Are you telling your story to the right audiences, in the right way? If you’re being honest, probably not.
The best place to begin telling a coherent story that your peers (and betters) can understand and appreciate is in the professional bio that you post — or, more accurately, post versions thereof — on your personal website, social media properties, and elsewhere on the web.
Ready to get started? Let’s explore four things your bio should do and three things it should avoid.
What to Do…
First, the right track…
- Write Naturally
What do these eight professional bio examples have in common?
They’re all written naturally — as if transcribed from the writer’s own diction, then edited for clarity.
Strive for the same when you sit down to write your bio. You want it to read like a real person is behind it, not some crude language-processing algorithm.
- Remind Your Audience Who They’re Reading About
With some specific exceptions, write your bio in the third person. You sound more important that way.
Make sure to sprinkle your name throughout the bio, too, not just in the first sentence. This New York-based executive’s bio is a great example: his name appears throughout the text, but not often enough to seem redundant or tiresome.
- Avoid Lists or Long Sequences
Your bio should tell a story, not nakedly regurgitate your CV. That story’s content and narrative, along with your writing style, will dictate exactly how that story unfolds. What you definitely want to avoid, however, are long lists or sequential descriptions better left to heavily formatted media (like your CV).
- Include Outbound Links
Link out to reputable websites wherever possible: past employers, projects, partners, and so forth. Your readers want to know that you’re legitimate, and judicious links to high-authority sites may be good for your website’s SEO.
…and the wrong track.
- Over-the-Top Calls to Action
Your bio should include a subtle call to action, perhaps nothing more than an out-of-context email address or phone number after the last narrative sentence. Be careful about hitting your audience over the head with your CTAs, though — nothing turns readers off faster than patent self-promotion.
- Overly Personal or Trivial Details
In the same vein, avoid overly personal details (TMI alert!) or trivial information that has no place in a 500-word (or shorter) personal bio. Save that stuff for your blog, if you have one.
- Reveling in Past Glories
Maybe you really did peak in high school, as they say. Fine. You don’t have to tell everyone about it!
Devote the lion’s share of your bio to recent achievements, however modest. Show progression, however defined. Tell a story of upward mobility, however it makes sense to you.
Don’t find a way to drop your SAT scores in there. No one cares.
Build a Better Bio
With an hour or two of effort, you can create and disseminate a first-rate bio across your entire digital footprint. The question is, are you willing to carve out the time needed to get it done?
Your professional image could well depend on the answer. Don’t delay.