Effective Networking for Conference Interpreters

By Atlas LS

In the world of simultaneous interpretation, every conversation can become an intricate dance between languages, tones, and contexts. This career, entrenched in conferences, meetings, and media events, demands impeccable linguistic capabilities and a robust professional network. We present a comprehensive guide on effective networking for conference interpreters by offering insights from Chicago’s Atlas Language Services.

The Imperative of Networking

Beyond Isolation: The Power of Connection

Despite its vibrancy, the field of simultaneous interpretation can sometimes lead to feelings of isolation and stress. Apart from its professional merits, this makes the bond with fellow interpreters and associations a therapeutic necessity.

Professional Credibility & Recognition

Being a known face in interpreter circles grants you an edge—recognition. Regular networking ensures that peers and potential clients perceive you as a credible professional.

Doorways to Opportunities

Often, the most enticing assignments circulate via word of mouth. An expansive network means a higher chance of accessing these covert opportunities.

Interpreter Associations: A Goldmine of Opportunities

Why Join an Interpreter Association?

Associations provide a sense of belonging and a trove of benefits. These bodies are essential for holistic professional growth, from exclusive training, mentoring, and certification programs to getting insights into the latest trends and best practices.

Finding Your Association

There are myriad interpreter associations worldwide. While AIIC caters to conference interpreters, ATA is the United States’ umbrella for translators and interpreters. EFSLI serves sign language interpreters in Europe, and FIT encompasses a global congregation of linguists. Finding your niche association requires some research. Pro tip: Lean on colleagues or mentors for recommendations.

The Joining Process

You’ll typically undergo an application process after zeroing in on your desired association. The application process could involve sharing your credentials, paying a membership fee, and clearing an admission test occasionally.

The Joining Process of Major Interpreter Associations

International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC)

Application Procedure: Prospective members must be recommended by three active AIIC members.
Credentials: Demonstrate professional experience by providing records of your interpreting assignments. Usually, a certain number of days in conference interpretation is required.
Membership Fee: AIIC has an initial joining fee and annual membership dues. These vary depending on the region and category of membership.
Assessment: Some regions or categories may require a candidate to undergo an assessment by fellow professionals before admission.

American Translators Association (ATA)

Application Procedure: Start by completing the online application form on their official website.
Credentials: You must pass the ATA certification exam for a certified membership. However, one can become an associate member without this certification.
Membership Fee: An annual membership fee varies for individuals, students, and corporate members.
Assessment: If aiming for a certified membership, clearing the ATA certification exam is mandatory.

European Forum of Sign Language Interpreters (EFSLI)

Application Procedure: Complete the online membership form available on their website.
Credentials: Depending on the membership category, you might need to provide proof of your status as a sign language interpreter, often in the form of certifications or professional references.
Membership Fee: EFSLI has annual membership fees that differ based on whether you’re an individual or an association.
Assessment: While there’s no specific test, some membership categories require validation of your credentials.

International Federation of Translators (FIT)

Application Procedure: Associations wishing to join FIT must send a formal request, usually accompanied by statutes, a list of members, and other relevant documents.
Credentials: Given that FIT predominantly caters to associations rather than individual professionals, they assess the credibility and operations of the applying association.
Membership Fee: The annual fee is calculated based on the number of individual members in the applying association.
Assessment: FIT evaluates the applying association’s objectives, operations, and contributions to the translation, interpreting, and terminology professions.

Networking: The Online & Offline Chronicles

Digital Networking

Associations often have online platforms for members. Engaging in these platforms, participating in webinars, or joining online discussion groups can elevate your digital presence. Sharing experiences, giving feedback, and connecting with members having aligned interests fosters a strong virtual bond.

The Physical Connect

There’s an irreplaceable charm to offline interactions. Association events, conferences, or even informal meetups can be gold mines for forging connections. Volunteering, mentoring, or merely attending can significantly bolster one’s network.

Leveraging Networking Events

Preparation is crucial. Having an ‘elevator pitch’ ensures you can introduce yourself briefly. While attending with a colleague can boost confidence, always remember to follow up on the contacts made.

The Perks: From CPD to Free Consultancies

Networking events are not just about connections but also a haven of opportunities. Attending these can count towards your informal CPD. Additionally, several events offer free consultancies, which can be immensely beneficial.

Making the Most of Networking

Authenticity is Key
Stay genuine. While aiming to connect, ensure the relationship is built on mutual respect and trust.
Quality Over Quantity
Networking isn’t about amassing contacts. It’s about nurturing meaningful relationships.
Proactiveness in Follow-Ups
An interaction’s actual worth is realized in its follow-up. Always circle back after an event, whether it’s a LinkedIn connection request or a casual email.


Effective networking for conference interpreters is a fusion of strategy, authenticity, and initiative. With associations offering a ready platform and events serving as meeting grounds, interpreters stand on the brink of endless opportunities. We here at Atlas Language Services emphasize that connections matter in interpretation. Embrace, nurture, and watch them propel your career to unparalleled heights.


How can “effective networking for conference interpreters” benefit my career?
Effective networking can provide industry insights, job opportunities, and a sense of belonging.

Is it essential to join multiple interpreter associations?
While it’s beneficial, choose associations that align with your specialization and goals.

How often should interpreters engage in networking events?
Aim for regular engagement, whether online forums, monthly meetups, or annual conferences, to keep your connections fresh.

Are online connections as potent as offline ones?
Both have their advantages. Online offers a broader reach, while offline leads to deeper relationships. Balancing both is the key.