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Thinking about writing your small business or entrepreneur bio?  Great idea, because it’s an important document that shapes first impressions of you and your company.

A strong entrepreneur biography written in the correct style and format will positively reflect who you are and what you have accomplished in your career. Here are  9 important points to consider when writing your entrepreneur bio.

1. Define your audience

The first step when writing an entrepreneur bio requires a bit of analysis. You need to ask yourself what you want your bio to accomplish. Is it to get investors? If so, you’ll want to emphasize your financial track record and and profit potential. On the other hand, if the purpose of your bio is to introduce you as a keynote speaker at an industry conference, you may choose to put more emphasis on your status as an expert in your field.

2. Begin with a clear statement

After you’ve determined the purpose of your professional bio, you can start to write. The first sentence of your bio should state WHO you are and WHAT you do.

Here’s an example: _________ (your name) has been an entrepreneur and a __________ (another role, normally describing your professional expertise, e.g. plastics consultant) since ____ (year).

Or you could start with something like this: _________ (your name) started __________ (company name) in ______ (year).

Notice both these opening sentences quickly and concisely give your basic information and let the reader know WHO and WHAT the bio is about.

3. Establish your credibility

For best results, waste no time establishing your credibility. Quite often, people will only read the first one or two sentences so you want to make a strong impression right away.

Your second sentence can establish your credibility as someone worth listening to simply by writing something like this:

He/She has over ___ (number) years of experience in ________, _________,  and ________ (the fields or disciplines that you have worked in).

4. Keep it short

It’s easy to fill up a personal bio with so many facts and numbers that you leave your readers glassy-eyed. Your bio should not be a boring list of certifications and former positions. It should state in simple language what you have to offer potential investors, clients or audiences.

5. Avoid jargon

The most effective professional bios use clear, simple language. Think about really excellent print advertisements: the best ones get their message across with simple but punchy language. It is possible to describe your background without requiring your readers to get out a dictionary!

6. Get it all down and then edit

The first draft of your entrepreneur biography will likely be quite long. That’s OK. It’s better to get all your ideas down and then edit out the unnecessary parts, than to sit in front of a blank screen paralyzed by trying to get it perfect right off the bat.

After you’ve listed everything you have done and what you have to offer, it’s time for the red pen. Trim the fat – all of it. Of each piece of information ask, “Do they really need to know this?” Readers, especially online readers, get distracted quickly. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of keeping your bio short and concise.

7. Choose the most flattering bits

What should be cut during the edit? What you decide to include may be different depending upon which audience your bio is intended for, but the bottom line is: Leave out anything that does not present you at your best.

Remember, a bio is not a resume. You are under no obligation to include your entire work history. That’s what resumes are for. In contrast, a bio is a document meant to present you in the most advantageous way.

For example, if you are an on-the-job learner who bypassed college, leave out a discussion of education. Anyone who really wants to know can contact you. Likewise, did you win an award that is recognized within your industry but not heard of outside of it? Leave it out unless your intended audience is industry-specific.

8. Use numbers

Provide data to validate your successes. Do you have any hard numbers on percentage of growth? Market share? Dollar volume? Put this data in context by contrasting it against previous results or larger industry trends. For example:

Under ______’s (your name) leadership, __________ (company or division name) grew from/achieved/improved (choose one of the foregoing) ___________ (quantifiable business result you achieved).

9. Provide links for more information

If you are writing an online bio, include links to your company’s website,  relevant publications you have authored, and any social media profile you have set up for business purposes.  If you do this, remember to keep those links and profiles updated.

If you put the same energy and creativity into writing your bio as you do into developing your business ideas, you will certainly come up with an effective professional bio. One final tip: Ask the best writer you know to edit your bio, or consider using a professionally written entrepreneur bio template to save time and hassle. Good luck!

business person writing executive bioYour senior executive bio shapes first impressions of you and your company. It’s a critically important marketing tool that sells you and your competence at your job.

A strong executive biography written in the correct style and format will positively reflect who you are and what you have accomplished in your career.

Here are  9 important points to consider when writing your executive bio.

1. Determine your target audience and what you are “selling” them

Your executive bio is selling a product, and that product is you. So be sure to highlight the features that will be of interest to your target audience (yes, this means that you will have more than one version of your bio).

If your target audience is prospective investors, you might be selling them on your entrepreneurial vision coupled with fiscal responsibility.

