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How not to market yourself May 16, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Marketing ideas.

Social networking sites can be a great way to market yourself, but you need to make sure that the person you are looking to “link up with” is in your field and/or a potential business contact. If you are looking to stretch out of your field, you need to make sure that your message to them is targeted enough to want them to link to you. One of my friends, who is very active in social networking, received the following request through XING. The names have been changed to protect the innocent as well as the guilty.

Dear Karen,

Johanna Onestra has requested to be connected to you on XING.

I would like to connect with you as I can offer you my affordable translation services.

With kind regards,

Johanna Onestra

Now, my friend is not involved in the translation field. She is an online recruiter (specifically, an in-house headhunter for a Fortune 500 company). If “Johanna” had done her homework on her potential connection (a simple Google search of her name would have sufficed – she’s all over the web) she would have immediately seen that “Karen” has no need for translation services. Instead, “Johanna” did not get a connection and actually had her e-mail forwarded to me with the wry comment “Thought you’d get a kick out of this 🙂 I didn’t realize I was in the market for translating services!”. If she had simply written “Hi, I am a Business English trainer who is pursuing a career that combines both my academic and professional experience and would like to learn more about what you do.” (because I googled the woman and that is pretty much what her LinkedIn profile says – not a word about translation services) or even”Hi, I like your profile and would like to learn more about what you do,” my friend might have been more receptive to adding her to her network.

Marketing involves a bit more legwork than simply sending out an e-mail or link request blindly. Do a bit of research on the person or company you are contacting. I promise you will stand out from the crowd!



1. Kevin Lossner - May 17, 2009

I wonder myself about some of the odd link requests I get. I can almost understand the purpose behind unsolicited contacts from Chinese or Indian translation agencies, though these are just as much a waste of my time (and theirs) as all the unsolicited offers of collaboration from translators of Bulgarian, Arabic, Macedonian and Lower Slobovian and, rarely, from translators working in my own pair whose work I am at least theoretically capable of evaluating. I think someone has added my name to one of those lists for spamming agencies, because the most rudimentary bit of research would reveal that I am in fact just one of a team of two translators, not a project manager at Lionbridge.
Most of the requests I’ve received on XING or LinkedIn make a certain amount of sense. Headhunters who seem eager to add anyone with a college degree are a bit suspect, and after I figure out who they are, I’ll drop them. A lot are from other translators or former colleagues in other fields or figures in the language industry whom I know casually or whose activities I follow with interest. Where things really seem to get strange is Twitter. I’ve picked up a few “followers” who seem a bit like coked-out party girls, and I’m not sure where that comes from. I suppose it will be time to weed that garden eventually.

2. Johanka - May 18, 2009

There are certainly both cultural and personality-driven differences as to what constitutes obnoxious behaviour when trying to link up with people on social sites. Myself, I definitely tend to err maybe to much on the safe side. I shy away from contacting even the people I’ve actually worked with but it was either a singular encounter or a long time ago.

3. Judy Jenner - May 19, 2009

I love it! Our mutual friend was surely pretty appalled by this. After all, she has a very specific message at the bottom of her LinkedIn profile (not sure she has this on Xing, too) where she clearly states who she would like to connect with and why. And yes, she’s all over the internet with her blog, so she would be very easy to research. Folks who don’t do their research in the internet world really should take a look at how this lack of professionalism is perceived in the marketplace — it’s the equivalent of spamming, in a way.

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