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Summary:

We don’t often give much thought to our bios, even though they’re actually important and a big part of everything we do online. They’re on the “About” pages on our web sites, in our profiles at social networks, and in pitches that we send out. Often, […]

name tagWe don’t often give much thought to our bios, even though they’re actually important and a big part of everything we do online. They’re on the “About” pages on our web sites, in our profiles at social networks, and in pitches that we send out.

Often, we fill out the fields provided by social networking sites like we’re filling out some random form that we don’t intend for anyone else to see, not giving it very much thought. It isn’t until we see how the information is displayed on our profiles that we even take notice.

“About” pages are often even worse. (I know. I build web sites every day, and I see how clients struggle with what to put on them.) They are frequently forced, flat and not at all engaging.

Think about it. Have you ever gone to an in-person networking event or even a class where the participants were asked to introduce themselves? Every person stands up and works his or her way through an uncomfortable 30 seconds in the spotlight. “Hi, my name is Bob. I’m a coach with Lifeline Consulting. I’ve been in business for nine years. I specialize in helping business professionals, and if you’d like to know more about me or my company, please check out my web site. Blah, blah, blah.”

Every once in a while, though, you’ll hear someone give a very compelling introduction that makes everyone in the room laugh or smile and perk up with enthusiasm and interest. Maybe the person says something about climbing Mount Everest or working alongside his potbelly pig, Mr. Bojangles. Whatever it is, it’s attention-grabbing and memorable, and chances are, he’s the only person you’ll remember from the event. In fact, you’ll probably never forget him.

The Internet is just one big series of personal introductions, except this time, we aren’t dreading it, because we aren’t even thinking about it. Every time someone visits your profile, sees your photo (or lack thereof) within a network, or visits your web site, you’re making an impression (or not), so it’s important to make sure that you’re telling a story that grabs the attention of your ideal client and target audience.

I recently spent time with publicity expert Nancy Juetten of Main Street Media Savvy, and we had several discussions about personal bios and the importance of a compelling story. Nancy had just completed a book on the topic, and I was very interested in learning how it might help my clients with their bios. At the end of our time together, I realized that my own profiles and “About” pages needed some attention.

She gave a few helpful tips. Most importantly, you have to be authentic. She also shared her four cornerstones of an exceptional bio, which include:

  1. Stunning results. You have to be able to show how you help people. What have you done for your clients? Do you have several testimonials from satisfied customers to demonstrate your abilities and unique skill set?
  2. Succinct stories. Why did you get into your line of work? Is this something you imagined doing when you were a child? Is it something you’ve always had a knack for? Do you have specific stories of how you ended up where you are?
  3. Sassy soundbites. Nancy shared a story of Kim Duke, sales trainer and founder of SalesDivas.com, whose personal soundbite is that she believes “cold calling is best left in the freezer,” which is a much more interesting way of saying that she doesn’t believe in the tactic. What soundbites could you share about you, your beliefs, or your business?
  4. Social information to help ideal clients connect. Do you love adventure? Are you an artist in your off time? Do you love horses? What about you might be attractive to others and help your ideal clients connect with you?

A big take-away from my time with Nancy was that we shouldn’t just “play it safe and only share facts about our credentials, clients lists and work experience.” Instead, we should “share our passions, our personalities and our unique perspectives that set us apart and make us memorable.” This is what makes people connect with us, and at the end of the day, our businesses come down to the relationships we establish with our customers and clients.

How do you set yourself apart by sharing a unique and memorable story? Have you seen an increase in the number or quality of clients coming your way as a result of being more personal and compelling?

Image from Flickr by Swift Benjamin

  1. Amber, I’d say that you are always making an impression. Whether good or bad, you are making an impression. Thanks for sharing this. I’ve obviously got some work to do on my bio now.

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    1. Glad it helped, Jarrod. I still have work to do on my bio!

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      1. Indeed. This gets the gears in my head spinning a little bit… Is there an app or utility that will allow you to manage your bio for all your social networking profiles? Could that be done using a WordPress plugin? My thought here is that if we follow the advice you have shared here Amber, we will want to have consistency across all our social networks and our blogs. Being that our blog should be our hub, or mothership, perhaps a WordPress plugin that parses the About Me info and pushes it to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. would be in order here.

        Thoughts anyone???

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  2. Hi Amber,

    Thanks for sharing these “Bye-Bye Boring Bio” tips with the readers of Web Worker Daily. Who we are and how we serve TODAY may differ from one year ago. After all, who among us is not on some path to reinvention? That said, make today the day you:

    Revisit your bio.
    Ask yourself if the story is still relevant.
    Refine your message.
    Refresh your approach.
    Relaunch your profile.

    We are all a work in process, so let’s make sure our current stories reflect that.

    Keep those fabulous posts flowing!

    Nancy Juetten

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    1. Thanks for the added insight, Nancy! I’m definitely inspired to take action on my own bios after speaking with you. I think the process of improving them will be very helpful for fine-tuning my own vision and plans for my business.

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  3. [...] and leave my biography information blank.  I just don’t know what to write.  In the article The Importance of a Compelling Bio Amber Riviere shares, not only a fantastic name with yours truly, but also the benefits of allowing [...]

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  4. Good tips – struggle? Why yes I do, thank you very much.

    Recently I was asked to turn in bios for two sites I’m blogging for. I finally got them narrowed down to about 4-5 paragraphs. The online editor wrote back with a chuckle, “Um, 50-60 words please.”

    But how in the world can I convince people how awesome and fantastic I am in 60 words? Well, and that’s exactly the point. I love my new 56 word bio!

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  5. Not to mention the value a good bio has to SEO and Personal Branding…

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  6. [...] page or social network profile, you have an opportunity to connect with that person and say something memorable that will help you stand out in his or her mind. By sharing what Nancy calls “succinct [...]

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  7. [...] good bio shares your experience, builds your credibility, makes a first impression and displays your [...]

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  8. [...] resources. Your tweets are number one in attracting your followers. However, writers still need a good bio because many Twitter users don’t follow someone who lacks a bio or creates a useless [...]

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  9. I never thought about the importance of the Bio or About page, but this article showed me the light! Good stuff.

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