Many of us have to write professional bios. Whether it’s for your LinkedIn summary, your company’s website, your personal website or for a speaking gig.
And when someone asks you to send the bio … it doesn’t feel easy to pull one together.
How do you talk about your work history in an interesting way that makes you look accomplished? And how do you sound accomplished without looking like you’re bragging?
What do you do say? What are you supposed to say?
Don’t worry, I’ve got you.
When someone is asking for or reading your bio, there are 5 questions they’d like you to answer. If you answer these questions in your bio, you’ll have a top notch professional bio.
#1 – Who are you writing the bio for?
What makes a bio interesting is if it feels relevant to the reader.
Think about who’s going to be reading it and what they’ll be most interested in learning about you.
So take a moment and write a list of the different types of people who would be interested in your bio. This could be clients, future employers, blog readers or someone else. Each group of people are your segments.
Get clear on the most important segment you want to address and write the bio for them.
#2 – What problems do you help them solve?
Think about what your segment is most interested in learning about you. Usually the number one thing people want to know in a professional context is “Why should I know you? What can you do for me?”
An easy way to answer this is to list the most common problems and challenges your segment has. List all the things you imagine that keep them up at night, things they worry about or get stressed about. Imagine their goals, their dreams and what problems they wish they could solve to achieve their goals.
When you’ve finished writing the list, identify the problems you’ve helped people or companies like your segment solve. The problems you’re great at solving should form the basis of your bio.
You can do this by communicating your area of expertise is around solving that particular problem. This way your bio is more relevant and interesting than talking about your irrelevant and long work history.
#3 – What gives you credibility?
If there was one time to name drop, now would be it.
Show them you’re legit by naming some of the renown brands or companies you’ve worked with. List the media outlets you’ve been featured in. Share the reputable universities you studied at.
And most importantly, mention some measurable results you’ve helped people or companies achieve.
If you haven’t worked with renown brands or people, have never been mentioned in the media nor have studied at an ivy league school, that’s okay!
Focus on what you have achieved that shows you’re results driven, talented and qualified.
If you want to be more credible in the future, get clear on what you need to do build up your credibility. These things don’t happen by accident. They happen by design.
#4 – How much do people want to know about you?
How much people want to know is dependent on where your bio is being read.
So get clear on where your bio is being read and how much people are expecting to read about you.
I’ve come to learn there are four expectations:
(a) The 1 sentence headline
This can be your LinkedIn headline, social media profile bio or a place where you literally have a few words to describe who you are and what you do
(b) The 2 to 4 sentence preview
This is where people want to know more than just a few words, but they don’t want your full bio. Sort of like a preview to your bio. Event organisors that have invited you to speak, bloggers and press love these bios because it gets straight to the point.
(c) The short, professional and credible bio (2 to 3 paragraphs)
Here people want to know details about what you do, where you’ve worked and see what makes you credible. These bios are great for personal websites and LinkedIn summaries.
(d) The longer, professional and personal bio (3 to 5 paragraphs)
This bio is perfect if you want people to connect with not only your professional background, but who you are as an individual. Here you’ll not only share short paragraphs on what you do and what makes you credible, you’ll also open up about something a little personal too.
For example, you could mention what you like to do in your spare time or tell a story about what inspired you to do what you do. These bios are great on your personal website because they help you connect with your readers.
Your bio needs to be written in all four versions.
While it sounds like a lot, it’s actually not. First you start with your headline bio, then build on this with your preview, then build on this with your short bio and then you build on this with your longer bio.
You can use a lot of the same sentences. With each version, you simply add a little more juicy information about you.
Having all of these versions will help you have the perfect bio on hand for whatever situation.
#5 – How do you talk?
In the ideal world, when people meet you for the first time they’d ask you who you are and what you do.
But if they’ve come across you online, they don’t have a chance of getting that meaningful introduction.
That’s what your bio is for. It’s not to talk about your history, but to rather introduce yourself to your ideal reader.
The best bios reflect who you are. This includes how you talk about yourself to other people in person. You want to translate this tone of voice onto your bio.
The easiest way to do this is to write your bio in first person, as if you’re in direct communication with the reader.
This’ll make your bio feel more approachable, more interesting and you’ll feel like someone worth connecting with in real life.
However if the person asking for your bio isn’t a reader, and is instead a networker, press or event organisor and needs a blurb to introduce you to their readers, write in third person.
Give them the key things they need to know to feel confident and happy introducing you to their tribe.
My intention is to help you gain a deeper understanding of how to write a professional bio. So please leave a comment below sharing what you too have learned about writing bios.
Hundreds of incredible people read this blog every week and your comment may help someone else get a breakthrough. I can’t wait to read your comment.