What your LinkedIn profile picture tells me

It always seems a pretty basic requirement to me to have a good profile picture associated with your LinkedIn profile. Why then, does this issue court so much interest and discussion?

Today I met with a lovely lady (anonymity protected – you know who you are) who is about to embark on a journey of lifting the lid on just how much a better use of LinkedIn can help her in so many ways. And is started right at the beginning – with the subject of the ‘profile picture’.

A couple of years ago when asked the question:

Why do I need to be on LinkedIn? I have a successful business, a close community of trusted relationships and always know who to turn to to get what I need…

…I found it hard to quote a cast-iron case that countered the argument. How could I argue that the person I was facing was not successful when they clearly were?

Times have changed buddy – you are, quite frankly, letting yourself down, your colleagues down and your business – if you don’t have a profile to be proud of.

I cannot justify one single reason why every business professional shouldn’t have a tip-top profile on LinkedIn. Period.

So, back to the profile picture. We all know the importance of the first impression and the quote that we don’t get a second chance to make it, right? Why do you think that might be any different online? I think it is well understood that much of the buying decision is taken for almost all goods and services well before the knock on the door – including looking at your LinkedIn profile – so you might never know you were in the running in the first place if a decision is made purely on your profile (or lack of…) and the absence of a) a picture at all or b) a poor picture.

So, what makes a great picture?

Here are my 9 tops tips to help you get it right:

It must be of you!

This sounds daft, but the number of images I see with a colleague, friends, family etc is alarming. The ‘famous person’ one is the worst. Yes, we’ve all met someone famous(ish) – that doesn’t justify a photo on your profile with them. Animals – yes, if your’e a vet!

Look at me!

We would never start a conversation looking the other way at someone. It’s in our genes. Have a picture with you looking into the camera. Eye contact matters – even on a photo.

Smile – ‘click’

This doesn’t need to be cheesy – but I don’t want to see a moody picture of you – I’ll tolerate that when I get to know you. At this point in our relationship I just need to begin to like you (you know – that Know, Like, Trust, thingy…)

Cut the accessories

No shades, hats, football scarves – you know the kind of thing.

Ban alcohol

Now I know you think you look relaxed after a few bevvies – but we can tell. The glass of beer or cocktail was nice on the night – but its not good here – trust me on this.

Dress for the interview

You might not be looking for a job right now – but being dressed for an interview in the dress code you would adopt, is the right thing to do for your profile pic. We all know its easier to get away with dressing up than down? The same goes. And I don’t mean a suit. (unless you would be wearing one….) And ladies…(can I say this on radio?)… there’s a time and place for the cleavage, much as I…..stop it Nigel.

Fill the space

I think you should have a full image of your face and a little bit of neck, depending upon your hair length (I’m not troubled that way – easy decision!) Your profile picture travels all over the place on LinkedIn, sometimes at very small sizes. Don’t miss the opportunity to be recognised at all times.

Don’t be too pro’

Okay, I get it, you want to look your very best then, but too polished and professional tells me another story. You’re trying too hard. If you do use a professional photographer, don’t do it like my dad would….

“Ask a friend”

When, finally, you think you’ve captured the essence of ‘you’, phone a friend. Does my bum look big in this? A friend will tell you if the picture is the real you. Trust me on this too – you won’t be able to tell.

Bonus tip

For some strange reason ‘black & white’ covers a lot of sins. Guilty.

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