[Editor's note: To ensure you have the latest information, we recently updated this popular post.]
How does your professional bio support your thought leadership strategy? Is it like a silent wingman that leaves you hanging? Or is it more a reliable friend that boldly sings your praises to others? When done right, a bio undergirds your business goals and moves others to reach out to you.
Professional bios are everywhere. From your website, to social media profiles, to bottom of blog bylines, the list goes on. And bios are one of the simplest and most effective PR strategies to promote thought leadership. Is your bio putting you in the best light?
In this post, you will see...
- How your professional bio can support your thought leadership goals.
- What a bio needs to have.
- How to individualize your bio to your personality and brand.
- Examples of real-life bios that rock thought leadership.
The old saying still holds true: You only have one chance to make a first impression. It takes on a whole new meaning when you think of your professional bio on social media and your website. How does your first impression stack up?
Now that we understand the role that our bio plays among thought leadership PR strategies, what are the building blocks of a great bio? First and foremost, all professional bios should have:
- Your full name and job title
- Your area(s) of expertise
- Your background and experience
- A demonstration of your expertise, such as recent media coverage or speaking roles
- Your qualifications
Think of these guidelines as chiseling out the basic form of your bio -- but now it's time to chisel out the details that make you unique. To be effective, your bio should be individualized to you. It should stand out from others in your industry and be as distinct as you are.
You have a lot of freedom when it comes to personalizing your bio. Bios can range from straight-laced and professional to quirky and colorful. It really depends on your personal style and the message you wish to convey.
Let's now look at 5 ways that you can write a bio that truly represents you and the brand you have built.
A Professional Bio Worthy of Your Thought Leadership Strategy
1. Choose the Right Voice
There’s some debate whether to use first-person or third-person in a professional bio. There’s pros and cons to each. First person sounds more personable, but can seem braggy when you get into your various accomplishments. Third person, while it sounds professional, can sound detached and impersonal at times.
There’s no wrong answer here. We tend to write our bios in the third person because of the professional air it lends to our B2B PR agency. Whatever voice you choose, just make it consistent throughout your bio.
2. Determine Your Primary Objective
How do you want the person reading your bio to perceive you? Is this meant to build confidence in potential customers? Would you like to attract industry leaders? Defining your goals early on can help you to stay on course as you write it.
For example, if your goal is thought leadership PR, provide information on your accomplishments that shows your thought leadership ability. The whole idea of thought leadership PR is to show, not tell, and to provide, not promote.
Your bio shouldn’t be self-promotional or salesy -- you never want to call yourself a thought leader. It should state the facts, but the facts should strategically lead to a thought leadership conclusion.
Pro Tip: Put your most important information at the top of your bio. People tend to be lazy readers -- so if they get through only the first few paragraphs, make sure that those paragraphs count.
3. Convey Real Value to Your Audience
At the heart of every great bio is the value it brings to the reader. What do you bring to the table? Is it a level of expertise and insight into your industry? Or is it a passion for the work that constantly drives you forward when others give up?
Find that one thing that sets you apart and makes you appealing to your audience. Then convey that throughout your bio.
The following questions will help you get started:
- What is your current role?
- What are your areas of expertise?
- Who are your clients, what challenges do they face, and what puts you in a unique position to help them?
- What makes you different from others in your industry?
Once you have the answers, you will more easily be able to define your value, and put it into words.
Pro Tip: Many find it helpful to target different people on their website as opposed to social media. With this in mind, it's a good idea to create several different versions of your bio -- a long form, a short form, and even a micro one that can be handy for areas where you have less room, such as at the bottom of blogs or on Twitter.
4. Be Authentic to Who You Are
The goal with any professional bio is for people to get to know you, and feel like they can and want to reach out to you. It is an integral part of your personal brand.
Share appropriate details about your personal and professional life that will help people to see a broader picture of who you are. Generally speaking, people can spot fake right away, so don’t write what you think people want to read -- just be real.
5. Top it Off with a Nice Photo
A picture is worth a thousand words -- and in your bio, your picture has the power to draw in your audience -- or, conversely, it could even repel them.
People want a face to put with the name and details that they read about you. It will help them remember you more clearly and feel a connection to you and your brand.
Your bio photo should...
- Look professional
- Be clear, with no pixelation
- Be up-to-date
- Have a plain backdrop, with no clutter
- Be well-lit
Pro Tip: Be consistent with your profile picture. If you use one picture on your website, make sure to use the same one on social media and other sites.
5 Experts Examples of How Bios Should Be Done
Want to see a few professional bios in action? Here are a few from B2B influencers whom we've admired, and who have carved out a place for themselves as thought leaders.
Joe Pulizzi, Personal Website
Joe Pulizzi, distinguished for his role as the founder of Content Marketing Institute, is a prominent thought leader in his field. Although the words “thought leader” never appear in his bio, the list of his accomplishments and ideals are a perfect depiction of the term.
Notice, he has separated his bio into short form and long form -- for people who are looking for a quick scan, or those who really want to know more about his background.
Tabitha Naylor, Personal Website
Tabitha Naylor, a B2B marketing specialist, doesn't mess around -- she grabs your attention right away with her teaser headline, A Marketing Prodigy at the Age of 5? Right away she sets the stage for what to expect.
Her writing oozes with her quirky personality and unique style -- while still telling you details of her professional experience and qualifications. There is no way you'll find this language and prose in any other bio. You leave feeling like you're old friends and want to call her up for a chat -- but it also leaves a deep impression on her background and expertise.
Robert Rose, Twitter
There is a time and place to go in-depth into your background and expertise -- Twitter is not one of them. Robert Rose here gives an excellent example of using his Twitter bio to best advantage.
You know exactly what he does -- with succinct, one-word descriptions of what he's about, you get the basic information with no fluff. He also keeps it light with some humor and personality thrown into the mix. If audiences want to know more, they can dig further and find his website and other platforms where he goes more in-depth.
Ann Handley, LinkedIn
Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs, is a supreme example of a social media bio. While Ann Handley is well known in her field, and has a long laundry list of accomplishments, she has carefully chosen what she wants to highlight about her background on LinkedIn -- with a little bit of humor thrown in for good measure.
In short, just because this is her professional bio doesn't mean that she has to hide her personality. Her bio presents her so that you get to know the person, as well as her professional qualifications.
Andy Crestodina, Blog Bio
This little gem sits below Andy Crestodina's blogs and gives a brief glimpse into his professional credentials. He doesn't go overboard with too many details, but you get a general sense of his expertise. He also gives you links to other areas where you can learn more about him.
What professional bios do you admire?
No matter where your bio lives -- whether it's on LinkedIn, your website, or it's a blurb at the end of a guest post -- it has the power to boost your thought leadership strategy.
Let us know in the comments below what you like to see in a professional bio.
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