The Five-Minute Biography
6th April 2009
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The well-written biography is a fundamental marketing tool for all professionals, whether you are employed or self-employed. Its power is all too frequently overlooked. The purpose of this article is to offer some insights and some hints and tips that will encourage you to build or perhaps add to your current biography.

Let me reiterate the why. Most people use a generic biography when they send out press releases, perhaps; on their websites or company intranets. However, a more specific biography should be used in your sales pitches, requests for referrals and your introduction at speaking engagements. A client-focused biography is a strong selling tool. It is a thumbnail sketch of you and your abilities in comparison to your competitors to complete the challenge your client is placing in your hands. Are you indeed capable in their eyes?

Tip one! Stand in size nines
When you build your biography, consider what the client wants to hear. Make a list of the questions and the objections that he is likely to pose.

Has this person worked with or for other companies in my industry?
What kind of benefits did the other clients enjoy? Increased profits, improved confidence, or quality, better health?
How do I know that this person is a recognised expert?
How much hands on experience does this person have?
What do I have in common with this person - will I like them?

Tip two! Boast
If you are anything like me, you don't like bragging and instead prefer to hide your light under a bushel. So write your biography in the third person. That way your biography speaks about you on your behalf. It sounds more authoritative and tells the reader about your accomplishments in the most favourable way. When written in the third person it gives the impression that someone else has written it as a compliment. If you have testimonials then include these as appropriate. Do not forget to include the person's name their position, the company and a web address if applicable.

Tip three! Build a bibliography
There are times when it is important that you tailor your biography. For example; when you are being introduced as an expert, you will want to make your biography as appropriate as possible to the audience. You may find it hard to identify an appropriate example off the top of your head. So at the end of each piece of work that you do, make a note of the accomplishments. Include, what type of client this is, what the project entailed, what action you took and what the results were. Quantify the benefits to the client then ask the client to agree a benefit statement. If you do this at the end of each piece of work, you will soon build a diverse bibliography for different occasions. Having a library enables you to pick out the most relevant example when you are looking for network introductions for example, or when you are writing a proposal for a piece of work perhaps.

Tip four! Read it aloud
Once written make sure that your biography is readable. The average reading age in the UK is 8 years. Does your daughter understand what you have written? If you do not have a daughter of that age, use Microsoft readability statistics. Remove any jargon, and acronyms and use complete sentences rather than bullet points. Read it out to yourself. Does it make you feel good? Does it tell a compelling story about your accomplishments? Does it give you confidence? If it does then it has done its job.

I hope that I have persuaded you that your biography is not a simple curriculum vitae that you might use for a job hunting exercise. Rather that it is a marketing document, an eye-catching and enthusiastic biography that gives you significant credibility as a professional, so you need to give it some attention and update it frequently.

Laura McHarrie
Business Adviser for Business Link
Manager of the BusinessXchange programme

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