I Did Not Connect with You on LinkedIn Because of Your Facebook Picture

facebook picture on linkedinLinkedIn is LinkedIn and Facebook is Facebook. They are two different venues, environments and interactions. Facebook is the silly, personal side. LinkedIn is the business side.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Proportion – Your head and shoulders should take up at least 60% of the frame, we want to see you!
  5. 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.


I hope you enjoyed this article and it provided value for you. If so, please click on the follow button so I may continue to share valuable content with you or the share buttons to share with your network.

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.

LinkedIn Profile Pictures – This is NOT Facebook!

Takeing picture

I am just going to say what other people are thinking when looking at profile pictures that should not be LinkedIn profile pictures: (warning, sarcasm ahead)

My kid is cuter than yours
My dogs are more adorable than your fur-baby
Oh look, you can still fit in your formal
Your significant other is in your picture, did they tell you what to wear, too?
Image cropping, it is a beautiful thing
Am I supposed to know who you are in that crowd of people?
Still haven’t figured out how to load a picture, huh?
I didn’t think anyone kept their 80’s glamourshots
Dude, seriously, smile – it’s not that bad
Does your mother know you posted that picture?

We are a visual society, we make first impressions quickly and they are normally based on a visual assessment.  Right or wrong, it is what it is.

An appropriate picture on LinkedIn establishes you as a real person and conveys your brand image and messaging.  It is the reader’s first impression of you – make it a good one.

You may hate getting your picture taken, sorry, this is a necessary evil for you.

LinkedIn research has shown that a page with a profile picture is seven times as likely to be viewed as a page without one and it helps push your profile to 100% completeness.

Here are the considerations you want to make when selecting a LinkedIn profile picture:

  • Have a photo of you and you alone – without attempting to crop someone out of the picture
  • It actually looks like you, the recent you not 10 years ago you
  • It appropriately reflects your industry, position or company environment (dress for the job you want)
  • It appropriately conveys your energy and presence
  • Good posture, a smile and open eyes – be inviting
  • You, your presence and your smile should be the first things noticed, not your wardrobe
  • The background is just that – background, nothing to overpowering or distracting

I find it best to have someone else take your picture, someone who can put you at easy and make you laugh during several takes.  You will come across as more genuine, real and open.  Take several shots to allow you to determine which truly represents you in an instant.



Photo by Viktor Hanacek

Two Similar Hells: Online Dating and Job Searching

Computer FlowersDisclaimer: This article could contain inappropriate assumptions, sarcasm and language.  If you take offense to any of these, it is probably best if you just stop reading now.  No really, stop now; and I apologize to my mother in advance.  This is my fun day, in my little world I am having fun with the topic today.

On my list of unpleasant experiences online dating and job searching are certainly ranked up there.  As are root canals, surgery without the use of anesthesia, being trapped in a room of three year old on a sugar high, cleaning up dog poop and stomach flu.

I’m a list person, I have lists of everything.  To-do, never do again, goals, chores, things for which I am grateful and unpleasant things.  The unpleasant things list may just be in my head, but it exists.

I will give online dating the advantage though; when you are job searching the odds of receiving unkind messages, comments and emails from strangers is much less.  So in my opinion, online dating is a worse hell.

One girl told me she got an unsolicited, very unkind comment from someone on her dating profile in which they compared her physical appearance to that of man’s best friend.  Seriously.  No prospective employer sends you back an email similar to, “Just wanted to let you know that there is no way we will be calling you back.”

Before anyone gets all cranky, I know there are many people who met that special someone online.  To be fair, many people get jobs though job searching too, but that doesn’t make it a happy experience.

The similarities

Profile pictures

If you want a better response, both the online dating world and LinkedIn recommend you have a photograph of yourself.  I am not one that likes pictures of myself so in either case this is a torturous task.

In either case, please for the love of everything holy do not take a selfie in the bathroom!  No one, and I repeat this with all the fervor I can muster I pounding on my keyboard, no one wants to see your bathroom mirror or any part of your bathroom!  Ever.

A professional headshot is most appropriate for LinkedIn.  As far as dress, think of business casual for the most part, on rare occasions the suit and tie is appropriate.  For online dating, well, gentlemen if you are over 40 and no longer have that high school football physic then tank tops are not your friend.  Ladies, I am going to put this as delicately as I can by quoting a yourcard: dressing immodestly is like rolling around in manure; yes, you will get attention, but mostly from pigs.

It is important to choose just the right picture that will attract the right types of dates and prospective employers.

