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The Five Minute Bio – a Toastmasters Speech (3)

The well-written biography is a fundamental marketing tool for all professionals, whether you are employed or self-employed.  Its power is all too frequently overlooked.  Let me reiterate the why. 

Most people write generic biographies which are at best bland. Your ‘about you’ page on your website is your best time to connect with your target audience. What does your ideal client like about you and what is your connection? A more specific biography should be used in your sales pitches, your requests for referrals and your introduction at speaking engagements. 

A client-focused biography is a strong selling tool. It is a thumbnail sketch of you and your abilities in comparison to your competitors.  Your biography needs to convince your audience you are capable of  solving the challenges they are facing.  

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Tip One! Stand in size nines

When you build your biography, consider what the client wants to hear. Make a list of the questions and the objections that he is likely to pose. 

Q.  Has this person worked with or for other companies in my industry?

Q.  What kind of benefits did the other clients enjoy?  Increased profits, improved confidence or better health perhaps?

Q.  How do I know that this person is a recognised expert?

Q.  How much hands on experience does this person have?

Q.  What do I have in common with this person – will I like them?

Tip Two! Boast

If you are anything like me, you don’t like bragging and instead prefer to hide your light under a bushel.  So write your biography in the third person.

 “As regional controller at New Look, Laura McHarrie empowered a team of seven area managers, responsible for 80 retail outlets with turnover in excess of £50m.  During that time her team achieved above company average in all but one of the seven key performance indicators.”

 That way your biography speaks about you on your behalf.  It sounds more authoritative and tells the reader about your accomplishments in the most favourable way.  When written in the third person it gives the impression that someone else has written it as a compliment.

If you have testimonials then include these as appropriate.  Do not forget to include the person’s name their position, the company and a web address.  You can get qualifications from any number of sources; have you published books, articles, papers, won awards, and speaker engagements of course.  If you use any of these sources, do not forget to include the name of the relevant publication, engagement or university.

Tip Three! Build a Bibliography

I have mentioned that there are times when it is important that you tailor your biography.  For example; when you are being introduced as an expert, you will want to make your biography as appropriate as possible to the audience.  You may find it hard to identify an appropriate example off the top of your head.

So at the end of each piece of work that you do, make a note of the accomplishments.  Include, what type of client this was, what the project entailed, what action you took and what the results were.  Quantify the benefits to the client then ask the client to agree a benefit statement.  If you do this at the end of each piece of work, you will soon build a diverse bibliography for different occasions.

Having a library enables you to pick out the most relevant example when you are looking for network introductions for example, or when you are writing a proposal for a piece of work perhaps.

Tip Four! Read it Aloud

Once written make sure that your biography is readable.  The average reading age in the UK is 8 years.  Does your daughter understand what you have written?  If you do not have a daughter of that age use Microsoft readability statistics. Remove any jargon, and acronyms and use complete sentences rather than bullet points.

Read it out to yourself.  Does it make you feel good? Does it tell a compelling story about your accomplishments?  Does it give you confidence?  If it does then it has done its job.

Your biography is not a simple curriculum vitae that you might use for a job hunting exercise.   Rather that it is a marketing document that answers the questions that your potential client has about your capability to meet his or her needs. An eye-catching and enthusiastic biography gives you significant credibility as a professional, so you need to give it some attention and update it frequently.

I would like to leave you with this one final thought:

“She, who whispers down a well about the skills she has to sell, will never make as many dollars as he who climbs a tree and hollers.” (unknown)

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