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It’s been quite a while since my last blog post. I am both impressed and pleased to come back and see that despite lack of my blogging presence, people still read and comment on my blog, and I even gained a few followers! Many thanks guys for stopping by and finding my writing interesting:)
So what I have been up to? Shortly – too many things at once, typical for me, but all of them quite exciting. I have been madly networking, mainly because it is one of my passion – meeting people and organising events, but also because I am working on my new venture, Inspiral Enterprise.
I have been working on my new logo with lovely Ken Lloyd, who designed a pretty cool logo for me. I am currently working on the content of my website, and on my business offering, which is oh-so-exciting. And adding to that my usual busy schedule – translation, managing my local Polish organisation and family/children related duties, days seem to be too short.
Anyway, I hope to start my venture very soon, and will be soon blogging more about serious business development stuff, so stay tuned:)
Networking is a powerful marketing tool and can be very beneficial for your business. Assisted by the right strategy, it can create word-of-mouth referrals for you, known to be the most effective marketing tool. Faced with a choice, most people prefer a trusted recommendation when looking for a product or services.
Thanks to the rapid development of technology, we now have a plethora of online networking tools at our disposal. In addition to attending face to face business networking events, you have endless opportunities for expanding your customer network through the appropriate use of social media.
Although there is an abundance of these to choose from, you should be selective in order to ensure you don’t spend more time marketing your offering than carrying out paid work. Nevertheless, integrating personal networking with Facebook, Twitter, blogging, LinkedIn and your businesswebsite, along with an appropriate marketing strategy, can be extremely effective if applied correctly.
You should remember that networking does not simply mean personal promotion and getting more customers. It is more about expanding on your existing network of friends, acquaintances and customers, and leveraging on their networks. It is about creating, building and nurturing relationships, gaining credibility and trust, and showing off your professionalism, knowledge and expertise. This means that it is a long term strategy, so do not expect results overnight. It requires time and effort to be successful, with lots of pro-activity and patience from your side.
So where to start? There are several types of face to face networking events, and it is good to try at least some of them to see which one suits your personal style. Good examples of established organisations are BNI, 4Networking and the Business over Breakfast Club. Business events such as The Canterbury Tweetup or similar business networking event in Whitstable are less formal, and potentially less intimidating for people inexperienced in this kind of networking. I would encourage you to try as many as you feel appropriate, using them to meet people, engage in introductory conversations, and where appropriate to follow up your leads to get to know some people better. Networking does not finish after the first handshake: it is useful to send a follow-up email, meet for a coffee, and definitely connect on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. Integrating social media into your standard networking strategy will take you to the next level of interaction with potential customers.
A good approach for showing off your expertise and what you can offer is to include a blog on your website. This will help your expanding network to know you better, and also to benefit from your knowledge. You should then recommend every blog post you write through Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.
Overall, I believe that Twitter is your best marketing friend. Its advantages are copious: in particular it is used every day by millions of people who create, discover and share ideas. Both small and large enterprises find great value in the connections they establish on Twitter. Although for some people Twitter is a medium for meaningless chat, this is not true nowadays. Do not miss out on this very powerful marketing tool: ‘Innovate or die‘, as the business guru Tom Peters once said.
Twitter, similarly to Facebook page, will help you to connect with your current and prospective customers, facilitate two-way communication and promete easy feedback. It will assist you with branding and marketing strategy, will expose your coupons and giveaways, and help you share your knowledge and expertise from your blog.
Where Twitter is, in my opinion, more powerful than Facebook, is its viral nature (that is the ability to spread in an uncontrolled manner – potentially an advantage or disadvantage, but very useful if the message is positive for you), and the fact that your messages are visible to users worldwide, not just your friends. It therefore helps you to benchmark against your competitors, and so aids your efforts to add value. It not only allows you to receive instant customer feedback, but can also multiply your networking at an incredible rate. Provided your tweets are frequent and meaningful, you will gain exposure and build relationships at an incredible speed. Twitter also enables you to conduct free market research, as any question you ask is rapidly answered (often by many people), provided you use a proper hashtag.
On which subject, what is a hashtag? It is a label with the hash (#) symbol aiming to group the tweets so they can be found easier and faster. You can create your own hashtag and put it in any of your tweets. Alternatively, you can use established ones, so make sure you search for the hashtag you have in mind before you put it into your tweet. If the one you have used has already been used for something else this could create confusion at best, or extreme embarrassment at worst!
