So it is 2008, and you are getting on this thing called Twitter for the first time. You write your name and choose a cool handle before you realise that space beneath where you have to describe yourself in 160 characters. You find it both challenging and frustrating because everything you think of does not really fit within this range. Then you suddenly realise it is not that much of a big deal, so you leave your bio blank and go on to write the cheesy “this is my first tweet” tweet and totally forget about it.
Nine years later, you decide to switch to a professional profile to promote your new small French bakery business you just started with a bunch of other friends, and then there is this blank, now professional, bio again staring back at you and insisting you must write something. You know you cannot ignore it this time, given that you are now a business owner using this platform as a channel to brand your business.
Yet, again, you feel pretty irritated, for you are still unable to provide any meaningful statement in under 160 characters. So instead of working something out, you just start questioning why you have to write anything in the first place and whether or not this will have any impact at all on you or your new business.
Well, we hate to break it to you, but not only your Twitter bio but every other one on all of your social media accounts actually contributes to how people on the web generally perceive you. A finely crafted bio highly strengthens the personal brand you are building online and attracts a new audience, whether this happens to be clients if you are already offering any products or services or potential employers you aspire to work for if you are an employee.
In this article, we are going to demonstrate to you what a professional bio is, what types it has and how you can write a compelling one to promote your career.
What is a professional bio, to begin with?
Well, a professional biography, or bio for short, is a piece of writing that summarises your actual position in the professional realm. It tells people who you are, what experiences you have, what your skill set is like, what makes you stand out among others in the same industry and what added value you offer your audience.
In that matter, bios are just as important as resumes and cover letters themselves. They are a great contributor to your personal brand which you can then use to help you achieve whatever career goal you may have.
Unlike your three-page resume that incorporates everything about your employment history and expertise, a bio is a short, quick and flexible document only highlighting your most important achievements and unique skill set. That makes it fit in situations where sending your resume might not be the best thing to do.
This usually happens when you are not really in need of giving a complete description of who you are and what you have done ever since you got your first job. But maybe you just want to expand your network by connecting with some influencers in your industry, make a bid on a freelance website, or promote a piece of content you produced. This is when bios come in handy.
Interestingly, bios are not rigid. You can tailor as many as you want according to the purpose you are using them for and the audience you are targeting.
Bios also go best with business cards in meetups, conferences, presentations and other events where you meet and connect with new people, whether from the same industry as you are or a different one. On such occasions, you do not usually have a ton of time to get to know others, especially if you want to connect with as many people as you can.
So handing out a short bio with your business card can give them a brief of who you are and help them remember and connect with you afterwards.
Additionally, a bio on your social media accounts is essential if you want to grow your online audience. When a piece of your content, for instance, reaches someone out of your direct audience circle and intrigues them about the person behind it, a compelling bio on your account can potentially turn them into a prospective customer.
Types of a professional bio
In this context, a bio can be used anywhere online, from your website, if you have one, and the Team section on your company’s website to every social media account you use, on top of which, of course, is mighty LinkedIn.
But as you must have realised, social media platforms are different from one another. Even if you are using them all for the purpose of strengthening and promoting your personal brand, each one of them has a different kind of content that goes well with why the platform was created in the first place.
Likewise, professional bios have various types based on which platform they are shared on and the goal they are intended to achieve. For instance, Instagram and Twitter need short and specific bios. Facebook and website bios can be more elaborate. A platform like LinkedIn allows a 2,000-word limit for bios which makes sense given that it is a business and employment website.
So here are the different types of bios.
1. Micro bios
These are also known as headline or tagline bios.
A micro bio is a short persuasive statement that pinpoints who you are and what you do and includes what best describes you. Think of it like an elevator pitch that highlights the ultimate qualities you want to communicate to others.
Besides those, a micro bio can include a teeny-tiny personal detail that gives it a bit of a humane flavour.
The most famous style for this bio type is using short phrases or even only words, mostly nouns and adjectives, and organising them in a horizontal bullet list. This can be something like, “Third-grade science teacher using joy and humour to open up to the universe, mom of three and passionate baker.”
Or take this example from Hillary Clinton’s Twitter bio, “2016 Democratic Nominee SecState, Senator, hair icon. Mom, Wife, Grandma x3, lawyer, advocate, fan of walks in the woods & standing up for our democracy.”
Because micro bios are, well, micro, they fit perfectly on platforms like Twitter and Instagram, whose bio character limit is 150-160 words. They should be written in the first person since they are added to one’s very own social media profiles.
2. Short bios
A short bio is usually more elaborate. It can be somewhere between 80 and 100 words, that is, about one or two short paragraphs that cover the most important things people need to know about you. It is intended to grab attention, leave a good impression and intrigue the readers to learn more about you either by research or direct contact.
Short bios typically include your current job title, your years of experience, an outline of your employment history, and a few accomplishments and professional goals. Like with micro bios, you may also include a personal thing of your choice to create a kind of connection or engagement with the readers.
Usually written in the third person, short bios are generally found on the About page of your website or the Team page on your company’s website, as well as the LinkedIn summary section. It can also be added to the end of an article or a blog post.
An example of a short bio can be like:
“Kelli Johanson is a passionate and skilful wedding planner with over six years of experience in creating numerous striking and memorable ceremonies. As highly meticulous, dedicated and creative as she can be, Kelli always shows a deep understanding of how each couple envisions their wedding. She has an eye for detail that can handle every little aspect of the ceremony, which, besides her experience, creativity and artistic taste allowed her to turn dreams into awe-inspiring flawless realities.”
