(Listen to this post, here.)
I’ve got a toilet in my garage.
I don’t say this to impress you; I’m just telling you the facts.
It’s in my garage awaiting pick-up for donation because, as I mentioned in a recent newsletter, my wife Linda and I will soon be downsizing out of our current home.
As a result, we’ve been doing lots and lots (and lots) of work to get our house ready for sale. Examples include…
… newly painted kitchen cabinets
… polishing of all the hardwood floors
… painting of nearly every room in the house
… staining of the back deck
And, a new toilet for the master bath to replace the old one which, while perfectly functional, was the wrong color now that we have installed a new granite counter.
Whew. It’s been a lot of work (and money). But I have to confess, my “new” old house, sure does look pretty good these days.
And those are just the structural changes. When people come over to view the house this weekend, we will also do things to enhance the experience.
We’ll have flowers on the kitchen table; music playing in the background; a crackling fire in the family room (in the fireplace, I mean).
So here’s my question for you: Am I telling lies about my house by fixing it up and highlighting its best features?
I hope you’ll agree that the answer is no. It’s all true, but it’s a kind of fictionalized truth.
A shiny, staged, best case scenario. One that positions our house in the best possible light, given who we’re trying to attract and relative to what the other houses on the market have to offer.
There’s nothing wrong with that; it’s what we all do when trying to sell something to a potential customer.*
[*Apparently, this applies to more than just houses. According to German researchers, if your partner suddenly develops an interest in losing weight and working out at the gym, it’s a good sign that he or she is thinking of leaving you. And ladies, I know what you’re thinking: “If that’s the case, it looks like my husband is planning to stay with me forever.”]
Now let’s talk about you. And, more specifically, about your bio…
Your bio – the description of who you are and what you do that lives on your web site, that you send with your proposals, that you include on your LinkedIn profile – is a marketing document.
Does it need to be true? Absolutely, every word of it.
That said, it need not – should not – reveal every hole in the wall, cracked tile, and dirty dish in the sink of your working past.
Instead, and like my house, it should, “position you in the best possible light, given who you’re trying to attract and relative to what the other professionals on the market have to offer.”
So keep these two things in mind when writing your bio:
- Get rid of the irrelevant information.
Anytime I attend one of those networking meetings where each attendee stands up and explains what they do for 30 seconds, you can always spot the newbies: they tick through a list of where they’ve been and what they’ve done. That’s a resume.
The experienced professionals, on the other hand, while often bringing up past accomplishments, use those to talk about the problems they solve (today) and for whom. That’s a bio.
So go through your bio and throw out anything that doesn’t lend support and credibility to whatever it is you do now. Even if you spent 10 years (or more) doing something in a past life, if it’s not relevant to your work today, get rid of it.
A bio’s purpose is to sell you; a resume’s purpose is to account for your whereabouts since high school.
- Leave your modesty at home.
For reasons that I don’t claim to understand, I like to read the obituaries in the Sunday paper. One thing I’ve noticed is that no bad people ever seem to die. Every obituary is 100% positive.
Your bio should feel the same way – it’s a highlight reel, not a news report.
Can you lie or exaggerate? No. Everything in it has to be 100% true. But it ought to be the best version of you there is.
Here are three bio examples, reprinted with permission, from Charlotte Davis, Kristin Winstead and Kit Irwin, all students in the current session of my Six Month Marketing class, where we work on this. Pretty impressive, don’t you think?
As they should be, since these people have all accomplished impressive things in their careers. But, frankly, no more impressive than what you’ve done. The difference is in how they present themselves.
When it comes to bios, if reading yours out loud doesn’t make you a little bit uncomfortable, you’re not doing it right.
Here’s the bottom line. A bio is an important document; it’s one way in which people “check under the hood” to make sure that what you’re offering lines up with what they are thinking of buying.
Help them make that decision by highlighting what matters and tooting your own horn just a little bit more than what probably feels comfortable.
- Do you want to buy my house? Hurry. Details here.
- What’s the oddest thing you have in your garage?
- What’s something in your bio that is both impressive and compelling to potential clients?
Share your comments below!