Both Twitter and Facebook are also great for your search engine optimisation (SEO). This simply means how easily you are found by the search engines such as Google. In general, the more fresh content you generate, the better your SEO. Therefore, writing your blog posts frequently, and publicising them on Twitter and Facebook, increases your SEO, provided the content is not the same each time. Search engines dislike repetitions and will punish you for that, moving you to the bottom of the search.
Frequent and interesting tweets and Facebook posts will also act to your benefit in terms of SEO. Twitter is also great for the public relations (PR) community, because many journalists use Twitter looking for stories. Your post might just attract their attention (should you desire it!).
One important aspect to bear in mind is that your social media posts are truly professional. This means avoiding an aggressive sales pitches, bragging, and meaningless messages. It is useful to share valuable business related content and knowledge, for example what you wrote on your blog, interesting articles, events, or promotions. It is always good to retweet or share interesting content posted by other people: this is a form of networking in its own right. In this way you can engage in online conversations, and help others with your knowledge and expertise, form long term, strong relationships, and build trust and engage in partnerships.
I hope to have convinced you of the power and importance of an integrated social media strategy for your business development and growth. In this article I have only concentrated on Twitter and Facebook, but there are many more. The one to watch in the near future is Google+: this has great potential and has just introduced pages, but its relative novelty takes it out of scope for this short article. At present, however, becoming a regular business user of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn can be a powerful way to generate word-of-mouth referrals, and will build your network rapidly, provided you offer an interesting and meaningful content. Combine a social media networking strategy with a face-to-face approach, and you will both have fun and the potential to gain loyal customers for the long term.
About the author: Dr Aga Gordon, MBA is a business management consultant and trainer specialising in helping ambitious business owners and managers to improve performance through creative and innovative methods. She also offers specialist English/Polish translation. She runs The Canterbury Tweetup, free business networking event in Canterbury (www.canterburytweetup.com). Follow Aga on Twitter @acgtranslation or contact her on 07878957519.
I was offline for most of today and when I finally logged onto Twitter this evening, I found out I had been awarded a Versatile Blogger award by Ewa Erdmann @transliteria.
I feel truly honoured, especially because Ewa is a fantastic blogger herself, who bloggs about translation, language, marketing and law.
I was a bit confused first when I saw a Twitter message congratulating me on getting a Versatile Blogger badge. I have never heard of it before but I quickly found out and I am so pleased I got one. THANK YOU very much, Ewa .
The accompanying rules for this award are as follows:
- Thank and link back to the blogger that awarded you the badge.
- Share 7 things about you.
- Award 5 or 15 other bloggers
- Contact these bloggers to let them know about the award.
Now there are 7 facts about me:
- I hold Master’s degree in Chemistry and a PhD in Physical and Theoretical Chemistry. Plus a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. Thinking hard what to study next
- I worked as a lecturer and researcher in quantum chemistry at one of the major Polish Universities for 13 years.
- Through the years, I held various roles: teacher, business consultant, translator, conference organiser, cross-boundary networker, curriculum coordinator, entrepreneur.
- I found my soul mate and decided to move from Poland to the UK and have a career break, during which I carried out various pro bono roles including setting up and running Polish school, and being a member of various boards of directors.
- I am passionate about languages and became a real bilingualism expert when successfully bringing up my two daughters.
- I am a night owl, ENTP-type, volunteering for everything, talkative, loving helping people, multitasking and networking.
- I love books, good food, travelling, different cultures, computers, learning and meeting new people.
I would like to award the badge to the following blogs:
Polish translations by Ewa Erdmann @transliteria
John Paul Aguiar @JohnAguiar
Marketingwizdom by Robert Clay @marketingwizdom
Adventures in Freelance Translation by Catherine Christaki @LinguaGreca
My Lord, my fam, my job, my friends by Olga Arakelyan @olenkaarakelyan
Leadership and rock’n’roll by Peter Cook @academyofrock
These bloggers truly deserve this. And I hope you will pass on the love to the other blogs out there. Happy blogging!
The very first Canterbury Tweet-up will be held on Wednesday 7th September from 10 am until noon, at The Millers Arms, Canterbury. Following the successful Whitstable Tweet-up, held at Hotel Continental, Whitstable on the first Thursday of the month, I decided to set up its sister event in Canterbury.
Everyone is welcome, so please come along, bring your business cards and join us for coffee/tea/drink. You are welcome to bring your friends and colleagues with you.
What is a tweet-up?
Tweet-up is an exciting and free networking opportunity for businesses in Kent. Come and have a chat about what you do in a friendly atmosphere. The Millers Arms is a lovely pub so you can even have a bite to eat if you so wish.
