We kicked off the New Year with a few resolutions; one of which was “taking control of how others perceive you.” I had promised to take you to the movies again this year and show you how to capture high-paying or “premium” clients and to explain how that relates to your portrayed image.
In Pirates of Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs is portrayed by Noah Wyle as being somewhat of a nut: but a very smart and business savvy one. If you pay attention to how “movie Steve” evolves, there is one observation that immediately stands out: His image changes throughout the film, but not to adjust to Apple’s growth and development as one might think. Instead, he changes his image to fit in with Apple’s investors.
Steve goes from hippie to yuppie not as his company grows, but to ensure its growth. So, he shaves off his beard and cuts his hair when attempting to get loans from banks. His explanation? “Banks don’t like beards.” He purchases his first suit when presenting his first computer at a convention. Yet, he wears jeans and shorts and walks around Apple bare foot when outside the public eye and refuses to hire a potentially valuable employee based solely on the fact that he looks like someone who would fit in at IBM.
Toward the end of the film, Steve finally appears as the Steve Jobs everyone knows today: The guy in the turtle neck and jeans–a choice that is neither random nor arbitrary, and which became a significant part of Apple’s image, as well as Steve’s. So, what can we learn from this? A lot, actually…
When we looked at translation business stats last year, we learned that well over 80% of the growing 34 billion dollars that had gone into translation in 2013 had been poured into small and medium sized agencies (or intermediaries). According to industry specific reports, there were over 25,000 intermediaries between end clients and freelancers. Approximately 70% of these intermediaries had 5 or fewer employers. Most of them were located in Europe and the US, and almost all of them outsourced to developing countries.
This means that the big business in Europe and the US is to capture end clients, then outsource to the developing world. As a result, the big business in developing countries is to take advantage of their devalued currencies and work for intermediaries in the US and Europe. Thus, if you’re in the developed world, your encounters with clients are far more likely to be in person than they are if you’re in the developing world.
These facts are important when trying to take control of how you are perceived by others in order to capture higher paying market segments. Professional consultants and trainers have long claimed that other people make up their minds about you within the first two minutes of meeting you for the first time. Thus, they put a lot of emphasis on teaching you how to prepare for first impressions. However, because first impressions are not always made in person for translators and interpreters, then a key component to our first impression is our online persona or online identity.
In 2013, the New York Times published an interesting article titled “You Are What You Tweet.” What this article showed is that what you present online is perceived by others as significantly representative of who you are. Think about that for a second. Think about how you’ve been using your social media, how you interact with others in online forums, what you blog about, what pictures you share, and even what you “like” online. All that is visible to others, including potential clients and colleagues, and what’re more, when there are no face-to-face first impressions, when clients and colleagues are left with no choice but to “Google you” to get a sense of who you are, the first impression they will get from you is that of your internet persona.
So, if you’re a translator or interpreter looking to capture high-end clients, remember Steve and how he adapted to potential investors and to his industry. Think about the clients you want to capture and how you are currently portraying yourself to them. Do you see any room for improvement? I know I do! And I plan to do some experimenting and post my results soon.