References: Should I Give Them / How Should I Ask for One?
Thread poster: Kyung Soo Liu

Kyung Soo Liu
United States
Local time: 13:57
Member (2017)
Korean to English
+ ...


Posted via
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Apr 1

Hello everyone!

Been a member for over a year, but it’s my first time posting a discussion topic.

I was recently approached by an agency that asked for references for a one-time project. My initial internal reaction to the request was, “Why would any other translation agency provide a reference for a translator they’d like to keep working with?”

I do have an agency from which I can ask for references, but I am concerned that it might hurt my relat
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Hello everyone!

Been a member for over a year, but it’s my first time posting a discussion topic.

I was recently approached by an agency that asked for references for a one-time project. My initial internal reaction to the request was, “Why would any other translation agency provide a reference for a translator they’d like to keep working with?”

I do have an agency from which I can ask for references, but I am concerned that it might hurt my relationship with them, which is very good right now. I also don’t want to risk offending them, or making them think I’d be less available on the future, as a significant part of my business is derived from them.

As a freelance translator/project manager, what advice would you give? And when asking for such references, how should I go about doing so without damaging friendly relationships?

Thanks!
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DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
The reason? Apr 1

Kyung, and why an agency (a mere middleman) asks you (freelancer) about your end clients (prospects) or other middlemen (competitors)? Not only it may go against the NDAs, making your partners reluctant to coop any longer, but also such an attitude could put you in a very awkward position.

How did they get in touch with you? Who is their "reference"? Why do they insist on such disclosure to third party and so on?
A relevant portfolio or a short test/interview should do nicely to prove your skills, specialization, and proficiency; what else?


If they really need (but why?) someone to show what you are like (personality), then you may* ask your colleagues and advisers/professors, but not biz rivals.


Shortly, it's not ok to ask strangers about their people and contacts, even promising "good rates".


Kyung Soo Liu
 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 18:57
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
On references Apr 1

I never provide references from agencies because I signed NDAs with those I have been working with. I have a few letters of recommendation written over the years by direct clients, but what I usually do is refer the potential client to my WWA record or if I’m very interested on working with them I might even offer to do a free test.

Kyung Soo Liu
Dan Lucas
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:57
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Why they do it, IMO Apr 1

Kyung Soo Liu wrote:
I was recently approached by an agency that asked for references for a one-time project. My initial internal reaction to the request was, “Why would any other translation agency provide a reference for a translator they’d like to keep working with?”

I do have an agency from which I can ask for references, but I am concerned that it might hurt my relationship with them, which is very good right now. I also don’t want to risk offending them, or making them think I’d be less available on the future, as a significant part of my business is derived from them.

Some agencies like to feel they are the employers and we are the employees, although they don't accord us any of the advantages that proper employees get, such as paid holidays, sick leave, training, redundancy packages, etc. Employees are often asked for references, of course -- it's an accepted thing.

Why shouldn't we provide references?
- We're business partners
- We sign NDAs and even when we don't we should respect the privacy of our clients
- Our clients could be their competitors, or become their clients or suppliers -- in all scenarios there are reasons to be careful
- Unscrupulous agencies with that information sometimes poach our clients by undercutting our rates to them
- To some extent, we're all on the lookout for new clients every day of every year. Would anyone want to pestered all the time for references?
- It's unlikely that we'd be engaged to take on a near-identical project, so past clients' opinions aren't quite so factually relevant as a past employer's would be for an employee
- ETC.

The ideal solution is to collect testimonials here on your ProZ.com profile in the form of WWA entries from willing clients. Refer potential clients to your profile where they can consult feedback from those Willing to Work Again with you. And/or upload non-confidential and non-copyright samples of your work. And/or offer to do a short test (200-300 words is a common limit) either for free or paid. And don't forget that we're risking just as much from a potential client as they're risking from a potential translation supplier, so make sure they realise that!


DZiW
Teresa Borges
Beatriz Ramírez de Haro
Kyung Soo Liu
Michael Newton
Dan Lucas
Laura Kingdon
 

Kyung Soo Liu
United States
Local time: 13:57
Member (2017)
Korean to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks! Apr 1

Thank you all for such helpful comments. While I've been working in the industry for some time, majority of my work has been done in-house and with only few agencies, so I was not aware of the general feeling about references. You have all enlightened me about a new aspect of the business! Thanks again!

 

philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
. Apr 3

I refer them to two pages on my website, one with comments from happy customers and one with links to sample translations.

 


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References: Should I Give Them / How Should I Ask for One?

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