The biggest lessons for us all in Ivanka Trump changing up her Twitter bio
Show the world who you are — in 160 characters or less.
In an age of shrinking attention spans and character counts, selling your personal brand in a carefully crafted single sentence is key to showing people who you are professionally, and as an individual.
“I like to think about it as each person’s magical power,” career coach and professional resume writer Andrea Gerson tells Moneyish. “Everyone has something they’re exceptionally good at or just love to do. Pick a few of these things — your career, a sector you’re passionable about, a rare area of expertise — and merge them together into a snippet.”
Ivanka Trump changed her Twitter bio on Monday keeping the words “wife, mother, sister, daughter,” but cutting out the more feminist section about being a “passionate advocate for the education and empowerment of women and girls.”
The new text reads more like a resume, listing her political role as “advisor to POTUS on job creation and economic empowerment, workforce development and entrepreneurship.” She also removed the word “entrepreneur,” took out the link to her website ivankatrump.com, and changed her location from New York to Washington D.C. to reflect the career change.
Career coaches commended her on taking out the generic word “passionate,” but because her bio reads more professionally, she could have left out the words “wife” and “mother.”
“Don’t be afraid to own your professional ambition and make it the first thing you say,” says Gerson. “It’s time for women to stop prefacing who they are with the ‘look at me, I’m relatable’ and ‘I’m not intimidating or threatening.’”
If your target audience is prospective employers or colleagues, its best to lead with your job title, company, or the general field you wish to work in with phrases like “financial analyst,” “PR guru,” “amateur chef” or “doctor to be.”
And if you want a less rigid-sounding bio, consider an authentic reflection of who you are professionally and personally, with a little bit of added flair like a fun fact, aspiration or accomplishment.Think of it as a formula that includes your career, noteworthy achievements (i.e. author or inventor) goal or aspiration and a fun fact (i.e. wine aficionado, cheese wiz, masterchef).
Take screenwriter, author and producer Shonda Rhimes. The “Grey’s Anatomy” producer does an excellent job of playfully showing, not telling, the world who she is in her bio:
“I make stuff up for a living. It’s not real, okay?” she writes. She includes a promotional link to a recent TED talk, and her website.
Here are some expert tips on how to show your best self in a bio:
Avoid generic filler words
Gerson says to avoid empty words like “passionate,” “dedicated” and “driven” and instead, include descriptions that mean something.
“It’s important to think about words that evoke a response that you get excited about,” says Gerson. “Really make sure you’re coming up with something original.”
Let your passion speak for itself by listing awards you’ve earned. Or topics you’re knowledgeable about (i.e. mathete, lead singer, tennis ace).
Bios are personal, and should be all about yourself. Be sure to include what you do, what you aspire to do, and perhaps a fun fact about yourself that pertains to your brand.
“People need to know about you first thing,” says Gerson. “You are an individual first and foremost. Don’t lead with a generic caregiver title. “It would be the equivalent of saying ‘I have a bachelor’s degree.’”
So rethink listing “mom” or “dad” as the first description in your bio, unless your audience is other parents.
“It depends what your brand it,” says Gerson. “For someone like Hillary Clinton, part of her leadership is understanding women and their roles — so having mom and grandma in her bio makes sense because it’s relevant.”
Gerson says you can list being a parent, but suggests doing so later on in your bio. Take “Lean In” author Sheryl Sandberg, who puts “Facebook,” as the first thing in her bio, followed by her role as a “mother of 2,” to reflect her brand as a working mom.
Show your activism
If you are particularly passionate about a cause or organization, don’t just list “activist,” express what it is you’re championing for.
Take Malala Yousafzai, for example, the 20-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner clearly lists her cause, writing that she is an advocate for girls’ education and women’s equality.
Similarly, actress Reese Witherspoon uses her bio to advocate for the recent #TimesUp female empowerment movement, simply leaving the link to the website in her bio.
Don’t leave your bio blank
Unless you are Oprah or Beyonce, you must fill in a bio so tell people who you are and what you do.
“What a lot of those women [celebrities] have to their advantage is they already have a known brand,” says Gerson. “People already have a sense of who they are. For most women, we need to keep in mind what are we hoping to get out of the connections this channel will lead to.”
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