Kelli, who is also enjoying a happy marriage with a loving husband and charming three-year-old twins, also has an incredible personality that makes clients feel comfortable immediately after meeting her. She demonstrates the necessary skills to elicit all the information she needs from them to plan weddings professionally and gracefully, which later turn into happy tender memories that stick forever.”
3. Long bios
A long bio, on the other hand, includes the need-to-knows as well as the nice-to-knows. In other words, a long bio is a sum-up of your professional history, including more elaborate and vital information that was not mentioned in either of the bio types discussed above.
For instance, you can add your why, mission, or the philosophy you work with to your long bio. In addition, you can add any small anecdotes that were transformative in your life and definitely, the added value you offer that makes you stand out among others in the same industry. To add a little bit of a personal side, you can include bits about your family, where you are from, if you do any sports on the weekends or any interests or hobbies you may have.
Consequently, a long bio is usually between three to five paragraphs, each ranging from three to five sentences.
Also written in the third person, long bios are typically used on websites or sent along with resumes when applying for a job. In such a case, they may stand as cover letters. They can also be used as the author’s bio in books or on the Leadership team page on organisations’ websites.
One of the most interesting examples of long bios is Simone Sinek’s, found on his website. It might be a little longer than five paragraphs, but the dude is a jack of all trades and also a master of all. So he has got every right to lengthen his bio and include the numerous outstanding achievements he made.
How to write a professional bio
By now, you must be wondering, “OK, these types are cool and all, but how, for real, can I actually write any of them?”
Well, let’s first do some planning because if you think you can just sit down and write a professional bio right away, you are mistaken. This approach risks wasting so much time, causing you to feel confused and overwhelmed and will not get anything done.
So here are a few steps you should follow in order to write a professional and compelling bio.
1. Identify your purpose.
As we mentioned, each type of bio is used for a different platform, intended to convey a specific message and has different content. So start by answering the question, “why exactly do I need a professional bio?”
Is it because you want to strengthen your online personal brand by highlighting your strengths, qualities and values and sharing them on social media? Are you applying for a specific job? Do you want to promote that article you wrote and was posted on your company’s blog last week and give the readers a brief of who you are? Are you going to a conference next month and want to be ready to expand your network?
Determining what you need a professional bio for will make it so much easier to choose the best type.
2. Define your audience.
Knowing which audience you are talking to is also going to make your bio more precise and aligned with the purpose you are using it for. This, as it turns out, is not hard at all. All you need to do is check where on the web this bio will go, which also defines which bio type you are going to write.
For instance, if you are writing a bio for Instagram, which you only use to post pictures of every striped stray cat you come across while on a walk or how long the pothos you are propagating has grown since May, then your audience is probably your friends, family and anyone interested in cats, walks, Devil’s Ivy or plants in general.
If you are using Twitter to promote your blog on which you write about productivity, work-life balance and professional well-being and spread the word about your new SkillShare course, then you are targeting new clients who aspire to make the best of their time and achieve more.
Based on your audience, you can tailor your bio around the value you are offering them to encourage them to buy your services.
3. List the information you need to add.
Now that you have determined the type of bio you are writing and who you are targeting with it, you need to list the information you should include.
As we mentioned a few paragraphs ago, if you are writing a short or long bio, you basically need to mention some or all of the following: your current position, years of experience, and an overview of your employment history. When it comes to writing why you are doing what you are doing, the qualities that set you apart from others and your top accomplishments, be precise and choose the ones that best fit the purpose you are writing the bio for.
You can also mention your mission, vision and the added value you offer your audience, but those indeed only go with long bios.
Now you need to list some nouns and adjectives that best describe you on the professional and personal levels. These could be things like manager, writer, photographer, speaker, father, friend, puppy person, Bayern Munich enthusiast, punctual, intellectual, problem solver, or meticulous. In order to add a little bit of a personal flavour, think about the activities you do in your free time or something you love to do with your friends or family.
4. Write your bio.
By now, you should have all the necessary information to write your professional bio. So based on the type and the audience, articulate the information you listed in Step 3 accordingly and make sure that it fits the length of your specified bio.
With short and long bios, start your bio with a hook to grab the attention of the reader. This could be done by including who you are in the very first sentence of your bio and following this with your why. Also, make sure that you include some of your accomplishments early in your bio to hold your reader’s attention.
Also, remember to include your contact information at the end or, generally, how you like your audience to connect with you. Do you want them to DM you? Leave comments on your blog posts or YouTube videos? Or maybe an email is a better idea? Choose what best works for you and list it at the very end.
Furthermore, make sure you do not get too personal and add extra information that might not interest your audience. Avoid writing long sentences that may confuse the readers, use simple grammar and stay away from passive words. For instance, do not include verbs such as trying, attempting or hoping. You need to show how confident you are, and these verbs do not actually imply that.
One last thing is to avoid, at all costs, copying someone else’s bio. While you can indeed check as many bio examples as you want to get inspired, your bio must be and stay original.
A professional bio is an excellent piece of document that works like magic when you are trying to expand your career and is definitely essential for a solid personal brand. Using the steps we have demonstrated in this article, you can craft a compelling bio to spread the word about your fantastic work and attract new customers or draw in potential employers to land your next awesome job.