On to the second part of my networking trilogy! My second event within this busy three-week period was, of course, the long-awaited Standingoutaganza, organised by Andrew Morris, creator of the Standing Out Group on Facebook.
This group has unsurprisingly built up to over 2000 members in a relatively short space of time and become many translators’ favourite go-to place for virtual networking, support and inspiration. No wonder, then, that many of us were keen to meet up in person and see what it is all about! I must confess that I’d had a sneak preview by attending Andrew’s excellent presentation on the Translator’s Invisible Toolkit at the ITI Conference in Newcastle earlier this year. His blend of common sense, yet inspirational positivity struck lots of chords with me – and evidently many others too. It makes a refreshing change from the often negative comments you see on so many translators’ forums, be they ProZ, Facebook or even on the professional associations’ network e-groups. Standing Out® is proof that it doesn’t need to be like this, that we can get together to compare notes, yet at the same time spur each other on to greater things, encourage newbies (and the rest of us!) to venture out of their comfort zone and generally look at the brighter side of a translator’s life.
So what was the real-life Standingoutaganza like? Well, it was great: a beautiful venue in a sparkly white photographic studio (Lumière – sorry, can’t bring myself to put the accent the other way round…) perched high in the rooftops of London, not far from Waterloo Station (bonus points for choosing a location so easy for me to get to, just off my mainline access to London, in fact!). The fact that I couldn’t find the way in is neither here nor there – this is becoming a theme (see previous post), so perhaps my navigational skills are seriously challenged! – but I did eventually meet up with a couple of colleagues outside and together we found the not overly conspicuous entrance…
Unusually for me, I was quite early, but there were already a fair few people in attendance, all knocking back red wine – I hadn’t had my morning coffee, so had to have that before I felt ready to progress to wine, but it was certainly a promising start! In no time at all, I’d met lots of people I knew – and lots of others I didn’t actually “know”, but had met virtually – which more or less boiled down to the same thing. The atmosphere was welcoming in the extreme and I honestly felt that I didn’t have time to chat to half the people I’d have liked to as there were interesting people at every turn. Awkward silences definitely didn’t apply and time flew – in no time at all, the buffet lunch was being announced; delicious though it was (certainly not beige!), lamb shanks aren’t the easiest thing to eat with a fork whilst standing up, chatting, so I had to admit defeat before too long – and puddings would have been nice. Have I mentioned that I have a sweet tooth?! Seriously, though, these are minor niggles; lunch was merely a side show to the main event of networking, followed shortly after by Andrew’s presentation and the ensuing interactive discussions.
Andrew started by telling us the story of how he’d become a freelance translator relatively late in his career and ultimately started the group. This led on to a number of questions being thrown open to the audience: how did we perceive the group? What did we hope to get out of it? Where did we see it going in the future? I’m simplifying things and this doesn’t sound like much substance for a workshop, but the truth of the matter is that you had to have been there, to be a part of it. The group is synonymous for a supportive, generous, non-confrontational, motivational and inspiring bunch of people. Things generally do seem to happen once you embrace this approach to work and life. If you want things to happen enough and put yourself in a position, and with a mindset, to enable that to take place, then why should it be surprising when things do start to go right? There were so many stories of how people have started to achieve wonderful things since being part of the group – and I know this will sound warm and fuzzy and totally unbelievable who anyone who hasn’t experienced it – but I genuinely believe that if you can change your mindset, start believing in yourself and venturing where you haven’t ventured before, then you can make progress. None of this is practical stuff – so a totally different kind of workshop to last week’s traditional German Network event – but it is amazingly powerful and effective. Someone summed it up as “empowering” – and that’s just about right.
In no time at all, the four hours were over and people went their separate ways: some dashed off to watch a certain rugby match, whilst others of us, deprived of our pudding, headed up to Covent Garden to find tea and cake in a delightful Swedish coffee shop and continue the networking off-piste. Strangely enough, we were all German translators, but that’s quite by coincidence – or maybe a shared love of cake?
The proof of the pudding, however, is in the eating – and should I be surprised that within a few days of attending the event, I’d had two very promising work referrals from colleagues I’d met? Which only goes to show that if you put yourself out there, in the right frame of mind, good things do happen – and you’ll enjoy yourself in the process!
*Post-edited in December 2016 following Andrew’s decision to start charging for the group with effect from January 2017. See my post on this subject. Much as I have enjoyed the group and its ethos to date, I cannot condone charging for a group where contributions have been made on a voluntary basis, often by very experienced translators. My belief in the values of positivity, mutual support and a non-confrontational atmosphere remain and I hope I will continue to find these elsewhere, but I shall not be remaining part of the group on a paid basis.