Seven mistakes to avoid in your professional bio
A professional bio is something that everybody needs, but not everybody bothers to write. That’s a missed opportunity, since a bio can help you get hired, gain visibility and win you serious respect. But be sure to avoid these common mistakes when you do write one.
1. A lack of consistency.
You want to communicate who you are and what you do in a way that spans multiple websites. This means that all bios — from your personal website to your LinkedIn profile to your company’s site — need to be the same.
2. The information is stale.
Updating your bio regularly is very important. Every six months you should be revisiting your bio to see what has changed and what other experience you have accrued.
3. There are no links.
Unless your bio is printed out on paper, such as in a pamphlet for a panel, link to your work. If you discuss running a campaign for a new product, show the outcome. Link to pieces you’ve written, press releases about an award, or your personal website.
4. Using weak verbs.
A cardinal sin is using the passive voice. You are a person who has done things, so you need to write it that way — like you are proud and you mean it.
5. Making a simple list.
A bio isn’t just a list of jobs followed by your degrees. A bio is a chance to sing your own praises about prizes, things you’ve written, positions you have held. However, don’t throw in the kitchen sink. Every accomplishment you include should be there for a reason.
6. Using a first name.
“William is an expert in iambic pentameter and revenge plots” does not sound as professional as saying that “Shakespeare” is an expert in those things. Not only is using your last name more professional, it’s also more memorable, since last names tend to be rarer than first names.
7. There are no calls to action.
Your bio is a marketing tool for your business and for your career. If you speak, link to how to book you. If you offer an online course, link to that too. It would be a waste to have someone read your bio and not become a potential customer.
Copyright Harvard Business Review 2015
Previously published in The Irish Times.
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