Writing the Perfect Executive Bio
“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”
“So tell me about yourself?”
It’s the question we have all heard a dozen times. Most likely it occurs in an interview, and what do you do? Well, you freeze, of course! Maybe it is because you fear sounding boring or you wonder if you will say just the right thing to make the impression you want. Coming up with a winning biography is the same way, and can be challenging no matter how accomplished you are.
Biographies make a lasting impression. Everyone that reads your bio will likely remember a thing or two they read about you. Forever. As an executive, it is especially important that your bio make a good, lasting impression and stand out. Your bio may be enough to convince someone to choose to do business with you over your competition, so you must make it count!
Below we have put together a simple formula for you to follow to help craft your bio, as well as a few helpful tips and tricks to remember while proofreading it. Because you should always proof your bio. Better yet, let someone else do it! They’ll see something you missed, almost every time.
Start it off Right
Start with a compelling statement that lets the reader know from the get-go who you are and what you stand for. Your role as principal of your company should be clear right away, as well as your passion for what you do.
Once you let the reader know who you are and what your position entails, explain how you got there. This should include things such as work history, professional memberships, degrees and designations.
Your entire work history is not relevant. For example, if you are a former restaurant manager, most people wouldn’t see that as an important detail in your bio as a financial advisor. Unless you are going after other people in the restaurant industry as potential clients, something like that isn’t really essential. Stick to the positions that specifically prove your knowledge in your current industry or are rather prestigious.
Degrees and Designations
There is nothing wrong with getting a bachelor’s degree in art. However, if it is not relevant to your position, do not mention the subject specifically. Having varying interests and knowledge is great, but disclosing everything can make you seem a little wishy-washy in your bio. If you are a financial advisor, demonstrating your expertise by listing designations and describing what they mean can certainly put someone at ease that is on the fence about doing business with you.
Whether it is something local, like a chamber of commerce membership, or national, like NAIFA®, memberships prove your commitment to professional growth and credibility.
Lifting the veil and showing who you are, as much as you are comfortable, is always a good thing. Are you involved with a local charity that benefits the homeless? Do you watch your kids play soccer every weekend? Do you spend all your free time studying martial arts? Not only do these things make you more human to those who don’t know you, but they increase the chances of someone identifying with you based on shared similarities. If nothing else, they can be talking points that open the door to becoming more personal with your clients.
Know Your Audience
All marketing decisions start with the same question: “Who are you talking to?” Many of the details of your bio will be the same, but how you present them in different industries and for different clients will vary. There are different facts you may need to make known if the goal of your bio is having more opportunities to speak at events, to earn new clients or to prove your expertise in an interview with the media.
Sometimes we hear from clients that are particularly accomplished that they don’t want to take the time to list out every industry award. We think this is a big mistake. Your clients are outside of your industry. If we show them two bios and the only difference between you and your competition down the street is that your competitor lists his awards, who do you think the potential clients will choose? Even the simplest, most easy to achieve of these accomplishments are important to someone that isn’t educated in the industry. Don’t sell yourself short by not taking the time to give someone the full picture of your achievements.
We look at countless websites, and there are always a few things that pain us to see. First of all, it can be off-putting when your team’s bios do not match in style. It seems haphazardly thrown together, and of course that is not the kind of message you want to send to prospective clients. Also, as principal of your company, ALWAYS make sure you have a bio and that it is longer and more thorough than the other members of your team. Nothing is worse than having no bio at all, or having an executive assistant that appears more accomplished than his or her boss. Decide what voice everyone’s bios will be written in as well. For most businesses, third person makes more sense, but for your business, maybe a more casual first person approach is better.
We write our bios in a way where they will age well. If you tell us you have been married for 24 years, we will write “more than 20.” Your nine-year-old son and six-year-old daughter are your “young children.” Although it is ideal to review your bio every year and make necessary changes, make it easy to edit year after year.
A Final Tip
Designating one person on your team to write your bios is a great way to start if you have someone particularly skilled in writing. This keeps a certain style and consistency throughout all your team members’ bios.
Do you have a bio you need a second set of eyes on? Reach out! We’d love to help!