Dynamic bio writing: make sure you look great on paper
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 relationship-building with readers.
Who needs a professional bio?
Who needs a professional bio? Anyone with an online presence—a website, or blog for instance. Once a vehicle used primarily by authors, musicians, public speakers, and politicians, professional bios have become essential for job seekers, recent graduates, business owners, professionals, career-climbers, startup founders, entrepreneurs, and innovators looking to stand out among employers, target customers, industry insiders, and others.
Job-seekers typically include a resume and cover letter in their search for employment, but adding a professional bio promotes credibility in the eyes of those whose attention you want to attract. Any time you email or connect with someone you’ve never dealt with, or someone sees your name or hears about you via word-of-mouth, you can expect to be checked out online. Your professional bio is a brand-building marketing tool that should provide readers with an incentive to contact you.
Distinguish yourself from competitors
Regardless of your career or business goals, competition to reach and grab the attention of your desired audience makes distinguishing yourself among your competitors imperative. An expertly-crafted bio calls attention to the qualities, experience, and skills that make you unique. Your bio tells readers why you are passionate about your work, and why you’re proud of your accomplishments. Think of your bio as the foundation of your personal branding strategy; potentially, it’s the most important content in your professional branding arsenal.
Your bio showcases your professional achievements and helps establish credibility in the eyes of current and potential clients, audiences, industry insiders, and employers. Every career advancer and product or service provider should have a professional bio. In today’s network-centric environment, people will “Google” you or search for you on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media sites. Using online resources to check out a person of interest is now standard procedure; your goal is to make it easy for searchers to find an engaging bio attached to your name.
How and where to use your professional bio
Your bio can be used in a number of places and circumstances, including:
- The “About” page on your website and/or blog. Visitors click here to learn more about you—they’re looking for qualities that give them a sense of connection, not old-school boilerplate language that bores them to death. You want your bio to reflect your individuality and “click” with readers.
- Any proposals, applications, marketing materials or quotes you send to prospective customers or employers.
- The bio/summary/about section of your social media profiles. Social media bios have different demands from professional bios. Read more about social media bios here.
- Submission with pitches for public speaking engagements, presentations, or training gigs. Your bio gives event organizers an overview of what you bring to the table. When you’re booked for an engagement your bio is also used for promotional materials and to introduce you to audiences.
- Job searches. A professional bio is a great way to capture an employer’s attention. Today, more and more employers request a professional bio along with a CV or resume and cover letter, since a bio conveys your story in a way those other documents do not.
- As an important addition to any publication (guest blog posts you author, books, e-books, reports, and professional documents).
Personal brand-building with a professional bio
Think of your bio as a brand-building marketing tool designed to entice readers to contact you.
In today’s fiercely competitive digital world, a professionally-crafted bio can be an asset that sets you apart from the crowd and tips the scale in your favor. It must be polished, professionally-written, and error-free; anything less can backfire by sending the wrong message.
Look good on paper. You never know who’s checking you out!
As a professional journalist and content writer I have written and edited hundreds of bios for professionals in a wide array of industries—for background information on blogs or articles I’ve written, to create boilerplates for press releases, 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 dull, uninspiring resume with rote bullet points. They’re wordy, 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, as well as attract potential customers or employers but a bio is especially effective when it’s written in an engaging manner. Depending on your goal and audience, your bio can make readers smile, relate, and feel compelled to contact you.
My approach to writing results-driven professional bios
When I write a professional bio, I start with an interview and the basics—anything you’d like to send me—a CV, resume or news articles in which you’ve been featured or quoted are just a few examples. I ask questions to 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, intrigues readers, and motivates people to want to learn more about you.
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.
The one-page bio
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 a compelling impression.
The one-paragraph bio
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
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.
I offer an array of bio templates for you to choose from or if you have a bio template you like, I can adapt it for you!
Request a free, no-obligation consultation to learn more about professional bio writing for you and your team. Click on the icon below today!