Selling You: Creating a Winning Professional Bio or Blurb

One of the most useful tools to have in your professional packet is your personal bio, also called a "blurb." This should be well-written, meaningful and pithy. You will use and re-use it in myriad ways: in your LinkedIn profile, marketing letters, e-mail introductions, on your company or academic website, in articles or blogs you write, on the back jacket of any books you compose: the uses are unlimited.

Which means your blurb should be well-crafted, authentic and comprehensible to your potential clients, partners or colleagues. It is a marketing tool. It has to offer something for the reader's benefit. It should awaken interest in what you can do for them. It should not be so opaque that nobody except you and your inner circle of family and friends understands what you're talking about. Nor should it be a dispassionate series of unconnected bullet points, which reveal nothing about you. And it is much more substantial than an "elevator pitch."

Your blurb is you, who you are, what you are, and what you can create for your clients: enlightenment, wealth, efficiencies, breakthroughs, cost savings, etc. Effective blurbs are part of our identities, reflecting who we are; indeed, the most powerful blurbs are part of your heart and soul. It is your emblem, your message, your welcome to the world.

But it is essential to keep in mind that your blurb is for them, your readers, not for you. Your words should touch their hearts, not just their wallets. When a potential customer reads your blurb s/he thinks, "What's in it for me? Where am I in this?" An effective blurb gives the client something, makes the client feel special, provides the client with the feeling of being a part of your professional bio - sharing in your know-how, your success.

Thus, before composing your blurb, listen to your heart and soul, which will reveal an honest story to you. Take the time to discover what is unique and original about you. Why should anyone work with you? What value and perspective do you offer? Think: do I want a warm, techie, sharp, soft, conservative, edgy, spacey, ultra-modern, academic, retro, sensuous, spiritual, culturally specific (Indian, Asian, Celtic, etc.) tone? Think always of the impression your words will make, consciously as well as unconsciously.

Technically, your blurb should be brief - five or six lines suffice. It should highlight your experience, wisdom and qualifications. It should contain your purpose and your mission. It should not be dull, unless you are authentically dull. Avoid clichés. It is about what you have to give and offer to your clients or partners. What can you do for them? What makes you special and different from the thousands of other blurbs and bios out there? Answer these questions, and you'll have an effective blurb.

To keep your blurb true of intent and genuine, it is vital that you write it yourself. Nobody can do this for you without underselling you and making you sound like a run-of-the-mill businessperson or academic sniffing for - instead of offering -- opportunities. Use adjectives to add color, impact and to enhance your talents and know-how. Adjectives show what you do best, and your skill level. If you don't tell us this, how will we ever know? Thus, don't simply write, "manager" but "experienced international manager;" not just "assistant," but "executive assistant and my boss' right hand." Your blurb is no place to be modest. After you have written and polished it, show it to those whose feedback you respect, and incorporate their ideas if it feels right and true to you.

Keeping these points in mind will make writing your blurb fun and enjoyable because it is about giving to others; and giving is always grander and more joyful than taking - which is exactly the key ingredient that makes up a great blurb.