In every group, there's someone quiet - someone who's shy and listens more than they speak.
How do you interact with that person?
Face-to-face, you might try to draw them out of their shell, asking questions and slowly getting a sense of their personality. But what about online? When you're interacting over the internet, if someone doesn't speak or share much about themselves then there's really no way for you to get to know them.
That's why it's important to put yourself out there, to connect with your peers by deliberately providing a window into your skills, personality, and passions. This is particularly essential for association and business professionals.
As the organization you run turns its attention to digital experiences and technology-loving millennials (along with every other generation) you must be accessible online. The more approachable you are, the more people will want to connect with you and start building a relationship.
The easiest way to make yourself approachable is with a compelling online bio on your website, LinkedIn page, or online community profile. Your bio will be the first place people look to learn about you, so it's an ideal place to show off your personality and expertise.
But what format do you use? How much do you share?
How do you write a bio that makes prospective customers, peers, and members want to connect with you?
The easiest way to write a great bio is to forget the traditional format of listing your accomplishments for a general audience. In an era of digital experiences and personalization, that's no longer effective. Instead, follow these six tips to craft an engaging, memorable bio that helps people get to know you and your expertise.
You know the trick. Don't send the same resume to every employer. Instead, change your resume to showcase your most relevant skills and insert a few essential industry keywords. Each resume you create using this model appeals to a different audience, targeting specific industries and readers.
Great online bios are constructed in much the same way. Focus on your goals and the people you want to connect with. If you're trying to appeal to new customers or members through your website, talk about your expertise in your industry and how you use your skills to help others succeed. If you're trying to reach other business or association professionals on LinkedIn, change your focus to your organizational leadership experience.
Your stories are a part of you. They help your readers understand your personal journey and how you are uniquely qualified to help them. Stories are also more memorable than accomplishments that are presented on their own, out of context. People remember a powerful story long after it's told.
One of my former clients, a business coach, is a great example of how to use powerful storytelling. She used her bio to tell a story about going from "broke, busted and disgusted" to an award-winning coach and internationally renowned speaker.
Her story is an important one because it enables reader to connect with her on a more personal level. The description of her experience shows that she understands what it means to be stuck and afflicted with barriers to personal growth. Overcoming obstacles also demonstrates that she knows what it takes to help people get back on the path to living a fulfilling life, which is a great characteristic for a life coach to have.
Now consider the alternative. "I have experienced hard times and I can help you succeed." Which is more powerful: stating experience, or telling a personal story?
Too often, people want to list everything they've done and all the degrees they've earned in chronological order.
Don't do this.
Skip the dull resume and focus on the things that make you a real person your peers, customers, or members can connect with. Look at your resume from a storytelling angle instead of just listing accomplishments, then pick and choose relevant things to share.
For instance, the fact that you had a job selling shoes one summer in college holds no interest to your peers unless you're now in the foot apparel business and your experience that summer made you better at what you do today. If that's the case, then tell that story. If not, leave it out.
Give your peers a small taste of your personality and experience, then leave them with an appetite for more. You want them to be curious.
The story from our former life coach client used this technique. She drew readers in with an engaging story and descriptive words like "broke, busted and disgusted", but she didn't give all the details. Don't you want to know why she was broke? What happened to her?
Give your readers no choice but to satisfy their curiosity by connecting with you to get more information.
Your bio is all about explaining who you are and why people should want to meet you. Once you've convinced them that you're knowledgeable, friendly, and can help solve their problems, give them a way get in touch. Whether you have a call-to-action to "Email me!" or a "Find out more about me!" link, make it easy for people to connect with you.
By including links and calls-to-action you give the power to your members and colleagues. They can decide whether or not to approach you, so you know anyone who takes that leap is genuinely interested in what you have to offer.
Make sure to respond to all messages you receive. The people who choose to connect with you through your bio could become new association members, customers, or partners in your success.
When we read an imagery-based story, our brains are hardwired to remember it. Think of a reader's brain as Velcro. A "˜sticky' story is one a reader can't get out of their brain because they're left with a picture in their mind.
Research has shown that approximately 60% of people are visual learners, meaning they respond better to printed text and imagery. It's how their minds are wired to process and recall information. So try incorporating sticky words and visual imagery in your writing to appeals to the senses.
Let's look at a few ways simple language can be re-written to achieve this:
Original: "I am working on finishing my first book."
Rewrite: "I am in a race to the finish line with my first full-length memoir, The Bark Peeler's Daughter."
In the first phrase, there's not much to picture. But we can picture someone in a race, we can remember the detail of the book being a memoir, and we may even be struck by the unique title, The Bark Peeler's Daughter. We can remember all this much easier than "my first book."
Let's go through another example:
Original: "I love reading, feeding homeless animals, and collecting antiques."
Rewrite: "In my spare time, I love devouring 19th century novels, preparing gourmet meals for stray cats, and collecting giant snow globes."
Again, the original phrase is generic, with no memorable details or imagery. The second uses compelling words like "devouring" along with interesting details. You don't just collect antiques, you collect something that your readers can instantly visualize: giant snow globes. It even incorporates an element of mystery. How big are giant snow globes, anyway?
These six tips will not only help with your bio as a business or association profession, they can also help you write about your organization as a whole. Tell a story using sticky words and write for a specific audience in your organization's "about us" section on your website or in your online community.
You can even use these tips on public social networking pages, third-party listings, and product copy. They'll grab attention and help people remember what you're offering and the problems you solve.
Just remember to be honest, personable, and explain your value. Readers might visit your bio to learn about you or your company, but their ultimate goal is to find out what you can do for them. Use your story to paint a picture of how you can help and use your bio as a stepping stone to building new relationships with members and colleagues.