Crafting the perfect LinkedIn profile is an art. Your profile speaks volumes about your professional persona to people you’ve never even met. But the most important first impression you can make is your LinkedIn profile picture. Having a bad photo can cost you big time, and having no picture at all is even worse.
On the flip side, research shows that having a great photo can make your profile up to 14 times more likely to be viewed. Now that’s a lot of potential business.
When it comes to choosing your profile photo, there are some definite do’s and don’ts. Here’s some essential advice on how to achieve the perfect LinkedIn picture:
1. Keep it professional – You want a photo that compliments your profile, not a candid snap of you and your best friend at the bar. After all, this isn’t Facebook! Your photo should include you and only you.
The shot should ideally frame your head and shoulders, so make sure you dress the part from the waist up. Wear whatever you’d wear for a job interview or a meeting with the boss. Don’t forget: violating the LinkedIn profile picture guidelines could get you banned from the site, so save those selfies with your cat for Instagram.
2. Keep it simple – While it may be tempting to splash out on professional headshots for LinkedIn, it’s also unnecessary. Your phone probably has a decent camera. This might be the only time it’s acceptable to bust out the selfie stick!
Find a place with plenty of natural lighting, and maybe enlist the help of a friend to be your photographer. A plain-colored wall makes for a far more suitable backdrop than your framed qualifications.
3. Smile! – Your personality is as important as your credentials when others are deciding if they want to do business with you. No need to strike a clichéd, brooding pose— a smile will do fine.
You might not think you’re the most photogenic person on the planet, but a slight smile in your LinkedIn profile picture is essential. Make like Tyra Banks and smile with your eyes. You want to look warm and approachable, not cold and insincere.
4. Go easy on the editing – We’re living in the age of filters, but that doesn’t make everyone with a smart phone a Photoshop whiz. There’s a fine line between smoothing out “imperfections” and looking like a video game character.
Feel free to play around with editing, but keep it subtle. We’ve all seen nightmarish examples of bad LinkedIn profile pictures— don’t become one of them!
5. Let go of the past – Already have the perfect professional headshot from 1993? I’m sure your perm looked great back then, but it’s time to modernize. Using a photo that’s aged is just as big a red flag on your dating profile as it is on your LinkedIn.
Now you’ve nailed your LinkedIn profile photo, here’s something to keep in mind: your professional persona is linked to that oh-so-amazing photo. Think of it as simple branding. And what’s the most important part of branding? Consistency. Use that photo for all your professional online profiles, especially Twitter.