Thursday, May 19, 2011
THE RESUME IS DEAD, THE BIO IS KING
Gone are the days of “Just the facts, M’am.” Instead we’re all trying to suss each other out in the relationship economy. Do I share something in common with you? How do we relate to each other? Are you relevant to my work?
That’s why the resume is on the out, and the bio is on the rise. People work with people they can relate to and identify with. Trust comes from personal disclosure. And that kind of sharing is hard to convey in a resume. Your bio needs to tell the bigger story. Especially, when you’re in business for yourself, or in the business of relationships. It’s your bio that’s read first.
To help you with this, your bio should address the following five questions:
Who am I?
How can I help you?
How did I get here (i.e. know what I know)?
Why can you trust me?
What do we share in common?
Your bio is the lynchpin for expanding your thought leadership and recognition, especially online. It frames the conversation and sets the tone. It’s your job to reveal a bit about yourself and how you see the world. Do this well, and people will eagerly want to engage with you further.
Here’s the challenge: who taught you how to write your bio?
Admittedly, most of us never got a lesson in this essential task. You’re not alone. Even the most skilled communicators get tongue-tied and twisted when trying to represent themselves in writing. We fear the two extremes: obnoxious self-importance or boring earnestness. It gets further complicated when you’re in the midst of a career or business reinvention. You have to reconcile the different twists and turns of your past into a coherent professional storyline.
The personal branding industry has only muddied the waters. It’s easy to feel turned off by the heavy-handed acts of self-promotion that the various gurus out there say you’re supposed to do. We’ve been told to carefully construct a persona that will differentiate and trademark our skills into a unique value proposition. That’s mostly a bunch of buzzword bingo bullshit.
Instead, share more of what you really care about. And then write your bio in service to your reader, not just ego validation. Imagine that: A compelling reason to tell your story beyond bragging to the world that you’re “kind of a big deal.” Embrace the holy-grail of storytelling: tell a story that people can identify with as their own – and the need to persuade, convince, or sell them on anything disappears.
With all this in mind, here’s a few key pointers for reinventing your bio as a story:
1. Share a Point of View.
You’re a creative. Having something to say is the ultimate proof. What’s missing from the larger conversation? Speak to that. Don’t be afraid to tell the bigger story. We want to know how you see the world. Show us that you have a unique perspective or fresh vantage point on the things that matter most.
2. Create a Backstory.
Explain the origin for how you came to see the world in this way. Maybe it was something that happened to you as a kid or early in your career. Consider your superhero origins. How did you come into these powers? What set you off on this quest or journey? What’s the riddle or mystery you are still trying to solve? When you tell the story of who you were meant to be, it becomes an undeniable story. Natural authority is speaking from the place of what you know and have lived.
3. Incorporate External Validators.
Think frugally here. To paraphrase the artist De La Vega, we spend too much time trying to convince others, instead of believing in ourselves. Nonetheless, if you’re doing something new, different, or innovative – you have to anchor it into the familiar. Help people see that your novel ideas are connected to things they recognize and trust. That might be your notable clients, press, publications, or things you’ve created. Just enough to show people your story is for real.
4. Invite people into relationship.
Now that you’ve established you’ve got something to share, remind people you’re not so different from them. Vulnerability is the new black. Share some guilty pleasures. Describe what you like to geek out on. Reveal a couple things you obsess about as hobbies or interests. This will make you more approachable and relatable. You’re human, too. Help people find the invisible lines of connection.
To revamp your bio, start with these simple storytelling principles and questions above. In the process, you’ll discover a greater potential to shift how you see yourself and how the world sees you. Your story sets the boundaries for everything else that follows.
If you’re having trouble being heard, recognized, or understood, it’s probably an issue related to your story and identity. The good news? It’s never to late to reinvent your story.
What's Your Take?
Have you updated your bio recently? What do you struggle with?
Michael Margolis is the Dean of Story University and host of the Reinvention Summit.