Twitter biographies – no modesty required?

I’ve been thinking about image and personal branding all week after writing that post about CVs. As I said then, the words you write about yourself have got to be good – you can’t afford to squander the chance to control your own publicity.

But this has led to some interesting cultural differences. Take, for example, Twitter biographies. Without being too sweeping – American tend to have less problems than we do with self-promotion. An American accountant is “the best in the Tri-state area” – round here he may just be “good with figures”.

We feel the need to down play ourselves, to turn down the volume, when of course what we should be doing is turning it up to be heard through the melee.

But take care – cautionary tale approaching.

Do you know the racing pundit Brough Scott? He is a face and voice from my childhood when  inexplicably, I watched a lot of racing on TV. I remember him looking rather dashing in a hat and a Barbour jacket although I should imagine he had other clothes. Apparently when he first took to Twitter he decided that modesty was not required and sensibly decided to use his brief Twitter bio to say exactly what needed to be said and I quote;

Brough Scott is one of the best known figures in racing and sport.

This did not go down well.

His peers ribbed him mercilessly, introducing him as “Brough Scott one of the best known figures in racing and sport” whenever they got the chance. After an initial stab at standing his ground he was forced to back down and now writes under a much reduced bio (in bragging terms at least.)

One time ghost writer for Lester Piggott. Presenter of TV shows from the Derby to Books by my Bedside. Still active – on the page at least.

We Brits like modesty much better than braggadocio and the challenge is to self-promote in a way that is going to do us justice without leading to ridicule from our peers. Dry humour helps, but I think you have to be well-known and brilliant to pull off the really self-deprecating.

Part-time Radio 4 Presenter

British actor, writer.

These are the bios of broadcaster Jane Garvey and all round treasure Stephen Fry (you’re a treasure too Jane.) I think both can be confident that we know they are more than that – and their bios go on somewhat flippantly to reference poor motherhood and swimwear – you guess which is which.

So don’t oversell, don’t undersell, be funny but not flippant, have fun and make yourself heard. Simple!

One really sound piece of takeaway advice?

  • If you want people to offer you work – add a URL to your LinkedIn profile.
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