How important are professional memberships to a freelancer? Well, I guess it all depends on the nature of the services we offer and the potential benefits that membership of a particular organisation can bring.
As a freelance translator and enthusiastic linguist, I have a been a proud member of the Chartered Institute of Linguists for many years and have gone from being a full member to a Chartered Linguist. A UK-accredited body as I am British educated and translate into my mother tongue, which is English, despite the fact I have lived in Italy for many years. So why did I join this institute back in 2011? Initially, to increase my credibility as a translator. The organisation’s Find-A-Linguist network also proved useful early on, as it provides potential clients with a way to seek me out. Now, further down the line, I appreciate the opportunity to network and attend industry-specific events. I am obliged to keep my CPD up to date, which has definitely meant that I undertake more personal and professional development activities than I perhaps would otherwise. The institute also offers an array of offers and discounts, although the majority of these are UK-specific.
More recently, I have joined the institute’s mentoring scheme, offering my support to newly qualified language professionals who are perhaps considering setting up as freelancers and/or as translators. I have also contributed to the institute’s in-house magazine The Linguist, outlining my role as a motorsport-oriented translator and PR pro.
And then there is the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, also a UK-accredited body. I became a member just three years ago and have not yet been as involved as I have with the CIoL. I have successfully completed CPD cycles though, which have granted me Accredited PR Practitioner status. Like the CIoL, I am able to use the institute’s designated logos and banners as a further way to promote my work online. The CIPR is currently developing a sports-specific branch, and so I hope to perhaps get more involved with activities in this area, considering my professional background.
Essentially, I deem my professional memberships to be both valuable and beneficial. I have clearly seen benefits in terms of the connections I’ve made, work that has been generated as a result of my membership, and, last but by no means least, my own personal development across the fields of language, translation, PR and sport.
Over the last year or so, I have also joined a few less formal groups, such as the Women’s Sport Collective (https://www.fearlesswomen.co.uk/collective) , Women in Localization (https://womeninlocalization.com/) and the International Women’s Association of Modena (https://www.iwamodena.org/ and International Talents Emilia-Romagna (https://internationaltalents.art-er.it/it-er-ambassador). All are useful in that they provide opportunities for me to network, socialise with like-minded professionals, and/or support the less experienced as they forge their own career paths.
Networking can never be underestimated, particularly when you’re a freelancer. Chance meetings, word-of-mouth recommendations, or even social gatherings may all lead to potential new clients and exciting new projects. I guess the takeaway here is: be sure to explore ALL channels when seeking to develop your business and your client pool. After all, the more proactive you are, the greater your chances of success!