All about you: the top company profile mistakes

“About us”. Your company profile. It’s one of the most clicked pages on your website, but how much time have you spent crafting the words on the page? Similarly, when you ask your assistant to quickly email your bio to the organizer of the next event you are speaking at, have you really considered whether it’s suitable for that audience?

It’s vital to remember that your “About Us” page and your bio are key selling tools for yourself and your business. Don’t underestimate the power of these pages, they are worth spending time on.

So what are the most important factors to consider?

Mistake #1 – Writing a chronological story about your company

It can be tempting to start at the beginning. After all, that’s the logical approach we were taught at school. It’s common to see company profiles start with a story about how the idea of the company came about, followed by a chronological account of the key milestones from there. Well, this is possibly the most boring – not to mention ineffective – way to write your company profile.

Instead, start at the end. It may seem counterintuitive, but you need to remember that the reader is probably time-poor, so open with a description of what your company’s core focus is now.

Mistake #2 – Focusing on statistics in your first line

I see this all the time: “We’re a consultancy with 18 offices in 15 countries”. Or “We’re a dynamic six-year-old company servicing over 70 high net worth clients…” There is a tendency to obsess with statistics because it can make you sound bigger than you really are. Numbers may be important, but they typically don’t belong in the first sentence of your bio or company profile. Include them in later paragraphs. Instead, get to the point. That is, plunge straight into what your business is about and how you can help people. An example from my own business: “We are Australia’s leading center for writing courses, and we help people get published and write with confidence.”

Mistake #3 – Replicating your resumé as your bio

Your bio is not your resumé. If you are asked for your bio, don’t just send people your LinkedIn profile and hope that they will cobble together a few paragraphs. Chances are you’ve been asked to supply your bio so it can be printed in a conference directory or similar document. If people don’t actually meet you face to face at the event, your bio is the only thing that is going to represent you, so craft it carefully.

Again, a big mistake here is writing your bio chronologically, starting with your first job. Instead, start with your current role and then focus on the most relevant experience in your career. Remember, you don’t need to include every single job you’ve ever had in your bio. Your bio is not your resumé and you’re not going for a job interview. Your bio is a sales tool.

Mistake #4 – Not tailoring your bio for your audience

You can have more than one bio and should tailor your bio for every audience. If you are speaking at an event for fitness professionals, make sure your interest in triathlons or mixed martial arts is highlighted. You want your fitness-obsessed audience to connect with you. On the other hand, if you are speaking at a conference for retailers, you want to focus on your experience with customer service.

I recently read the bio of a senior financial services executive who was speaking at a business conference. It opened with: “I am married with four teenage sons and live in Pymble on the north shore of Sydney…”  While this might be true, is it relevant to this audience? It might have been appropriate if the executive was going to talk about work/life balance, but his presentation was about economic conditions.

Mistake #5 – Including broad statements instead of specific achievements

Ever seen bios that include sentences like this? “When I was at ABC Company, I was responsible for the strategic direction of the organization” or “I was in charge of the financial outcomes of the company”. Please, what does that really mean? You’re not doing yourself any favors with vague, broad-brush statements. Try this instead: “When I was at ABC Company, I transformed the business from one retail outlet to a 30-store franchise “. Or “As a chief operating officer, I grew turnover from $300,000 to $2 million.”

Ultimately, it’s essential to invest time into the words you use in your company profile or bio. When people read it, you don’t want them to shake their heads in bewilderment. You want them to instantly understand what you’re about.

Valerie Khoo is Managing Director of the Sydney Writers’ Centre in Milsons Point, Sydney. As one of Australia’s leading centers for writing training, the center runs short courses to help people get published and write with confidence.

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