Success story mini-series: Fighting off the gremlins to win clients

I loved reading Keith’s success story in the last edition of Au Courant. Keith showed just how important LinkedIn is for freelancers nowadays, as a powerful platform for us to interact with colleagues and clients alike.

That said, it has always been a bit of a stumbling block for me. While I know exactly what I need to do on there to make the most of it, the gremlins in my head often stop me from being so active.

Over the past few months I’ve been increasingly ignoring the gremlins and interacting more on LinkedIn, and it does appear to be bearing fruit. I’m by no means the most proficient or creative user, but in the past year I’ve gained three new direct clients directly or indirectly from interactions on LinkedIn.

One came via a very well-timed connection request.

To try and make my LinkedIn feed more relevant to my work, I drew up a list of potential connections in the fields I specialise in. Being connected with them would allow me to engage with their posts – and also see the kinds of content that they themselves interact with. Quite unexpectedly, one of the contacts who accepted my request had a translation ready to place. He accepted my quote and I won the job (a statement of grounds in a German patent opposition case). Hopefully more work will come from him in future, too.

The other two came via a referral – and show the importance of having a strong, clear, visible profile.

In summer 2021 I accepted a connection request from a fellow patent translator in Germany. We had never spoken before and had no connections in common, but he told me he was looking for a translator who could help his (direct) clients when he was too busy.

I have to admit that I was rather sceptical, but back in January he did indeed refer me to two of his clients. The first now gets in touch regularly when my original contact is fully booked, and the other has so much work that there’s now a team of (at least!) ten freelancers working on their projects.

Like Keith, I would highly recommend spending time getting to know LinkedIn (or whichever social media platform your dream clients tend to hang out on). Luck definitely played a part with me gaining my new clients, but I doubt they would ever have found me had it not been for LinkedIn.

P.S. Every one of them has independently told me that they’re tired of working with big agencies – that they’ve tried them all and are invariably disappointed by the inconsistent quality they receive. It’s this feedback that gives me plenty of hope and positivity for the future of our profession. Your dream direct clients might be thinking the same too and wondering if there’s another way. But they can’t work with you if they don’t know you’re there, so make sure you’re visible enough for them to find you when they need you!

Dean Evans is a patent translator working from French, German and Spanish into English in the fields of engineering and electronics.