Article: June Campbell

The Small Business Library

July 1, 2000

Your Bio And Why You Need One!

Have you written your bio? No, bios are not just for ego purposes to hang on your office wall, nor do they reveal your deep, dark secrets. This compact, one page document is an important component of your marketing material. Many business people have biographies available for specific uses such as:

  1. For inclusion in press kits when contacting the media.
  2. For inclusion in business proposals and business plans.
  3. To publish on the company web site. Personal information builds credibility and trust. Naturally, it doesn't belong on the front page. Include it in the "About US' section.
  4. For distribution at networking events along with your business card.
  5. To include with company information that you send to potential customers or business contacts.
  6. In other cases where you are required to provide business or personal information.

Keep these tips in mind when creating your bio:

  1. Strive for an attractively laid out, well written document that is no longer than one letter- size page. Experiment with different layouts until you find one that suits you. Newspaper-like columns are attractive and easy to read. You can lay out your bio in any software program that does desktop publishing -- MS Word, Adobe PageMaker, Adobe Illustrator, etc.

  2. Include a small mug shot of yourself in a resolution and color model suitable for printing.

  3. Identify categories of information that you want to include. Typical categories are: Career Highlights, Personal History, Awards and Prizes, Memberships or Community Involvement, Contact Information, Education and Special Interests. Naturally, not everyone will use each of these categories, and some people will want to add their own unique categories.

  4. Identify a few highlights from each of the categories given above. Write the highlights as briefly and compactly as possible. Strive to create an impression of excellence and competence but avoid hype and gimmicky approaches.

  5. Work with your layout until you can get the information onto one page. If your bio is too long, you will lose the attention of journalists and other busy people. If necessary, use a smaller font or omit some of the less important material.

  6. Use visual elements like bulleted or numbered lists, headlines in bold type, text boxes, lines, and so forth.

  7. For a personal touch, include a line that sums up your outlook on life or offers readers a sense of your personality. Three bios I have seen recently used the following: "Seize the Day", "The lyf so short, the crafte so long to lerne -- Chaucer", and "My Greatest Accomplishment: My Two Sons."

When your bio is completed, and that includes spell checking and proofing, convert it to three file formats: MS Word, PDF and HTML. Your PDF file is suitable for taking to the printers as well as sending by email or making available for Internet download. The only down side to PDF if that the people you send it to must have the free Acrobat Reader installed on their computer. Your HTML version can be used on your own or other web sites for easy viewing. The MS Word file can be emailed to people who don't know how to download the Acrobat Reader.

Now, you have an excellent bio at your fingertips whenever you would benefit by providing personal information.

Article by June Campbell - Writing Services by Nightcats Multimedia Productions. The Roundup -- a FREE business ezine -- plus "How-To Booklets" for business plans, proposals, brochures and more! June's writing has appeared in several international print and online publications. Her web site offers a number of resources to small businesses - including guides for proposal writing, business plan development and more.