How To Write A CEO Profile For Maximum Impact
In our age of digital influence, a CEO’s professional profile is more than just a career bio. It’s also a statement of purpose, a branding opportunity, a recruitment tool, and more.
Shareholders, potential hires, business peers, industry thought leaders, clients and potential clients, and the general public are among the many people it can reach.
That said, there are some pieces of information that definitely need to be included, some that should be included, and a few to be avoided.
In this post, we’ll look at the art of writing a CEO profile for maximum impact, the benefits of a well-crafted profile, where to distribute it, best practices/tips, and how to collaborate with the CEO.
The necessary ingredients of a good CEO profile
On one level, a CEO profile is a professional calling card for stakeholders, other thought leaders, industry peers, the media, and potential clients/collaborators.On other levels, it offers opportunities to reveal character, create a thought leadership brand, and control the narrative.
Key ingredients include:
- Must-haves include information such as the CEO’s present role and their past and present successes.
- It should include the CEO’s unique value proposition, skills, core values, results, awards and achievements, and news mentions/publications. For example, do they contribute, like Hootsuite’s Ryan Holmes, to Forbes, Fast Company, and Inc.
- Mentioning TED Talks, podcast appearances, and public speaking events is always a good idea.
- Education, volunteer work, passion projects and hobbies add an extra dimension for a well-rounded profile.
It’s also important to consider word count when creating CEO profiles. A good rule of thumb is to create an initial “full bio” of approximately 300 words, detailing the CEO’s experiences in depth. Then adapt this into a shorter LinkedIn bio of 150 words. From there, you can condense even further into 300-character or 100-character bios for use on different social platforms.
Finally, choosing the right image or photo is essential for an effective CEO profile. Begin by finding a professional photographer who specializes in headshots. LinkedIn also recommends using clean, soft lighting, wearing clothing that is standard for the CEO’s industry (with blue being a recommended color), smiling, and using a clean background.
Benefits of a CEO profile
A well-written profile accomplishes several things, including:
- Building trust: By communicating the personality of the CEO, the profile can make people feel like they know the CEO and what their values are.
- Reassuring shareholders and team members: Listing experience, accomplishments, and successes establishes the CEO as a confident and able leader with a vision.
- Attracting talent and clients: The CEO’s personality and experience could make their company more attractive to workers and customers.
- Building a brand: The CEO’s passions as well as media appearances show an active and engaged leader.
Today, when people think “CEO profile” they think LinkedIn. Certainly, more people will see a CEO profile there than anywhere else.
However, LinkedIn however is just a start. The profile will also likely appear on the company website. Info in the profile may also be used in company news releases. Wherever it appears, the CEO’s official profile will serve as a first-stop resource for journalists, industry pundits, and perhaps other thought leaders.
Best practices/tips for writing a CEO profile for maximum impact
A strong CEO profile starts with good preparation:
- Research: Before writing the profile or even interviewing the CEO, find out as much information as you can about them. Consult old press releases, Wikipedia, newspaper and magazine stories, and industry publications. Then, when you do get some CEO face-time, you’ll be well-prepared.
- Interview: Now that you’ve done your research you can interview the CEO. This serves several purposes, including:
a) Confirming questionable information — There’s a lot of dubious information on the internet, particularly about public figures. Make sure you’ve got your facts straight.
b) Learning new information — No matter how much you know, or think you know, there are always more questions to ask.
c) Demonstrating your abilities — Whether or not you use all the info you’ve uncovered, doing the research lets you ask informed questions about aspects of the CEO’s career that haven’t already been addressed elsewhere. This will impress the CEO and make collaboration easier.
When writing a CEO profile, keep these tips in mind:
- Begin with a hook to draw readers in: This could be an anecdote, a statement about the CEO’s philosophy, or an impressive accomplishment. A good example is Ryan Holmes’ opening line in his LinkedIn profile: “A serial entrepreneur, Ryan Holmes started his first business in high school, ultimately opening a string of ventures—from a pizza restaurant to a digital media agency—before starting Hootsuite in 2008.” (An adjunct to this is, if you are able to mention “pizza” in the first sentence, you know you’re on the right track.)
- Generally speaking, write in the third person: While many LinkedIn bios are written in the first person (I), a third-person bio (he, she, they, etc.) will be able to serve a wider variety of uses, from social media profiles to intros at speaking events to media backgrounders.
- Showcase skills, achievements, and the CEO’s unique leadership qualities early in the profile: On his LinkedIn page James Watt does just that, although the BrewDog CEO also has some fun with it: “As a fully qualified deep sea Captain, having earlier completed an honours degree in Law & Economics, I traded in being a salty sea dog to become a BrewDog in 2007, pursuing a passion for great craft beer by setting up the company with my best friend, Martin Dickie.”
- Include numbers: It’s not enough to say that the CEO is “experienced in leading teams and managing operations.” What size teams? How many years of experience?
- Be specific: Bad: “Seeking to leverage my skills and knowledge to drive organizational growth.” Good: “Seeking to leverage my skills and knowledge to create innovative strategies, improve operational efficiency, and increase revenue.”
- Keep it concise and clear: Leave the $10 words in your thesaurus and write cleanly and directly. If people want poetry, they can pull some Rod McKuen off the shelf.
- Use proper grammar, full sentences, and one tense: This should go without saying. But a profile that reads like it was written on a cocktail napkin makes the CEO seem arrogant and superficial. Not to name any names, Tiger Tyagarajan. (From Tiger’s LinkedIn profile: “Lead and build large organizations that deliver to financial and operational results. Help Boards and C suites understand transformation journeys including Digital Transformation. Have a clear point of view on leveraging AI and ML and similar digital technologies to reimagine business models !…”)
How to collaborate with the CEO
The best CEO profiles are written with an insider’s knowledge. Interview the CEO about what they want in their profile but also pump them for little-known details that will humanize them, things that they might not even think to include themselves. Assume you’ll only get one chance for another meeting and take full advantage of it by preparing in advance.
Some questions to consider are:
- Which life experiences or events influenced who they are, what they think, and what they do? An example of a leader who was resilient in the face of challenge is Indra Nooyi, the former CEO of PepsiCo. Nooyi has described how her mother instilled confidence in her when she was a child. You won’t find this info on her LinkedIn page, but her About section lets readers know that she is “Chief architect of Performance with Purpose, a legacy that encourages PepsiCo to do what’s right for the business by being responsive to the needs of the world.”
- What is their “mission” in life, e.g. what drives them and their careers? CEOs have drive and ambition—that’s why they’re CEOs. But what drives them? Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, uses his LinkedIn profile to share his mission and vision for the company. For Nadella, this means emphasizing Microsoft’s commitment to empowering individuals and organizations globally through technology.
- How do they identify themselves and want to be seen by others? In her profile, Unruly co-founder Sarah Wood includes her work for children’s mental health, such as her work “with dedicated founders on a mission to transform children’s mental health for the better.”
Only a few key elements go into writing an effective CEO profile. But though the words may be few, each one should count towards building an accurate and professional, yet humanizing, portrait. By taking the steps above, you will be well on your way to crafting the kind of profile that builds your CEO’s brand.
Of course, you can also leave it in the hands of professionals. Thought leadership branding agencies like CSuite Content offer a full-range of services, including social media management, thought leadership branding, and CEO profile writing.