“I really appreciate that you’ve taken the time to detail how to use storytelling to write a great About Me page. What you suggest certainly makes sense, because I know that I get a good feeling about someone when I go to their About Page and want to know more about them… But, doesn’t your advice contradict what Marie Forleo and Derek Halpern say, that ‘the About Page is not about you”‘? What have been your findings when working with clients?”
— Ania in Holland
My friend Ania (who is a brand new mom, by the way– congratulations Ania!) brought up this excellent point about writing an effective About Me page when we were first working together in the spring. After writing a 4,800-word expose on storytelling last week, I thought you might be asking the same question that Ania did a few months ago.
So, should your About Me page be so personal, or more professional?
Is your About Me page really supposed to be about you?
Or, is your story supposed to be more about your reader, customer or client than you?
Ania’s question arises as she remembers some great advice that’s touted by two very talented and well-known entrepreneurs, Marie Forleo (whose B-School Program is one of the foremost on digital entrepreneurship), and Derek Halpern (whose Social Triggers website is also one of the best on marketing through relationship-building, psychology and much more).
Far be it from me–who doesn’t run a 6-figure business or operate an email list of tens of thousands of subscribers–to contradict any tried-and-true advice espoused by entrepreneurs who do.
However, my advice for writing an effective About Me page doesn’t really contradict with the adage that “Your About Me page isn’t really about you.”
My approach is a more nuanced, subtle, story-first approach that best suits someone who prefers to lead a business relationship with a personal connection.
For me, writing a great About Me page is about the reader–but how I want to connect to the reader is through opening up to share the intimate, personal and even vulnerable side of my story and experiences.
Because if it shows my soul, it proves that I care.
And if you can feel that I care, then I’m doing my part to lead by example. No games. No gimmicks. No sales tricks. That kind of storytelling is, to me, the most highly invitational, compassionate and no-pressure/no-bullshit form of “marketing” that exists. That’s how I like to be treated as a reader, customer or client. So it only stands to reason that I ought to treat readers, customers and clients like that, myself!
Using storytelling in this way isn’t for everyone.
Every one of the clients who I help comes to me because they inherently understand that who they are and what they’ve experienced in their lives is the best way to show readers, clients and customers how much they care. That they’ve been in their prospective clients’ shoes before. That these possible business transactions mean more than just a financial trade–this is about helping people live better lives, and not feel like they have to “go it alone.”
My clients want to tell their story really well.
Each of my clients understands on a personal level that telling his or her story is the very bridge to connecting with human beings on a human level, instead of resorting to an About Page that tends to read as a more impersonal sales pitch.
I’m not saying that this is necessarily what entrepreneurs like Derek and Marie recommend in their respective programs and websites.
But it is what I’ve tended to see in new entrepreneurs who are first attempting to implement this “About Me page is not about me” advice at first, and at face-value.
If you want to create an emotional bridge through which your prospective readers/clients see themselves in you, then they need to actually know who you are as a human being. Storytelling helps that. You can convey the very personal and even vulnerable experiences that they too are likely experiencing.
So, your About Me page both is and isn’t about you.
It’s about another human being seeing and feeling herself through you–through your story. You are acting as the mirror.
Of course, this approach would be different if you were selling a skill or ability first, like website copy or book-editing– those are about getting a job done. With life coaching or health/nutritional coaching, we’re discussing extraordinary personal services. The human being behind the service becomes a big part of the deciding factor for why someone would or wouldn’t choose you.
A story-first approach is the very least you can do when you’re a life coach, health coach, or take on some other form of a human-first leader, teacher or giver.
Your own humanity ought to come before you tout expertise, authority and mastery of the skill or ability that you’re offering.
This past Saturday I spent a few hours at a local car dealership with my father and had these very ideas on storytelling and methods of selling/marketing on my mind.
The car dealership is one of those places where, when you’re on the customer side of the equation, it becomes abundantly clear which salespeople have your best interests in mind, and which treat you like a disposable number.
Is what you’re offering a pure numbers game, where time equals money, and that’s all that matters?
There are many ways to market yourself and your services. To me, the most authentic way to invite new business is to open up and show that you care (in addition to what you know, and how you work, and why you’re great at what you do).
Business doesn’t have to be so “business-y.” A few ounces of story, sharing and humanity can really help enrich the exchange.