What the General Data Protection Regulation Could Mean for Your Company

If your company has access to data from customers within the European Union (EU), it is important to understand what the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will mean for you. The new data protection standards by the GDPR will be made effective on May 25, 2018. This not only affects companies based in countries within the EU, but it will also impact U.S.-based businesses that have access to data for their EU consumers. Since violating the new GDPR standards could result in serious fines for a company, we’ve put together a few key points to make sure you are ready for the changes coming up on May 25th.

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  • Do not assume you will not be affected just because you don’t have offices in the EU. All companies that have access to data from EU consumers need to be aware of the changes. If, for example, your company manufactures and sells products via a website that is accessible in Europe and provides the option to pay in Euros or British Pounds, this affects you, too.
     
  • The regulations do not only apply to data you collect moving forward, but retroactively as well. If your company has not already taken steps to examine and assess where all of your data is stored, it is important to begin now. Your organization will need to make sure you have the ability to do the following with this data, according to the new regulation’s standards:
    • erase a consumer’s entire data profile at their request;
    • provide information to the consumer about exactly what data you are processing, where you are storing it, and the purpose this data collection serves;
    • provide the consumer with a copy of the personal data you’ve collected about them at their request.

The consumer also has the right to question and fight all decisions that may impact them if the decisions were made on a purely algorithmic basis.

  • Failing to meet the requirements of the GDPR could result in a fine of up to $23 million or 4% of your company’s annual worldwide turnover. Fines this hefty could put some companies out of business. There are cyber insurance policies available, but whether or not to invest in this type of service will depend on every company’s individual needs.

The standards put in place by the GDPR are quite different from the more liberal U.S. approach to consumer data collection. So if your company may be impacted by these changes, it is imperative that you begin preparing now for the May 25 changes. Should you need help providing the information to consumers from any of the bullet points above in specific languages, now’s the best time to get the ball rolling and plan for 2018. We’re here to help!

How to Effectively Manage International Teams Remotely

If your company has any international locations, you likely know how this can benefit your company in terms of efficiency and bringing new skillsets to the table. However, you may have also experienced some of the challenges that come with ensuring that both your domestic and international teams work well together.

Transitioning from managing a team in just one domestic location to managing multiple teams across different countries can be tricky, but it is certainly not impossible. Here are a few tips to ensure your managers are well equipped to work together from international locations while helping everyone feel like a part of the same team, regardless of where they work.

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  • Make a genuine effort to learn about the cultures where your other team members are located. Learning about a country’s culture can be as simple as an Internet search. Take an interest in what is important to your colleagues and teammates so they feel like an important part of the team from the beginning. Be careful of making generalizations or stereotypes based on culture, though. For example, not all Americans love to watch baseball, so don’t assume that all members of your team in a certain country will like and do the same things either.
  • Be sensitive to language barriers. Remember, English may not be their first language, so try to speak slowly, clearly and avoid slang. You may also wish to create a written agenda that everyone can review prior to any meetings, record minutes of meetings and send a meeting summary afterward. It’s also good practice to check periodically to ensure everyone understands what is being discussed and that all are on the same page.
  • Promote relationship building. When your team is dispersed across different countries, it can be difficult to get the employees to bod across locations. Try things like videoconferences, an intranet team page for project collaboration, or a virtual coffee room for more work-appropriate personal conversations so that team members can get to know each other better. You can also foster a healthy competition by doing fun team challenges across sites. Form the teams with employees at different locations to encourage them to get to know each other and work together as a unit.
  • Be prepared to adapt. Even if your company is based outside the U.S., know that your way of approaching a problem is not necessarily the best way. Be open to ideas and suggestions from other cultures and try them out, even if they don’t seem the most conventional for you. You never know when these new ideas will help create a breakthrough for your team and company.

Despite the potential challenges, teams that are dispersed across multiple international locations can be very valuable for your company. If your managers have implemented best practices for international offices, we’d love to hear about these successes! Just comment below and let us know what has worked (or not worked!) for you!

How to Grow Your Real Estate Business in Local Markets Among Speakers of Other Languages

Although the Internet is a great way to grow your client base with speakers of other languages, it is still important to engage with those in your community on a local level outside of the online world. Here are 5 ways to grow your real estate business with those who speak other languages, right within your local community.