The profile

Too much about you

Oh, the wonderful lies we weave.  Nearly every woman I ever hear talk about online dating says the same thing is in almost every male profile: no drama.  Is that really necessary?  Is there any guy out there that wants drama?  Isn’t that an assumed?  Isn’t that like saying on your resume that you expect to be paid for the job?

To be fair here, guys, most women tell what they want you to do for them in saying what they like.  How you can earn their affection by where you take them and what you do for them rather than what qualities they bring to a potential relationship for you.  That is like opening your resume with “I am looking for a job that will allow me to use my skills and advance my career.”  It’s not all about you.

Representing yourself

Write your profile in your voice, true to you about what you have to offer.  There is nothing worse for a prospective employer to receive an outstanding resume, set up an interview and the individual in person/on the phone is a complete dude.  It leads to confusion, they wonder which one are you.  Similar to proclaiming yourself to be about 6’ tall and works out all the time when in reality you haven’t tipped the scales over 5’8” and your idea of vegetables are potato chips.


Do not lie in your resume.  It will be found out. Same with your online dating profile, it will be found out, period.  Just do not do it, you lose all credibility no matter what good you have done to that point.

The job posting

Read the damn thing, please.  If someone posts that they prefer certain aspects and you either do not have those aspects or are completely contradictory – do not respond.  That is like applying for a medical position in which you have no experience but have watched ER, Greys Anatomy or Chicago Hope so you have a pretty good idea about hospitals and you know you can win them over with your stellar personality.

If you do not meet the most basic, core, essential job qualifications please do not waste their time – an employers or potential date.  Why set yourself up for rejection?  Stop it.

The interview

Or the first date in dating.  Normally you are not going to get a job offer in the first five minutes of your first interview, just like you are not going to get a marriage proposal in the first five minutes of that first date – if you do, run.  This is a process.  This is when the person across the table is sizing you up to see if you really are all that you proclaimed to be.

Later in the date and interview they get to the point of determining if you are a good fit for their company or life.  This includes assessing things like if you would get along with your coworkers and bosses, would they want to introduce you to the family or would they lie to their friends if they ran into them while you were on a date and try to completely cover the fact that they are there by their own accord.

The instant relationship

If you find that after one date you are not being referred to in a manner of significant other or you received an offer of employment in the first five minutes – you should really evaluate this.  Why are they so desperate to hire so quickly without getting to know you?  Is there a high turnover rate in that position?  You should find out why to evaluate if you want to accept the offer.

Job searching and dating can be fun – if you are interviewing/pursuing the right job or dating the right person.  It may take time to find that right person; however, in the meantime, do not diminish yourself to fit the sub standards of what you have found so far.  The right job or person is out there and can be found if you:

  • Know your value – what do you bring to the table?
  • Clearly state your value – how can you bring your value to the benefit of others, demonstrate rather than state; telling me you are a nice person means nothing, prove it.
  • Have a baseline of your needs, expectations and goals – if you do not know what you want how can anything fit the bill?
  • Be flexible to opportunities that offer these things – even if they are not like jobs you have had or people you have dated in the past
  • Remain positive and open – tomorrow is a new day, your perfect mate or job has not been run over by a bus
  • Keep trying – there are a lot of toads out there professionally and personally, the more you kiss you are that much closer to the right one
  • Network – be seen, meet new people, get to know them from the friend perspective/what you can do for them in a business perspective before you jump to picking out rings or 401(k) options
  • Keep your humor – be able to share and laugh about your experiences with a good friend, having wine on hand is good too

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Brand Strategist & Career Coach
Certified Professional Resume Writer

7 Tips to Personalizing Your LinkedIn Profile

linkedin I see a lot of, well, let’s just say, not so great LinkedIn profiles.  I have come to realize that most people do not dread writing their LinkedIn profile, they are afraid of it.


The reason for the fear is the quality that LinkedIn offers: the ability to bring your personality to your profession.


Most people hate writing about themselves, it is uncomfortable.  This fact alone has me on the phone talking to people every day.  Add to that the fear of sounding pompous, ridiculous or unknowledgeable takes that uncomfortableness to a whole new level; to fear.


I like to say that LinkedIn is the business Facebook to try to plant the seed of the personal touch.  This does not mean anyone wants to get updates on what you had for every meal of the day or pictures of the kiddos eating asparagus for the first time.  Remember – it is about business.


When you are writing your LinkedIn profile you are in essence having a conversation with the one person reading your profile.  This is how it differs from a resume or business biography.  Those two things are written with a general audience in mind, but with the reality that you never really know who is going to read it.


Your LinkedIn profile should be more strategic.  You want to target your audience so they can find you and then speak to them so you can engage them.


