Look What’s Talking!
I’ve focused on how important your business headshot is, but how much attention did you pay to your business bio before it went online?
I’m amazed at the looks I get when I ask executives if they know that their business bio is a brand document for themselves and their organizations. In fact, you really should have more than one. There is not a one-size-fits-all when it comes to your bio. Let’s draft one that works.
First, gather the materials you need: your most up-to-date CV, your current business bio, any collateral that includes quotes or other biographical information about you. Then read through your documents and highlight lines or phrases you like. Now, draft the best parts in a narrative. Create a beginning, middle and end. You may need to start with what you do now, and that’s fine. Just make sure the next parts move toward something. Perhaps you wrap with something more personal, like a hobby or a family factoid.
Internal vs. external bio
For this first version, it’s OK if you use company lingo. That’s why I call this one your internal bio. If you work for an organization that maintains internal information about employees that only other employees can see, you are a candidate for this version. But if this bio will be viewed by people who might not understand company jargon or acronyms, go right to what I call the external bio.
The external bio can also flow from your first version, but you should plan to avoid jargon and internal corporate terminology, so anyone reading it will understand what you do, regardless of the organization they belong to. Sometimes your external bio can be a good basis for a social media bio on platforms such as LinkedIn. But remember, your LinkedIn audience may be different from those who only read your company bio online or in a document format. Try to customize by the anticipated reader. Plus, realize that your external bio, as well as your LinkedIn bio, should be updated regularly.
How do you stay on top of keeping things fresh? “At the end of each week, when you block time to do your weekly business to-dos or record keeping, add bullet points that cover highlights from your week at work. Keep a file on your computer dedicated to these regular updates,” suggests Bob Shomper, program director at WCCO Radio.
Now when you’re asked to speak on behalf of the company or give a media interview and they want a copy of your bio, you have a fresh version ready to go.
When it comes to social media, LinkedIn is where most business people need to focus. There are a wealth of connections to be made, whether you’re looking for a job or growing your brand. The summary section of the LinkedIn profile is your bio. Write it first-person about yourself, not as if it were written about you by someone else. You can draw from the regular highlights list you’re keeping to update your LinkedIn bio once a quarter—more often if you’re in a fast-paced industry that wants to check out your most recent best work now.
Your first and last impression
Your business bio makes an impression whether it lives on a company website, is seen in a program for an event or when you’re applying for a job.
“On average, I get 20 to 30 rÃ©sumÃ©s cold each week. I go through only a handful of them,“ says Roshan Rajkumar, hiring partner for the Minneapolis office of Bowman and Brooke law firm. “Initial biographical information, when creatively presented, could make me pick up the phone immediately and do a phone screen. Or it may cause me to go immediately to LinkedIn and a candidate’s other online information.”
Creativity is key. Remember “intentionality.” If you are looking for a job or trying to get a promotion, there is no stock approach to a bio. Do some audience analysis about those doing the hiring. Audience analysis helps you discover what makes your target tick. You are selling yourself; no one is going to be more focused on selling you than you are.
“Knowledge and experience beat youth and inexperience every time,” relays Shomper. “If you really want a position, keep on the radar of the prospective employer.” Your business bio can tell the story behind your rÃ©sumÃ©. If a prospective employer sees the rÃ©sumÃ© first, your bio should be ready to sell.
“I’m currently looking for a food law attorney,” shares Rajkumar (yes, he is also my brother). “The bio can play a role when I’m looking for a specific need to confirm what I see on the rÃ©sumÃ© or even enhance the line items on a rÃ©sumÃ©. If I see food law or food regulatory anywhere, that’s going to grab my attention.”
Gaining the interest and attention of your reader is the major role of any business bio. Look at it as a narrative document rather than a line-by-line listing of accomplishments. If you put some time in now to make sure your business bio is powerful, you will have a better year ahead. Here’s to your wow!
Roshini Rajkumar is a communication coach, host of News & Views on WCCO Radio, and author of Communicate That! For additional communication tips, visit CommunicateThatBook.com.