Yes, LinkedIn might be the Chamber of Commerce of the social platforms, but nevertheless LinkedIn is about building relationships. That’s why your profile picture matters, maybe more so than on other platforms. Read this post on how to get it right.
I’m sure you don’t go to the local networking event with a paper bag over your head. Well, if you don’t have a picture on your LinkedIn profile, that’s the impression you make. People want to see who they are accepting in their network. On LinkedIn more than on any other network. Look at the visual impact of your picture on the infrared shot below:
So you need a picture (still not convinced that you need a picture? Read this post)!
Here 5 Key Elements of a Good LinkedIn Profile Picture
1. Professional Shot
I’m all about bootstrapping in business, but I really think investing in a professional profile picture is worth it. A photographer will know to use the right background (neutral), the right lighting, position you the right way etc. If you can’t invest right now, choose a picture that has these characteristics:
- neutral background
- good light
- neutral background (no other people)
- no accessories (hats, fancy glasses, feather boas)
2. Right dress code
Often people think since this is LinkedIn, the professional network, they need to be all dressed up. Not necessarily. It depends on your job, on your situation, on your target audience… If you are a banker, then yes, a suit and tie would be my suggestion, if you in transition, looking for a job where at the interview you would were a suit and tie, then yes, a suit&tie picture would be the best fit. If however you are a web designer, and your clients are used to seeing you in a t-shirt, then that’s exactly how I would dress for the photo shooting. Just pick a clean one
3. Positive Attitude
Almost more important than the right dress code is the right attitude. In Switzerland we have new policies concerning the passport pictures: no smiles allowed! Please don’t apply that guideline to your LinkedIn Profile picture! Show some teeth. Or if you’re not a very smiley person just make your eyes smile! A picture with a positive attitude is the first step to a strong network on LinkedIn.
I’ll tell you a funny story: a while ago I started a conversation with someone on LinkedIn. On his picture he looked somewhere in his late 30ies, maybe early 40ies. We decided to meet at a local coffee shop to discuss an potential collaboration. Imagine my surprise, when a 50 something year old men with grey (not black) hair walked towards my table. We all age and change, it’s natural. Every now and then ask your friends if you still look the same as you do on your picture. (I was told I should change mine, because my hair is blonder. I hope that’s the real reason… )
5. Right size
LinkedIn changes things on a regular basis. One of those things is the size of the profile picture. So if you uploaded your picture a couple of years ago and haven’t changed it since then, your picture is now too small for the new profile and would look something like this:
You need to re-upload a new one and make sure it fits into the grey space provided. After all this work to get it right, you might as well show it off in the right size, no?
My friend and fellow LinkedIn specialist Greg Cooper also wrote about this topic recently. Read his post called ‘LinkedIn Top 5 Photo Fails‘ and then maybe it’s time for a new head shot ? 🙂