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, 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:
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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