In principle, a Tweet-Up is an opportunity for business people who use Twitter to meet face-to-face. You do not need to be on Twitter to join, but it might prompt you to join this exciting and powerful marketing tool in the future. The idea is to have an informal networking meeting once a month, share ideas, and hopefully help each other to become more successful in your business. Let’s bring the East Kent business community together!
How much does it cost?
The event is free, but you will need to pay for your own refreshments.
For more information and to book please hook up with me on Twitter @acgtranslation, email me at aga.gordon(at)acgtranslation.com or give me a ring at 07878 957519.
You can also subscribe to the event on Facebook.
I am looking forward to seeing you there!
About the organizer: Aga Gordon is a business consultant, coach and Polish translator specialising in business, scientific and medical translation. She holds a PhD in chemistry and an MBA, her interests lie chiefly in strategy, creativity, innovation, change and social media marketing.
Written by Dr Aga Gordon Find me on Twitter @acgtranslation
I have recently received several enquiries about the meaning of ‘sworn’ translation in the UK. Therefore, I thought it would be useful to clarify a common misapprehension among Polish people regarding the translation of the official documents in the UK. Sworn translators do not exist in the UK, as the country does not accredit translators with seals subsequently used to confirm the translation’s authenticity. You can still find sworn translators from Poland, Germany or France, but their stamp is not required by local authorities. In the UK translations needed for official purposes are certified or notarised.
There are three main levels of the official translations:
Certified translation – this is when the professional translator performs the translation, and then certifies it by putting a clause at the end that they are a qualified translator, and that the translation of the official document is accurate and true to the best of translator’s knowledge and ability. A certified translation is usually sufficient for most governmental bodies, universities, schools, insurance providers or employers for documents such as birth, divorce and marriage certificates, study transcripts, diplomas, medical reports, contracts, power of attorneys, household bills etc. Translators do not have to be members of professional translators’ organizations.
Notarised translation – this type of translation might be required for certain governmental or legal bodies. In this case, a qualified translator will perform their translation as in the case of certified translation, but will have to collaborate with a notary public, in whose presence the affidavit is sworn to declare true and accurate translation of the official documents. This will be confirmed by the notary public with their official stamp and signature.
You should always check with the body concerned whether you need a notarised translation. Such a translation carries an additional cost of about £70 for notary public fees.
Apostille – this certification might be required for documents needed overseas, especially concerning countries complying with the Hague Convention. Examples might include when you plan to marry overseas, adopt a foreign child, or obtain a job abroad.
The process follows the same procedure as for a notarised translation, after which the notarised document is sent to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). They will confirm that the signing notary public was authorised to do so. Similarly to an affidavit, the apostille will incur an additional cost on a top of the cost of the translation.
By Dr Aga Gordon Follow me on twitter @acgtranslation
This is my first press release I sent tonight to the local paper in hope it gets published in their business section. Fingers crossed:)
Poland has become one of the largest and fastest growing emerging markets in Eastern and Central Europe since joining the EU in 2004. Furthermore, the large Polish community is now an extremely important part of the UK demographic makeup. It offers endless opportunities for SMEs willing to increase their ROI through expanding their client database. Thanks to globalisation and the ease of communication afforded by the Internet, such an opportunity lies within reach. However, expanding into such a promising market should be planned with care to ensure success.
Acgtranslation, owned by Dr. Agnieszka J. Gordon, a bilingual and bicultural business consultant, is dedicated to helping businesses ensure that their expansion into the Polish market is successful. She says: ‘When planning to enter the Polish market, a professionally translated and properly localised website is certain to play the key role in directing your marketing messages. This requires familiarity with the culture and customs of the prospective client. Furthermore, it is crucial to appoint a professional who not only speaks both languages, but is also an expert on Polish culture and a marketing and business specialist. Your selection of a translator should not be guided simply by price, but rather requires someone who can craft your message to the target market, and can guide you efficiently towards the customers’
In you are interested in expanding into the Polish market, please contact Agnieszka Gordon. She will be delighted to offer language, cultural and business consultancy advice, and help you with bespoke translation of your company website. For more information visit www.acgtranslation.co.uk or call 07878 957519 to discuss your particular needs.
Terrible translation on the Kent County Council website – was it really a good choice to have a contract with Kent Top Temps on all the translation and interpreting services?
