A small but often called-for aspect of my work is creating biographies for clients, from About paragraphs for LinkedIn and Facebook to full website Profile pages. I’ve also written Q&A interviews for people to use on their pages and even interviewed myself once (well, why not? #narcissist).
If you attend regular networking meetings you’ll know they involve chatting for the best part of two hours to strangers who you’ve only just met, before standing up to give a one or two-minute talk about yourself to the waiting group, and we all get through this just fine. For some, public speaking is edgy, but not half as painful as penning a biography. But you can do it. Here’s your chance to talk about yourself to anyone and everyone. Get up on stage and go for it.
• Begin at the beginning There will always be a temptation to dive right in to what you do, but your profile should also tell us who you ARE, so start with that. This is not just a case of ‘state your name, location and job title’ but you do need to put all that in sentence form using an upbeat warm tone, chatting about the motives behind your business.
• Go bite-size Planning your profile into specific areas can help you organise what it is you’re trying to say. After that warm and friendly intro, chat about your past career, what led you here, what you do now and what you love about it, wrapping up with brief details on family life, like: ‘I bake, run, sing in showers and live with my husband, teenage son and several massive spiders in our north London apartment.’
• Don’t go back too far Unless it’s relevant that you tell us about your GCSE in Woodwork, you can skip it. If it’s important that we know about your childhood passion for sculpture then by all means tell us more.
• Picture this Choose the right portrait to go with your profile, one that’s recent. If someone does want to meet you after reading your page, they might end up looking for a tall brunette walking a dog through the countryside, not a redhead sitting in a cafe with orange-framed spectacles (ie: you now). Keep it current.
• Why you? Everyone has a USP, and while your profile page is not the best place for spelling out why you’re the most amazing window-cleaner in town (do that on the Why Us section), you can drop hints as to why you set up the company: so maybe you’re efficient, fast-working, you studied accounting and have a good head for figures and you just love running a small team. From all of this we know you probably don’t clean the windows yourself, but you do a great job of making sure everyone else does.
• Don’t exaggerate If you do get into detail in this section, go easy on the loudspeaker. We’re happy to hear your site is full of ‘unbeatable offers’, but is it really? Unless you can prove such facts, let modesty prevail and use words like ‘competitive’. A calmer sell will bag you more long-term clients.
• Really stuck? Pick up on someone else’s profile, someone you want to sound like. Who’s your favourite radio personality or public speaker? Go online and check out their website profile. If it works well, why? No one likes a copycat but there’s nothing stopping you emulating something if it’s got the right tone.
• This is not a drill You’ve got one chance when someone clicks on your profile to make an impression, so be as clear, concise and interesting online as you would be in real life, in order to engage the reader before they click away to the next website on the list. You’ve got this far: tell us why.