We’ve been working with clients lately on bios/profiles for websites and backgrounders, and it’s reminded me of how difficult it is for most people to write about themselves—or even get comfortable with what someone else writes about them.
Faced with a bio request, people often retreat to the safe familiarity of resume-style recitations: jobs, accomplishments, education. That’s not wrong; it’s just not great—especially for networking via social media. Ideally, a bio will evoke a real human (not some kind of business bot) and will communicate something about how you approach your work and what makes you stand out (note to modest types: there’s always something).
A few tips that can make it easier:
- Have someone interview you (or your team)— it’s often easier to talk about we do than to put it in writing.
- Develop a list of questions for bios (our colleague Kelly Parkinson has a great one here) and answer them stream-of-consciousness style. People often have a hard time writing because they try to edit while they write. Write first, then edit.
- Think about (and write about) the ultimate results you deliver—not just what you know how to do.
- Talk about why you do what you do.
- Having a hard time pinning down that extra something you bring? Think about what others have said about you—friends, a former boss, your mom.
- Include something about what you like to do in your off time—it gives people a way to relate to you. And be specific: “I walk dogs for the SPCA,” not “I like animals”; “I’m addicted to gritty crime novels,” not “I like to read.”
In general, think about what you like to know about others; they want to know that about you, too. And try not stress about it. You may never get comfortable with your bio, but that doesn’t matter—you don’t have to read again until it’s update time.