Would you rather have a plain bar of chocolate or a Godiva chocolate truffle? Hana Ransom started her presentation on re-branding yourself as a language specialist with this question. She used her own career evolution from translator to all-around language specialist to illustrate how we can harness the power of branding and social media for career advancement.
A key takeaway from her presentation is how only focusing on our language skills is not enough to survive and thrive in the T&I industry today. We also need to see ourselves as products and as offering services, and then brand ourselves to fit the changing market needs so that clients continue to choose us.
Ransom-san outlined three main branding methods: the “Mito Komon” method of obtaining authoritative qualifications, the “Monde Selection” method of entering contests, volunteering, or obtaining other types of recognition, and the “model house” method of spinning your accomplishments and other qualities in a positive light, the same way real estate agents make even problematic properties sound attractive.
Branding in today’s world invariably involves social media. A latecomer to social media herself, Ransom-san started a blog in 2013 and then became active on Facebook and Twitter to publicize her blog. She created her own website in 2017 and published her first book (看板・標識・ラベル・パッケージの英語表現) in 2018. She then launched her own translation-focused YouTube channel in 2020.
Her social media activity coincides with her expansion from translation to book publishing, teaching translation and interpretation, culminating with a new job as an in-house interpreter.
Among the benefits of branding, she cites greater ability to negotiate rates and other terms, expanding your professional network and the types of job offers you receive, creating more ways for potential clients to find you, and more opportunities to market yourself in areas of your choosing.
On the flip side, the downsides of using social media include attracting negative as well as positive attention, the loss of anonymity, and the considerable time and potential financial outlay involved in building your content and audience.
As someone who currently has minimal engagement with social media, Ransom-san’s personal story and compelling reasons for using social media for career development gave me much to contemplate.