BP19 Conference, Bologna, May 2–3, 2019

International translation conferences: a total career-changing experience.

Published on May 15, 2019

Virginia Katsimpiri, MBA

How the first conference I attended changed my whole career!

There has been a few months now that I have been saying that I would like to write an article about my participation to international translation conferences and how this new experience up-leveled my career.

What better timing since I just returned from one of the biggest translation conferences that take place every year in Europe, BP Conference; which it happens to be the first international conference I attended as a translator abroad four years ago.

Let’s take it form the start, it was back in 2014 when I first ever heard of one big translation conference that would take place in Athens.

I think I saw it on social media accounts of some very well-esteemed colleagues of mine, who had shown interest in attending it. I must admit that the cost for the participation seemed to be very high for our standards in Greece back then, but I did my best so as to cover it as I had realized that it would be a great opportunity to meet with very well esteemed colleagues of mine both from Greece but also from all over the world. This was IAPTI Conference that was organised in Athens in September 20 and 21, 2014.

I was pretty sure that it would be an exceptional opportunity for me to learn new things about my profession, get to know the developments of my profession from all over the world, to become a member to one of the biggest international associations or even get to know in person some of its members while becoming at the same time a member of its community. If I remember right it was the first time that I had the chance to meet in person except from board members of Greek Associations and very well known and already established Greek translators that I was following online for years but also translators from the USA, Australia, Europe etc. i.e. Catherine Christaki, Maria Karra, Gary Smith, Marta Stelmaszak, Sara Colombo, Valeria Aliperta, Dorota Pawlak, Aurora Humaran, Attila Piroth, Heidi Cazes, Lorena Vicente, Sabela Castro and so many more… Not forgetting the networking opportunities that such a conference always offers.

BUT I would never have imagined what it would brig to me next… This conference opened a while new perspective of our profession. It was then when I met a very active in the field American translator living in Australia. She was coming next year in Europe as well to attend another conference, in Zagreb that time: it was BP15 Conference in May 1–2, 2015 — Zagreb, Croatia; she suggested we could plan ahead our trip and travel together there while I would host her in Greece a few days before us leaving Greece for Croatia.

So, it was my first actually international conference I would attend. Not only a great opportunity to participate in a professional CPD event and learn new things but also to catch up with colleagues I had already connected with the previous year in Greece and of course get to know new ones while taking the advantage of traveling abroad to a very beautiful country this time (!)

This BP conference offered me the opportunity to meet great names in the sector, well esteemed colleagues coming from all over the world, such as Tess Whitty, where I had the chance to buy her book with her signature in it as well — so happy!- and also Marta Stelmaszak’s Book signed by her in person as well!! Made some great connections/friends from Germany, Portugal, Italy, Hungary, Brazil and so on, which proved to be friendships for life, i.e. Martina Russo, Csaba Ban, Elina Nocera, just to name but a few… And had the time of my life, enjoying a new adventure, in a country I had never visited before, tasting local delicacies, visiting museums, sightseeing and exploring the unique country side.

The one thing brought the other and I already managed to participate in another Translation Conference this time in Warsaw; this was TLC 2016, Warsaw in March 2016. It was another great opportunity to attend so many insightful presentations, workshops, cpd events, networking lunches, to meet again most of the people I had met in previous conferences and to make some new colleagues who proved to be friend for life as well such as Ellen Singer, Iulia Guillot etc. Once again a great opportunity to visit a country you’ve never been before, tasting local foods, going sightseeing to some of the most interesting historical places while interacting with colleagues from all over the world. I shouldn’t forget to mention that I actually won the a free SDL Trados license at the prize draw at the attend [one more reason to attend such conferences ;) ]

A tip that most of the people don’t want to admit or even don’t know is that during the after conference parties we usually exchange exchange more business cards than the actual morning event’s sessions (!) During these parties is where the real networking takes place. And by “real networking” I mean a natural way to create real relationships with colleagues that can last forever and may bring you great professional opportunities as well.

Extra Tip: The cleverest thing though you can do, after attending such conferences, is to stay connected online with the connections you’ve made. That way you can maintain a real friendship, or if not friendship, a possible professional referral, you can learn new things in the sector that take place in other countries and find out which event is going to take place next where most of your connections are going to attend. This is a kind of trap as most the times you end up attending as well; so, I would suggest to plan ahead you time available, free of projects and the required budget as well.

That was the reason I did attend my second BP Conference in Budapest this time. I knew that some good friends of mine would be there, I had never been to Budapest before and I knew from first had that this conference would be a very well organised one, with so many networking opportunities and very useful full of information sessions. It was BP17 Conference that took place in May 2–3, 2019. It was very interesting indeed as the speakers weren’t the same and the structure of the conference would include masterclasses, short talks and longer sessions. The city was marvelous, so beautiful with so many things to do and see, with great nightlife and exceptional river view. The other feature that make BP Conferences one of the most frequently coming-back events is that takes place every year in another country, giving you that way the opportunity to visit a new place every year.

This time it included a beautiful day trip to some of the most picturesque and worth to visit places outside the town. Not to mention that you get to network while you sightseeing, creating that way real relationships with people you ‘ve never seen before because you had the chance to share such unique traveling and cultural experiences.

So, I had already attended four international translation conferences already so I felt pretty sure about myself and my networking skills so as to take the next step and attend one of the biggest at that time translation conferences in Europe, Elia Together at Berlin in February 23–24, 2017.

This conference is mostly translation agencies-oriented both of its sessions’ content but also of its structure which includes many translation agencies as attendees and related presentations’ topics but also has a specific session to bring together agencies with freelancers which is a great opportunity either to meet in persons projects managers you have been working together for several years but never had the chance to meet in person but also to introduce yourself as a freelancer to many agencies from all over the world.