On the other hand, if your target audience is industry experts at a conference, you will want to write a short summary of your professional qualifications and recent accomplishments.

If your target audience is your daughter’s high school career planning class, you might emphasize the educational requirements of your type of work.

2. Begin with a clear statement of your current position

You’d be surprised how often I read to the end of a professional bio only to scratch my head and ask “what job do they actually do?” So begin with a clear statement of your current position.

__________ (your name) is the/a/an __________ (your job title, e.g. Chief Operating Officer; Regional Sales Executive) at _________ (your company or organization), with responsibility for __________ (your overall responsibility).

Another way to word it:

__________ (your name) is the __________ (your job title) at _________ (your company or organization), a _______________ (description of the company, e.g. a full-service public relations firm serving X industry).

3. Be strategic in what you include

What you decide to include and exclude speaks volumes about what you think is important. For example, if you include information about job advancement but fail to mention community and industry involvement, it implies that you don’t get involved in anything outside the office. This is not necessarily a bad thing if that is what you want to convey; just be aware of the impression you are leaving.

Here is one way to write the community and industry involvement section of your bio:

He/she is a member of the __________________ (names of organizations you belong to e.g. United Way; International Executive Service Corps; [local] Chamber of Commerce) and has served as the ___________________ (position name, e.g. president, chairperson) of the ________________ (name of committee or board). He/she has also done voluntary work for ________________ (name of organization) and has initiated community programs such as ___________________ (name of initiative).

4. Choose your writing style carefully

The writing style you use gives an impression of your own style. Remember, most people reading your executive bio have not met you yet. All they know of you is what they glean from the written page.

Think of it this way: formal language implies a formal person. Poor grammar suggests an uneducated person. Jargon and big words gives the impression of someone who is more interested in impressing others than in communicating clearly.

Fortunately, writing style is one of the easiest bio writing challenges to overcome. Ask the best writer you know to edit your bio, or consider using a professionally written executive bio template to ensure your bio uses the correct style and format.

5. When in doubt, leave it out

The most common mistake people make when writing a professional bio is to make it too long. To begin, write out everything that you think is important. Then go through your bio with a red pen and edit ruthlessly. Cut out anything that does not add value. For every piece of information, ask yourself  “is this really necessary?”

6. Use numbers

Provide data to validate your successes. Do you have any hard numbers on percentage of growth? Market share? Dollar volume? Put this data in context by contrasting it against previous results or larger industry trends. For example:

Under ______’s (your name) leadership, __________ (company or division name) grew from/achieved/improved (choose one of the foregoing) ___________ (quantifiable business result you achieved).

7. Include links to supporting material

In your online biography, you have the opportunity to link to supporting material such as client lists, white papers, magazine articles or interviews. Put that material on dedicated pages on your website, and link to it. You can also link to your executive resume or cv if you think readers will be looking for a complete work history.

8. Include personal information strategically

Although personal information is optional in a professional bio, I recommend including it in a strategic manner.

  • Are you married with children? This suggests stability and trustworthiness, so leverage it.
  • Do you run marathons? That conveys determination, commitment and energy.
  • Play the cello? You have an artistic side, and an appreciation for aesthetics.
  • Scuba dive with sharks? You’re an idiot (just joking).

Including a bit of personal information humanizes you, creates connection, and subtly reinforces your best qualities.  Don’t forget to mix in impressive life experiences, such as military service or a Peace Corps stint.

If you decide to include personal information in your professional bio, keep it brief and place it at the end of your bio.  Here’s an easy fill-in-the-blanks template for writing the personal information section of an executive biography:

___________________ (your name) lives in ________________ (where you live) with his/her ____________ (wife; husband; partner) ___________ (OPTIONAL: name of significant other) and their ___________ (number) _____________ (children; cats; dogs). When not working,  __________ (your name) enjoys  ______________ (your hobbies).  ________________ (your name) can be reached at _________________ (your email address or web site).

9. Skip anything that doesn’t give the best impression

Unlike a resume, a professional bio doesn’t have to address your entire career history. If there’s something you want to leave out, go ahead! Remember, it’s a marketing document so just include the things that put you in the best light.

A common question I get is “I don’t have a degree. How do I handle that in my bio?” The answer is, just leave it out. You don’t have to address education if you don’t want to.

