Friendship and Laughter: Review of the BP14 Conference

Budapest park
Our view during the gala dinner on the second night

A chance remark on Facebook just over a year ago made Csaba Bán realise that his colleagues would quite like him to repeat his earlier conference-arranging success in Budapest. A few hours later BP14 was born; the following day the venue was booked; and the rest, as they say, is history.

In this case, however, BP does not primarily refer to the two settlements, Buda and Pest, flanking either side of the River Danube (which we sailed down whilst having dinner on the first evening of the conference) forming today’s vast city of Budapest. It actually stands for Business and Practice because the conference was held over two days, the first devoted to improving how we relate to clients and portray ourselves, and the second to perfecting our craft. That’s also why BP15, which is already in the pipeline, will not be held in Csaba’s hometown but in Zagreb instead.

Just like the last conference I attended (my first, the IAPTI one in London last October) I tweeted throughout because it’s a great way of taking notes and sharing content with everyone following the conference hashtag (#bp14conf). In fact I tweeted so much that I have now opened another Twitter account (Tranixconf) just for conference tweets so that I never bombard all my non-translation followers ever again. This time I was better prepared and had my dinky Advent netbook with me as it fits perfectly on my lap and allows me to tap away in a more comfortable position than tweeting with a smartphone does (which was largely responsible for the RSI I suffered throughout the winter). Judging by the number of favourites and retweets, there were a fair few tweeps interested in the points the speakers were putting across. Out of all my tweets the one favourited and retweeted most often was:

BP14 tweet

This phrase neatly sums up some of the speakers’ key messages and universal truths about our profession. It was mentioned by Nigel Saych in his session on his product, WordTEAM, whilst he was extolling the advantages of freelancers presenting themselves as a team to end clients to offer more specialisms and/or cover more languages than we can just working on our own. Given that we should be as flexible as possible to solve our clients’ problems and provide them with solutions (Konstantin Kisin), cooperating with other translators should help us provide a superior service.

Of course teaming up is not the only way to survive in our changing industry. Speaker after speaker rammed home the idea that we need to be more than good translators since knowing how to market our services effectively and writing well are a must. In fact, if you don’t learn how to become a writer, you might find that you are interchangeable and will be replaced by a machine (Rose Newell), the ever more present elephant in the room.

If you don’t “do” conferences, then you’re missing out. And if you didn’t attend Budapest 2014, then you most certainly wasted a golden opportunity to top up your translation energy levels, share experiences and stop being that lone translator sat in front of a screen who never gets a chance to feed off others’ ideas, knowledge and passion. It is a tribute to Csaba that he was able to gather so many people together for an event of this stature without being under the umbrella of an association. And undoubtedly the success of the event, people’s enthusiasm and the amazing feedback have spurred him on to want to repeat the experience next year.

Budapest tweet-up
Tweet-up lunch photo

On a personal note, I want to thank everyone I spent time with at breakfasts, lunches (we tweeters even had a tweet-up lunch to finally meet our fellow obsessives face-to-face) and dinners for making it all so much fun and enjoyable, for giving me that warm fuzzy feeling inside. I love to laugh and make others laugh too. It is probably the best stress relief cure I know and there often seems to be precious little of it in our sector judging by the way many of us seem so ready to put our colleagues down. And although we can search the Internet, read books, articles and blogs, and probably glean more information than we do from a conference presentation, there’s no substitute for hearing it all from the horse’s mouth and being able to discuss it afterwards in an informal setting. Ideas flow, opportunities arise and business plans are formed. But most importantly you get to forge bonds and build relationships, because you can’t google friendship and laughter.

This post was first published on 23/06/2014 on my previous blog.

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