Yikes! Does your LinkedIn profile picture look more like a mug shot than a job seeker, professional or entrepreneur? Does the picture look like it belongs on a dating site rather than a professional networking site? Do you look like a party animal? Look long and hard at the profile picture you currently use. If any of the above applies to you, fix it. Now. You don't want to fool around when it comes to LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the most popular professional networking site there is and your picture has the power to attract or repel. Which would you rather do? Follow these five tips to a great LinkedIn profile photo.
1. It's about your face. You don't have to look like a model to get attention on LinkedIn. In fact, a recent Psychological Science study found that professionals perceive typical faces as the most trustworthy. Now, there's a quality you can get behind. Your photo should be a headshot or head and shoulder shot of you with an approachable, friendly look on your face. Take a look at Linkedin subscriber Kaleil Isaza Tuzman’s profile photo as an example of how you can look professional and cheerful at the same time. Smile. Why smile? Psychology Today blogger Sarah Stevenson says that just the act of smiling makes your brain throw a little feel-good party for itself. Smiling is contagious, too.
2. Make sure it looks like you. Don't use the generic LinkedIn icon, a 10-year-old picture or, worse, a picture of someone else. LinkedIn can revoke your posting privileges if you intentionally mislead. Even if it doesn't go that far, a picture that no longer looks like you or isn't you at all is a real turn-off for any networking relationship.
3. Look like a professional. LinkedIn is NOT Facebook. Your profile photo should exude confidence and professionalism. Avoid including your pets, children or significant other. LinkedIn is about the professional you and you alone.
4. Ease up on the photo processing. Photoshop too much and your picture looks fake and over processed. Slight adjustments to improve contrast, focus and remove blemishes are fine but don't do too much. Eliminating unnecessary elements is critical, but be careful with the crop tool. You don't want to crop the top of your head or bottom of your chin off.
5. Look behind you. Is your cat about to photo bomb your professional profile picture? Are you standing in front of your wine collection? There's nothing wrong with being a pet or wine lover, but neither has a place in your LinkedIn profile photo.
There's a lot of controversy about whether or not your profile picture should be taken by a professional photographer. That, my friend, is up to you. The beauty of digital cameras is that you can take a multitude of pictures and possibly come up with a great one that works. Avoid the urge to use selfies, though. Unless you have exceedingly long arms and can make it look like you're not taking your own picture, have someone else hold the camera. If your goal is to become an executive at a Fortune 500 company, you might want to think about having professional photos taken. It couldn't hurt, after all.