However, if you’ve completed some post-secondary courses but didn’t get a degree, you can use the time-honored strategy of “studied at”. To do that, simply write “_________ (your name) studied at X college” instead of “_______ (your name) received a degree from X college”.

A Magical Autobiography Example

by Barbra Sundquist

magician-autobiography

Scott Lesovic has a job many people would envy: bringing the wonder of magic to children and adults.  Scott’s a professional magician and an ambulance attendant. He asked me to review his magician’s autobiography to make sure it presents him in the best light. Let’s start by taking a look at Scott’s current bio.

Original version of Scott’s bio

When you experience magic every day, where do you go from there?
Magician Scott Lesovic knows…you take others along for a magical ride.
Imagine being 4 years old, seeing a magician perform miracles on TV, and making a life decision that Magic was to be your chosen career path. Sound impossible? Well not for professional magician Scott Lesovic.

Scott first got bit with the magic bug at the age of 4, while watching David Copperfield perform on one of his national TV specials. Inspired by what he saw, the young Scott attempted to duplicate Copperfield’s trick showing everyone he came in contact with, whether he knew them or not. This was Scott’s taste of being in the spot light. Furthering his interest in the art of prestidigitation, Scott’s parents, Edward & Rose Marie, bought him, his first magic set at the age of five. Overwhelmed, by how much magic was in one little box, Scott DOVE IN head first and thus began the pursuit of a career in conjuring.

By age 7 – he was now performing in front of audiences of friends & family as well as his fellow scout members – something that Scott would also develop into a passion, his love for outdoors and scouting.

Off in the woods, Scott honed his magic performing for the scouts and leaders at Heritage Reservation, a Boy Scout camp. As part of the camp staff, he used his magical talents not only to purely entertain, but also calm homesick scouts and convince them to stay on for the week. Scott stretched his show building skills by making magic to fit the different themes that rotated through the camp each year. He performed as Merlin the Wizard from King Arthur’s Court, snake oil salesman from the Wild West. During the 9 years working at the camp, Scott grew not only in magic, but teaching, business, and first aid. Somewhere in that mix, he found the time to continue on his own scouting career and earned the rank of Eagle Scout, something only 2% of all Boy Scouts ever achieve.

During the winter months, Scott works on an ambulance. He uses his talents in magic and showmanship to calm scared children and adults alike during a potentially frightening emergency situation while still doing every physical thing possible to care for that person

Revised version of Scott’s bio

Imagine being four years old, seeing a magician perform miracles on TV, and deciding right then and there that magic was to be your chosen career path. Sound impossible? Well, not for professional magician Scott Lesovic.

Scott was so taken with magic that he immediately started trying to duplicate the tricks he had seen. He insisted on performing magic tricks for everyone he encountered – whether he knew them or not!

When it became apparent that this was no passing fancy, Scott’s parents bought him his first magic set at the age of five. Overwhelmed, by how much magic was in one little box, Scott dove in head first and has never looked back.

By age seven Scott had combined his love of magic with his other love – the outdoors and scouting. Off in the woods, Scott honed his entertaining skills performing for the scouts and leaders at Heritage Reservation Boy Scout camp. As part of the camp staff, he used his magic talents not only to entertain, but also to calm homesick children and persuade them to stay on for the week.

As a camp leader, Scott stretched his show building skills by making magic to fit the different themes that rotated through the camp each year. He performed as Merlin the Wizard from King Arthur’s Court, a snake oil salesman from the Wild West, and _______________ (note to Scott: add one more theme example).

During his nine years working at Boy Scout camp, Scott grew not only in magic, but also in teaching, business, and first aid. Somewhere in that mix, he found the time to continue his own scouting career and earned the rank of Eagle Scout, something only 2% of all Boy Scouts ever achieve.

During the winter months, Scott works as an ambulance attendant. Although “magician” and “ambulance attendant” may sound like a strange combination of careers, in fact it is a perfect match for Scott’s background.  He uses his magic and showmanship to calm scared children and adults during emergency situations, all the while doing every physical thing possible to care for that person.

Contact Magician Scott Lesovic at __________.

Comments

Scott’s original autobiography had lots of great material for me to work with. All that was needed was some editing and polishing.

Although I liked the opening two sentences that started “When you experience magic every day…”, I thought they sounded more like a tagline than part of a biography. I could see those two sentences being used very effectively as a sidebar call-out or in the header of Scott’s website.

