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The Business of You, Yourself and Thou

You’re Going to Need More Than One Bio

By Bull Garlington

Regarding your self-promotion, I have good news and I have bad news. Good news: There are more opportunities to promote yourself than ever before. Bad news: The sprawl of marketing opportunities is so fractured and vast, you’ll need five more of you to cover them all. Think of yourself as not just one lawyer. You’re an entire firm — a matryoshka doll in an Armani suit.

To serve these nested personas, you need more than one biography. You need bios for every role in the firm of You, Yourself and Thou.

Here is a collection of bio types you should keep on hand to cover all the various requirements in the universe of self-promotion and business development.

The “Summer Intern”

Single-Line Bio: 11 words

Wide-eyed and sincere, you’re trying very hard to matter without getting in anyone’s way. These are your activist years, side-hustling pro bono work for your favorite cause (say, American Association of Sexy Calendar Clowns). You’re all about slogans and bumper stickers. This is a single-line bio that clocks in at under 140 characters. (Can you figure out why?) It’s your core message in 11 words and the foundation of every bio that comes after.

Where to use it:

  • Your business card
  • As your LinkedIn headline, provided you hone it down to 120 characters
  • On a T-shirt
  • As really subversive graffiti

The “Highly Productive Associate”

Short Bio: 50 words

You’re a few years into the exciting nonstop world of being a productive associate. You sleep at your desk. You fly business class. Clients love you. You’re a voracious shark hunting new opportunities. And your elevator pitch is honed to a diamond edge because you know when opportunity punches the button for the 26th floor, you’ve only got eight seconds before she rolls her eyes and pulls a fade. This slightly longer but still brief bio builds on your brand message by fleshing it out with next-level essentials.

Where to use it:

  • Short website copy
  • Directories
  • Report bios
  • Brochures
  • Email signatures
  • Blog post author bio

The “Junior Partner”

Medium Bio: 150 words

The firm’s website just got a makeover. Jan from marketing says she needs a 125-word bio by the end of the day. Which is no problem because you only have a hostile deposition and two briefs left to go and it’s only 3:30 p.m. No problem. “Just hang on a second, Jan, while I defenestrate myself here …”

Or, you can just go into your new file of biographies and Slack the medium-size bio over to her. It takes the energy of the “Summer Intern” and the drive of the “Highly Productive Associate” and underscores it with the narrative of your curriculum vitae. It’s 150 words long. Concise but informative, it hits all the salient points of your story without sounding like it was written by a machine gun. When you read it, you can’t help but hear it in Sam Elliott’s gravelly voice. (Is that the tiniest little tear in the corner of your eye?) It’s that good.

Where to use it:

  • Longer marketing collateral
  • Directories
  • Your LinkedIn summary
  • Contributing writer profiles
  • The firm’s advertising inserts
  • Publication in special sections

The “Corner Office”

speaker introduction: 300 words

You’re a name partner. You’re still hustling new business, but you hustle at the CEO level. Marketing is putting you on panels at high-roller seminars and industry conferences. Time to control your message a little with an introduction highlighting those achievements, complete with thought leadership hot buttons that’ll turn the conference into a lead avalanche. Write it in the third person. Read it out loud until you don’t sound like you’re breathing helium. Get it right.

Where to use it

  • Whenever you’re being introduced to speak.
  • Pro tip: Print it on 4×6-inch index cards, in 24-point type, double-spaced with your name spelled out phonetically the first time it appears.

The “Rainmaker”

Full Bio: 500+ words

You have arrived. Your name is on the lobby wall in raised brushed-aluminum capitals. You fly first class for meetings. You’re not a rainmaker, you’re a hurricane. You play Words With Friends with Nicolas Cage. When your bio appears now, it’s a full page. It’s got the same gorgeous headshot as the back of your best-selling book, “Clown Car: How I Turned Representation of Circus Talent into an Unending Stream of Business.”

It’s time to take stock of your history with a bio as thorough as a Wikipedia entry. This is your full biography, the master matryoshka containing all the littler lawyer dolls. Write it in the third person. Better, hire a freaking writer to do it for you. The full biography should highlight your most noteworthy achievements, citable publications, Grammy awards, fundraising efforts, and your work with underprivileged mimes. It should end, however, with a kicker: a nutshell of your vision going forward. Like how you’re going to open a slip-and-fall pro bono firm for the victims of fruit-related work injuries in traveling entertainment venues.

Where to use it:

  • Firm website
  • Personal website
  • One-sheet for marketing your book
  • Publications
  • Academic profiles
  • Alumni association profiles

Related: 7 Steps to a Fresher, More Authentic Bio by Nancy Slome

Illustration ©

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BULL Garlington Bull Garlington

Analog Attorney columnist Bull Garlington is an award-winning author, columnist and public speaker. He is the author of the books “Fat in Paris,” “The Full English,” “Death by Children” and “The Beat Cop’s Guide.” He prefers South American literature, classic jazz, Partagas 1945s, a decent Laphroaig, and makes a mean chicken and andouille gumbo. Follow him @bull_garlington.

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