Writing about yourself? You are the BRAND, baby

Probably the most important thing the internet and particularly social media have done is to turn marketers’ perception of us from that of basic, dim-witted consumers … to that of intelligent, questioning buyers who just aren’t going to be fooled by hard-sell bullsh*t any more.

Writing about yourself? You are the BRAND, baby

When you write about yourself for business you have got to look upon yourself not as the person, but as the brand your work represents.

In fact what we have seen is a massive paradigm shift from the days when writing about yourself was about selling yourself and your stuff to people in one-way communication…

…to a time now when you get involved with your marketplace, get to know the people, and then help them to buy.

And that’s whether you want them to buy your product, your services, or even you – yourself.

When you write about yourself for business you have got to look upon yourself not as John or Emma or Frankie … the person

…but as John Smith, the brand

…Emma Beaumont, the brand

…or Frankie Levinsky the brand

I know this sounds rather callous and cold. But …

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So if you take yourself out of yourself, and instead look upon yourself as a brand or in others words “something or something else,” you’ll find it a lot easier to write about it in a more positive way.

Let’s take a look at one of the basic things most of us need to do for work – writing a short biographical paragraph about ourselves. If you write it in the first person, stating anything other than bald facts sounds conceited and boastful, so we tend to underplay our strengths.

Writing about yourself in the first person … weak

I’m Suzan St Maur. I work as a business writer, content coach and blogger. I’ve been doing this for quite a long time now so have gained some useful experience across a number of big “household name” corporations as well as working with many smaller, but equally interesting entrepreneurial businesses. I also have a website called HowToWriteBetter.net which offers more than 1,000 articles on nearly all types of writing – there’s a strong focus on business, but we also write about fiction, job search and even music and poetry. The site recently won an award.

Is that going to set the world on fire? It may sound acceptably modest, but it’s about as inspiring and influential as a dead fish.

Writing about yourself in the third person … you’re the brand, baby!

Let’s try that without “cranking up” the adjectives so you can see just how the change of “person” makes a difference…

Suzan St Maur is a business writer, content coach and blogger. She has been working at this for some time and as a result has gained some useful experience across a number of big “household name” corporations, combined with experience with many smaller, but equally interesting entrepreneurial businesses. In addition she runs the award-winning website, HowToWriteBetter.net, which offers more than 1,000 articles on almost all types of writing with a strong focus on business, accompanied by articles on fiction, job search and even music and poetry.

Not only is the second version more powerful, it also provides a much more acceptable basis for a little tweaking to make it more persuasive, without sounding boastful.

Writing about yourself when you have to use the first person, like it or not

An exception to the above is in CVs /résumés, university applications and similar circumstances where you’re often forced to write about yourself in the first person. This makes it very hard to “do yourself proud.” We’ve covered that little hornet’s nest in this guest article here.

Fortunately though, in less formal business situations the third person is OK and is much more effective in conveying the most positive aspect of your skills without making you look like you’ve got an ego the size of Nebraska.

Can a written bio be used as an elevator speech, too?

Now, some people think that an elevator speech is the spoken version of their written bio. And although that can work, my own feeling is that although their content can be similar, the best ways to phrase these forms of writing about yourself are very different, despite their being about the same brand – i.e. you.

For starters, you have to make your elevator speech in the first person. Problem: will it sound weak? If you try to impress people with how good “I” am (or “we” are) will it sound like I’m a pompous show-off and damage my brand as a result?

Solution: write yourself a “hook” that will make people remember you

This isn’t always possible, but it IS possible more often than not, provided that you put a little thought and even research into it. The trick is to find a simple joke or witty comment that makes people look beyond your “business face” and see a glimpse of the real you (yes, the real you despite your being the brand, too.)

Just the other morning I was at an early (07:00 hrs) breakfast networking meeting and heard the following lovely opening lines…

“I left my job to set up my own engineering business, so I wouldn’t have to get up early in the mornings…” (new startup in product design)

(SHOUTING AND POINTING AT INDIVIDUALS) “Large scotch!! Double gin!! Sambucca!! There – that’s because for the next 60 seconds I’m calling the shots…” (runs an office furniture company)

“Good morning, I’m XXXX YYYYY and I’m a professional voyeur…” (expert analysis of CCTV video for lawyers and  police forces)

You don’t have make jokes or shout out bar orders when you’re writing about yourself for an elevator speech. Even a simple comment about the weather, about something you were just talking about with another person at that meeting, or any other point that differs from the standard “My name is XXXXX and I help people YYYYY.” That’s all it takes to make people take notice and get aligned with your brand.

Here’s what I’ve written about myself to say in business networking meetings

This usually gets a laugh while establishing my brand without bragging…

Hi, I’m Suzan St Maur and I’ve been a business and marketing writer since somewhere around the Ming Dynasty. I have written for pretty well all media with the exception of tablets of stone, and that’s only because I’m no good with a hammer and chisel. I offer two basic services: I can write your business information and content for you, or if you want to write it yourself, I’ll teach you how to do it. I also run the award-winning multi-genre writing resource How To Write Better dot Net, with more than 1,000 articles and tutorials on all types of writing with a strong focus on business but also covers fiction, music and poetry. That’s me: Suzan St Maur from How To Write Better dot net.

Now, the third person written version to establish the brand more forcefully

Canadian born, UK-based Suzan St Maur is one of the English language markets’ most experienced business writers in blogging and other content creation, plus social media, ad copywriting, and script/speech writing. She coaches and trains in blogging and content creation as well as having contributed to several hundred business websites and publications around the world, including a popular column on the leading US website, MarketingProfs.com. Her website, http://HowToWriteBetter.net, has grown from nothing to probably the largest multi-genre writing resource online today with more than 1,000 articles on tutorials receiving 1,500 page views daily. The site has earned a place in Alltop.com’s top 300 social media sites worldwide and was a winner in the UK Blog Awards 2015.

I rest my case!

How do you write about yourself as a brand?

Please share your views and comments here

NB: for a lot more help and advice on how to write about yourself, you might find my eBook, “How To Write About Yourself,” particularly useful.

 

 

 

 

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