Most of us have one. We certainly all need one. They come in all shapes and sizes, and it’s one of the hottest professional pieces of writing you’ll ever do – bingo! Yes, it’s those 3 little letters thrown together known as your bio!
In this fast-growing digital era of information overload, nobody has time to read through long-winded life stories. Grabbing people’s attention and standing out has become the norm, quickly capturing the essence of who you are and what you do with a short and snappy professional bio.
A LinkedIn summary, the end of a blog post or article, your twitter profile, across social media, and general networking – you’d be surprised at how many places they pop up. It’s also extremely useful as it can help you get hired and gain visibility. You need to sell yourself, shine-like-a-diamond and bring out your personal brand – without sounding like a show-off. It’s a strategic tool that we all need to think hard about and get right.
As someone who helps clients stand out with their professional bios, I’ve decided to share a few ideas you should consider when crafting a great bio that gives some va-va-voom to your personal brand – something we all deserve as professionals.
Write in the third person
The next time you pick up a book cover, notice the bio appears in a narrative mode. Instead of writing “I have worked in the marketing industry for 4 years” switch it to the third person and try “Steve has worked in the marketing industry for 4 years”. This sounds objective and steers away from you appearing big-headed.
Identify the big picture
Even before you’ve written your first word, take time to think about who you’re writing this for. What do you want people to think when they read your bio? Bios reflect anything from a straightforward formal message to a more witty, creative style. Always keep it professional and think how you can inject a little personality into your writing to stand out and be remembered. A touch of humour? An interesting fact? Remember, every word really needs to count and be there for a reason.
Time is short. If your readers haven’t managed to understand what you’re about in under 20 secs, you’ve probably lost your chance. We need to make life easy for our readers. It’s always a good idea to stick with the same bio used across various channels. Aim for clear, consistent messages sharing an equal perception of what you do and who you are.
Use fresh and original language
How many times have you heard in a bio ”I’m motivated, creative and hard-working”? Just like the other thousands of professionals on the planet! If you use these kinds of words you may be a victim of the “classic bio cliché syndrome” (as I like to call it). Being different and standing out from the others can often be achieved only through the words you use. Fresh, positive phrases that aren’t overused will give strength to your bio. LinkedIn statistically looked at its English-language profiles and shared a global list of the top 10 overused buzzwords. Surprise, surprise, ‘Motivated,’ ‘passionate’ and ‘expert’ were used the most. Here’s the top ten list. How do you describe yourself on LinkedIn? Spot any in your bio?
- Extensive experience
- Track record
You’ll need to create 3 bios: Micro (or two-line bio), short and long bio. Have them already prepared to pluck out exactly when you need them. The micro bio is used in a twitter profile, perhaps under a guest post or a panel discussion. Try to summarize exactly what you do in a sentence almost like an elevator pitch. The short bio should stretch to about a paragraph which includes all your essential details. The longest version is often kept for your own website which lets the reader discover other interesting facts and paints a complete picture of who you are. Limit this to no more than a page.
Calls to action
Essentially your bio is a marketing tool to promote your business, personal brand and your career. Everyone who reads your bio should become in some way a potential customer. Lead your readers with a call to action at the end of the last paragraph for a connection. This can be done by asking readers to send an email or inviting them to join you on your various social networks.
Once you’ve written your bio remember this is just the start. Your skills, knowledge and expertise evolve and so should your bio. It’s a living document! Go back to your bio and think carefully how to update it with fresh info adding value with every word. A small change here and there, polishing your messages won’t take too long but can certainly have a stronger impact on your readersI
So, it’s now over to you.
If you’ve got some tips of your own or found this post helpful – please spread the word and leave a message!
About the author: Peter Hopwood
Peter Hopwood is a copywriter, workplace communications trainer and founder of Libris communications based in Eastern Europe. He focuses on helping professionals to make a stronger impact with their personal communication via customer service training, copywriting, public speaking and presentation skills.
I agree with most of your article and you make some good points. However, I do not agree that all bios should be in the third person. It depends on where the bio will be used. Yes, definitely for a website, but for LinkedIn it really should be in the first person. Writing in the third person can come across as impersonal.
Your website could be drafted by a representative, the whole point of professional social networking is to nurture professional relationships with a personal touch. That’s why many LinkedIn users write about themselves in the first person.
People reading your profile want to know that it is really you on the other side, and not your social media marketer, another secretary or gatekeeper. Thanks again for the great article Peter – I just disagree with you on this one point only.