Let’s be honest. Most bios – even those describing the immense accomplishments of highly successful people – are boring, poorly written, incomplete and out-of-date.
That’s unfortunate because bios (short for biography) can mean business – new business. An engaging, well-written bio can distinguish you from the crowd, increase your credibility and likeability, and build trust in you and your organization. So if a bio re-write is in your future, consider these tips.
1. Know your audience. Be clear about who you’re targeting so that your bio has the right tone. Freelance writer Aliza Sherman’s bio is different in tone than President Barack Obama’s official biography. Both are effective. You may need different versions for different audiences. If you do a lot of public speaking, consider a short pithy bio that has been written to be read. Your website bio, on the other hand, should be longer – but not too long. If you’re a professional with a long line of accomplishments, considering linking your bio page to a complete Curriculum Vitae that lists every talk you’ve given, every article you’ve written, every leadership post you’ve held, and every award you have won.
2. Describe how you can help. Most bios are a recitation of basic accomplishments that say little if anything about why a prospective client should hire you. While it may be accurate to say, “Beverly has been a management consultant for 15 years,” think about how much more captivating it would be to put it this way: “For 15 years, Beverly has helped transform struggling businesses into profitable powerhouses.”
3. Tell your story without the hype. Nothing will differentiate you more than personal stories and turning points which shaped your character, personality and desire to succeed. Lady Gaga’s bio does a good job of that. Brendon Burchard, author of The Millionaire Messenger, goes a step further and says that a bio should convey sincerity and humility without hype or exaggeration. You can do that by citing quotes from high-authority figures such as the news media.
4. Make your bio visually appealing. Ditch the Wikipedia-like format and consider starting with a main paragraph, followed by subheads or bullet points listing your main accomplishments. Include a head shot. Depending on the nature of your industry, you may want to incorporate additional graphics. Jill Townsend has some good suggestions about fonts, length and formatting.
5. Proofread carefully. Don’t rely on spell-check: it won’t catch words that are missing or rambling sentences that make no sense. Have at least a couple of friends read it and provide honest feedback. Take time to review and update it as necessary every few months.
As a sales tool, your bio is critical. It should be professional, authentic and as original as you are. Writing and rewriting it may take time, but the finished product can have a huge impact on your success.
Image courtesy of Rawich/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.