Jost Zetzsche Tool Kit

Saturday, January 06, 2007

My two cents about dealing with the clients - 8

Make the best of whatever you are at any given period of your life. Let me elaborate. Before February 2002, I did not have computer. Now I do. I made the maximum use of both the conditions. Let me explain how I did it.

My translation activities have seen three main stages so far. The first stage lasted from 1975 to 1981, when I was posted in Chennai, a metropolis located in South India. It was followed by my stay till 2001 in New Delhi, the capital city of India. Since 2001 I am back in Chennai and this is the third stage.

In the first stage the translation activities went on at a slow and sedate pace. In those days the demand for translation was not much in Chennai. And I had to commute for 4 hours between my residence and place of work and back. These 4 hours in train were put to full use by me in doing my translation. During the lunch hour too I did my translations. I roped in the typist in my office to do the typing, for which I paid him promptly. I never missed a deadline to my clients.

I went to Delhi in the year 1981 to join a Government of India Undertaking as Electrical Engineer cum French translator. Here I had hectic translation practice in French as well as in German. Here too I derived maximum benefit from my then prevailing situation.

After 1995, the use of computers for translation increased in leaps and bounds. But I did not possess one nor did I have any idea as to how to use it. The clients started insisting that I give the translations as floppies. But I was still 7 years away from having my own computer. How did I manage?

Well, whenever a client asked me to give floppies, I used to look him straight in the eye and ask solemnly as to whether his confidentiality was not important to him. No client would say no to this question. Then I would suggest in all seriousness that I am ready to come to his office and carry out the translation as he desires. He was to depute a typist, who could type in parallel my translations in a computer. At around 16.30 hrs in the afternoon, he would give me the translation printouts and I would proof read the same. The corrections could then be carried out and as I leave for the day, the day's work would have been safely saved. What is more, everything would remain in the client's hard disk only and his data's confidentiality would be maintained.

Presented in this manner, the client had no hesitation in accepting my proposal. As by that time, I had taken voluntary retirement from my fulltime job, my time was my own and I had no problem in going to the client's office at any time. In fact, in those days there was hardly any other German/French translator in New Delhi being in a position to do onsite work like I rendered at that time. My practice flourished.

After returning to Chennai, I purchased an operating system only the next year. But by that time there were enough typing professionals in my neighborhood for typing in computers and sending the job as email attachment. This too was not required once I purchased my own system and did my own typing.

Thus I had a technological leap from just handwritten translations to sending typed jobs through email. I skipped the floppy stage entirely. Now my presentation to the clients experienced a sea-change. I emphasize the fact that I do not require any paper copy as well as the fact that my entire transaction is paperless. Here too if the client is worried about the confidentiality of his data, I am ready to go to his place and do the work in his OS. I demand a broadband Internet connection so as to be able to open online dictionaries, Google etc, which help me in rendering a finer work. I do not fail to emphasize these points as well. The client will be only too glad to oblige me. Let me repeat. In Chennai too, there is no other German/French translator for going to the client's place and doing work in his OS. My career is flourishing. Added to this is my 23 years' experience as an electrical engineer.

I continue to come across new developments in the computer applications and I make full use of it. What is more, I emphasize these points to the client and that helps a lot in landing more clients. They help in my negotiations as well.

Before concluding let me tell you as to how I present my experience. I would say that I had 23 years' experience as graduate electrical engineer, have been working since 32 years as German translator and since 29 years as French translator. Thus I have a cumulative experience of 84 years and my age is 60. The client would be baffled and ask me how. "Overtime", I would reply with a straight face.

To sum up: Emphasize what you can and do not harp on what you can't other than mentioning it once very briefly. Behave as if the latter is not a big issue at all.

Rest in next

Dondu N.Raghavan