Find Writing About Yourself Hard? Try These 3 Tips
When people ask me what I do for a living, I tell them I help people in business to blow their own trumpet…without sounding like an idiot. I include that last bit specifically because it’s the biggest fear people tell me they have when it comes to their personal brand.
One of the places they worry most about coming over as a bit of an arse is in their online biography – whether that’s the ‘About’ section on their LinkedIn profile, or their personal summary on the company website.
I understand their plight
When I wrote my own biography in the early days of my business, I took ages struggling to craft something that made me sound good enough to be worth hiring, but low-key enough that I didn’t appear egotistically deluded. It was hard, but I got there eventually, knowing that if I couldn’t write my own biography, how could I expect my clients to do the same? (Walking the talk is key to what I do.)
Most people don’t have that impetus
Faced with the prospect of blowing their own trumpet for all the world to read, many people will do one of two things:
- Avoid writing an online biography completely.
- Write it, but with such bland wording that a thousand other profiles could say the same thing (so at least if you sound like an arse, so do another 999 people).
The downside of both options is that you’re missing a HUGE opportunity to stand out from the crowd and have people buy your personal brand before they’ve even met you. That’s why I’m offering these three top tips to help you pen a profile that does you proud.
(They’re all things my clients have told me they found helpful when writing their own profiles, so they come tried and tested.)
Here’s what you need to know…
Back in 2015, a team from John Hopkins, Rice and Columbia universities conducted studies with stroke victims to find out where in the brain language comes from. They discovered that the words we speak come from a different place than the words we write.
It’s something I’ve noticed with clients’ online biographies: although their language is chatty and informal when talking about themselves in person, as soon as their hands hit the keyboard, it changes to become more stiff and formal – losing all their personality in the process. So the first tip is…
1. Write the words then say them out loud
Once you’ve drafted your online biography, read it out loud – not just in your head. As you do so, pay attention to how you feel. Are the words flowing naturally off your tongue, as they would chatting to a friend? (In which case, you’ve hit the right tone.) Or are they a bit clunky, like you’re reading from a textbook? (In which case, it’s back to the drawing board.) Which leads me onto the second tip…
2. Talk it through with someone else
Sit down with someone you feel comfortable with, who knows you pretty well (preferably in a work context) and talk about your past career – where you worked, what you achieved, what you brought to the table. Let them ask you questions as you go along (an indicator of the parts they find interesting, that other people might too). And most importantly, record your conversation.
That way you can listen back and write your biography with the exact words you spoke, rather than flipping to the written word part of your brain. But if your friend really knows you well, you may want to try this last tip…
3. Get someone else to write it
It’s a lot easier to talk glowingly about what someone else has achieved than it is to talk about yourself, so ask that same friend to not just chat to you for the recording, but to write the first draft of your biography. (Offering to do the same in return can help persuade them.)
With the building blocks in place, all you have to do is tweak the copy here and there to end up with a biography that’s already had a third-party filter applied to avoid you sounding like an idiot.
What tip can you offer to ease the pain of writing about yourself? Or are you someone who’s avoided it so far because it’s just too terrible to contemplate (in which case these tips should help!) It’d be great if you’d leave a comment below. Thanks!
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