The only thing that I think is missing from Scott’s bio is a sense of what he can do for the customer. His bio tells me an engaging story about him, but doesn’t tell me what he can do for me. Is he available for parties? Does he teach magic classes? I’d like to know a bit more about that.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/damongman/

1. Focus on a goal

When you’re writing a regular essay, you know that you have to have a thesis to focus your paper. In the same way, a college autobiography also needs a thesis. In this case, your thesis will be your goals in life and how getting into this college program will help you achieve your goals.

An example would be if you want to become a green energy architect. Your thesis would be that you need a masters degree in architecture to achieve your goal, that this particular college has the perfect masters degree program for you, and that you are a perfect candidate for the college.

2. Give specific examples of experiences

Affirm your goal in the opening of your statement. In follow up paragraphs, document experiences in the field or during school that correlate to your goal, including the value you learned from each example. In your conclusion, summarize your experiences, what led you to the specific graduate school and why the school is the next step toward your goal.

3. Ditch the boring stuff

In a college autobiography, you should show what you believe you are capable of. Unless relevant, don’t mention where you grew up, which school you went to, or how your friends changed your life. Only mention experiences relevant to your cause that directly improve your chances of getting the scholarship or the place in the college of your choice.

4. Develop clear themes

Identify and develop the themes that run through the information you present to the admissions committee. A theme is a general category or “big idea” that applies to the most important memories of your past, such as identity (how you fit into the world around you), passion (as in lifelong interests), challenges, curiosity, learning, failure, personality, or career.

5. Avoid over-used phrases

Avoid over-used phrases such as: “meant a lot to me,” “I can contribute” and “appealing to me.” You also want to avoid statements that are broad and awkward such as: “I like helping people” and passive voice, such as “I will be” or “I am excited by.”

6. Use specific examples

Use specific examples to illustrate your personal attributes and achievements. For example, instead of saying “this was a valuable learning experience,” tell what you learned. Instead of calling yourself “a responsible individual” or a “born leader,” relate life experiences that demonstrate this.

7. Give a sense of you as a person

Along with your life experiences, include your likes/dislikes, hobbies, achievements, fun facts, or anything that helps the college admissions committee understand what makes you who you are.

8. Show you have outside interests

Be sure to include something that you recently became aware of and how you’ve involved yourself with that topic. Admissions boards want to see that you have interests outside of the classroom and will take initiative in discovering new and exciting fields of research while in school.

9. Include research credits

If you’ve already done research and published it, this is of course important information for the admissions committee. If you have unpublished work, submit it with your application, and someone from the field will judge the quality of the work. If you don’t have any prior research, you can still get in because schools are trying to judge potential to do research.

10. Look into your magic ball

Even if you haven’t decided what kind of work you want to do when you graduate, take a guess based on your current interests. Look into the future and imagine what you see yourself doing in terms of function and industry. If location or geography are important to your goal, include them. If you know the type of companies you would like to work for, you can include that information too.

It’s not written in stone: you can change your mind later. But you need to give the admissions committee an idea of your goals in life.

11. Identify both short-term and long-term goals

Your long term goals should flow logically from your short-term goals. They can be fuzzier and both in terms of direction and timing, but you should have them.

12. Have a  Plan B

What’s your Plan B? If you can’t get a job at a leading public relations firm, what do you want to do? If Plan A is investment banking, what’s Plan B? Addressing these questions will show the admissions committee that you are flexible and realistic.

 

 

photo credit: flickr.com/photos/wyoguard

schoolchildren-thailandJulienne Dimon is a program director for Action Care, and also works as a trainer, cultural proofreader and program coordinator for other training programs. She asked me to take a look at her professional bio and give her suggestions for improvement. Here’s Julienne’s bio:

Julienne Dimon has been active in the field of training and education development for thirty years, focusing on teaching English as a second language, early childhood development, soft skills training and promoting volunteerism in Thailand, Malaysia, Jordan, the central Middle East, UAE and GCC region.

Julienne has conducted programs for institutions such as the ministries of Education in Thailand, Jordan and the UAE, as well as the UNRWA Education Department and select universities in each of these countries. In addition, she has three years of experience as an ESL (English as a Second Language) tutor for primary and secondary school students in Thailand and Jordan.

She currently serves as program director for Action Care, and is working as a trainer, cultural proofreader and coordinator for English Live and other training programs conducted throughout the UAE and GCC.

