When Girl Scouts called to announce I was being honored with the “Women of Distinction” award, I was thrilled. When they requested my bio to include in their awards ceremony brochure, I panicked. I didn’t know how to write a bio. I didn’t even know what my bio should include. And I felt weirded out by the prospect of talking about myself in the third person while listing off my accomplishments.
Fast forward a few years and now I use my bio all the time. A bio not only gives your audience a synopsis of your background; it allows you to hone your story in a way that highlights your personal brand. Having an updated bio is helpful not only when you’ll be in the public eye, but also in day-to-day networking. Here are some occasions where having an updated bio handy can be super convenient:
Public Speaking Events
When you’re giving a presentation or serving on a speakers’ panel, it’s typical to provide your bio emcee/moderator who will introduce you to the audience. This will help frame your area of expertise for your audience who is trying to figure out if you’re worth paying attention to and why you, in particular, were asked to speak.
In the course of my adulting, I’ve moved to different cities to take on a new career or follow a new opportunity. Because of that, I often find myself in a new community attempting to make new friends and business contacts. Thoughtful friends and colleagues have volunteered to connect me with locals in their network, but the time it takes to write a personalized email explaining to two strangers why they should want to meet can be daunting. Help aid this process by sending this liaison your bio. It makes the introduction not only much simpler, but more likely to lead to a fruitful outcome.
Connections Outside Your Network
Have you ever wanted to meet someone you admire, but don’t have a connection to provide the introduction? This happens to me all the time. I’ll see an article written by a great author I’ve never met shared on LinkedIn or will hear of someone in IEEE who I’d like to know. So, I send them a short message saying what in their background is so fascinating to me, and I ask if they’d care to connect. I mention that I’m including my bio so they can know a bit about my background and experience. Then I include a shortened version of my bio that is specifically tailored to their background (if they’re a philanthropist, I include my philanthropies; a business owner I include that; an adventurer who likes to get up way too early and climb ridiculously high mountains … you guessed it). I have about a 90+ percent rate of success in connecting, and I’m so pleased that many of these individuals have gone on to become my friends and mentors.
Next time you’re about to be introduced to a new audience, contact, or even someone outside your network; don’t rely on someone else to tell your story for you or use a lame, generic introduction. Craft your personal brand through a bio. You’ll be amazed at how people connect with you on a whole different level when you share your story in a condensed, but engaging manner.
Jacquelyn Adams, an IEEE Senior member, is a nationally-recognized leader in employee learning and development. Jacquelyn is the CEO and Founder of Ristole, a consulting business that transforms corporations through engaging employee training. Find more of her Lessons on Leadership columns here.