Do you want to make the best first impression on LinkedIn? A high quality, appropriate profile photo is one the best ways to make it happen. Deciding whether or not to have a profile photo on your LinkedIn profile is no-brainer. Not uploading one is a sure fire recipe to professional and networking suicide on the site. I've previously blogged about the types of profiles photos to avoid, so now let's look at ways to make your LinkedIn profile picture shine, and show you some examples to inspire you to improve your own.
Why a LinkedIn profile photo is important
Whether in search results, at the top of your profile page, in comments, in "People Similar to" suggestions, and more, your profile photo appears all over the place on LinkedIn. A profile photo humanises your representation on the site, and will allow connections to recognise you when they meet you in real life. And importantly, people looking to make connections on the site are drawn to human faces, so even if your job title and summary are remarkable, if you're rocking the "empty profile photo" profile photo, then chances are people are not going to pay you any notice.
Note: If you're against having a profile photo for reasons discrimination (particularly if you are using LinkedIn as part of a job search), any discrimination based on the way you look, your age, gender, skin colour, etc. that, sadly, is destined to occur, will rear its head when you interact with companies later on down the line, like in job interviews - and regardless of your credentials. With this in mind - and considering the benefits of having your face on show, you're always better off with one rather than without. If you don't have a profile photo, the first question a recruiter will ask themselves is "why not?".
Glance at the following screenshot of a LinkedIn search result and ask yourself which people you would be most likely to click on...
How to take a good LinkedIn profile photo
Now we've established that not having a LinkedIn profile photo places you at a distinct disadvantage from the get-go, let's look at some of the ways that you can make the image you upload as effective as possible.
Pick a photographer, keep photo current
If you can afford to pay someone to take your LinkedIn profile photo professionally, then that's ideal. However, if you've got a decent camera and a willing friend or family member, this can be just as effective. Ideally, you'll want to update your profile periodically, especially if your appearance changes noticeably (hair colour, glasses, etc.), so that you can be recognised easily when people spot you first on LinkedIn and aim to network with you offline.
Use a head shot, smile naturally
LinkedIn profile photos often appear at small size, so choose a shot with your head and shoulders, complete with a warm and natural smile to help you appear friendly, open, and approachable to prospects. Keep the background simple and clutter-free, so not to cause a distraction.
Dress for the occasion
LinkedIn's professional culture means that your style of dress should reflect this, and be a reflection of the field you work in. This could be a nice checked shirt, a smart blouse, or even a suit and tie. Avoid colours that wash out the colour of your face, and go easy on make-up, jewellery, and crazy hairstyles.
Edit your photo, crop and size
Raw photos rarely appear exactly as you wish, but modern photo editing software makes it easy to correct and remove elements including busy backgrounds, overexposed areas, shadows, uneven skin tones, blemishes, and poor contrasting. Of course, you'll want to crop and size your shot nicely, too. If you aren't handy with photo editing software, take a look at hiring someone on Fiverr to do it for you.
Note: LinkedIn says that "the ideal pixel size for your photo is between 200 x 200 to 500 x 500. If either width or height exceeds 4000 pixels, your photo will not upload." Your photo's file size must also not exceed 4MB.
Examples of good LinkedIn profile photos
Let's take a look at a selection of examples of people putting some of the pointers above into practice.
Over to you
What does your LinkedIn profile say about you? Will you be snapping a new and improved image soon? Let me know in the comments below!
Andrew Macarthy is a social media consultant and the author of the #1 Amazon Web Marketing Bestseller, 500 Social Media Marketing Tips.