I have only a few suggestions for Julienne, since her bio is already clear, concise and well-written.

My main suggestion is to pare down the number of job titles (currently she specifies “program director and coordinator and trainer, cultural proofreader”.) I realize that Julienne is making a distinction between her job for Action Care (program director) and her work with English Live and other training programs (trainer, cultural proofreader and coordinator).

However, it’s more important in a professional bio to convey a clear “brand” than to give an exhaustive list of position titles. I recommend that Julienne summarize “trainer, cultural proofreader and coordinator” into one or at the most two job titles.

I’m not sure that most readers would know what a “cultural proofreader” is. I’m not familiar with the term, but perhaps Julienne’s intended audience would understand it.

The acronyms UNRWA, UAE and GCC should be spelled out the first time they are used, like this “United Arab Emirates (UAE)”.

Reading Julienne’s bio, my thought was that she sounded like a really interesting person and I wanted to know more about her personally. I was particularly curious to know her nationality, in which country she lives (UAE or GCC?), and how she got into doing such interesting work. Julienne may want to consider adding a paragraph addressing these points.

A note on including personal information in a professional bio: it’s entirely optional and certainly not a requirement. After all, a professional bio is just that – professional – and not intended to be a complete autobiography. But it does  provide context and helps the reader relate to you as a person. If that’s your goal, then go for it!

 

photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/350org

Here’s a sample bio that you can use as a template for writing your short biography. This biography example is for a Chief Marketing Officer, but it could be modified to write a bio for any type of management or marketing position.

John Smith is Chief Marketing Officer at Handry Technologies, with responsibility for marketing programs, brand management, and corporate sponsorships. Prior to joining Handry Technologies, he worked in strategic business development and marketing at several companies, and served in staff positions in state government. Notable is his four years as Vice President of Business Development for Klinen Katz, where he directed major sponsorship and other partnering initiatives.

John’s greatest strengths are his creativity, drive and leadership. He thrives on challenges, particularly those that expand the company’s reach. His most recent project involved a strategic partnership with Jasmine International to bring Handry’s core services to the fast-growing Asia-Pacific market. This resulted in annual revenue of $16 million.

In 1998 John was recognized with the Business Person of the Year Award by the National Graphic Arts Network (NGAN) for outstanding achievement in visual communication. Other honors include being nominated for the prestigious Sunbar Award from the International Graphic Arts Education Association (IGAEA) and being named one of the Dallas Business Journal Top 40 Under 40 in 2003. John is also a frequent and highly rated speaker on industry related topics.

John is past chairman of the board of directors of the National Marketing Association and a member of the advisory board of the New Media Forum. He has also done volunteer work for the United Way, including heading up the 2004 campaign in his community.

John holds a bachelors degree from Stanford University and an MBA from Washington in St. Louis. He lives in Dallas with his wife, their three children and two cranky cats. In his free time, John likes to race sports cars and is a high-performance driving instructor.

Crystal Pina is the founder and CEO of an administrative and marketing services company. She asked me to review her short bio to see if it represents her and her company in the most effective way. Let’s start by taking a look at Crystal’s current bio.

Original version of Crystal’s bio

Described as a “blog doctor” by her peers, Crystal Pina made her way into the world of Social Media by designing and maintaining WordPress blogs and Blog sites.

As an entrepreneur and speaker, Crystal offers marketing support to coaches, business owners, entrepreneurs, and solopreneurs.

Crystal is the founder and CEO of StreamlineYourMarketing.com, a division of Visions Virtual Assistance. Crystal established Visions Virtual Assistance in 2006 to be a resource and a source of technological support to Coaches, Business Owners, Entrepreneurs and Solopreneurs who market their businesses on the internet.

An administrative office management major, Crystal always had a love for things that were neat and orderly. Being a true Aquarian, Crystal combined her love for a tightly run office with her love for technology. Crystal’s passion is helping people integrate blogging, email marketing, social networking, and social media into their marketing plan.

Crystal is a self-taught expert in HTML and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), with some knowledge of PHP and Javascript. Her team of experts helps meet all her client’s technical marketing needs.

Crystal’s clients include Reiki healers, life and business coaches, trainers, freelance independent consultants, artists, and authors. She has worked with clients in many different states in the United States as well as in Canada.

