(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!
1. No, I don’t want your house. I’ve already downsized — 960 square feet of Mid-Century living. 🙂
2. Strangest thing — A few years ago I found a snake skin (the kind the actual snake peeled off itself) in the wood pile. I still don’t know why the snake was in the garage. Maybe because I had mice. Food source.
3. My bio — I work with manufacturers and am quite proud to say that I worked on a production floor to put myself through school. I *know* manufacturing.
1. 960! Wow. Very impressive. I have a “small house” book I’m about to crack open (maybe you are mentioned).
2. I’ve found snake skins – and live snakes – in wood piles too. Always creepy.
3. Love that!
1) Only if it’s a thatched-roof cottage on the Cornish coast! (Is it a thatched-roof cottage on the Cornish coast? If so, let’s talk!)
2) They’re not really odd, but I have my dogs’ raincoats hanging in the garage. Both of my German Shepherds are gone now, and I miss them terribly. Seeing the raincoats there sort of makes me feel as if they’re still around. 🙁
3) I was an airline Captain for a lot of years, so I have a decent handle on the ins and outs of airport operations. I’ve got lots and lots (and lots) of airport appreciation time under my belt!
1. As it turns out, Gina, it is in fact a thatched roof cottage on the Cornish coast. Please make your check out to Michael Katz.
2. My dear departed dog’s food dish sits on my office desk – it’s where I keep future newsletter ideas. I know the feeling.
3. Airline captain! Very cool.
I neglected to mention the full-to-the-brim hamper of German Shepherd fur I saved every time I brushed them over the years! It’s not in the garage, though…it’s in my bedroom, where I can lift the cover and get a good whiff of dog when I need a fix. That’s got to count as odd. Does that beat the turtles? 😉
1) Not unless you promise to come in every few days and put new flowers out.
2) nine foot lengths of trim for my kitchen cabinets…strange because we redid the kitchen 12.5 years ago and didn’t have a use for these particular pieces of trim then.
3) Well, there is the walk on water thing… but I blush to mention it. 🙂
Apropos your “staging” work. Isn’t interesting that we will invest money to sell our houses but not when we are staying in them and could enjoy the investment for ourselves. Why are we willing to live in rooms that have a tired paint job when we know that those rooms would be a turn off if WE were buying our own house?
1. It may come to that.
2. I’ve found much stuff like that in my basement too!
3. I am in total agreement. Linda and I say that at least once a day as we watch our house get cleaned and improved these last several weeks. Human nature, I guess!
1.) Sounds great, but no, I have my own house. However, I WILL take the toilet in your garage – it is probably in better shape than mine. Just ship to my newsletter address. Thanks!
2.) A big dead spider. ( I guess that’s not odd.)
3.) My online business provides Fair Trade, Non-Profit, and Social Enterprise Suppliers and Artisans a high-value, sustainable, selling venue for their beads and beading supply products. ( EthnicBeadShop )
1. In the mail, Susan!
2. Not really.
1. Since I live a mere two towns over from you, I’m tempted to pose as a home seeker just to meet the Maven of E-Newsletters in person. Your on-line course was exceptional.
2. A chipmunk… been there for the last 10 years or so (could be several generations). Still don’t know where the little bugger hides out.
3. Master merchandiser to the Massachusetts adult beverage industry… that’s a tasty mouthful, eh?
Please come by; we will have the cookies ready! (I’ll trade with you for some of that adult beverage you traffic in.)
1. Lovely house, but it would give my brother who disowned the family 15 years ago apoplectic shock if I moved to the same state as him. Though that is tempting….
2. A trio of mummified turtles, posed and accessorized as a Mexican street band. Inherited from another brother who had a thing for turtles.
3. I’m a CPA and I help accountants and bookkeepers around the world with online marketing. Very few accountants can write, and even fewer understand marketing. I understand the language accountants speak, and I can translate that for non-accountants.
I think you’ve moved into first place with the mummified turtles, Liz! And I like your business niche too.
Thanks for an inspiring newsletter this week!