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By Imulok Marcus

As a language professional be it translator or editor, it is important to achieve a considerable visibility in the society as well as in the business field. Language professionals are becoming more adept in using the Internet to maximise its advantages. With it, these professionals are able to create their online identity easily and control what they expose to guarantee a better visibility. Hence, the term personal branding is popularised especially within the online community – it is the community’s way of marketing themselves to push their careers further. Thus, it is best for us to equip ourselves with the necessary skills to exploit the remarkable benefits of having a good personal branding.

Personal branding can be developed and has to be developed as no one has one that is readily made for them. Most language professionals start off their career by spending about 50 percent of their time to create a good personal branding. Even the most veteran in this field still update their brand and tweak on it. The maintaining effort takes about 10 percent of their time. So in other words, without spending any time to create a good and up-to-date brand, an individual may cease to stay relevant. According to Professor Ionna Daskalopoulou who was a guest speaker at Modlingua.com, there are 3 factors that we need to consider in order to develop a noticeable personal branding. We need to take account of our professional identity, our communication skills, and our attitude-professionalism.

The first factor is to identify your specialty or the role that you take on. By identifying yourself as a language professional whether you are a translator or an editor, you are being more specific with what service you can provide. This is to make you stand out from the crowd. A client will often look for something specific that accommodate to their needs. For example, the client may need someone to translate a Malay text to English or edit his or her article. You can be more specific with the services you provide such as editing, translating, proofreading, and etc. You also have to include your specialty – the specification that you are equipped to accommodate such as legal, finance or medical. It is best to limit yourself to five specialties in order to be good at each of them. These criteria will let your future clients seek you for their related texts.

The second factor is communication skill. Having a good communication skill is the skill that sets apart between a successful entrepreneurship and a failed one. Language professionals must harness their communication skills because these will help them to get their work in action. Deciding personal brand is not enough to achieve visibility especially in when doing a business. In order to be reliable, language professionals must be responsive to any inquiries that the client has. Clarity is important and miscommunication has to be avoided at all cost. Requesting a feedback is also helpful to appreciate what the client think of the work that the language professionals have produced. Communication is the key to a good and successful for business venture with any clients.

The third factor is attitude-professionalism which is the factor needed to maintain the work in progress. Personal branding is an ongoing practice that one must stay updated with one’s specialty. For example, a Malay translator has to keep receiving relevant training in order to provide a good translating service. A good attitude with grit results in a good result. In terms of professionalism, one must always try to submit the work within the deadline given. However, if the individual cannot finish the task at hand, it is better to discuss with the client honestly and suggest for extension to ensure a good quality work. Choosing quality over the deadline will be beneficial for the long term. Despite that, doing it often will harm the good reputation built beforehand. Apart from that, a good language professional especially one who works online would go extra mile to show appreciation to the client.  To illustrate, one may not charge a client if he or she asked for a translation service if the task is easy. Translating a several lines of Malay sentences into English and not charging the client will make him or her grateful. A happy client will produce a flourishing business and visibility.

Therefore, language professionals have to focus on developing their own personal branding instead of just relying on a good résumé or filling applications. Marketing through the social media also creates a powerful impact to showcase what the language professionals have been working on or are currently working on. Creating a social media presence on Twitter or LinkedIn helps to gain more visibility in the professional realm. Without personal branding, a language professional would not be able to create a good profile and without profile, he or she may go unnoticed by a prospective client. 

Profile Link http://modlingua.com/language-interns-at-modlingua/339-imulok-marcus-intern-profile.html

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By Beti Levensteinas

Entrepreneurship is certainly an option for language professionals to move forward. In order to achieve that, translators must build and maintain their professional identities and create their personal brand. They must also need to devise ways to stand out from the crowd in the competitive translation industry.

They need to acquire an entrepreneurial mindset, continuously adapting to the dynamics of market forces, marketing themselves as professional translators, promoting themselves, using online tools, social media platforms, growing their professional network, spending lots of personal time and effort in customer prospecting, acquisition and retention.

A successful freelancer must dedicate himself/herself at least 10% of his/her time on marketing, customer prospecting and marketing himself/herself as a continuing process; if s/he stops chasing it, s/he becomes invisible, so s/he should never give up.

