By Karen Hendricks
Branding has become personal. According to a recent article in Forbes, “The term branding has long been relegated to companies, but today almost every individual has a personal brand… a digital footprint in the sands of time and space, crowd sourced by friends, colleagues, and bosses.”
Perhaps the most important personal branding takes place on LinkedIn, social media for professionals, with our profile pictures playing a starring role.
Let’s face the facts, pun intended, and review 10 simple guidelines to be sure your LinkedIn image is picture-perfect:
- Use an image that depicts you looking into the camera as directly as possible. Think about how you would approach a potential contact or employer in person—you would establish eye contact, look at them directly, and smile.
- The correct image size is a minimum of 200×200 pixels. Don’t upload an image that is smaller. You can upload a larger image size (500×500 pixels, for example), as long as it’s square in dimensions.
- Use a professionally-taken image if possible. LinkedIn is social media’s professional marketplace. Your image could form a first impression by a potential employer, and it’s the image your colleagues and network will associate with you.
- If you don’t have a professionally portrait, then ensure your photo has a clean, plain background.
- Don’t lurk in the shadows of LinkedIn by leaving the standard gray shadowy image in place of your real photo.
- The photo should be a headshot; not a full body shot.
- Wear a complimentary color but avoid busy patterns. Dress to impress!
- Use a current image; nothing more than five years old at most.
- Don’t use a logo or graphic design for your personal account; that would be appropriate on your company page however.
- Smile! Your photo should be warm, genuine, and professionally pleasant.
Perusing LinkedIn, here are a number of faux pas I recently spotted in profile pictures (try not to LOL):
- A pair of sneakers. Yes, you read that correctly. Simply a pair of sneakers as a profile picture. I don’t believe he/she was a professional athlete either.
- Lots of gray “blank” LinkedIn photos. How will people recognize you?
- A child’s hand caught in a woman’s hair. Whoops, it must have been a family photo, with the child cropped out. Ouch.
- A smiling couple. Who is the contact—the man or the woman?
- A man photographed with his dog. (He wasn’t a K9 officer or veterinarian!)
- A man posing with his motorcycle.
- Photos obviously taken during a summer vacation. Is this an image you want to project to your professional contacts?
Now for a few samples of outstanding images I gathered, with permission, from a few of my contacts on LinkedIn:
Jen and Joseph, below, both stand out against plain backgrounds, with pops of color in their professional attire, and friendly smiles. Perfect!
Meantime, Geoffrey and Trish, below, successfully incorporate a dash of professional personality into their profile pictures. Geoffrey, an artist, is photographed with one of his works behind him. Trish, a marketing strategist whose company name includes the word “Strategic,” strikes a thoughtful, reflective pose and evokes the feeling that she is indeed strategizing. Great personal branding!
What does your “personal branding” and profile photo say about you? Show yourself some “LinkedIn love” and update your photo to reflect your professional personality!