Picture Perfect . . . Make a Lasting Impression with Your Profile Photo
You have undoubtedly heard the saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words.”
Nowhere is this statement truer than it is when it comes to your social network profile picture.
Unfortunately far too many people make avoidable mistakes that can send out the wrong message, especially if you haven’t effectively separated your business profile from your personal one. As I have often suggested, it is a good idea to use Facebook to connect with family members, close friends and acquaintances such as old school chums. Alternatively, you should use LinkedIn for your business profile.
One UK business associate followed this rule to a tee. Whenever he received a request to connect on Facebook from someone with who he worked, he politely declined their request with the note that he only used the site for close family and friends with whom he could be fun and a little cheeky.
Limiting your network connections to personal relationships, you can be more relaxed in terms of the kind of pictures you can use for your profile.
However and whether personal or professional, the following six tips will help you hit a home run with your social network profile photos:
1. Have one. The nice people at LinkedIn say that profiles with photographs are seven times as likely to be viewed as those without. Think about it. Why would a potential employer read your profile if your picture is missing in action when they can click on your competent competitor who has a high-energy picture, complete with a scintillating smile? By the way, cartoonish avatar images don’t count as a profile picture.
2. Full face forward. Look full-faced into the camera and take the shot. Show us your spark, your integrity and your warmth. Think about someone or something you like as the shutter clicks, and let the pleasure and energy of life fill you up; relax and breathe. Please don’t, as I’ve seen many do, commit the following head-shot sins in your profile picture.
Turn your head to the side (it’s LinkedIn, not a coin)
Gaze off into the distance like Galileo contemplating the wonders of the cosmos
Have another person in the shot with you or, part of a person in the shot with you – such as a hand
Remember, we do business with people we like and trust. Seeing your face and making direct eye contact with you – even in a photograph – builds ease and confidence.
3. This isn’t Match.com. Save the cleavage, come-hither stares and full-body shots for times when you’re looking to connect over cocktails – not in a corporate setting. Showing too much skin or flashing a facial expression that says I want you can cause you to lose credibility. While you might get asked out on a date, you probably won’t get the contract.
4. Be current. As much as you may like the way you looked in that snazzy photo taken a decade ago, it’s probably out of date. To minimize the shock and awe when you show up in person, keep your profile photos relatively current and minimize the airbrushing. When you do connect with clients in meet space, surprise, confusion and embarrassment won’t be the first emotions you inspire.
5. Beware of body language. The small body language details of your profile photo speak volumes. For example: Don’t tilt your head unless you want visitors to think, quizzical dog. Don’t cross your arms across your body unless you’re meaning to give off a feeling that says, stay away. And please don’t cup your face in your hands or prop your chin on your fist. That is so over; trust me.
6. Skip the dogs and babies. As much as we love dogs, babies and the supersize salmon you caught on vacation, they don’t belong in your profile picture. This is a chance for people to get a sense of you – just glorious you. Stand tall, stand proud and stand alone.