Say Cheese! How to Make a Good LinkedIn Profile Picture

By Nigel Cliffe

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“Get yourself a great LinkedIn profile headshot!”

This is what I tell the countless people who attend my LinkedIn Training Workshops and Masterclasses. My own LinkedIn profile picture certainly needed improving, so I decided to invest some time doing just that.

To that end, I had the pleasure of enjoying a nice afternoon with two lovely people. Namely Leeds-based portrait photographers Lincoln John Roth and Perrin Jayne Read (pictured with me, right), who together run Roth Read Photography.

All the posing, photobombing and strutting my stuff in front of the camera got me thinking. Anyone can take a photo, but what makes a winning LinkedIn profile picture? Here’s a checklist of the dos and don’ts.

LinkedIn Profile Picture Checklist

1) A Smile Goes a Mile

It may sound obvious, but no one wants to be around someone with a negative or miserable attitude. And people respond better to images of smiling people. It gives the impression that you’re friendly and approachable – ideal for business networking!

Research by Photofeeler (a photo testing tool for business, social and dating photos) shows that, although smiling with your mouth closed is better than no smile at all, a smile that shows your teeth makes you seem twice as likeable. Careful though – laughing while smiling enhances your likeability, but it damages your perceived competence and influence scores.

2) Dress to Impress

It takes as little as 0.1 seconds to form an impression of somebody. So dressing to impress is a no-brainer for a professional headshot. Wearing smart office clothes – blouses, shirts, jackets and ties – in your profile photo makes the right first impression, and people will take you more seriously.

Photofeeler’s study identified the winning ingredients in a LinkedIn photo by examining 60,000 ratings of perceived likeability, competence and influence of 800 profiles. Interestingly, they found that men wearing light-coloured button-down shirts with a dark suit jacket and tie achieved better scores than those sporting bright or trendy outfits.

3) Eye Contact is Everything

Countless studies have shown that the power of eye contact should not be underestimated when building trust and rapport. In face-to-face conversations, eye contact raises the confidence and likeability of a person. And it also has this effect in photos.

So, don’t be rocking sunglasses or a hairstyle that obstructs your eyes and face. And don’t be afraid to look directly at the camera! After all, you want to be recognisable on LinkedIn, so those potential leads you met at your most recent networking event can find you.

4) Just You Will Do!

Sticking to the theme of being recognisable, you’ll be surprised how many people feature themselves with their friend, their child or even their pet in their LinkedIn profile photo. People will want to connect with you and do business with you.

With LinkedIn being a professional business-to-business platform, avoid photos of pets and other people. Only you should star in your own profile photo!

5) Bright is Best

In order to be recognisable and appear pleasant, you need people to be able to see you. Embrace bright-coloured backgrounds and aim to have your profile photo taken in front of a window for natural light, or in a lamp-lit room to create a warm glow for your photo.

6) Head, Shoulders … No Knees and No Toes!

The face is what people remember. Make your face the focal point of your profile photo, ensuring your head and shoulders fill the frame. This will do wonders for you to come across as knowledgeable and influential, whilst emphasising your eye contact and smile.

7) Get the Dimensions Right

The ideal size for your picture on LinkedIn is 400 x 400 pixels. The maximum file size is 8MB, but try to use a clear, high-resolution image in a perfect square.

So, what are you waiting for? Don’t be shy! Use the above tips to ask a colleague or friend to take your LinkedIn profile photo. Or invest in a professional photographer to help you achieve that picture-perfect LinkedIn profile image!

For more advice on how to use LinkedIn the right way, check out my LinkedIn Training Course.

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