not making this up.

Let’s call it the Diagon Alley of the T&I industry, only missing a few elves walking around (hm… no, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen those too). For the sake of readers who may not be Harry Potter enthusiasts, the Exhibit Hall is the place to be to get the scoop on the latest technologies available to T&I professionals, trends, books, products, and, of course, to meet agency representatives, and even schools offering T&I courses.

But how to peruse the Exhibit Hall? Switching from being a potential customer at a CAT-tool booth, to being informally interviewed by an agency representative in the next booth can be a bit nerve-racking. Having a plan is the key.

In my early years as a conference attendee, I developed a “system” to go through the Exhibit Hall in a calm, organized manner that allows me to make the most of my time there.

The night I arrive, I take the finalized conference program (the actual paper copy) and study the floor plan to see which companies are in the Exhibit Hall. Then, I make note of the booths I’m interested in visiting by circling them and organizing them into two categories: products I’m interested in buying (CAT tools, books, equipment), and people I want to meet (whether it is a company I already work for but have never met any representative for in person, an agency I’m interested in contacting, or a T&I program/certificate I’m considering taking).

Based on the number of circles I have in each category, I choose two timeslots on two different days to skip a session (gasp!) and visit the Exhibit Hall. This might seem sacrilegious at first, but you will soon realize that during coffee breaks and lunch, the Exhibit Hall resembles a trading post, and it will be quite a feat to get any quality time at the booths. By visiting the Exhibit Hall when most conference attendees are in sessions, you will maximize your chances to have quiet, productive conversations with the folks you’re interested in meeting. Get a glimpse of what the Exhibit Hall will look like by checking out this year’s exhibitors.

I allocate between one hour and 45 minutes on two different days to visit the Exhibit Hall, and voilà—I’m done! A word of caution: some booths close early on Saturday, as it is the final day of the conference, so be sure to find your timeslot early if you are a Saturday-only attendee or are otherwise planning to visit the Exhibit Hall on Saturday.

Another tip for the Exhibit Hall is to keep your business cards handy, but not so handy that it looks like you’re at a Pokémon-card exchange. And you will be wise not to hand out your résumé as though it were a “lost dog” poster. These days, many companies are not interested in hauling reams of résumés back to the office after the conference. Instead, they may give you a link to a page where you can register and upload your résumé or ask for your business card and exchange contact information, while yet others may, indeed, ask for a résumé. But don’t assume everybody wants a paper copy of your résumé.

One of my favorite areas in the Exhibit Hall is the Tool Support Stations. This relatively new feature of the Exhibit Hall—introduced only a few years ago—is a cool way to meet with tech-support people from different CAT tools to get questions answered and issues resolved. This is a hands-on meeting, so be sure to bring your laptop to show them whatever it is that is troubling you.

The Exhibit Hall is a very dynamic area, and as such, it’s always changing. Every year I look forward to seeing what’s new, meeting new people, and greeting long-time friends.

Frequently Asked Questions about Buddies Welcome Newbies

Conference questions

Q: Do all events take place at the Washington Hilton?

A: All official conference events do, but some divisions or organizations may hold special events outside the hotel. Some of these have an additional cost and others are by invitation only; check out your favorite division’s website or stop by exhibit hall booths to learn more.

Q: Do I need to register in advance for the Thursday through Saturday sessions?

A: Nope! Wednesday AST sessions require advance registration and an additional fee, but Thursday through Saturday sessions are ‘come one, come all.’

Buddies Welcome Newbies questions

Q: How did I get signed up to be a Buddy/Newbie, or how do I sign up if I haven’t already?

A: Buddy/Newbie signups appeared as a checkbox on the conference registration form this year; if you received an email and did not intend to sign up, you can disregard it or feel free to join us anyway. If you did not sign up but would like to participate, you can email us at atasavvynewcomer@atanet.org and we will register you, or you can just show up at the Buddies Welcome Newbies session on Wednesday 10/25 at 4:45pm to meet a Buddy/Newbie. Registration is encouraged but not required.

Q: Do I need to be an expert to be a Buddy, or a newcomer to the profession to be a Newbie?

A: No, these designations just refer to your status at the conference — you may be relatively young but have attended more than one conference before and would make a great Buddy, or you may have 30 years of translation experience but have never attended an ATA conference, making you a Newbie.

