A PROFESSIONAL BIO IS ONE THE FIRST THINGS A BUSINESS OWNER NEEDS TO THINK ABOUT.
A professional bio lets potential clients know who you are and why you are awesome. It is needed on virtually all marketing materials, websites and social media outlets - not to mention bylines for your own blogging and any writing or speaking that you may do. A great bio needs to stand out. It needs to attract the reader and immediately pull him into your story. A great bio cannot be boring, but it can be long(ish) because a great bio is adaptable in length so that no matter the medium, you can quickly (or in great detail) highlight what makes you interesting and worthy of being hired.
First impressions matter - they can make or break you. Use these SIX tips to introduce yourself in a way that establishes credibility and captures interest.
Take your bio from ho-hum level to ROCKSTAR!
1. To powerfully introduce yourself, you will want a nice mix of bragging about your expertise and experience served alongside a side of humility and humanity.
That's not as complicated as it sounds. You know the cool stuff you have done, you also know the parts of your life that make you an interesting person outside of what you do for work so don't be afraid to mention that you live with your family and a blind dog you adore or that when you are not doula-ing you love petting your backyard chickens. Also don't be afraid to mention that you are an expert, respected by your professional peers, that you are certified and that your skills are a great match for what your potential clients are looking for.
2. The big debate: First person or Third person?
In the past, third person was the professional standard in bios. However with the popularity of marketing via the more casual medium of social media, first person has become more widely accepted and even expected. Your bio should be easy to adapt into first or third person so that you can allow the context to determine which tense is appropriate. In all likelihood you will find yourself using both in different places and that's OK. In fact, adapting to your context can make you look more professional. Ever read a bio that was in third person that just sounded weird...since none of us actually talk about ourselves in third person or a business whose marketing keeps saying "we" when as far as you can tell it's just a one (wo)man show? It makes for an odd read and a less powerful bio when your content does not match context.
3. Know your goals to avoid TMI.
In birth work, people often want to hire a "person" as well as hire a service. Your bio can be the first step in introducing yourself as you start to build a relationship with people. However it definitely should not be a comprehensive version of you or your complete life story. A bio is simply you choosing the parts of your background and current situation that you believe will resonate with the audience who will be seeing your bio.
Once again, audience and context matters. Sometimes you can (and should) share more details about your life than others. Before publishing or sending a bio off to your next speaking gig, do a quick TMI test. Does it pass?
4. Mark the date. Save time.
When describing milestones in a bio, use an actual year date. This will save you from having to continually update.
Maria has been enjoying coffee and consulting for 10 years.
Maria has been enjoying coffee and consulting since 2007.
If I used the first sentence I would have to update that sentence every single year (enjoying coffee and consulting 11 years, 12 years, 13 years and on and on until I hated coffee). See how this trick will save you time?
5. What cool stuff is in your background that can be used creatively?
Maria has a Master’s Degree in Constitutional Law where she learned to read complex research and opinions. This comes in handy helping couples understand evidenced based care.
Do you see what I did there? I have a degree in a really random subject, but I pulled it into my current role and made it applicable. - at least a little bit. When I use this bit in my bio, if nothing else it usually gets people talking and I get questions about it in interviews.
6. Add just a bit of personality.
You are a fun person. You have an interesting life! Tell us a little about it and do so in a way that makes us want to connect with you. On this website, we often talk about tacos or coffee. We have impressed everyone (we hope) with our experience and expertise in training birth workers and we are fun people to have meals and snacks with. Now people want to take our doula training and talk about tacos with us. (and we are ALWAYS up for talking about tacos...)
Now go look at your bio! If it feels a little ho hum, add a few of these ideas and you will look like the fascinating rockstar you are (or want to be) in no time!