Here are a few tips to help write your profile:


  1. Figure out your audience.  How can you speak to someone if you have not identified who it is you want to talk to?  What is important to them, what are key words or phrases they will resonate with or searching for, what are their needs and how do you provide the solutions?


  1. Speak in the first person.  When you write in the third person you run the risk of sounding aloof, disconnected or pompous.  I dated a guy once that would speak about himself in third person whenever we had a disagreement, saying things like: “Thor is not happy.”   To which I would reply, “I don’t know who Thor is or why he is unhappy, but I’m talking to you.”  He sounded ridiculous, don’t be a Thor. And no, I never dated anyone named Thor, I changed his name – you get the point.


  1. Communicate your value.  What is it you want people to know about you?  It is your job to tell them.  You only have 2,000 characters to paint that picture – use it wisely.  This is your story; you can tell it any way that you want.  You are not required to give the mundane details.


  1. Be creative but easy on the cute.  This is your opportunity to let your personality shine through; let it – to a degree.  Keep it within the professional level.  Being too cutesy puts you back into Facebook range.  This also applies to your profile picture.  Business casual, not Facebook spectacular.


  1. Keep it positive.  I mentioned above that you do not need to give the mundane details; I am going to take a step further and let you know that it is bad form to air the negative details as well.  No airing of dirty laundry.  Not even an implication.  If you were unjustly released from your last position keep it to yourself.  This is not the time or place to go into that.


  1. Not necessarily a call to action. I have written LinkedIn profiles for leadership of organizations that were used to highlight the company and themselves as a leader for recruiting purposes.  I have also written them for high level producers setting the bar for their organization.  In either of these instances we did not use a call to action at the end, i.e., “connect with me today, email or call me at…”  By being engaging and well thought in your message it will be implied that you are open to communication.  I have read articles where it has been suggested that you must put a call to action at the end of your profile.  I disagree.  If it is not comfortable with your message, then do not do it.  It is your profile, break the rules.


  1. Break the rules.  I had to add this because I liked it in the last point.  You have 2,000 characters for your profile, but guess what – you do not have to use all of them.  You have a designated area for a title, but guess what; you do not have to put only your title.  You can be creative.  For one client, who is the head of all the marketing for her organization we also added “Social Media Geek” at the end of hers.  She is fun; she allowed fun in her title and profile.  Break the rules, live a little.


Using these seven suggestions will help put you on the right path to create the right message: one that is about you, your value and speaking to the audience you want to engage.


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Coach & Brand Strategist



Stop Branding Yourself as Blah

resume (2)You probably don’t even know that you are doing it, but you have officially branded yourself as “Blah”.


That’s not going to get your noticed, let alone get your phone ringing.


Stop it.


Oh sure, easy for me to tell you to stop it when I haven’t even told you how you are doing it.




Let me ask you this: how do you introduce yourself in person, on paper and online?


Do you start with things like:


“My name is ___ and my title is ____”

“I want to bring my skills and abilities to help an organization….”

“I have X years in Y industry….”


Blah, blah, blah, yawn….


These might be facts but they are not value.


Value is what is important.


I don’t care so much what your title is – what do you do?


No one believes that you really want to bring your skills and abilities blah, blah, blah and quite frankly they don’t care what you want.  What can you do for them?


Just because you have been doing something for a long time does not mean you do it well.


Who are you?  Really, who are you?  What value do you bring to people and organizations?  Not what widget do you sell, not what task you perform – how do you add value?


Because value makes money.


Period.  If you can bring value you are going to make someone money.  That is what is important in business.  It all comes down to revenues – without them there is no business.  So how do you contribute to that?


Taking up space isn’t value.  Contributing is value.


What makes you unique in what you do?


Let’s look at a couple of examples.


Sales.  I’ve met a lot of people in sales – a lot!  The first thing most want to tell me is they are in sales.  Ick.  I don’t want to be sold anything.  If I want something I can do my own comparison on pricing but what people are really buying is the experience.  A company can teach you all about a widget – from medical devices to financial instruments – that is the easy part.  What they can’t teach you is how to bond and connect with people, how to identify their needs, connect with them and make it an experience that they keep coming back for and get their friends to experience it too.


That’s sales.


Management.  Whoopee.  Managers are everywhere – right there sales.  There are good managers and bad managers – which one are you?  How do you manage, what is your style?  How do the people you manage benefit from your style and in turn how does the company benefit from them?


See where I am going here?  Titles are a dime a dozen.  Often times I have thought to put some version of the title “Queen” on my business cards just to see if anyone notices.


Titles don’t tell me what you do.

Length of time doesn’t equate to excellence.


I have known fantastic individuals who were rock stars in their field in a very short time period.  They didn’t have a long service record but they had value.