A successful freelancer identifies his/her status (freelancer or translation agency), language pairs, services, expertise (maximum five specializations), rates, education, credentials, professional experience and provides his Curriculum Vitae. S/he also has good communication skills, providing quick responses, being accessible and responsible, doing what s/he agrees to, meeting deadlines (but never sacrificing quality over deadlines), listening to customers, asking questions, making suggestions. S/he must be open and frank, avoid miscommunication and request feedback.

There are some attitudes in order to achieve professionalism: becoming member of professional associations, designing websites, marketing services, blogging, continuing education and learning, stay up-to-date on translation industry, attending meetings, conferences, having a critical approach towards what customers want and say, caring about one’s network (existing and prospective), having a critical eye, investing in quality, adhering to endorsing guidelines, respecting rules and presence in social media.

Before even that, a successful freelancer should set his/her goals, target audience, determine unique value proposition (distinguish himself/herself from others, e.g. in view of his/her specialization), build his/her website, blogging, become a social networker, review and update his/her personal brand regularly, that is required for people to know the freelancer, who must turn into an entrepreneur, a continuous marketer.

A successful freelancer is a multi-talented and multi-tasked person.

The freelancer may choose to work with translation agencies and direct customers. Working with translation agencies provides a steady workflow, but lower rates. On the other hand, working with direct customers may provide occasional jobs, but higher rates.

When prospecting customer, you can send out your CV, fill out applications at Websites or associations, quote for jobs listed, advertise your services or write articles to social media, letting customers find you, use word of mouth communications, contact local companies, attend translation meetings and workshops and think locally.

In your contacts, applications materials should be error-free, state clearly what you’re applying for, start your email with objective information (language pairs, freelancer status etc.), be always quick and responsive to any customers’ requests and do a follow-up, get final confirmation from manager before starting a translation.

Marketing is an endless task to become and keep visible. Following up customers is important as prospecting them.

It is worthwhile to keep a log of communications, contact periodically customer to let them know you’re still interested and available.
Following up on customers is important to control project flow, show customers that you care, improve customer-translation relationship and build long-lasting cooperation. Happy customers make translators happy, maintaining good relations is a win-win situation for both translator and customers. It pays off in the long-run to know better customer’s needs.

In order to maintain an existing clientele, it is required to maintain an effective communication (e.g., sending holiday cards, keeping lines of communication open, being responsible, caring for customer’s concerns).

Freelancers should invest in quality and excellent customer service, letting customers know that above all is quality and customer satisfaction, live up to customer’s expectations,

Freelancers should also be proactive, contacting customers if they haven’t heard from customer in a while to remind customer of them, getting tips on upcoming work for them to plan their upcoming schedules, to keep first in customer’s database.

In order to enter translation market for the first time, one should go after official studies in schools, attending seminars and workshops, networking, marketing, getting certified, undergoing supervised training and internships, that is something developed throughout years and it requires a lot of patience.

Translators play an entrepreneurship role in the world and they must integrate translation with IT.

Technologies have potential roles in promoting entrepreneurship among translators because technologies provide translators with cost-effective and/or free online resources, open source platforms, free online services, making easier to network with peers, develop online communities through social media platforms, such as Facebook, twitter, Google Plus etc. Translators can develop required competence through online training and they can promote themselves by designing Websites and using social media marketing, search engine optimization. Technologies minimize costs and, in addition, they are not, thus, damaging to translators, one might think they are cutting jobs, reducing translation work available, but even translation memories require translators because strings need to be confirmed and validated. Machine tools may reduce translation to basic phrase replacement process and phrase and formal equivalence, so translation work may be changing, but not decreasing. Technologies enable translators networking and cooperation.

Initiative, determination, ambition, use of resources, taking into account circumstances, getting to know a number of linguists to start an enterprise, looking for new horizons, openness to new ideas, acumen, determination to succeed, bridging the gap between academic world and industry, promoting innovation and entrepreneurship are the key points that must be taken care of for becoming successful translators .

Work experience, combined with various available opportunities enable translators to play entrepreneurial role in society.

If freelancers do all of that, they will be adding value to their work, walking the extra mile for their customers, nurturing long cooperation with customers, showing customers that they care.

Profile Link: http://modlingua.com/interns/433-beti-portuguese-translator.html 

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