(This post is recycled from November 2011. The topic and approach are still relevant, I think.)
In conversations with friends and colleagues over the years, I’ve learned that people who don’t get too flustered about producing a resume seem to freeze up when asked to write a bio.
Why that is, no one seems to know, but it may have to do with a bio’s relatively short length and the general perception that it needs to contain “a whole lot” of info. In fact, someone once said, “How the heck do I fit everything in, and how do I know what to put in?”
Lisa Cherney (@LisaCherney) has the answer, and it’s based on asking several simple questions. Before you do, though, you want to repeat the mantra “eliminate the fluff” several times. As Ms. Cherney puts it, probably no one wants to know the name of your cat—my cat’s name is Mimi, and she’s my precious angel, thank you—and they want to get a pretty clear picture of what you do.
Now, Lisa’s questions:
- Who is my ideal client?
- How long should my bio page be?
- Should my bio include a tag line?
- Should my bio include personal information?
Lisa works with small business owners, but she has also served the biggies, too, so her questions and answers are grounded in business reality. Her article— “Bio Basics – How Much is Too Much?”—alas no longer available at Biznik—is a fast read and worth spending five minutes on.
I, myself, like a simple three-paragraph approach. Your first paragraph is a couple of sentences about what you do now, including the name of your business. Your second paragraph mentions a few things you’ve done in the past and particular areas of expertise, such as your ability to get your clients high search engine rankings or to help them boost their sales 25% in six months. Finally, you end with the obligatory stuff about your education, any books or articles you’ve written, and professional organizations you belong to.
This is not romantic stuff. If you write it well, though, it won’t be dull. And when people finish reading it, they will know what you do and why they may want to talk to you.