When was the last time you reviewed your bio? Is it as great as it can be? When being introduced to someone new by email, do you have a short version for referral relationships to copy/paste or forward? Likewise, are you ever introduced as a panelist or presenter? A boosted bio can also be used within a PR pitch or a job cover letter.
Every few months you ought to review your written bio. Taken from our extensive-to-the-point-of-exhaustive Client Master Checklist, you can even use these 9 questions to build your bio from scratch.
Q1: 1st person or 3rd person? Conversational or Formal?
Of course, this is your personal preference. It’s best to stick with 1 perspective throughout your bio. First-person bios are those written from your point of view (as if you’re introducing yourself); thus many sentences begin with ‘I’ or ‘my.’ These bios can make you seem accessible, conversational, and even casual. However, your tone & grammar can help to make the bio more formal.
Third-person bios, on the other hand, are written as though someone else is describing you. Thus, sentences often begin with your last name, title or your honorific (bet you didn’t know what those were called). Naturally, these are more traditional, conservative, and formal. However, they can be out of place in today’s world of social media. For example, your LinkedIn profile is a showcase from you to others. Thus, your Summary (as LinkedIn calls it) ought to be written coming from you. But again, it’s your choice.
Q2: What do you do for whom? Profession/Credentials/Experience + Target Markets = 1-liner
“I am an Immigration Attorney for Latinos.” If your personality would like to buck convention, then you may even like to turn this introductory 1-liner into a question: “How many immigration lawyers do you know who have these kind of credentials or experience?” However, a snazzy opening may also come off as cocky & conceited.
BTW: Third-person perspectives & quotes help to mitigate arrogance; after all, it’s not YOU who’s saying it. Your whole bio is meant to be congratulatory & braggadocio; hopefully you don’t have to embellish it too much. Your experience should speak louder than words: “Lastname has been a recognized income tax defense lawyer for over 10 years.”
It’s OK - if not preferred - for your 1-liner to be plain & simple. Just remember to highlight a target market & how you fulfill their unmet needs. “When I realized how contentious divorces affect children, I focused my practice on family mediation.” Targeted triggers pique the curiosity of potential clients & referral relationships.
These next 4 questions all serve the same purpose: third-party validation & credibility.
Q3: Referenced by the Media?
Have you been mentioned or quoted by the media? Have you by-lined any published articles? Pay-for-space advertorials don’t count for much.
Q4: Invited to present (solo or on a panel)?
Hosting yourself doesn’t really count. Have you been invited to be a panelist or presenter by some organization? Local chapters & committees are a good cheat!
Q5: Earned any Awards, Public Achievements, or Quantifiable Results?
Sometimes you can’t reveal private results, but maybe you can showcase numbers with disclaimers? For example, lawyers must use what I refer to as the WeightWatchers disclaimer (email me if you can’t guess it.)
Q6: Testimonials by any VIP?
Personal testimonials should only be used if the VIP is well known to the reader; otherwise it’ll fall flat like an inside joke. Testimonials from (lesser known) clients can be peppered elsewhere.
Q7: Education? Memberships?
Unless (and maybe even if) you have an advanced degree from a distinguished institution, put this obligatory section below the above 4. Likewise, your readers may not know the significance (and thus don’t care) about your association memberships. If you hold a leadership position, then embellish its importance.
Q8: Past jobs, experience and/or Turning Points?
Past professional experience can be as banal as Q7 (unless it’s not). On the other hand, like the example concluding Q2, your “personal why” is a human interest story. Such anecdotes reveal your passion and values, beyond your credentials. These can be an attractive & noteworthy opener or conclusion to your bio.
Q9: Care to share any Values, Charities, Hobbies, Sports, or Family life?
Like religion and politics, these are double-edged swords: It can either help bond or bend your relationships. But if you volunteer your time for any causes, you may want to bring some publicity to its need (and the non-profit). Your interests in any pastimes, like sports, can be help end your bio with a smile. Likewise, a line or 2 about your family (including how long you’ve been married, a note about your kids or pets) is especially endearing. Similarly, many tie a ribbon by noting their neighborhood.
By going in this order, readers can quickly sum you up & share you with others. It’s not necessary to use these category labels in your bio but you can; the paragraphs will automatically segue. I look forward to reading your bios, with links to them in the comments. Did I miss anything worth boosting in your professional life?