Whether you aim to deliver a concise “elevator pitch” about your latest business venture or convince your next employer to hire you before the competition does, you need a coherent and compelling story that gets the message across with few words to spare.
In the context of your personal website, any professional web properties you control, and your publicly visible social media profiles, the vehicle for this message is your “About” page, or whatever the property happens to call it. Bio, blurb, “about me” — it’s all basically the same.
Which means the strategies for creating a winning “About” page or blurb or bio are remarkably consistent. If you’re ready to tell your audience what you stand for and why they should care, you’ll want to incorporate them into your website, clips pages, and social media content as soon as you’re able.
- Include a Bright, Eye-Catching Photo (Not Necessarily a Professional Headshot)
Wherever possible, your “About” page or blurb or bio should include an eye-catching, colorful photo in which you’re prominently featured but not necessarily dominant. In other words, this doesn’t have to be a professional headshot in the traditional sense. It does have to be a professional-type photo, meaning a photo you’d be comfortable displaying on LinkedIn.
If you do choose to go with a traditional headshot and don’t want to pay for one, follow these business headshot tips from marketing expert Annie Pilon.
- Trace the Entire Arc of Your Career…
Your “About” page should trace the entire arc of your career, beginning with the first position relevant to your current line of work. If you’ve been in the same business most of your adult life, your bio will cover the whole thing. The “About” page for Paul Esterhuizen, a South African entrepreneur is a good example of what that looks like.
- …But Spend More Time Focusing on the Recent Past
Even if your entire career is relevant to present-day readers, do spend more time focusing on your most recent positions and roles, as these will be more relevant in the future. A single paragraph should cover all but your two most recent roles.
- Call Out Two or Three Big Professional Victories
Devote several sentences to recent professional victories that you have reason to believe your audience wants to know more about. These should be victories achieved in your current role and should be easy enough for non-experts (your readers) to understand.
- List Your Competencies Without Getting Too Repetitive
While avoiding a droning laundry list of your professional certifications or recognized competencies, spend two or three sentences covering the most relevant and important to your current role. A bullet list might work better if it’s important to list more than six certifications or competencies, but remember to avoid repetitiveness.
- Link to Evidence of Your Achievements
The more verifiable evidence of your professional achievements and certifications, the better. Not that your readers don’t trust you; it’s just a good habit to get into.
- Link Out to Your Top Social Media Profiles
This is an easy addition to any “About” page that’s sure to increase engagement with your professional web presence. It also avoids the quandary of whether to include direct contact information on your website bio. LinkedIn messages and Twitter DMs are much less intrusive than spam calls or emails.
- List and Link Out to Major Media Mentions
If you’ve been fortunate enough to gain some earned media in the course of your career, list and link to the most important mentions. Include a summary of each mention in case the destination URL changes or disappears.
- Include Some Personal Color in the Second Half
It’s okay to talk about your family, kids, pets, hobbies, as long as you keep the discussion brief, light, and sequestered in the back half of your bio. Readers do want to know what makes you “you,” and this is a great way to tell them, but don’t overshare.
- Conclude With a Clear Call to Action
Wrap up your bio with a concise call to action, a directive that tells readers what to do next if they’re so inclined. “Get in touch” suffices more often than not.
Your “About” Page Deserves Better
No matter where it lives or what story it tells, your online bio deserves better. Using the tactics we’ve explored here, you can shape it into something truly memorable: a lively, compelling description of your personal and professional value.
Don’t worry. It won’t take as long as you might fear to get this done. And the upside is well worth whatever time you do end up investing in the endeavor.