I am not going to belabor the point of mixing behavior between the two. This article is only about the profile picture, and why using a Facebook type picture on LinkedIn is preventing you from expanding your business network.
I have read many articles stating that it takes seven seconds to make a first impression – but that is if you are having an interaction. Seven seconds in meeting someone face to face or seeing their body language. How quickly do we form an impression based on a photo?
As little as 1/10 of a second.
That is what was found in a series of experiments by Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov. It only takes a tenth of a second to form an impression of a stranger from their face. Click this link to read the full, fascinating article: How Many Seconds to a First Impression by Eric Wargo on Association for Psychological Science.
Here is a list of photos that I have seen that close doors on LinkedIn:
- Wedding photos
- Data nights – including your date and the food
- Bar buddies – you all look like you are having a good time, plenty of cocktails and which one are you?
- Phantom hands on shoulders – cropping the rest of the other people out, but not those hands
- All decked out in favorite sport team gear – jersey, face paint, Mardi Gras beads
- Holding or surrounded by children
- Cartoons – either a meme or a characterization of yourself, perhaps ok if you are a cartoonist
- Car shots with seat belts and back seats
- Up the nose selfie – holding the phone at such a low angle that the inside of your nose is most prominent
- Painful, angry or confused – not sure if the picture took, well dressed mug shot or it hurts to smile
- Showing off favorite toys – motorcycles, cars, boats and this has nothing to do with your business
- Are you in the shot? shots – vacation shots, dog shots, fun in the sun shots where you are merely a speck among the scenery
- The future is so bright I gotta wear shades
- Looking cool selfie with a full view and prominence of your arm
- And the honest to goodness bathroom selfie complete with the shower curtain, sink and holding the phone in front of your chest
All of the above are fine on Facebook, but what value do they convey about you as a business person? What value does your child, dog, toy, sunglasses or bathroom give your business (unless it is directly related)? My dogs are extremely photogenic and just so darn cute, but having them in my profile picture does not speak to me or my value as a career and business coach.
In other words, in the business world no one cares about those lovely attributes of your personal life unless they bring value to them as a connection, customer or prospective employer.
What comprises a good photo, one that will open doors? It is a matter of five elements:
- Expression – Smile. It does not have to be a full on toothy number, but at least look approachable and open. When getting your picture taken, instead of a forced smile, think of something that makes you grin – a funny line in a movie, something cute your child did, hearing praise from your boss – anything that brings a natural, genuine smile to your face without going into full out laughter.
- Clothing – Dress for where you want to go or what represents who you are professionally in a business casual sense. Business relaxed, not the corporate suit and tie head shot unless that is the image you and your company want to portray.
- Background – This is a backdrop, not the most important element of the picture; it should not be distracting or inappropriate. It does not have to be in an office environment, however, it should be the last thing someone focuses on in your photo.
- Proportion – Your head and shoulders should take up at least 60% of the frame, we want to see you!
- Likeness – The picture should be somewhat current and look like you, over the age of 40 no high school photos or glamour shots.
Unless in that 1/10 of a second you convey you are about business prospective clients, connections or employers will not take the time to accept your invitation or read your profile. LinkedIn is for business, it is all about making connections, adding value, expanding your networks and knowledge – if your picture is closing those doors you are missing the greatest of opportunities.
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I help people identify and set a path to achieve their career goals by using the V Formula:
Your Value + Your Voice = Visibility
Visibility is the leverage to move in, move up or move on in your career; expand your book of business or territory, grow your company and strengthen your team.
Lisa K. McDonald, Owner and Principal of Career Polish, Inc. is a favorite speaker and seminar facilitator at companies, professional organizations and colleges speaking to leadership, sales, teams, transitioning/downsized employees and networking groups about career mobility, personal branding, networking, creating executive presence and achieving career movement success. To find out more, visit Career Polish, Inc.