Most people can introduce themselves passably at networking events. They can produce CVs that give their career histories, and write “About” pages that reveal something about their mission, ethos and values.
But online biographies?
Well, they’re often forgotten. They languish online filled with out-of-date information. They do little to help the person who owns the profile to achieve more and to be noticed and recognised online for the right reasons.
Most online biographies are written hurriedly and without much thought. That goes for LinkedIn profiles as well as those entries in professional directories.
You may write your entry and forget it, but other people are looking at those biographies, and especially at your LinkedIn profile. Is this a problem for you?
Ask yourself the following questions to see if you really should be embarrassed by your online biographies.
Has the biography been updated in the last six months?
Life changes quickly. Whether you’re in employment, self-employed or in business, what you want the world to remember about your changes regularly.
Those biographies could be working against you suggesting people get in touch with you about something that’s no longer central to what you do, or to offer you the type of job that you’re no longer looking for.
- Make a list of all the places where you have online entries.
- Create an editorial calendar and timetable showing when you will update each entry.
- Make a note of the things you want to include in each biography when you come to update.
- Be prepared to delete information as soon as it becomes out of date even if you only updated your biography as few weeks ago.
- Stick to your timetable for updating.
Was the biography written with a specific audience in mind?
When you write online biographies, if you are like most people, you probably don’t give them much thought. You want to get the boxes filled in and the job done as quickly as possible. You don’t write with a reader in mind. You might not even write your entry particularly well. There are plenty of online biographies that are filled with spelling mistakes, poor grammar and inelegant prose.
If you’re honest with yourself, as you write, you’re just aiming to finish the task and move onto something more interesting and more important as quickly as you can.
It’s important to do something quite different when you come to update your biographies. You want to be remembered in a positive way. Therefore, you need to change your approach and write a different sort of online biography.
- Speak directly to your ideal employer or to the thought leaders in your industry as you write your biography.
- Think about what this ideal reader might want to know about you and write about that.
- Shape the content to match the ideal reader’s interests.
- Allocate enough time to the task to make your biography interesting.
Are readers of the online biographies encouraged to take action?
Most online biographies are flat. They say:
“This is me. This is my history. This is what I do.”
There’s no encouragement to do more than read the biography and then go away. That means your biography isn’t really much use to you. You’re ticking a box as you write. When you finish, you’ll be able to say you’ve written that biography but not much else.
- Insert calls to action.
- Ask the reader to do something as a result of reading what you have written.
Contact you by e-mail or telephone.
Sign up to download something.
Get in touch for a copy of your complete CV.
If you are a little more ambitious, you could upload a video, a presentation or a pdf that gives added depth to your entry.
Above all, do something to start to build a relationship with your readers.
You and your online biographies
Online biographies are online outposts for your personal brand.
Make the most of them and write with a purpose. Use them to encourage people to build relationships with you. Use your online biographies proactively and then you’ll find they’ll be worth updating and promoting.
Don’t be like the person I spoke to yesterday who said:
“Please don’t look at my LinkedIn profile! Let me tell you about myself.”
It doesn’t work. Anyone would go and look after hearing something like that! Well, I did. Wouldn’t you?
Take a look at Rethink LinkedIn, a service for busy professionals, if you are ready to work on your LinkedIn profile and would like some help.