ELIA Together – Communication and Reflection

I recently attended ELIA Together in Berlin – a conference whose aim is to bring together translators and language service companies from all over Europe. This was my first experience of a translation conference, having previously only represented a patent translation agency at conferences for patent attorneys. ELIA Together gave me the chance to mingle with fellow translators and language service professionals, and the theme of this year’s conference was “Communicating for Success”.

Some of the talks, such as “Seeing the other side”, focused on improving communication between translators and project managers. Even though we all work with languages and facilitate communication on a daily basis, it’s easy to neglect to pay the same attention to our daily communications. The points raised by attendees during this panel were a good reminder of how important it is to foster the more human, personal elements of our professional relationships. The conference itself was certainly an excellent opportunity to do just that, especially the Networking Dinner and Disco, where translators and project managers alike were able to let their hair down and get to know one another better over a glass of wine – or on the dance floor!

The other type of communication that was discussed was how best to communicate with potential clients. A personal highlight of the conference for me was Richard Brooks’ excellent talk “The Business Side”. Richard emphasised that what language service professionals needed to communicate to our clients was not, in fact, our years of professional experience or our incredible proofreading skills, but rather how our services can benefit their business. Richard illustrated this succinctly by quoting Theodore Levitt, who said: “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole”.

ELIA Together provided lots of useful lessons, and it was great to get out of my home office and meet some of my colleagues in the translation industry. I look forward to implementing the advice I gained from the conference as I forge new professional relationships and maintain existing ones, and I hope to meet many more people at next year’s conference!

Photo credit: Ed Callow of Parenthesis Translation. Read his blogpost inspired by ELIA Together 2017 at https://parenthesistranslation.co.uk/2017/02/25/the-human-touch-elia-together-in-berlin/