Last year, I felt the need to so something I did not expect when I planned my move to London: develop my own professional brand.
It obviously required stepping a little bit more out of my comfort zone – and doing loads of reading and research. I also attended a couple of very good workshops and sat down for a few sessions with a branding and marketing expert.
Interpreters, just like any other independent professional or solopreneur, usually find themselves wearing many hats. As I often say, I am the CEO, employee of the month, and minion of my company. Now I am also my own marketer and PR agent.
The original – and ultimate – goal of developing my own professional brand was and still is to build a solid image, stay present in my clients’ and potential clients’ minds, and contribute to strengthen the image of the interpreting community as a whole.
There were, however, some unexpected perks.
- I found my own voice.
One of the key principles of professional, personal branding is that it should be authentic and, in my search for MCL I found, well, MCL. I was pleasantly surprised by how much soul searching developing one’s own brand requires, which makes it all the more easy to express my ideas and share my thoughts and expertise.
Together with my voice, I have worked on setting my tone, my style, and, even, my professional identity. True professional soul searching.
- I had to define my goals clearly
In order to decide what to say, I had to first determine what I wanted to achieve. It is very difficult to embark on a journey without having at least a faint idea of where you are headed so designing my own PR and marketing campaign helped me form a clearer idea of my professional project and goals.
- I came to appreciate and embrace my own story
One of the main purposes to invest time and effort in develop your own professional brand is to differentiate yourself from the pack of equally capable professionals out there. There are two ways, broadly speaking, to do this: the nasty one or the authentic one.
Since I am not one for nastiness, authenticity became my way, which, in turn, meant embracing my own personal and professional history and putting it at the service of my clients. Having lived and worked on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, it was only coherent that I based my career and brand on bringing Latin America and the UK closer.
It is because it is founded in my own personal story that my brand is unique. As far as I know, there is only one MCL in the world.
- I improved my communication skills
To work and be as unique and coherent as necessary, a brand has to be consistent. And consistency is expressed through good communication.
As an interpreter, I am a communicator. However, I tend to find it harder to express my own ideas than those of my clients so, consistently communicating my brand and content has taken me out of my comfort zone – again. Two years in, I would say it has definitely been worth it!
- I changed my focus
This has perhaps been the most unexpected and yet most gratifying perk – not to mention a massive oxymoron: my personal brand is not about me but about others (a.k.a., my clients, my professional community, any user of interpreting services, any person or business interested in connecting with other worlds, and more).
I have been talking about communication and by it is very nature, communicating entails establishing a dialogue, a conversation, an engaged interaction, a collaboration with others.
Thus, I have stopped talking about me to focus on how I can help others. A complete change of focus and a very satisfying one, indeed!
The whole process of designing my own PR and marketing plan and campaign is as rewarding as it is complex.
There were times when I needed guidance and a qualified sounding board to help me bring down some of my ideas and there were times when I simply needed a little encouragement to step into the spotlight and show MCL to the world.
All in all, I highly recommend doing it, even if only as a exercise to find your professional path.
“A brand is a promise kept.” J. Purkiss & D. Royston-Lee
- Brand You by John Purkiss and David Royston-Lee
- Yes but what makes YOU different? Differentiators and USPs by Top Left Design
- Raise Your Profile workshop at the British Library Business Centre
Photo taken by me while in Oxford accompanying a visiting delegation from Latin America.