Born and raised in Massachusetts, Crystal still resides there with her husband Daniel, 5 grown children, and 5 grandchildren. In her spare time, Crystal loves to travel to warm places with palm trees.

Email Crystal now to get your business humming in the profit zone

 

Revised version of Crystal’s bio

Crystal Pina is the founder and CEO of StreamlineYourMarketing.com, a division of Visions Virtual Assistance. Crystal established Visions Virtual Assistance in 2006 to help coaches, business owners, entrepreneurs and solopreneurs market their businesses on the Internet.

Crystal’s passion is helping people integrate blogging, email marketing, social networking, and social media into their marketing plan. She has a talent for teaching people how to cut through all the noise and just do the things that matter. And for people who don’t have the time or interest to do it for themselves, Crystal does it for them.

An administrative office management major, Crystal always had a love for things that were neat and orderly. Being a true Aquarian, she combined her love for a tightly run office with her love for technology.

A self-taught expert in HTML and cascading style sheets (CSS), Crystal also has knowledge of PHP and Javascript. Her team of experts helps meet all her client’s technical and marketing needs.

Crystal’s clients include Reiki healers, life and business coaches, trainers, freelance independent consultants, artists, and authors. She has worked with clients in many different states in the United States as well as in Canada.

Born and raised in Massachusetts, Crystal still resides there with her husband Daniel, five grown children, and five grandchildren. In her time off she loves to travel to warm places with palm trees.

Email Crystal now to get your business humming in the profit zone.

Additional suggestions for Crystal 

I like the catchiness of “Blog Doctor” but I deleted it because it creates  the impression that all Crystal does is fix blogs.

I love the sentence on Crystal’s website that says “We are also entrepreneurs, just like you.” It would be effective to incorporate that sentence into the bio, perhaps as a quote. Something like this would work:

Crystal credits the success of her company to the fact that as a small businessperson herself, she understands the pressures and multiple demands her clients face. As she often says,  “We get it. We are entrepreneurs, just like our clients.”

 

photo credit: Andy Cardiff (flickr.com/photos/finefella/)

recruiting-solutions-logoBethany Brevard is the President and Founder of a recruiting company called Professional Outlook, Inc. She asked me to review her short bio to see if it represents her and her company in the most effective way. Let’s start by taking a look at Bethany’s current bio.

Original Version of Bethany’s Bio

Bethany Brevard is the President and Founder of Professional Outlook, Inc. (POI). Bethany has worked in the recruiting industry since 1989 and founded POI in 1991. Previously, she worked in the apparel manufacturing industry and retail sales management in California before relocating to the Chicago area, then finally Western Michigan to be closer to family. To contact Bethany…

Revised Version of Bethany’s Bio

Bethany Brevard is the President and Founder of Professional Outlook, the premier search firm in the United States specializing in the placement of technical and management professionals. Along with her staff of nine industry specialists, Bethany enjoys the challenge of finding just the right person for the job. With over 20 years experience in senior level recruiting, Bethany often draws upon her secret weapon: an unparalleled network of contacts and resources that can open doors like magic. To contact Bethany…

Suggestions for Bethany

When I first read Bethany’s bio, I got the impression that she was perhaps a solo professional or at most had one or two people working for her. I had no idea that her company was as big and established as it clearly is.

When I went to Bethany’s website, I realized that she was really underselling herself in her professional bio. I thought “Wow! She runs a really substantial recruiting company and I want that reflected in her bio.” That’s why I deleted the information about where she has lived over the years  in favor of highlighting her company’s capacity along with her expertise.

A professional biography is essentially a piece of marketing material. The most effective way to create marketing material is to put yourself in your readers’ shoes. They are asking”what’s in it for me? why should I care?”

For readers of Bethany’s bio, their “what’s in it for me” question will be “can she get me the result I want?” Therefore, it’s important to make it clear that she’s really good at what she does., and she gets results.  I did this by using these phrases:

  1. enjoys the challenge of finding just the right person
  2. over 20 years experience
  3. her secret weapon
  4. unparalleled network of contacts
I must say that my favorite part of Bethany’s revised bio is the reference to “her secret weapon” that “opens doors like magic”. I like that wording because it has a fun storytelling quality (and thus avoids the dry blah, blah, blah of the standard bio) while subtly implying that Bethany is a wizard at what she does!
Something Bethany may want to add to her bio is a short quotation that gives a sense of her personality, while also underscoring her expertise. For example, one of Bethany’s staff members has this excellent quote in her bio:

[Debbie's niche is] “Finding that needle in a haystack” for her clients. “Even with all of the modern technology available, I still love utilizing the phone to seek and find those special candidates for my clients. There is great enjoyment as well as satisfaction in connecting a wonderful future employee – seldom out there on a job board – with a fabulous company and everyone wins.”

