What kind of information should appear in your professional biography, whether it’s on your website or a biography you furnish to an organization as a speaker? Should your biography include personal information, such as where you were born, the high school you went to, or the number of children you have? If so, which information should appear first: personal or professional?
These questions are part of the great biography debate and often are raised by clients as we help them develop biographies for marketing purposes. I have strong preferences in this regard, and even a visceral reaction.
The biography’s purpose determines how it is written. On your website, the biography’s purpose is to immediately establish your credibility. That means your professional experience and expertise belong right up front in the first paragraph. Think about your bio as a resume with your current responsibilities and job position coming first, followed by your secondary information.
What type of biography would start out with personal information? Maggie Lukaszewicz, one of our account managers, pointed out that general biographies are written this way – in chronological order. This is the kind of biography you might see on Wikipedia or other sources of information on people. But these biographies are not being written to establish credibility for business development purposes.
On a professional service website, a biography written in chronological order sends an unprofessional message. It’s counterproductive to claim that your small firm is a hidden gem who can do the equivalent work of larger firms while the biographies on your website start out with where you were born and went to high school. From the get-go, let your biographies promote and substantiate the reasons your prospect should hire you.