Direct Clients: Get Close Enough To Touch, But Don’t Kiss! That was the title of a workshop I gave in Manchester in May 2015. It based on a presentation I held at the IAPTI International Conference in Athens in September 2014. When the UK Chapter Head Diana Coada asked me to do this workshop for a new event series she was planning, I thought: Uhm, why fly in someone from Germany for this first event? Now that it’s over, I think I understand. Translators and Interpreters based in the UK deal with a totally different kind of market, including some really evil agency that basically holds a legalized monopole on certain parts of it. So it was natural that she would want someone with a totally different take on our industry.

As a proud member of IAPTI, I felt flattered, to be honest. I was nervous. But Diana did a great job as a host and organizer and I felt pampered at all times. The workshop took place at a beautiful venue in the heart of Manchester and we had lots of daylight (I love daylight). The room size was perfect and the canapés were delicious. Rest assured, it was a great day, which we rounded off at a posh champagne bar with great conversations and loads of fun and selfies. But that’s not what I wanted to write about.

I had the impression that most of the attendees had a problem with wanting to be perfect when they approach new potential clients. Perfectionists—that’s what we are, after all, right? We talked about how one participant never got around to actually pull her marketing activities through because she would polish her script forever. It is never good enough and she never manages to take all possible answers into account. There’s always something to improve.

And I asked her: So what if it’s not perfect? What’s the worst thing that can happen? A No? Will that hurt you?

Thing is, we know very well what we’re doing (expert work) and what we’re capable of. We just don’t always believe enough in ourselves or see others as overly skilled/lucky/talented when they’re really not. They just don’t overstress perfection. And if we’re honest, we all know that potential clients turn to us because WE are the experts in something they can’t do themselves, for whatever reason. It’s the anxiety before the first encounter that paralyzes us. But you know what?

Even if we’re not our best during that first encounter, we’re still the experts. And do you have any idea how much clients will love us once we feel comfortable with them and actually do our best, because we are perfect when not paralyzed by fear? Exactly!

Another thought: While we try to polish all our words to perfection, lay out all possible scenarios and try to figure out the answers, we forget not only that directs clients turn to us because we’re the experts, but also that they chose US over a machine.

Close to perfection is good enough because it shows we’re human. So, dear perfectionists: don’t overdo it. No need to be a perfect (machine-like) conversationalist or sales person. They want the human you! Just make sure you’re perfect when it really matters: Giving them what they came for, namely a flawless service.

And here’s some impressions from Manchester. They sure love red bricks. :) 

And a last party pic. Naturally! Thank you all for a great event!