Posted By Jeyin Lee,
Friday, July 15, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, August 30, 2016
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(Originally Posted on September 22, 2014)
This is a special post from Vic Marcus, Vice President of Business Development at NWI Global, a language translation & interpreting company based in the beautiful city of Vancouver, Washington, USA.
How My Company Benefited from the ALC
It’s been nearly five years since my company joined the Association of Language Companies (ALC). The word benefited isn’t really correct in this context either since we’re continuing to see the benefits to this day. I’d also like to mention that the ALC did not pay me, or my company, so this review is completely my opinion of the association.
If you are an owner of a language services company/organization and not a member, here are 3 reasons why your company needs to join the ALC.
Give ALC a Shot
Advocacy & Support
Back in 2010, my company was thriving. This was not the case for companies in many other industries as the economy continued to recover from the recession. The language services industry was truly resilient during the economic downfall. Unfortunately, the recession also affected many state & local government budgets and the auditors were out to make up the revenue shortfall.
Many language service companies, including ours, suddenly got audited by the IRS and other government agencies. The audits focused particularly on employee/contractor classification. Many companies were found to be employers of freelance interpreters & translators, slapped with heavy fines and forced to comply or close shop.
The company owners, including myself, saw that this was detrimental not only to the companies, but also to freelance interpreters & translators. It was simply not in line with the spirit of the language services industry and how it functions. According to the Contract Interpreter Information Center, over 93% of freelance linguists are independent contractors.
This was not a battle each company could fight by itself, and I realized that after seeing many go out of business. I decided to reach out to our neighbors across the river and discuss this issue. Bill Graeper, the owner of Certified Languages International, was over to meet with me the next day. I later learned that Bill successfully championed a legislative bill in the State of Oregon that allowed language service companies to treat interpreters & translators as independent contractors.
All of the sudden I found myself in a predicament that I was meeting with a competitor that was right next door. I was a bit apprehensive at the meeting, but Bill convinced me that there were companies across the nation that dealt with similar issues and there was an organization for likeminded individuals to meet and discuss those issues. That organization turned out to be the ALC.
After our meeting, I decided that my company should join the ALC and I booked a plane ticket to Miami for my first ALC Conference. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve made for the company, and that’s partly due to the people I’ve met, learned from and formed business relationships with. Which leads me to the second reason…
Learn From the Best
I arrived late in the evening in Miami and checked into my hotel. I was excited about the next day since I volunteered to serve on the ALC Leadership Council. I had no idea what that meant at the time and was eager to find out. In the morning, I’ve met my fellow Leadership Council members as well as the Board of Directors. We were discussing ways to improve the ALC and I volunteered to tackle the social media task force.
During the meeting, I was outspoken, but still reserved as I couldn’t overcome the fact that I was meeting with my competitors in a non-adversarial environment. It was a weird feeling. A feeling that later disappeared.
Competitors can be your partners as well as friends.
The next few days were packed with conference sessions and workshops. Over 200 company owners & executives attended the conference that year and there were 12 presentations. With so many presentations on the slate, I had to ask myself – “How will I and my company benefit from this presentation?” It was not an easy question to answer. The presentation content ranged anywhere from sales & marketing to human resources & doing business with the government.
I knew I had to take my company to the next level and focused on the sales & marketing content. The best part about the presentations is that other company owners and executives were the ones presenting. It was peer learning at its best.
On the first day of the conference, the ALC hosts a great reception which is basically a big networking opportunity. It was time to meet new people and reconnect with old friends. That evening I’ve met new friends and colleagues that I still keep in touch with today. More importantly, my company is directly benefiting with the connections and partnerships that I’ve made at the ALC Conference.
- Form Win-Win Partnerships
Some of the best networking at the ALC happens after-hours. This means that the conference truly doesn’t stop, until of course you need to get some sleep. We headed out to South Beach for a night of festivities.
I saw that as an opportunity for one-on-one interaction. But who wants to talk about boring business stuff when you’re going out to have some fun? You take that opportunity to build personal relationships with your colleagues.
Transforming those relationships into win-win partnerships doesn’t happen in one night. You need to get to know your potential partners and build a level of trust. All that while not violating any antitrust laws! That can take months if not years.
Today, our company is prospering after successfully executing a rebranding campaign. I can truly say we wouldn’t be in the position we’re in now if we didn’t join the ALC. The amount of economic impact the ALC had on our operations is a considerable part of our business. All of this can be attributed to the partnerships we formed with other ALC members and conference attendees.
If you are still hesitant about joining, the good news is that you don’t have to. Come and experience the ALC Conference or the UnConference for yourself. I’ll be there and would love to meet you.
Vic Marcus is the Vice President of Business Development at NWI Global, a language services company specializing in B2B and B2G content translation & interpreting. Vic has over 10 years of experience in the language services industry, and is continuously involved in educating all stakeholders about the translation & interpretation process.
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