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1. Partner with local businesses in areas where your target demographic frequent. You can leave your business card (have a professional translate your card to be even more effective!) for customers of these establishments to pick up. You can also offer a special deal or bonus to customers who get your information from these local businesses in exchange for cross promotion on your end, when possible. You’ll get the free advertising and the local business you partner with will be able to offer a perk to their customers from you as well!

2. Try to engage the press! Contact your local paper or radio station if you believe you have a newsworthy story that’s relevant to your target community. It should be a publication or station that your local community reads or listens to often, preferably in your target demographic’s primary language!

3. Purchase advertising space in publications your target community reads or listens to. Ads should be translated and localized for your non-English speaking audience. Determine which publications would help you reach your new non-English speaking audience and then advertise in those newspapers, magazines or even on the radio.

4. Set up billboards or “for sale” signs in your target communities. These signs should also be translated and localized. Make sure they are strategically placed in a high traffic area for potential non-English-speaking customers. For a well-placed billboard, the cost can be similar to that of a newspaper ad, but lasts much longer!

5. Don’t neglect referrals! Word of mouth is hugely important. Most people trust the recommendation of friends and family. If you go the extra mile for your customers, they’re more likely to recommend you to others in the community. A few glowing recommendations go a long way, making you the go-to realtor in that community, so don’t be afraid to ask satisfied customers to write a positive review and send referrals your way!

Name and facial recognition go a long way when someone is thinking of which realtor to work with. If someone recognizes your name from recommendations, advertisements, or even local events, they will be more likely to choose you when they are looking to sell or purchase a home. If you increase your focus and footprint in areas where your non-English speaking clients reside, you’ll be sure to grow your real estate business in these areas as well.

Holiday Prep: How to Make Sure Foreign Language Students Don’t Fall Behind Over the Holidays

Learning a foreign language can be exciting for students who are eager to put their newfound skills to use in the classroom. With the holiday break quickly approaching, you may, just like most educators, be worried that the prolonged break will result in loss of information retention for your students. However, the time away from the classroom does not have to mean that your students will fall behind over the holiday break. Here are a few suggestions to help make sure your students continue using their language skills over the holiday break.

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1.     Ask students to read or watch something in the foreign language and write a short summary. Students can choose their own titles if they have access to media like this at home, or you can also provide books, TV shows, or movies that they can choose from before the break. As long as the media and assignment are both appropriate for their learning level, it should give the students an opportunity to both consume information in the foreign language and practice their writing skills. You could also request they give an oral summary of the media when they return from the holiday break if you’d prefer they practice their speaking skills instead.

2.     Assign a “Winter Break Journal” report. Ask your students to write a short summary of each day over the break in the foreign language. You can give them vocabulary words or themes to incorporate if there are topics you are working on in the classroom. They can discuss foods they ate, feelings they had, or even describe people or events that they encountered that day. Keeping a journal is a great way to practice over the holidays without taking up too much time.

3.     Send your students on a vocab scavenger hunt. Create flash cards on 3x5 cards and put a new vocabulary word on each of them. Ask students to write the definition on the other side and use the new word in a sentence (in the foreign language) for a quick practice exercise. Use these new words in class once they return and ask the students to share their sentences. The words can even be themed for the holidays and winter season.

Since these activities are mostly self-guided, they are ideal for short breaks like this one. These types of activities are a great way to keep students’ minds sharp, and may also prevent boredom or cabin fever during the potentially cold winter break. If nothing else, parents will be happy to have their children’s minds occupied with something productive, too.

Spring Semester Campus Events: How to Accommodate International Students

As 2017 comes to an end, you are likely putting the finishing touches on plans for the Spring semester, which is just a few short weeks away. Campus events are a great way for your students to stay involved and build more campus loyalty at your institution. While prepping for and promoting campus events is a great way to encourage all students to attend, it is also important to make that international students feel just as motivated to attend these events as anyone else. Here are a few ways to make sure you are accommodating your international students in your event planning and promotion this semester.

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  • Promote campus events in your university’s international center. Many students who are attending your institution from abroad utilize your international center, or equivalent. Create fliers, posters, or calendars for your events and display them in the lobby of this building or wherever students tend to gather. The students who frequent this center will see the event promotion and be more likely to attend as a result. This will also mean a more diverse representation of your student body at the event itself.
  • Translate event promotional materials and calendars. If you translate the posters, calendars, and fliers that you post, they may appeal even more to your international students. Reading this information in their first language could help them feel more at home and at ease about attending the event where they might not know anyone yet.
  • Gear a few events toward the different cultures within your student body. If you know you have a large student body population from China, for example, you may wish to create an event surrounding their Spring Festival Golden Week (February 17-21, 2018). You may even wish to partner with the international center on an event or two to ensure that other students are aware of this important resource on campus and know they are able to visit for their resources or to volunteer as needed.
  • Encourage study abroad and international travel. Your non-international students should also be encouraged to travel and/or study abroad when possible. Share information about study abroad programs at your Spring campus events. Knowing you encourage your students to visit and study in countries outside the United States can certainly be just as positive as welcoming those students from other countries who have chosen to study at your own university.

