I know someone who is an architect. He designs and builds luxury homes for the wealthy. It’s a rewarding career, but finding new clients and projects is mostly a matter of word-of-mouth. So he is forever trying to finagle invitations to exclusive cocktail parties and other high-end functions. These events have always seemed to him to be the best means of reaching new prospects.
This week, however, a surprise opportunity landed in his lap. One of his clients was taking out a substantial mortgage from a major bank. My architect friend was asked to speak to the bank to confirm some of the details of the project. The bank representative was friendly, and he had a bit of a conversation with her. As he described his work to her, she was impressed. She offered to discuss his services with her banking clients who were in the market for a new home.
He was stunned. It had never occurred to him before to look to the major banks as a source of leads. And yet, some very serious possibilities are now looming on the horizon for him. It was important for him to get off the beaten path
So it is with interpreting.
We often think in terms of international organizations and governments. The United Nations, the European Commission, the European Parliament, the World Bank, the Government of Canada, etc. — these are the names that we throw around in class. These are the employers that our students aspire to work for. And well they should. Working for these institutions is highly rewarding.
But they are not the only options out there for new interpreters, or even for seasoned ones. This is a point that was highlighted for me in a recent conversation.
I was fortunate enough to meet Jonathan Rechtman of Cadence Translate, a new start-up that is bringing interpreting to the business and financial sector. In our globalized world, there are opportunities that most interpreters aren’t taking advantage of. For example, Jonathan explained, there is a whole market for phone interviews between investors and industry experts.
Let’s say a group of American financiers is considering putting money into a Japanese automaker. They will want to consult with those who know the Japanese auto sector. Chances are good that the two sides won’t share a language, so they need interpreters for the phone interview. Cadence provides those interpreters.
It’s specialized work. First of all, in this instance, the interpreters have to work remotely. As readers of this blog will know, remote interpreting requires a particular skill set. But the interpreters will also need to understand the language of business and investment. In addition, you can’t interpret this call without understanding the auto sector. So the interpreters have their work cut out for them.
The point here is that there are opportunities out there that most of us aren’t even aware of. As interpreters, we need to explore our traditional options, like the institutions I mentioned above. But we also need to prepare ourselves to seek out other clients who haven’t traditionally benefited from interpreting.
How do you connect with those clients? For starters, you have to understand their needs and speak their language. This means telling them how the service you offer can allow them to meet their goals. This is definitely the road less travelled, but it’s one that leads to an exciting destination.