This weekend take some time to step out of yourself and look at your resume, LinkedIn and think about your networking introductions.


Are people reading or hearing you as, “Hi, my name is ____ and I’m blah”?


Fix it.


Start by offering your value, not your title, your desires or length of time.  Your audience is selfish – we want to know what is in it for us – period.  If we like what we hear then we will take the time to hear about you as a person.


I have a friend of mine in Insurance Sales.  You just yawned or cringed didn’t you?  It is a natural reaction to those two words “insurance” and “sales”.  He used to introduce himself that way.  Then he heard my message at a seminar.


Now he introduces himself as a Retirement Coach.  He said he was a little skeptical because it seemed a bit out there.  It is only out there because it is different than what we are normally taught.  The first week he changed from blah he attended a networking event and when he got back to the office he had three messages from people from that event.


No more blahs!



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW



Give Yourself Permission To Ask For Help – I’ve Even Provided a Script.

I love my clients. They are the most amazing people. One part that I love in what I do is the moment they begin to rediscover themselves and the journey that unfolds from there. I do a little happy dance every time these moments happen and again when I receive feedback. For example, yesterday I emailed a working draft to a client. Today, I this was the beginning of his email:

“Lisa, This looks awesome! I am not sure who you are describing here but he seems pretty talented!!”

I was coaching another client today and let me tell you she is a rock star, but a very well hidden rock star. The more we discussed her history and current activities the more impressed I became. Not only that but when I would relay the things that she has and is doing into value for potential employers she started to come out of her shell a little bit to the point that we ended the call with her full of enthusiasm and excitement.

One item we talked about was the hesitancy of asking for help. She is resistant to asking for help and this is so very common across the board for almost everyone I talk to. It’s like this limiting combination of embarrassment and fear. I told her the same thing I tell anyone who will listen: in general people do want to help, but they don’t know. Another factor is people are generally pretty lazy. Not throwing stones, not making judgments just stating facts.

We live in a fast paced world where we are bombarded with obligations and deadlines that far exceed our time frame to adequately perform each. If we receive a request it may not be that we don’t want to help, just that our time is stretched to the limit so having to carve out extra time becomes too difficult and ultimately we are unable to help. If you can make it as easy as possible for the other party to provide you with assistance than you have a greater chance of your request coming to fruition.

Let me use the specific example that I used with this client: LinkedIn and recommendations. Wow, when I told her I wanted to ask for recommendations you would have thought I asked her to go feed kittens to a python. It was putting her completely out of her comfort level. Nonetheless I assigned this as part of her homework; however, as I am not completely heartless I gave her a basis for a script that she could use.

If you find that you have the same discomfort in asking for recommendations, please feel free to utilize the following:

“As you might know I am in the process of evaluating potential opportunities for the next step in my career. In working with a career coach she has assigned me the task of revamping my LinkedIn profile. To that end I am contacting you for three reasons:
1. I understand the value of recommendations and would like to provide one for you; however I want to make sure it is in line and fully supportive of your goals. Is there any certain area or aspect that you would like me to focus on for my recommendation?
2. My coach has also suggested that I reach out and ask for recommendations. If you would feel comfortable doing so, I would truly appreciate a recommendation from you. If you are not prepared do so, I would still like to offer a recommendation for you. (If you feel comfortable you can even give examples of types of things that you are looking to highlight to future employers here).
3. As I said I am exploring opportunities and I would love to get any advice, feedback or tips that you might be able to offer me. I value your opinion so even if there is an individual or company that you think I should speak to, research or might be a valuable resource I would appreciate your thoughts.
Thanks again for your help. I hope things are going well for you and to talk to you soon.”

The value of this script is that you are not only asking for recommendations, you are also offering to provide value for that person as well. Remember, to receive you must give. It has also put this giving as the first point.

The second value that this offers is opening the door for any additional input that this person might be able to provide in a full range of avenues from offering a tip to prompting a potential connection. No matter what they respond any additional information is always good information.

It also is stated in such a way that it puts the blame on me. If my clients are truly uncomfortable in initially embarking on an assignment I always allow them to put the blame on me. This accomplishes two goals: they perform the task and they do not feel as bad in performing it because it is assigned by their coach.

Sometimes we have the irrational thought that someone might get mad for us asking or think we are being presumptuous; therefore, being able to blame someone else gives you the option of basically saying, “I know, I hated to ask – it was her fault, she made me do it.”

So feel free – use me as your excuse to help benefit yourself, I’m a big girl I can take it. All I ask is that you let me know how it goes. I love doing the little happy dance!

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Career Coach-Strategist
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Career Polish, Inc.