With the Spring 2018 semester fast approaching, we’d love to know how you handle campus events! If your university has found other ways to successfully welcome and serve your international student base, or if you have seen a particular event show great success, please share in the comments – we’d love to know what works best for you!

How To Make Sure Your Hospital or Clinic is Compliant with Title VI Before the New Year

With the new year just around the corner, it is important to take a look at the policies and procedures at your hospital or clinic and determine whether or not there is anything that needs to be updated or changed. One area to take a hard look at should be whether your hospital or clinic is compliant with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Part of this act specifies that an organization cannot discriminate based on race, color or national origin. If your hospital or clinic receives federal funding, compliance with Title VI is required. By providing appropriate care for your limited English proficiency (LEP) patients, you can make sure your facility is in line with Title VI. Here are a few things you can do to help prevent issues for your LEP patients*:

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  • It is not appropriate to ask LEP patients to bring a friend or relative to interpret. Instead, provide language assistance through a professional, qualified interpreter. By suggesting that a friend interpret instead, your facility runs the risk of information being provided incorrectly, as these individuals are not trained with the medical terminology or skills to interpret in these types of scenarios. Not only is this a risk to your LEP patient, but you are denying the patient professional language access by suggesting a non-professional provide it instead.
     
  • Be sure to notify LEP patients that language access is available at no cost to them. You can have these notifications available on posters, application forms, websites, and other informational materials or brochures throughout the hospital/clinic. Patients should know that these services are available at no charge so that they can request them should they feel most comfortable communicating in their primary language.
     
  • It is important not to assume someone’s citizenship, immigration status, or insurance situation based on a patient’s surname, accent, or ability to speak English. It is inappropriate to ask these patients for this type of information because they look or sound foreign, for example.
     
  • Provide translations of vital documents into frequently encountered languages. These translations are best completed by a qualified translator to ensure their accuracy. Again, friends and family members are not aware of specialized terminology related to health care and omissions in rendering the information could present real problems. When it comes to patient information and communications, hiring a professional is best practice.

Title VI compliance is not the only reason to provide these services for your patients. Language barriers can significantly impact a patient’s ability to receive proper care. LEP individuals are less likely to have a primary care physician and therefore receive fewer preventative health services. This often results in more frequent visits to the ER, so guaranteeing your hospital or clinic is able to meet their needs when they come to you for care is crucial, especially as the population of non-English speaking and LEP individuals continues to grow in the U.S. As 2018 approaches, it is important to determine if your hospital meets these needs to prevent any potential issues for both you and your patients. For more information, please visit the website for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services here.

*This advice is intended to be a helpful guideline for Title VI compliance. ATS is not responsible for any issues that may arise as a result of noncompliance at your facility.

Marketing Your Practice to Speakers of Other Languages: A Step-By-Step Plan For the New Year

With 2018 just around the corner, you’re likely considering new ways to market your practice. One thing you may want to consider is reaching out to a new demographic. Have you ever thought about marketing directly to speakers of languages other than English? It may seem a little daunting if English is the only language you’re comfortable speaking. The great news is, however, you don’t actually have to speak another language to effectively market to a demographic that does! You can market to this audience in a variety of ways, which can have a positive impact on your brand in the new year. Here are 5 steps for targeting your non-English speaking client base in 2018.

1.    Start with your website. Websites are a great way to interact with clients who do not speak English. Your clients are most likely starting their online search for an attorney by searching for those with information available in their preferred language. If your website and service offerings are translated on your website, they will feel confident in your practice’s ability to assist them, and they will appreciate that you’ve taken the time to tailor your content to them. Be sure to use a professional translator or agency to handle this. Errors caused by free translation tools can be extreme and really hurt your brand, even though you have great intentions!

2.    Develop a multilingual SEO strategy. Once you have professionally translated your website, you’ll want to consider a multilingual Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy. If your website isn’t showing up in search results, the translation you’ve paid to complete will not provide much return on your investment. Analyze your audience and tailor this new strategy to them. You’ll find that it often differs greatly from what you’ve already created for your English-speaking clients. 

