If you’re in the workforce in any capacity these days, whether you work for yourself or someone else, chances are you have a LinkedIn profile (and if you don’t, you should!).
According to the LinkedIn website, there are now more than 675,000,000 LinkedIn users worldwide. And you can be pretty sure that if you are applying for a position or trying to connect with someone professionally, one of the first things they are going to do is have a look at your LinkedIn profile to see what you’re all about.
So here are my three tips for putting your best foot forward in your LinkedIn profile photo.
1. Stand head and shoulders above the rest
How often have you checked the LinkedIn profile of someone you have a meeting with, just to see what they look like so you recognize them when you get to the meeting? Well, it’s a sure bet that others are looking at your profile for the exact same reason.
The best LinkedIn profile photo is a professional looking head and shoulders shot. It should be current (not your favorite picture from 20 years ago!), well lit, and you should be very clearly recognizable. Ideally it is a photo you have taken specifically for this purpose (don’t use a group shot from a dressy event and crop everyone else out, they will be able to tell!), and use it consistently across all your professional social media accounts.
This is often the first impression a new professional contact will have of you, so make sure it’s a good one!
2. Leave the kids and pets at home
Remember that LinkedIn is a professional site, and you are presenting your professional self. Posting photos of your spouse, buddies, pets and kids is fine for Facebook, but not for LinkedIn. If they don’t come to work with you, why would you include them in your professional photo?
Your profile photo should be of you, and you alone. Including children, spouses, pets and hobbies are all things that, at best, will distract from the image you are trying to portray, and, at worst, show you in a negative light.
3. Add some personality
While including your kids, pets, grandma, etc. in your LinkedIn profile pic isn’t quite the message you should be sending, it’s perfectly ok to include a glimpse of your work environment, particularly if it adds to your professional image.
Are you a photographer? Then by all means hold a camera in your photo. Do you groom dogs for a living and use LinkedIn to connect with potential clients? Why not pose with a pup? As long as the rest of your profile is set up in a way that makes it clear that this is your profession, adding some work-related personality to your photo is completely acceptable.
If you do decide to include some elements of your professional life in your photo, be sure your face is still clearly visible and you are recognizable. Including a prop of some kind may mean that you will be a bit smaller in the photo, and that’s ok as long as the viewer can still tell that it is you.
Obviously there are no hard and fast rules. Everyone is different and everyone manages their own online presence differently. Any photo is better than no photo at all, and it’s up to you to decide what your ideal image is!