Dynamic bio writing: it’s an art
Who needs a professional bio? Most likely, you do. A professional bio is the story-based version of your professional life. Your bio includes some information that can be found in your CV or resume but the format is less formal. Your bio should be something people want to read—it highlights the areas of your career that you’re proud to share, and omits the unpleasant bits.
It’s all about you.
You need a bio to showcase your professional achievements and earn credibility in the eyes of current and potential clients, audiences, industry insiders and potential employers. Every career advancer and professional should have a professional bio. In today’s network-centric environment, people will “Google” you or search for you on LinkedIn. They want to check you out online, and your professional bio should engage them.
Your bio is a brand-building marketing tool should entice a reader to contact you.
There is stiff competition in your world; a well-crafted bio sets you apart from the crowd. It’s essential to have a well-crafted, impeccably written bio that tells them what makes you unique. Your bio is the foundation of your personal branding toolkit, and it’s potentially the most important content you’ll have in your professional life.
Look good on paper. You never know who’s checking you out.
Bios that work
As a professional journalist and content writer I have collected hundreds of bios from professionals in a wide array of industries, for background in a story or article I was writing, to create a boilerplate for a press release, or simply to learn more about someone’s career history. I’m always surprised to find that only a small percentage of the bios I receive from accomplished professionals are good reads. The rest translate like a boring resume, rote bullet points about education, work experience, professional affiliations, awards, community service. Many are wordy, boring, stuffy, packed with meaningless business jargon or thrown together with little thought about piquing a reader’s interest.
The bios that capture my attention are those that motivate me to want to know more about the person on paper.
Granted, the purpose of a bio is to highlight your skills and expertise, but it also serves as a marketing tool to promote you and your brand and attract business. This can be accomplished by including information that sets you apart and is especially effective when it’s written in an engaging manner. Depending on your goals and audience, your bio can make readers smile, relate, and feel compelled to contact you.
When I write a professional bio, I start with an interview and the basics—anything you’d like to send me—a CV or resume, and news articles in which you’ve been featured or quoted. I get a feel for your comfort level and what your goals are for the bio. I’ll take narrative license to make your bio engaging while keeping it professional. Then I’ll send you a draft to review, at which time you can decide what works for you, and where applicable, what doesn’t. Next, I’ll edit the bio according to your feedback. You have the final say in the finished product.
By working together, we can achieve a the bio that sets you apart, that intrigues readers, and motivates people to want to learn more about you and your professional offerings.
Types of bios
There are three types of bios that you will want to have on hand. If the idea of three bios makes you anxious, no need to worry—they all build on each other.
The first type of bio you should have is the one-pager. This is the full-on bio you’ll rely on to create engagement with readers on the first read. If your bio does not grab the reader’s attention, you may not get another chance. You want the reader to feel an affinity toward you and what you offer in a way that connections are made and more familiarity is desired. Here are a few things that are important in your long bio:
• Identify who you are trying to connect with. The long bio should strive to make a genuine connection with that specific audience. This is where the bio should convey what you do and how you do it differently than everyone else in order to express your unique approach.
• Provide enough compressed background information to give readers a sense of where you’re coming from without overwhelming them with an exhaustive list of every single thing you have done.
Your one-page bio may go through the most rounds of editing to achieve the perfect result, which is fine. Your readers only care about connecting with the person whose bio made such a compelling impression.
The one-paragraph bio usually accompanies your work when it’s shared on the internet or in print—outside of your own site or blog. You may also want a condensed version of your long bio on the front page of your website, or at the end of every blog post, or in a press release boilerplate. You’ll find there are a wide variety of uses for the one-paragraph version, especially during book launches, conferences, speaking or teaching opportunities, and interviews.
Readers tend to just skim this bio, so it needs to be written in a way that speaks directly to them.
This type of short bio tends to venture out beyond your usual audience, so it may need tweaking from time to time to best reach different audiences.
The Micro biography is basically one- or two- sentences that tell readers who you are and what is currently going on in your life. These are used for social media sites and are most successful with a bit of humor injected.
For many individuals, writing their own bio is uncomfortable. If you’re one of these people, your best bet is to hire a professional bio writer who knows what they’re doing. Bios written by folks who are squeamish over writing about themselves are usually ineffective. Your bio is a professional tool with an important purpose. Trusting a professional to get it done right is the best way to achieve results.
Since long version bios are written in the third person, you don’t have to worry that readers will assume it’s you singing your own praises.
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