3.    Focus on your local market first. While online marketing is important, it is not the only way to reach your new audience. Partner with local businesses in your community, specifically those who already have an existing customer base in your target demographic. See if you can leave your business cards or brochures there as well. And if these items are translated, even better!

4.    Deliver an effective and targeted email campaign. If you are already sending out email newsletters to your clients, consider translating them for your non-English speaking clients. You may not have to translate everything within your newsletter, but if you know your client’s email address and preferred language/region, you can target your content specifically to that group. Email blasts in someone’s preferred language are more likely to drive traffic to your website and are a quick and easy way to stay in touch with those who have already decided they trust you enough to hand over their email address!

BONUS TIP #1! Don’t forget to ask for referrals or testimonials you can use in your marketing or on your website. Once you’ve driven more traffic there, it’s a great way for new and/or potential clients to see why working with you is such a wonderful option.

5.    Put your information in local multilingual publications. Don’t neglect print marketing! Dedicate some advertising for your practice to multilingual publications in your area, ensuring the advertisement is localized for your non-English speaking audience. You can direct them to your website for more information, which will help drive traffic there and deliver more information to this target audience!

BONUS TIP #2! Utilize interpreters (on-site or telephonic) as needed for your new clients. Once your clients have reached out to you, make sure you have a way to communicate with them if you do not already speak their language. You can use telephonic interpreters for initial meetings, and look into bringing in an on-site interpreter for client meetings, depositions, etc. as things progress, if you prefer. Trust us… the growth you’ll see from marketing to a new demographic will be worth the investment!

How to Become Known as the "Go-To" Realtor Among Speakers of Other Languages

With the ever-growing number of LEP individuals in the United States, it may seem like learning multiple languages would be the best way to help grow your real estate business. According to HUD, nearly 9% of the U.S. population has limited English proficiency, and about 65% of those LEP individuals speak Spanish at home. Although being able to speak with buyers in their own language is helpful, it thankfully isn’t the only way to connect with this market. Here are a few ways you can become their go-to realtor in other ways.

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1.     Find your resources. Many state REALTOR® associations provide translated copies of forms and contracts for association members. If you are a member of your state association, be sure to request this information in the languages you encounter most often. Work with lenders and title companies who offer translations of their documents, as well. A buyer who understands what he or she is agreeing to is more likely to feel appreciated and supported during the purchasing process, and therefore, more likely to recommend you and your office to friends and family when they are considering purchasing a property. The Federal National Mortgage Association, Fannie Mae, offers a translated glossary and other forms in Spanish, as well. It is worth downloading these forms for your clients to ensure they understand the process.

2.     Offer interpreting services when necessary. It is vital to ensure that your clients understand the entire property purchasing process. If your client does not completely understand what is happening, you could potentially omit steps that may be important to him/her. Your client could, for example, forego a home inspection contingency in the purchasing agreement without realizing it if they misunderstand what you’ve said in a review of the contract itself. Providing an interpreter, either in person or over the phone, will help your client feel more at ease asking and answering questions, especially when it comes to the more complicated or technical components of  contracts and negotiations.

3.     A little effort goes a long way. You don’t have to be fluent in another language to make a lasting and positive impression on your LEP clients. Make an effort to learn a few key phrases and greetings in the languages you come across most frequently. Your clients will appreciate the effort, knowing you’ve taken the time to learn how to greet them in their own language. You should also learn more about the culture of your LEP clients when possible. Knowing whether to greet with a handshake, or another form of greeting will go a long way with your clients. Handing your customers a professionally translated one-page sheet with information about you and your background can truly sell them on wanting to work with you as their realtor. It shows that you took the time to provide them information in the language in which they feel most comfortable, and you’ve told them more about yourself, which makes them put trust in you and your expertise.

Bonus Tip! The National Association of REALTORS® offers language books and programs to their members at no additional charge. You can search for offerings on their website at https://www.nar.realtor/library 

As the foreign-language market continues to grow here in the U.S., becoming the go-to realtor for one or some of these demographics has huge growth potential for your real estate business. Buyers who have a positive experience with you and your office are likely to recommend you to their friends, family, and colleagues who may need someone more sensitive to their language needs. If you’ve found other ways to effectively engage with your foreign-language market, we’d love to hear about them in the comments below!