Personal Branding and Language Professionals

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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, 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. 

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