Using a quotation in the subject’s own words can be a very effective selling tool in a professional bio. It’s also a great way to personalize a bio that’s written in third person.

A final point: You may have noticed that I deleted the “Inc.” after Bethany’s company name. This is simply for readability. Even if your company’s legal name includes “Inc.” or “LLC” you don’t necessarily have to include it in non-legal documents. For example, Microsoft, Apple and JCPenny are all corporations but they don’t always include the Inc. or LLC designation after their names.

bird on polka dotsAnna Cuevas is a former bank executive who now has her own business teaching homeowners how they can modify their own mortgages to save their homes. Her story is a fascinating case study of how someone leveraged a former corporate career into a successful and rewarding business.

Original version of Anna’s bio

Anna Cuevas Ex-Award winning Bank Executive retired from the mortgage industry to teach homeowners how they can modify their own mortgages to save their homes from foreclosure by someone who has been in the trenches –Using her 25 years of experience in mortgage banking and real estate industries, Anna Cuevas understands all the components that go into a loan modification and she knows exactly what to look for when a homeowner is either applying or has been denied for a loan modification. After seeing millions of American homeowners in fear of losing their homes to foreclosure, Anna found that homeowners needed an advocate to help them navigate the loan modification process so she started her wildly popular blog askaloanmodguru.com in addition to writing on foreclosure related issues as a guest blogger for the Huffington Post. In an effort to help homeowners nationwide, and after seeing the gravity of the situation, mass confusion and frustration by homeowners, Anna’s passion to help homeowners was fueled by her desire share the power of self-advocacy through her #1 Bestselling author of Save Your Home without losing your mind or your money. Anna was nominated twice for CNN Hero’s by her loyal raving fans.

Revised Version of Anna’s bio

Anna Cuevas is an award-winning ex-bank executive who retired from the mortgage industry to teach homeowners how to save their homes from foreclosure.

After seeing millions of American homeowners in fear of losing their homes, Anna knew she had to help. Using her 25 years of experience in mortgage banking and real estate, she created a low-cost do it yourself system to help homeowners navigate the loan modification process. Her system has become wildly popular and has empowered hundreds of homeowners to confidently submit a loan modification package that gives them the best possible chance of success.

On her blog AskaLoanModGuru.com, Anna shares her insider knowledge about how to cut through the complicated jargon used by big banks to intimidate and harass homeowners. Called the “superhero of the loan modification industry,” Anna advocates for self-empowerment and homeowner respect.

Anna has also written a book that takes homeowners behind the velvet rope and reveals the truth about saving one’s home. Aptly titled “Save Your Home Without Losing Your Mind or Your Money,” Anna’s book has been called “a must-read resource” and has been received with appreciation by frustrated homeowners nationwide.

Anna also writes as a  guest blogger on foreclosure related issues for the Huffington Post, and  was nominated twice for CNN Heros by her grateful fans.

Contact Anna Cuevas at…

Suggestions for Anna

I edited Anna’s bio to make it flow better and be easier to scan.  Breaking it up into shorter paragraphs was an easy fix for the scanning issue.

Notice that I removed the capitalization from “Bank Executive.”  Generic job titles should not be capitalized (unless the words are your exact job title). This is an error that I see in many professional biographies.

Speaking of common errors, a mistake that I commonly make is to put my commas and periods outside of the quotation marks. It’s a habit I developed long ago and I find it hard to break. If you catch me doing this on this blog, please leave a comment chastizing me <grin>.

Here’s the low-down from GrammarBook:

Periods and commas always go inside quotation marks, even inside single quotes.

Examples:
The sign changed from “Walk,” to “Don’t Walk,” to “Walk” again within 30 seconds.

She said, “Hurry up.”

She said, “He said, ‘Hurry up.’”

Anna may want to add a final paragraph that tells a bit about her personally. Although entirely optional, personal information can humanize a bio and make you more relatable.

