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ITI Conference Cardiff banner

There are just over three weeks to go before the UK’s premier translation and interpreting event, the biennial ITI Conference, and I for one can hardly wait! This year’s event will be held in Cardiff from 18-20 May. Registration has closed now, of course, but there’s still frantic activity going on behind the scenes as last-minute preparations continue.

I’ve noticed an interesting trend this year for delegates to try and arrange to meet up before the event. I first experienced this at the ATA Conference in San Francisco last November and remember thinking what a great idea it was, especially for a huge event with over 1,800 delegates. However, even on a smaller scale, it makes so much sense to try and arrange gatherings before you get carried away at the event itself. There seems to be an unspoken law that you bump into the same people time and time again, but miss others for the entire duration of the conference. By scheduling a get-together over coffee or lunch, you can at least be sure to exchange a few words with long-lost colleagues or meet up with new contacts you’ve met virtually via Facebook or Twitter.

Translators attending a professional conference for the first time can find it an especially good way of breaking the ice, particularly as many of us tend to hide our light under our own introverted bushel… You’ll probably find, too, that others are feeling exactly the same way and will be delighted to have the chance to meet a friendly face, even if your paths have only crossed via social media or mailing lists.

This year there seems to be any number of networking dinners arranged informally by the respective language networks. I’m attending the German Network dinner at a local Italian restaurant on the Thursday evening, straight after the welcome reception, but the Spanish, French and Italian Networks are organising similar events – sometimes even in the same restaurant! A lovely opportunity to meet up with colleagues who’ve helped with tricky term queries or offered advice on cultural differences over the years. Then there are subject-oriented meet-ups: I know the ITI STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering and Patents) Network is trying to arrange a dinner in the hotel one evening and another colleague has been trying to gather together TRADOS Studio aficionados to exchange Studio tips and general chit-chat over a drink or two. A posse of Foodie Translators are meeting up at a well-reviewed restaurant majoring in Welsh food (what else in the Welsh capital city?!) on Saturday evening after the closing session. Then of course there’s the conference gala dinner on Friday evening – a veritable wealth of networking opportunities, in fact.

I enjoyed a lovely networking lunch earlier this week with members of the Sussex Translators Facebook group at a member’s house just outside Horsham. Some of us had met before, but most of us had only “spoken” online via the FB group. Over lunch we discussed topics ranging from Brexit, through accounting programs, coworking spaces, CAT tools and Dragon – and I’m sure we all picked up some valuable tips in the process, as well as enjoying a delicious bring-and-share lunch and meeting real-life colleagues for once, away from the isolation of our usual freelance hideaways. Conferences are a bigger forum for doing much the same.

It’s easy to forget, when looking at the advance programmes for conferences and deciding whether to attend, that the presentations, important though they are, are only half the point of an event such as this. It’s the people you meet who really make a difference, be it for tips, guidance, support or potential referrals to new clients, and any means of easing that process has to be worth exploring.

I’ve got my networking dinners sorted for the three nights I’m in Cardiff and am looking forward to the Sunday walk and visit to the Millennium Centre and renowned ffresh restaurant for lunch too. The social and fringe activities can be another great chance to meet like-minded colleagues; I still have very fond memories of the fantastic Castles tour after the ITI Conference in Newcastle with our stop-off at the magical Barter Books and the unforgettable Alnwick Castle gardens. Joining in with the run, yoga or the inspiring Singing Translators are other ways of getting to know colleagues who share your passions.

I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve never been to Cardiff, despite being a quarter Welsh – I’m so looking forward to remedying that and making new memories, both translation and social. Have you arranged your networking dates yet? See you there!

Millennium Centre