Did you notice that “bio” is pluralized in the title?
Yes, you need to have more than one biography if you’re on social media, writing, and/or speaking as well. Don’t copy your website bio word for word.
Your bio is your opportunity to say “hello”, provide an introduction, and guide someone to further engage with you or your content. Think of it as your elevator pitch when you’re meeting someone in person. To increase further interaction, you have to say something more than you being a lawyer. Also, depending on the venue you’re in and the people in attendance, you would change your elevator pitch accordingly. As such, do the same with your biographies.
To help craft an effective biography, consider these aspects:
Understand the parameters
Know the limitations of where your bio will appear before you spend time crafting that “perfect” bio.
Character or word count
For social media bios, know the character count limits. On Twitter, for example, your bio is limited to 160 characters. You can include a link to your website in a separate field of your profile so it won’t factor into the bio character count. On LinkedIn, you can write much more in the summary section of your profile, but note that only the first two lines of your summary are visible on desktop until someone clicks “See more”. So make those first two lines are compelling (see “Know Your Audience” below).
If you’re sending your bio to a publisher or event organization, find out if there’s a word limit, especially if your bio will appear in print. Don’t flip over your website bio as is to let the publisher or organizer pare it down. You want to stay in control of your introduction and call to action (see “Call to Action” below).
Another limitation could relate to branding. For example, your law firm may have a website bio template and tone that everyone needs to follow. Even if it does, don’t assume you can’t inject something different in at least a part of your bio. Ask the person overseeing the website bios whether there is any flexibility in this regard.
For writer and speaker bios, even if you see past bios all having a conservative tone don’t be afraid to ask the publisher or event organizer about having a more personal tone. It may be that the other lawyers wanted to complete this non-billable task fast and simply stated the usual “I’m a lawyer at ABC law firm, and I practice in the areas of x, y, and z law.” Be meaningful when you say hello to people. Incorporate your personal brand. Draw a connection between what your values are and the topic you’re writing or speaking about. For example, if you’re speaking on a panel about diversity, does your bio read like the example above? If yes, it’s time to add in at least a line conveying your interest in diversity. There may not be an opportunity to explain the background of your passion during your talk, or people may miss your introduction if someone does mention it. Specifying your passion in your bio for the topic you’re speaking about could result in invitations to speak or write elsewhere.
Know your audience
The purpose of your bio is to tell people who you are in a way that would be relevant to them so they would be interested in learning more about you. You will need to think about who your target audience is. Your target audience is not everyone! Break down your audience into segments and prioritize who you want to seek more work from.
For your website bio, you could specifically name a few of your audience segments if you have a broad practice. A “clients include” statement is an easy way to do this.
The target audience for your social media efforts does not need to be the same as that for your website. For example, if you have a broad practice, but want to focus on a particular industry, community, or demographic, you could have a social media account that does that.
For your writing and speaking engagements, think about the audience of the publication and event. If you aren’t sure who the audience is comprised of, ask the publisher or event organizer.
Once you’ve identified your target audience, think about the goals, challenges, interests, and values of this audience.
Does your website bio, LinkedIn summary, writer bio, or speaker bio mention who you help? Does it relay the value you can provide in terms of meeting your target audience’s goals or solving their challenges? Does it refer to your understanding of the audience because you have a similar background? Is it written in a way your audience will understand?
Also, consider adding in something personal to help establish a common connection and ease someone’s comfort level in approaching a lawyer. For example, if you’re speaking at a community event, relay your personal connection with that community. Other examples include mentioning your family, listing your hobbies or interests, or announcing your aspirations. Your bio doesn’t need to be all law-related. You want to be memorable as an individual someone can connect with.
Add a photo
Your face isn’t hidden when you meet someone in person, so remember to include your photo in your online or offline bio. Use the same photo that’s on your website for consistency. It should be a professional looking headshot. Don’t use a photo of you because you looked good at a party and cropped out other people standing next to you.
Set your call to action
In person, passing along a business card helps someone to continue the client journey. It sets out your contact information, website address, and social media handles. Similarly, in your bios, make it easier for people to reach you or learn more about you by adding your contact information or links to your website, blog, and social media accounts. Guide people to move along the client journey by using action words, like “email”, “read”, “check out” or “follow”.
Also, consider the bio on the medium you’re leading the person to. Is it word for word the same as the one on the previous medium? If yes, that is a missed opportunity to continue telling your story. Make sure to add something different, such as by elaborating on your legal experience, supporting how you help your audience solve their challenges, or mentioning your personal interests and values.
Although on its face your bio is about you, it’s really about “what’s in it for me” from your target audience’s point of view. Put yourself in their shoes. Write something that would interest and motivate them to continue the client journey. Take control of how you want others to view you by tailoring your bio to the specific medium and audience you want to say hello to.
About the author
Eva Chan is a lawyer turned social media strategist, consultant, and trainer for lawyers. She helps lawyers save time in learning how to use social media, and leverage it to meet professional and personal goals.
When Eva isn’t developing the personal brand of lawyers or injecting focus into their social media efforts, she’s likely taking pictures of food, nature, and whoever can tolerate being photographed by her, and sharing it on social media.
For more social media and marketing guidance, read her blog posts at evachanweb.ca/blog.