I notice on Anna’s website that she shares the fact that she is “a parent and cancer survivor.” This is something she could include at the bottom of her bio, so readers know she understands what it is to face adversity and overcome it.

Suggested wording:

As a parent and cancer survivor, Anna understands what it means to face adversity. She also knows that hard times can be overcome with the right support. It gives her great personal satisfaction to know that she is helping people navigate through hard times to a brighter future.

 

wall with heart

Mike Russell is a freelance writer from Portland, Oregon. He asked me to take a look at his professional biography to see if a set of “fresh eyes” could yield any improvements.

Original version of Mike’s bio

 I help service professionals, consultants, and innovators to align their stories with their ideal clients, refine their sales funnels, and expand their online reputations.

I’m convinced that the best results, the most durable change, and the greatest common good all emerge from there.

I love helping talented professionals write a bio, an article, or other marketing collateral that puts their best foot forward, and connects magnetically with the people whom they can help the most. The world needs more people avidly pursuing their passions.

For me, success comes when my clients are as delighted with my work as I am.

Post-project praise like this affirms that I’m heading in the right direction, professionally:
“You are seriously one of the best copywriters I have ever encountered,”
“Not only is he immensely talented as a copywriter, but he’s easy and fun to work with,” and
“We appreciate sharing the weight and having you on the team!”

This path hasn’t always been so clear. When I started out as a freelance writer, I tried to project the ‘right’ professional image. Though professionalism is important, I believe that people prefer to do business with ‘real people’. Familiarity, a healthy whimsy, and an incurable curiosity all inform my writing.

I was the kid who loved the book reports and essays. Although that didn’t score points with my peers, it paved the way for a career as a professional writer.

Though I live, work, and play in Portland, Oregon, I love to collaborate with professionals, consultants, and innovators everywhere. If we ever meet in person, remember that I have an exploitable weakness for unorthodox pizza.

 Revised Version of Mike’s Bio

I’m a copywriter with a difference: I write for clients who believe the world needs more people avidly pursuing their passions.

I help these service professionals, consultants, and innovators align their stories with their ideal clients, refine their sales funnels, and expand their online reputations. That can take the form of a great bio, article, or other marketing material  that puts the client’s best foot forward, and connects magnetically with the people whom they can help the most.

For me, success comes when my clients are as delighted with my work as I am. Praise like this affirms that I’m heading in the right direction:

  • “You are seriously one of the best copywriters I have ever encountered”
  • “Not only is he immensely talented as a copywriter, but he’s easy and fun to work with”
  • “We appreciate sharing the weight and having you on the team!”

I was the kid who loved the book reports and essays. Although that didn’t score points with my peers, it paved the way for a career as a professional writer.

But my path hasn’t always been clear. When I started out as a freelance writer, I tried to project the ‘right’ professional image. Though professionalism is important, I believe that people prefer to do business with ‘real people.’ Familiarity, a touch of whimsy, and an incurable curiosity all inform my writing.

Though I live, work, and play in Portland, Oregon, I love to collaborate with professionals, consultants, and innovators everywhere. If we ever meet in person, remember that I have an exploitable weakness for unorthodox pizza.

Contact me by…

Suggestions for Mike

Mike’s a talented copywriter, so it’s no surprise that his bio was already well-written. I didn’t change  a lot in his bio: it involved more rearranging than rewriting. I also replaced some jargon words with plain words (e.g. “marketing material” instead of “marketing collateral”).

There was only one sentence that ended up on the cutting room floor:

I’m convinced that the best results, the most durable change, and the greatest common good all emerge from there.

It’s a good sentence, but I just couldn’t find a place where I thought it added value. I tried attaching it to the end of paragraph two, but decided it had the effect of weakening the paragraph’s impact  (sometimes less is more).

I love how Mike’s heart-centered approach is reflected in his bio. That will have the effect of attracting like-minded clients – just the people he wants to work with.

I also love how Mike’s whimsical sense of humor shows up in statements like “I was the kid who enjoyed the book reports… which didn’t score points with my peers” and “remember that I have an exploitable weakness for unorthodox pizza.”

Mike  might want to replace this testimonial “We appreciate sharing the weight and having you on the team!” with something stronger. On his website Mike has fantastic testimonials that have more “punch” than the “on the team” one. I particularly like the one from Frank that said Mike’s writing is not the standard boring corporate stuff.

Thanks Mike

I really enjoyed working on your bio, and I hope you like it!

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