I never thought I would be writing a post about what picture you should use as your online profile picture. True, most of my “community” is a social one. We are online a lot and we have learned what works and what doesn’t. We are also a pretty good looking group!
And then I took a look at my husband’s LinkedIn account.
My husband is a physician and many of his connections are in the medical field. There are insurance adjusters, lien specialists, claims reps, attorneys, and paralegals. He asked me to find and add some contacts for him. I logged on and started going through the “people similar to” section. This is where there are pictures after pictures of people. I was so fascinated by these pictures that I had to keep clicking through more and more. The deeper I got, the worse they were. I’m not saying the people were ugly. I’m saying that the photo they chose as their online profile picture for a professional website was wrong, wrong, wrong. I’ll spare you the gory details and just outline what you SHOULD do when choosing the right image.
1. Use a current photo You should use a photo that has been taken within the last two years. You should change the picture more frequently if you have undergone a major physical change. Did you lose 40 pounds? Change it. Did you go from bright blonde hair to Gothic black hair? Change it. Did you shave your beard off? Change it.
2. Use a picture that is clear As tempting as it is to crop your tiny face out of a group picture and blow it up for LinkedIn, don’t. Grainy, blurry photos of your tiny head cocked to the side help no one.
3. Use YOUR picture Your child is adorable. You and your bestie look cute cheek to cheek. The Wonder Woman logo is eye catching. The person on the other side of the screen wants to know what YOU look like. When they are meeting you for coffee, they don’t want to feel as if they are on a blind date.
4. DON’T LOOK NAKED This is for the ladies. You know that super cute pic of you on the beach in Hawaii wearing a strapless dress? You look tanned, rested and glowing? You also look NAKED when you crop it down for LinkedIn photos. The one shoulder top, the halter top? Same, same….NAKED!
My best advice is to invest some money and have a professional picture or “head shot” taken. This can cost anywhere from $75 to $500 depending on where you live and how elaborate you get. When taken properly, these pictures can last a long time (unless you undergo some big physical change). They can also be used across all of your social media platforms, company websites, clubs or groups you are affiliated with and advertising.
Your online profile pictures show up at the top of every search of your name. Take care in what pictures you use, invest in your brand (YOU) and send the right message!