Q: What if I got the Newbie email but I’m really a Buddy (or vice versa)?

A: No problem — just make sure that on Wednesday when you arrive at the session, you choose a red ribbon for Buddy or a green ribbon for Newbie.

Q: Can I pair up with a Buddy or Newbie I already know?

A: Sure! Just attend the session together so you can sit near each other.

Q: What if I cannot make it to the Wednesday Buddies Welcome Newbies session but will be arriving on Wednesday night or Thursday morning and still want to connect with a Buddy/Newbie?

A: Reach out to us before the conference starts at atasavvynewcomer@atanet.org and we will try to pair you up with a Buddy/Newbie ahead of time who will also be arriving after the session.

Q: Can I attend the Buddies Welcome Newbies introduction session (Wednesday) if I am only registered for the conference for one day (Saturday)?

A: Unfortunately this event is only open to full conference attendees, but if you are only attending the conference Saturday we’d love to see you at the Buddies Welcome Newbies wrap-up/debrief at 12:30pm. Check your conference program for more details. We also invite you to meet our resident Buddy Extraordinaire, Helen Eby, who has graciously offered to adopt any Saturday Newbies who can join her at the continental breakfast on Saturday morning. We will reserve a table for any interested Newbies (and Buddies!).

What I Learned from the 57th ATA Conference

By Sarah Symons-Glegorio

Reblogged from www.sharktranslations.com with permission from the author

It was my first time attending the annual ATA (American Translators Association) conference, which this year was held November 2-6 in San Francisco. I was equally giddy and nervous. Being surrounded by so many worldly multilinguals was awe-inspiring. It felt like I had found my tribe. I saw famous people (famous to me and those in the translation world) on the escalator and they smiled and are real, approachable people!

After downloading the app, I had earmarked at least 2 sessions per time slot that I was interested in. There is just no humanly possible way to take it all in. My mentor gave me some good advice: don’t try to do everything. Skip a session to take a break. Seeing as I was 7 months pregnant and went to the airport at 3:00 in the morning the day the conference began, skipping a session to take a nap was a lifesaver, even if it meant missing my mentor’s session!

Networking for Introverts

As a first timer and an introvert, I had the best possible introduction to the conference. The first session was “Networking for Introverts” by Anne Goff, which had me chuckling right away with the tip: “Don’t go to networking events!” The idea is that if events are marketed as such i.e., “after-work networking” then they’re usually full of semi-desperate, CV-shoving people who just want to unload their stack of papers rather than develop relationships. However, if an event has an interesting topic and can be a learning opportunity, then go! Another trick to get introverts to network is to RSVP or pay a registration fee. You’ll be more motivated to go if you have someone to meet there or if you’ll lose money by not showing up. Look up current events before going. Network for career advice and come up with questions in advance. At presentations, say hello to the people sitting nearby and ask their opinions. The most important part is to FOLLOW UP afterwards. Text or email the people you’ve met within 24 hours. Follow up again and not just once. Do so a few days, and months afterwards and keep the cycle going to maintain the relationship. Finally, don’t thank people for taking the time to meet with you because then it sounds like you don’t offer anything.

Buddies and Newbies

ATA offers a Buddies and Newbies program where they pair conference veterans with first timers to meet before the conference begins and possibly attend a session together. Since the buddy to newbie ratio was about 5:1, my buddy, Jamie Hartz graciously herded a flock of newbies around and we all had lunch together. It was the perfect way to meet new colleagues and I would highly recommend anyone going to be either a buddy or a newbie.

Areas for Translator Improvement

After reading her column “Fire Ant and Worker Bee” the Translation Journal for years, and reading her book “The Prosperous Translator”, it was an honor to see Chris Durban in person. Her presentation “What About Blind Spots” presented some potentially uncomfortable truths for translators. Some blind spots, or (unknown) areas of improvement for translators, are relatively easy to fix, such as developing business skills. Others that take more time are deepening your knowledge of your source language(s) and specialization(s). The bottom end of the translation market will eventually be taken over by machine translation (artificial intelligence) so it is incredibly important to hone your skills. The hardest truths for translators to both see and fix are work quality and client satisfaction. Improving the quality of your work takes time and practice, even with regular feedback and collaboration with a reviser.

