Telling Stories Through Business Profiles

How much stock do we really put on business profiles? At a time when LinkedIn profiles have become mandatory for job seekers and professionals who wish to advance their careers, it is more important than ever to consider what we are communicating through our professional bios.

Even though LinkedIn profiles have evolved from resume templates to more narrative experiences, we are still serving up the same old stream of achievements, work history, interests, and missions. To a great extent, this is a formula that works for hiring managers and recruiters whose career nutrition consists of the basic four groups: Personal Information, Current Job, Prior Job, and Education. Headhunters and HR managers are lean machines who only need those four groups to survive in their respective fields; we should not assume that everyone else, including potential business partners, will have similar appetites.

You have probably heard marketing specialists talk about corporate storytelling. In some circles, this is known as friendly branding, but the idea is the same: When you tell an interesting story, you are bound to get interesting results.

Writing a Story About Your Professional Life

Few of us look at a resume or professional bio in order to guess where someone is going; we usually rely on storytellers for that purpose. Think about those feel-good stories about rookie athletes you never heard about, but whose hard work with their team appears to be leading them somewhere. You want to project a similar sentiment with your professional bio; there should be an indication that your hard work is leading you in a certain direction.

With the above in mind, take a look at this professional profile of an angel investor listed on Crunchbase. Notice how it is written in narrative format, which is a style that resonates among modern readers, and also notice how his achievements seem to be leading him towards making future investments in the biotechnology and health sciences sectors. When we read this bio, we get a sense that this angel investor is looking to raise capital for a tech startup that can improve lives, and this can be considered to be a happy ending.

Learning About Your Audience

We often fall into the trap of writing biographies that we enjoy reading. This is very common because we are naturally idealistic; in other words, we want our LinkedIn bios to connect us with the kind of companies and individuals we think will lead to greater success.

The reality of making business connections these days is that this is an exercise in positioning ourselves. Who do we really want to reach? Who would be more interested in reading about the happy ending of our careers? This is something we need to think about in order to narrow our audience.

Identifying the needs of our targeted audiences is crucial when writing our bios. We need to understand what they may be looking for and how we can be of help. An angel investor needs to think about the founders of companies who are truly in need of capital to develop their business plans, not just founders who could use some extra cash to negotiate a successful business exit.