Make a Better LinkedIn Summary or Executive Bio

Your “About You” page isn’t about you. It’s about them. Put out a few words about you and quickly make it about your prospective clients. Ever asked someone a question and they give a short answer and turn it around? “Oh I spent a few years in corporate life. What about you? What have you been doing with yourself?” It’s like that. But no fluffy stuff about how you care about them, because you haven’t yet given them a reason to care about *you*.

Focus on the Future

“Them” isn’t just your existing clients. It’s the prospects you haven’t gotten yet. Aim for your highest and best potential clients, the ones you want to be working for, not necessarily the ones you’re working for now. One way you get the intended audience is writing for the intended audience.

Describe Life After Engaging You

Don’t start with your history, much less how you’ve been doing this work since childhood, because you haven’t given them a reason to care about your journey. Start in the middle. Describe how life looks once *after* you’re already in the picture. Novice fiction writers often insist on providing all the background up front. It’s many pages until something happens. Start with the gunshot that rings out in the night. The question is not even what’s *your* gunshot – it’s what is the gunshot for your intended reader?

Describe What they GET Out of Engaging You

Working with you needs some ‘take aways’. You come with features but, more importantly, you come with benefits. A benefit is something that impacts the other person directly. It’s tangible or specific – a concrete reality, not a feeling. It’s competitive, too, in the sense that they aren’t hearing the same rhetoric from everyone else.

Describe What they Want

Even if you can’t promise they’ll get everything on earth they want, as much as they want it, and to the degree they want it, at least earn their buy-in by making it clear you *know* what they really want. Too often we describe what we *hope* someone wants. It’s like a lot of FAQs are questions we *wish* people would ask us, not the authentic ones they really *are* asking all the time. Writing that stuff, without really listening, doesn’t win anyone. Make a list of prospective client wants, and narrow it down by challenging yourself repeatedly with the question “yeah, but what do they really want?” until you’ve got the plain truth of the matter. If you get this wrong, you’ll revise based on experience.

Describe What they SHOULD Want

Write what they want that they don’t yet know that they want, but will want after you describe it to them. *You* are setting the bar, and the bar is higher than just the services you offer, because someone else is offering those services too. This is where honest introspection pays off. Ask yourself what you bring to the table that alternate providers do not. Identify where value is added over and above the normal shopping cart of your services or generic products.

Describe What they NEED

What they want and need are different things. The need part is the stuff they can’t live without; the want part is the cherry on top. Covering both shows you can make sense of their thoughts even if they haven’t yet. Somewhere down deep is an intrinsic motivation in what they’re after – a need. It might be recognition or personal image; it might be a rationale or sensible way of handling the world; it could be a goal they want to achieve or just the ability to achieve goals in the first place; it could also be a set of relationships or a role they want to fill. Most likely, you’ll have different clients with need all over the spectrum, but you can model these as archetypes to get the core needs you’re offering to meet down to a manageable set.

Write a Riot, Not a Book

An autobiography (in length, style, or content) is great if we’ve got a reason to delve into your life in detail, but it’s not for a social profile or “About” page. If you were to describe yourself in 10 words, what would they be? It can be ten different words or a couple of sentences. Break that stuff up, and start your paragraphs with it, and then switch the focus to them. Respect their time with good organization, too; break up paragraphs with headlines. If a paragraph doesn’t merit a headline, it probably doesn’t deserve a place in your profile.. The content of a good bio is revolutionary; make it incite a riot of interest, not sound off a “ho hum” of self-interest.

Be Merciless with the Knife

Take a scalpel to that profile. They’re only going to engage for so long. Two things will keep their attention – brevity and keeping the spotlight on *them*, their business, their concerns. Yes, the page may be called “About Me” or “About Us” but that’s 20% of its significance. Every piece of marketing material you write is for someone else, so make it 80% about the audience, no matter what the page is called.

The temptation to self-importance is strong with us. We say, “I think people really want to know who is behind this company and what makes them tick.” We think that, because *we* value our own integrity so highly, and that’s a good thing. It’s good to be professionals, contractors, or business owners we respect. But that’s precisely what our audience wants for themselves, and they want it to the tune of more of the song being about them than us. We’ve heard love songs that are mainly about how the singer feels – they’re just not as popular as the ones about the person they actually love and are pining away for.

What moves us is being ‘other’ focused. The single best thing you can do for your profile is turn it around – change the perspective; make it a mirror,  not a microscope. Give people back the best and highest parts of themselves, the thing they envision that they want to be – share that vision with them – and you’ve got a top-40 profile hit.

We can help unpack your marketing material, shift the focus, and make effective recommendations for your ongoing digital marketing success. Engage MadPipe to create your marketing dream team.

Daniel DiGriz

Daniel DiGriz is a corporate storyteller and Digital Ecologist® at MadPipe, which provides creative direction, marketing leadership, and campaign direction for firms that want a stronger connection with their audience. A Digital Ecologist® applies strategic principles from both natural and digital ecologies to help organizations thrive across multiple ecosystems. Daniel hosts podcasts, speaks at conferences, and his ideas have appeared in Inc, SmartBlog, MediaPost, Forbes, and Success Magazine.
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