Future of Translation

Honing your skills to keep your job from being taken by machine translation was also underscored in the session about the future of translation “Future Tense” by Jay Marciano. According to Jay, “All MT claims are hyped up.” They act like they’re going to change everything and be revolutionary but they’re not. I take that as meaning machine translation will bring about a lot of change, but we’ll have time to change with it, if we sharpen our skill sets. Translators need to learn to work with the technology rather than trying to race against it. Some of Jay’s recommendations include:

  • Become a super native speaker of your target language. That’s not replaceable by machines.
  • Take a logics course and get familiar with algorithmic thinking.
  • Be comfortable with databases.

Financial Terminology

The “Capital Markets” session by Marian Greenfield was great for succinctly clarifying concepts. She emphasized the importance of finding monolingual glossaries in each language because they are better quality than bilingual glossaries since they go into more depth and are developed by industry professionals. I was happy that she also confirmed a nagging doubt of mine that English doesn’t clearly distinguish between “participation” and “share” as is commonly done in Spanish and other Romance languages (participación vs. acción). It’s stumbled me before how to deal with both versions in a text when you can use “share” for both in English. Another possibility would be to use “unit” in an investment fund. For further reading, she recommended The Intelligent Investor by Ben Graham.

Analyzing Contracts

The session I couldn’t take notes fast enough in was “Contracts: Friends or Foes” by Amanda Williams of Mirror Image Translations. She has some great comebacks for shady clauses in translation agency contracts. Keep in mind though, that we needn’t be combative to get clauses changed. She recommends to say something along the lines of “I read this clause. I’m not 100% on-board because ___. Can we talk about it?” One of the more shocking clauses included forbidding the translator from contacting an agency’s future or potential customers. Does that mean I’m not supposed to look for another customer ever again!? Another one that gave me a chuckle was a clause forbidding translators from discussing compensation with other linguists. According to Amanda, that is a sign they’re not paying enough! In addition to her great comebacks, she also has an excellent “Spec sheet” that she uses to outline details of any project she takes on.

Cost Breakdown

The total cost of attending the conference broke down as follows:

  • Food, transportation in San Francisco: $231.86
  • Airline tickets: $261.40 (2 round-trip tickets PDX – SFO)
  • Hotel: $666.44 (24 nights)
  • Conference: $525.00
  • Exam: $300.00
  • Total: $1984.70

My costs were likely higher than other people’s for a variety of reasons. For one, I took the ATA exam while in San Francisco, which was an additional $300.00 that most people didn’t pay. The opportunity cost in that was having to forgo all of the Saturday conference sessions so I could be 100% focused on the exam. Another cost I paid higher for was the hotel. Being in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy, I needed something close to the conference location, so I found a hotel within 5 blocks; Club Quarters Hotel, which I highly recommend if you need a place to stay in San Francisco’s financial district. The airline tickets were for two people and included a discount for credit card points, although the distance was relatively short. Time will tell if the contacts made and lessons learned will generate or save enough money to cover expenses for the next conference.

Conclusion

All in all, the conference was equally inspiring and overwhelming. It’s absolutely impossible to take it all in so you will inevitably miss out on things. I met some incredible people and got to attend some eye-opening presentations with lessons I’ll be working on implementing. The best advice I could give to my future self and anyone else thinking to attend an ATA conference is to get enough sleep before you go. Have someone to meet up with. Take a water bottle, copious notes, and frequent breaks!

Sources:

  1. Anne Goff, “Networking for Introverts” (presentation, American Translators Association 57th Annual Conference, San Francisco, CA, November 3, 2016).
  2. Chris Durban, “What About Blind Spots” (presentation, American Translators Association 57th Annual Conference, San Francisco, CA, November 3, 2016).
  3. Jay Marciano, “Future Tense – Where will AI & Improving Technologies Take Us in 5 Years?” (presentation, American Translators Association 57th Annual Conference, San Francisco, CA, November 3, 2016).
  4. Amanda Williams, “Contracts: Friends or Foes” (presentation, American Translators Association 57th Annual Conference, San Francisco, CA, November 3, 2016).
  5. Marian S. Greenfield, CT, “Capital Markets Concepts and Terminology” (presentation, American Translators Association 57th Annual Conference, San Francisco, CA, November 3, 2016).