Your online bio is often the first piece of information a prospect will read about you. That’s why writing an effective bio is one of the most important steps in your communication plan. Your bio should project a sense of who you are as well as what you do. Include your credentials and qualifications, but also be sure to underscore what defines you as an individual.

Here’s how you can craft an online bio that communicates your story:

> Take inventory of all your experiences
Were you a professional athlete in your past life? Perhaps you belong to a choir or a theatre group. List all the experiences you’ve had — regardless of how relevant they are to the work you do today.

Somewhere in there is an interesting tidbit that can serve as a discussion point when you meet with a prospect, says Richard Heft, president at Ext. Marketing in Toronto. The point is not necessarily to impress people, but to humanize yourself.

> Define what sets you apart
Lead with the details that demonstrate both your professionalism and your personality. Your objective is to give readers a sense of how you spend your time inside — and outside — the office, and how your interests reflect your values as an advisor.

If volunteerism is an important part of your practice, for example, make sure to mention that as you list details about your education, years of experience and designations.

> Highlight notable skills
Amid the changing landscape brought on by the new era of fee disclosure, more clients will be questioning the value of retaining an advisor.

One way to demonstrate your value and relevance is to show that you’re regularly upgrading your professional skills.

“It fortifies your message,” Heft says. “It’s not just saying you’re an expert, but also that you’ve done extra work on [developing your expertise].”

Focus on the skills that are perceived to add value, Heft adds. For example, you might decide to draw attention to designations you acquired recently.

> Adapt your bio to the platform
Your bio may appear on your website as well as on various social media platforms. Tailor each version of your online bio to the platform it appears on, Heft says.

On Twitter, for example, brevity and just a touch of quirkiness can work well in attracting followers. In contrast, a LinkedIn bio should take a more serious tone, echoing that of a resumé.

As a rule of thumb, try to keep your bio to no more than one paragraph, even if the space allotment allows for much more.

> Get a second opinion
After you’ve gone through several drafts of your bio, Heft says, enlist a second pair of eyes to proofread for typos and grammatical errors, and to offer suggestions on how you might improve on it. Pick a person familiar with your level of experience, who can jog your memory about relevant things you might have neglected to mention.

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