Next stop was the Web Summit in Lisbon in September 2017, but since (a) this article is dedicated to translation conferences and (b) the Web Summit is such a huge event that it needs an article on its own to be described… will skip for now… Still if you are interested though, please do drop a line and I will come back to you with a whole article exclusively dedicated to the Web Summit experience!

Back again to our theme, translation conferences: my next one was again Elia Together 2018 but this time mostly because it took place in Athens in February22–23, 2018. I didn’t find many differences from the previous program schedule of the Elia Together 2017, but it still is one of the biggest conferences in Europe more than 350 participants each year and it took place right next to my office in Athens.

Plus, I had the chance to attend some of greek colleagues interesting presentations. The highlight of this conference was that I did visit all touristic places of the historical Athens in order to accompany my Israeli and Romanian friends and to show them around. Great dinners, walks and sightseeing under the Acropolis, what a nice excuse for me to become a tourist in my own country ;)

2018 was the year I had to return at the conference I started at which was IAPTI Conference 2018; I have to admit it was a last minute decision as I had already made my plans fro Las Palmas, Gran Canaria and Cairo, Egypt later in the year. Also, I must say that I had never imagined how beautiful Valencia as a city is (!)

So, in September 29–30, 2018 IAPTI Conference took place in Valencia, Spain this time and it was again such a unique experience as you get the chance to meet again with so many well-esteemed colleagues from all over the world and especially the USA, with whom you’ve most probably met years ago-in my case 4 years ago.

The excuse this time -not that we need an excuse to travel and attend international conference though- was the invitation by a friend and colleague of mine, Ellen, who would be there a speaker and had arranged everything regarding the accommodation. So, there is no easier way to travel when the only thing you have to care about is the air-tickets ;)

Two full days of CPD and networking followed by parties and dinners, cooking workshop, and sightseeing in one of the most beautiful cities I have ever been. A huge PLUS was the visit at the beach and swimming in early October…

This conference was followed by another conference to which I was a speaker this time at one of my dream destinations — Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. The Canary Translators Conference 2018 itself was a new initiative and needs a lot of work in terms of organization but the conference program was full of interesting sessions on marketing plan, LinkedIn, client acquisition strategies, mentoring group sessions;

and of course a lot of sightseeing, amazing landscapes and beaches, even whale watching boat trip…

The networking was excellent, the host very warm and all attendees of my workshop and the group mentoring session I coordinated were very welcoming and positive. The feedback was very positive and we stayed connected online ever after until this month we met at Bologna, at another BP Conference where we called it “Las Palmas Reunion” proving one more time that conferences are also the best way to preserve any connection we make at previously held events.

Some of the well esteemed colleagues and professionals: Petr Mundev, David Garcia Ruiz, Sabine Holz, Martina Eco, Roberta Tabolacci, Silvie Van der Zee, Olaf Jansen, Luna Jungblut, Anne-Sophie De Clercq, Nathalie Reis, Stephanie Gorfer, Grace Hughes, Marie-Claire Cruz, Sarah Henter, and of course had the chance to meet again some good friends of mine i.e. Ellen Singer, Martina Russo, Kyle Wohlmut to mention but a few…

More info about my presentation on “Client Acquisition Strategies for Translators” and this conference you may find in the article here.

Right the next week of my arrival in Greece I did fly back to Africa, in Egypt, Cairo for the ICT Exhibition. Cairo ICT is an International Telecommunication, Information Technology, Networking, Computing, Satellite & Broadcasting Trade Fair & Forum that took place in December 1–4, 2018 in Cairo, where we participated among other Greek companies under the auspices the Ministry of Digital Policy, Telecommunications and Information. But since this article is about translation related conferences, let’s stick to that!

In the mean time, I had to present my dissertation for the MBA and to run a specific Survey for that purpose, which kept me busy until this May when I was invited to participate and help with the admin & organisation stuff at the registration of the BP19 Conference. My main duties including helping with the registration procedure and the coffee breaks interviews — a new feature that Csaba and BP Conference launched for the first time this year, and we wish them the best of Good Luck! I did manage to interview 28 colleagues and I thank all of them (You know who you are, so thank you very much for the trust!)

BP19 Conference took place this year in Bologna, Italy in May 2–3, 2019, one of my most favourite destinations in the world! I feel so blessed and lucky at the same time to participate in such a huge event which reached almost 300 participants this year (!) and having the chance to see how difficult is the behind-the-scenes part of a conference and at the same time to meet and serve their questions and concerns of so many beautiful people! I think this is the difference among all other translation conference, the networking atmosphere that this event has, the fact that each year changes destination and its great organisation and structure.

Most of the people I interviewed they did mention the family atmosphere that this conference has and the great organization skill of the man behind the conference Csaba Ban.

Another unique feature of this event is that the sessions and speakers are selected by the participants through survey forms, they cover most of the issues we address as translators in our business and every day life.

It was for sure a Las Palmas reunion, as we met friends and colleagues from last conference in Las Palmas. But I met and connected and had a great time with other colleagues from Brasil, Africa, UK, Italy etc. with whom we were connected online but had never met in person before, i.e. Caroline Alberoni, Vasiliki Prestidge, Magda Phili, Heather Mcrae, Boniface Kyalo, Herman Boel, Iwona Piatkowska just to name a few… Of course I did make some new friends as well Lina Moreno, Ewa Urszula Lisoń, Meg Dziatkiewicz, Jaqui Guardamagna and many more.

In case you missed this great CPD event you can attend it virtually and get to watch all presentations, receive all slides and much more. More info here or at the official website here: https://bpconf.com/virtual/

Please do let me know your thoughts! How did all started for you regarding industry events and networking in general? Is there something you can add as a technique you use? I would love to hear your thought!

Stay in touch, stay connected ;)

~V.