A customer who is part of a team at a small manufacturing company emailed to ask: “Is it ok to put personal information in our bios? Call me a stuffed-shirt, but putting in personal details seems unprofessional. We should stick with listing our experience, education and credentials. Yes?”
This is a great question, and one that clients ask me on a regular basis.
Personally, I like management team bios written on the more personable side. I enjoy reading about people and their careers. I like knowing what people do outside of work because it helps me get to know them a little better before we have an initial conversation.
If I read something of particular interest in a bio, I’ll use it as a conversation starter.
But, I realize not everyone is comfortable with these types of bios. In fact, some of the companies I’ve worked with don’t want bios at all due to various reasons.
“Some of the women on our team don’t want their names and photos on the website,” said one client a couple of years ago when we were re-doing their website. “They have reasons for this and I respect them,” she said.
I agreed and we proceeded with the website minus a few bios.
Appearing “too small”
This one I hear frequently. If the management team consists of three people, the client is afraid their company will appear “small” or like a “mom and pop.”
I usually advise that prospective customers have probably already guessed the company in question is small — and that it’s most likely the main reason they may want to do business with them.
I like how Lori Malitsky, Founder of Flood Solutions, used her company’s “smallness” to an advantage. A very small manufacturer, Lori presented her team on the About page with a brief company history.
Lack of good photos
Often companies don’t want to go to the expense of hiring a professional photographer, so they forego the bios altogether.
Examples of management team bios
Whether or not you should create bios that include personal information is really up to you (you being the business owner). No hard and fast rules exist.
One company I worked with elected to keep their bios on the more professional side because they work with Fortune 500 corporate marketing departments.
Another company, K2 Castings, wanted their customers to know they weren’t afraid to get out and walk around their scrap metal facilities and machinery. Founder Tom Stanek had himself and his partner photographed wearing hard hats and safety vests.
My other client, New England Electropolishing, added personal information because they wanted to come across as personable and friendly to their customers. They’ve told me numerous times they’ve received lots of positive feedback about their website.
If you do decide to add bios to your website, follow these basic tips.
1. Use the same format for each bio — By “format,” I’m referring to the order of information: the person’s current responsibilities and expertise in the first paragraph, brief career history in the second paragraph, education in the third, etc.
2. Highlight credentials, experience, and awards / honors relevant to the job — Be sure that each bio presents the person’s credentials, any honors or industry awards, and all relevant experience. By adding this information, you help build that trust and authority in the minds of your readers.
What should you do if someone didn’t graduate from college? Simply highlight all relevant experience. You can also focus on supplementary education — e.g. industry workshops or seminars that included a certification. Be sure to include whether the person is active or holds leadership positions in industry associations.
Don’t forget military experience as well as any honors or medals earned.
4. Add personal information as desired — Often, people have interesting outside interests and it’s this information that adds color and texture to an otherwise standard bio. Consider asking people to include volunteer or community activities, church / synagogue leadership, club memberships, and hobbies or athletic endeavors (e.g. marathon runner, cyclist, etc.).
5. Have professional photos taken! — It’s very easy these days to take photos with your smartphone, but please, please, please, do hire a professional photographer to take your team’s photos. One, you’ll get much higher quality photographs, and two, a professional sees things in photographs that you never see: background junk, “dead space,” hairs and dust on your clothes, poor lighting, etc. He or she is also patient and knows that it may take a dozen or more photos to capture the “essence” of you.