Your professional biography, or bio, is a snapshot of who you are. It should convey your credentials, your special talents and your story. It must also be short. Even those with limited attention spans should have the time and desire to read it. Think of your brochure's bio as a part of your overall business marketing.
Speak to Your Audience
Your brochure promotes your business. It is designed to reach your customers, and your bio should do the same. If your bio will appear on an event brochure, think about who will read it and what you want them to know. If new clients are your target, make a point about how you have helped others. If your audience is made up of fellow entrepreneurs, emphasize your business growth. For the former, say, "James Brown has tutored hundreds of students over the past 10 years, 80 percent of whom have gone on to Ivy League universities." For the latter, say, "James Brown is the sole proprietor of the No. 1-ranked educational consulting agency in the metro area."
Start With the Important Facts
Don't bury the most important parts of your bio by starting with less important details. Identify who you are in the first sentence. Avoid listing a series of occupations unless they are directly related to your primary activity. Include your credentials where they support the picture you are trying to create with your bio. "James Brown is an educational consultant and former high school teacher with a Ph.D. from Georgetown University," is more effective than "James Brown is an educational consultant/former teacher/Ph. D. from Georgetown."
Keep It Conversational and Professional
As much as you should promote your education, experience and accomplishments, you want your bio to be friendly and accessible. Don't use technical jargon or big words when small words will make the same point. A sentence or two that outline your hobbies, volunteer work and family life can make you appear well rounded. "James Brown is an avid skier who devotes his spare time to the United Way. He and his spouse live in Denver with their two children." Depending on the nature of your industry, a lighthearted anecdote can be appropriate. "James Brown turned to education because of dedicated teachers who steered him away from the basketball court and into the classroom."
Trim Unnecessary Words
Your brochure's bio should be about one paragraph. That's not a lot of room to contain your name, credentials, personal highlights and contact details. Keep your sentences short or vary their lengths -- one short, the next long. Talk about yourself in the third person and use the active voice. "James Brown welcomes inquiries. Contact him by phone at 800-555-1000" is superior to "Inquiries are welcomed by James Brown, whom you can contact by phone at 800-555-1000." When your bio is complete, pass it to a friend to evaluate whether your point is clear and your tone is welcoming.
Catherine Lovering has written about business, tax, careers and pets since 2006. Lovering holds a B.A. (political science), LL.B. (law) and LL.L. (civil law).