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Our November 2020 Event: A panel discussion on the challenges of marketing ourselves as language professionals

On Friday 27th November, we addressed a recurring theme that has been coming up in our private conversations over the course of the 2+ years, no matter what language profession we are in: how challenging it is to find new clients, to market ourselves and sell our services without coming across as pushy, and to find the kind of clients we enjoy working with. With the help of 5 experienced speakers we explored ideas and strategies that could helps us all to market ourselves more effectively, to take the fear out of self promotion and reach more potential clients.

The host Gabriella raised the curtain on the event with a warm welcome and an introduction to the topic, while the room was getting full and the chat heated up.

Introducing the panelists:

Nathalie Danon is an award-winning entrepreneur, business coach and mentor for language professionals, Founder of The VICI Language Academy, VICI Language Dynamics and VICI Languages France.

Check out Nathalie’s upcoming business goals and planning workshop here.

If you use the code LPNE, you can get £10 off the price.

Timea Kadar is a marketing consultant at Francis Cooper Marketing Consultancy (awarded to be the best in London in 2019). She has been in marketing for 20 years, involved in 1000s of successful campaigns. She is a lecturer at London Marketing Academy.

Timea runs a LinkedIn Challenge to help you get leads and business through LinkedIn. Have a look at it here and sign up for the next one.

Gabriella Ferenczi is a German and Hungarian language coach, founder of ProLingua Global and host and organiser of our events. She is a self-taught digital marketer and mentor to ambitious marketing interns.

Look up her new podcast Marketing Nuggets with Gabriella Ferenczi on Spotify or iTunes or wherever you get your podcast.

Liudmila Vasina is a graduated translator discovering her passion for digital marketing and UI/UX design.

Connect with her on LinkedIn to keep in touch.

Blanka Gelniczky is human behaviour analyst trying to understand people’s motivations through digital marketing.

Get in touch with her on LinkedIn to stay connected.

The first keyword that came out in our discussion was visibility: one of the greatest challenges many freelancers and small business have to face in an increasingly crowded market.

If this is the first thing we think about when starting our business, we should do a step back. All the panelists agreed that visibility is not the first thing we should worry about. Nathalie talked about the need for a ‘business model’ and ‘business system’ as a prerequisite to grow, to which Timea added ‘listening’ and ‘understanding’.

“It really starts with sitting down and thinking about who will be my audience? What are their needs? Start with listening and understanding the audience and then create a product that will help their need.”

In a market full of language professionals, Nathalie highlighted the importance of understanding who you want to work with.

“You have to identify who you want to serve, who you get inspired by, what qualities you have, what compliments people give you.”

Gabriella then raised another important question about niche-ing: is it better to have a super-specific niche or broader one? To put it bluntly: quality or quantity?

Timea suggested to adopt a different approach when it comes to this question in the language services industry: you may want to consider building a niche around a specific methodology that you developed, or develop your service to address a certain age group, or a certain phase in people’s life.

Gabriella, who mainly works with executives in the financial services industry, says that having a super-specific niche doesn’t impede her to receive inquires from other clients.

“Your target is not always your market”

This means that people who actually buy your product or service are not necessarily the same as your target: other people will flock to you if they like what you do.

The focus of the conversation then shifted to social media. Blanka and Liudmila from Gen Y gave us a fresh overview of the most popular platforms used by them nowadays: Instagram seems to be the winner, both for personal and professional purposes, alongside LinkedIn for professional purposes. Facebook and Twitter are next, though they mentioned that they hardly ever use these networks.

This is important to consider when deciding which platforms to use to address our target market.

Social media are the new meeting places in the online universe. However, even if they are easily accessible from anyone, anywhere in the world, it’s no piece of cake to find the right platform to be present on: each of them has different features, and each has users with different needs and interests. So, how to find direction in this chaotic world? Which platform is the most suitable for me and my business?

As it’s said, Rome was not built in a day: both Timea and Nathalie pointed out that it may take years to build a decent profile and network.

More important is to consider how we use social media: Timea considers these platforms great places to network and both Timea and Nathalie expressed that there is nothing worse than constantly advertising your services and posting about you over and over again. It’s important to like other people’s posts, to comment on them and to honestly encourage your connections in their endeavours too.

The conversation then moved on to another burning issue: websites. Do we actually need one?

The website is none other than an opportunity we have to show the best of us, who we truly are. Timea speaks of it as ‘your own asset’: the place in which we can express ourselves more freely, since here, we can create not only the content but also the structure.

It is precisely this freedom that sometimes frightens and creates frustration. Where do I start? Should I create it myself or should I rather rely on an expert?

Liudmila points out that creating a website is actually not that difficult.

“You don’t really need to create too much content at the beginning. You need content that helps people understand who you are, what your background is, what your competence is and how you can help.
A clear, concise and smooth layout.”

The discussion then moved on to another important theme: the mindset, which is the foundation of our business. Having the right mindset is the prerequisite to build something solid and lasting.

We all seemed to agree that at times, we’d fear of coming across as being pushy or too much when we’re advertising ourselves.

Having the right mindset would let us see that when we’re marketing ourselves, we are actually offering an opportunity. As Gabriella said:

“Marketing is about showing up for people who need me and my service. If I don’t show up, I’m depriving them of the opportunity”

As Blanka says:

“Think of marketing as helping people. Highlight your knowledge, make your work visible because it is important for your people. You have to be excited because you are helping these people.”

After this discussion full of practical insights from our 5 panelists, the event went on with a Q&A section, followed by 20-second intro pitches. We ended it all with an intimate conversation and exchange of contact details.

We all agreed that tenacity and resilience are crucial for success in our marketing efforts too.

As Eloise, one of our attendees, pointed out:

“Passion is what gets you started, consistency is what keeps you going”.

Thanks to all the language professionals who attended and actively participated in this insightful event, regardless of the time zones. The money we have raised goes to support Moorfields Eye Charity.

Stay tuned for our next event, which will be on the 18th of December! We’ll share the details soon. Until then, stay safe.

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