Written by Dr Aga Gordon. Follow me @acgtranslation
All of this started when I applied for a primary school place for my little daughter. I posted the application online, which was pretty straightforward, but then I spotted that Kent County Council (KCC; @Kent_cc) had pages in other languages on their website.
I thought it was very progressive of them to provide support for the various minorities we enjoy having in Kent. I normally do not bother to read translated documents since I am effectively bilingual, and translations for public services tend to be clumsy at best. However, this time I decided to have a look, partly out of professional interest, but mainly because I am actively involved in the local Polish community and know that many of my compatriots struggle to read official documents in English.
When I read the Polish translation, my jaw dropped – quite literally. The result was so shockingly bad that I initially thought they had just used Google translate. However, I copy/pasted the text concerned into Google, and the results, surprisingly, read much better. The translated text on the KCC website is not only clumsy and artificial sounding, but also lacks Polish letters, contains various syntax and grammatical errors, and even worse uses non-existent words. For example the translation reads: ‘…’postaramy sie o interpretora..’, but the latter word does not exist in Polish. The correct translation of the English word ‘interpreter’ is ‘tłumacz ustny’. Another example is the phrase: ‘We can help you get information about our services…’, which is translated as ‘…przedstawiamy informacje o naszych obslugach..’; this not only sounds weird, but the word ‘obsługi’ is also misspelled. Furthermore, this word should not be used to mean ‘service’ in this context. Services can indeed be translated as ‘obsługa’, but this is more often used in its singular form, and carries a different meaning. The correct word in this context is ‘usługi’. Translation/interpreting services should be translated as ‘usługi tłumaczeniowe’.
At this stage I will not give more details (although more examples could be provided), but suffice to say I was appalled enough to take action on this, so I emailed KCC to alert them to the problem. They explained that Kent Top Temps were responsible for all their translation/interpreting and forwarded my message to them. I decided to wait a few weeks to see if they would respond. Needless to say, they did nothing – neither was the text removed nor did get a reply.
Having received no reply, nor seen any change in the text online, I decided to raise the issue several weeks later with my colleagues – professional translators on Twitter. The reaction was immediate and wonderfully supportive. Czech and Russian translators (@sylvaf and @OlenkaArakelyan) checked their respective translations. The Czech was judged terrible, the Russian less so, but still contained spelling mistakes and was not very good overall. I have not managed to get other languages checked to date, but I hope to get feedback on the Lithuanian, Mandarin and Cantonese translations from my friends soon.
Our lively discussion finally prompted action from Kent County Council through their Twitter account @Kent_cc, resulting in a phone call from Kent Top Temps,. However, our discussion was rather disappointing. After I explained the issue, the person responsible for the translation said they would do their best to help me. Help me? I don’t need help here, but rather I would like to ensure that the Polish community is served appropriately. What is required here is something that was clearly overlooked – a good quality service.
It was explained to me that only native Polish speakers or Institute of Linguists certified interpreters were used. The agency website states that their translation ‘reads effortlessly’, which has been already proven otherwise. The interpreting is claimed to be of good quality. Having listened to the interpreting video, the person speaking can hardly pronounce Polish words. They recite the same text as the unfortunate translation, with all the mistakes no Polish national would have ever made! Who were the translators in this case? At this stage it is unclear, but I do not feel that their command of the Polish language was of sufficient standard to act as a professional translator. I have agreed to retranslate the Polish text, which I will do in next few days. I hope that my translation will replace the existing one and that the horrible video will be removed.
The moral of this story should be a valuable lesson to any organisation requiring translation. They should choose their language provider carefully in order to meet the minority needs correctly rather than offending them by murdering their native language. It appears that in an attempt to save public money, KCC have taken on a service provider with poor standards and quality control, despite claims to the contrary.
Based on this, it seems that the procedures for choosing the right vendor for providing public service translation and interpreting should be revaluated, since outsourcing ‘a dynamic employment agency providing excellence and leadership’ appears not to deliver the stated objectives.
Perhaps choosing network of professional translators would represent better value for money, even if initially such services might seem more costly? Hiring a professional, whenever needed, should give the advantage of providing a service of much higher quality. Not only are professional translators fluent in the languages concerned, but they possess a deep knowledge of the cultures considered, and are also good writers and experts in their specialist fields. This would also mean a closer relationship between the translator and client, resulting in better communication, faster turnaround times and a translation that reads like a native text rather than a poor imitation of Google Translate.
As an added point of interest, professional translators do not have to be certified by Institute of Linguistics to work to a high level of quality, as is demonstrated by many of my excellent colleagues.