Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Are Conferences Worth the Price?

In the past, I've attended conferences organized by professional organizations, such as the Society for Technical Communication (STC) and the American Translators Association (ATA), the online community, the German technical communications organization tekom and a Portuguese translation agency, Tradulinguas. Only one of these, the regional ProZ conference in Vienna in late 2009, directly led to actual translation jobs. On the other hand, I met a number of people at these events and eventually signed up with new agencies whose representatives I met at the conference.

With many conferences becoming ever pricier and the fact that I also have to cover airfare and lodging myself -- not to mention the time it takes away from potential translation assignments -- I have to carefully evaluate the potential benefits of attending out-of-town events. I decided against this year's STC conference because of its fairly steep admissions fee, but I kept vacillating about the conference hosted by the International Federation of Translators. It's only held every three years and this year it's in the U.S. -- in California, but that's still a lot cheaper for me than flying to, say, Shanghai. After looking at the conference program, I initially decided that there weren't enough sessions relating to my particular interests and specialization to be worth the money I'd have to spend.

But on Monday I did, in fact, register for the conference and book a flight and hotel, as well. The conference program hasn't really changed, but conferences are not just about the lectures, but also about meeting other attendees, presenters and exhibitors. I already received two responses to last week's post about a potential bilingual ghostwriters' network, so I reasoned that it would be helpful to meet other translators from around the world. And what better way to do that than at an international translation conference?

So I'll be out of the office (although possibly posting to this blog) from July 31 through August 5. I also plan to attend the ATA conference in Boston in late October, so that will be another 4 days or so not accepting translation jobs. And then there is my actual vacation, from July 9-16 in Harrisburg and York, PA; Baltimore, MD; and Washington, DC. Let's hope all these "out-of-office experiences" won't dent my workload (and income) for the year too much ...

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