There are a lot of perks that come with being an astronaut.
Aside from floating in space and flying in rockets, they can describe their awesomeness and career in one word that inspires total respect. This is partly because we all know what astronauts achieve, so we equate these accomplishments with what they do.
Yet, if an Office Ninja walks in the room and says “I’m the right-hand to the CEO,” we lose some of that wonder. Even worse, this Ninja would repeat that vague phrase every time he or she needs to explain their job: on LinkedIn, social media, and even the company’s own website.
It doesn’t have to be this way. We can’t train you to walk on the moon but we can help you convey your position (and personality) better across the web. The first step is learning to squeeze as much juice from your title as possible. Once you’ve gotten the hang of emphasizing impact and over duties, adapting your bios will be ten times easier. Maybe eleven.
To help walk you through the process molding your bio for different outlets, I’ve workshopped two real Ninjas’ bios as examples.
1. Twitter and Other Informal Social Media
Yep, you’re allowed to let your personality shine through on Twitter. If you also use your account to be in on your industry’s news, I recommend sharing a bit about why you belong there.
Take Barbara Grealish, a virtual office assistant and small business consultant with experience in financial services and technology startups. She’s a true, second generation Office Ninja—but she’s also passionate about things outside the workplace.
To reflect all this info in a 160-character bio, lead with credentials and then segue into personal quirks. Based on this formula, Barbara could write the following to make her both an interesting follow and industry connection.
Office money pro & small biz whiz, consulting for tech & finance teams to build better back offices. Fierce tap-dancer. Sampling Chinese food around the world.
This style takes the formality down a notch to help show personality without flagging the account as purely personal/social (as in, tweeting about what you had for lunch every day).
Ninja Janine Baltar, an Office Manager and Executive Assistant at Emoticast, should take a slightly different approach to distinguish the fact that she works for one company in a more specific niche.
Run operations for music, messaging & cool stuff @Emoticast_Ltd. Time mgmt maven & expert team builder. Yogini, London transplant, @CalAthletics fan.
The Takeaway: Twitter is the least formal of the these channels, but mixing personal details in with the professional facts you share makes you more follow-worthy and won’t hurt your reputation when you’re Googled. Shoot for an even split of personal/professional details so followers know exactly what subjects you’ll be in on (and that you’re a real person instead of a spam account).
2. LinkedIn or Other Semi-Professional Channels
LinkedIn requires you to turn up the formality notch a few ticks, but don’t make the mistake of becoming an Office Robot. Bland, buzzword heavy text will send recruiters and colleagues away from your page, especially if you write in third person. Instead, channel summary best practice and the astronaut effect to emphasize results and achievements over ho-hum duties.
To repurpose details from Twitter bio for a LinkedIn context, build on the details you’ve already shared on social media in a way that maintains your unique story without squashing your voice. Because people love stories, leading with an anecdote is perfect—and it naturally works several career paths, including Barbara’s.
I’m a career Office Ninja, following in the footsteps of my office manager dad and bookkeeper mom. I made the virtual switch in 2006 thanks to technology, and I’ve been heeding the call to help the growing market of small businesses in data-sensitive industries build out reliable and experienced back office practices ever since.
See how this explains what Barbara has to offer? That’s what you want. To cover all bases and market your own specialties, include two extra summary sections about technical highlights and professional affiliations. To maintain the same personality demonstrated on social media, play around with titles—like naming affiliations “Street Cred” to keep your style present.
If your industry is more lax or you feel bogged down by professional jargon, focus on light sentences that describe your relationship to a company (especially if you’re still employed there.) In Janine’s case, this could be describing her journey to Emoticast without a stone-cold expertise list.
I’m not afraid to color outside of the lines and I’m always ready for a new challenge. My career path is proof since I’ve popped around in a few administrative and operations roles that taught me everything from developing happy employees to managing nitty-gritty details of technical projects. By the time I joined Emoticast, I’d taught public yoga classes, mastered accounting, and managed C-Suite executives. Now, I’m bringing all those experiences together to help the world communicate with more emotion at Emoticast as the brains behind daily operations.
The Takeaway: You can be professional without being robotic, and you can tell people what you do without just listing responsibilities. Use your LinkedIn summary to tell others who you are and what career experiences made you that way. Include the highlights or standout skills, but save detailed technicalities for individual position sections.
3. Company Websites and Branded Materials
Depending on your company’s culture and public vibe, the website and any printed or official documents may be the most formal of these bios. The challenge here is sticking with your team’s tone, explaining what you do, and still standing out.
As an independent Ninja, Barbara’s message would be more consistent with a personal brand than a corporate image. Yet, she’d still need to check this for consistency, tone, and message clarity. To achieve this balance yourself, incorporate less of the personal details seen on Twitter and more of the professional services touched on through LinkedIn.
Administrative expertise runs through my veins since both of my parents were financial and operations professionals. After completing a degree in business administration and gaining more than 20 years of hands-on experience, I set out to follow in their footsteps by launching a virtual assistance and small business consulting practice. Now, I help companies in the Bay Area and beyond build out successful back offices and strategize team development.
Janine, on the other hand, would need to defer to the guidelines set by her company. A bio appearing on the Emoticast website would likely be in third person, include a title, and match the language of the site.
Executive Assistant & Coordinator Of Awesome. Janine hangs with the CEO and CCO to make sure they’ve got the p’s and q’s of projects, processes, and people sorted out. She also helps the entire team dream up cool ideas and put them into practice by arranging the right resources.
To do this for yourself, pull up official descriptions of your team and company. About Us pages and LinkedIn business profiles are good places to start. Read through the current text and look for a few hints. Is it traditional or does it go against typical business language? Does the company talk more about what they do than who they serve? These things will give you some hints about drafting your own company bio.
The Takeaway: You won’t always have control over how you’re presented and you may have to follow suit. Even if you’re given guidelines, write a bio that would make sense to anyone reading it without reverting to a string of empty phrases.
Is it unfair that Neil Armstrong could use the same bio for his Twitter, LinkedIn, and NASA profiles? Maybe a little. But with these examples, you can learn to tailor your own bio to every corner of the internet without totally starting over each time.
Give it a try and let us know how your online facelift turns out!