Having a LinkedIn account can be a great way to make long-lasting career connections–and help your business thrive. Whether you’re a freelancer, a business owner, or prefer to work as an employee, your LinkedIn account can help you form valuable business relationships. Choosing a LinkedIn profile pic is a part of creating a great LinkedIn page.
Your LinkedIn profile pic gives viewers a sneak peek of who you are. This means your profile picture should reflect you at your business best. Unfortunately, many people choose a LinkedIn photo that doesn’t send the message they’re hoping to send.
So, how should you choose a LinkedIn profile pic? Some important components include having professional pictures taken, dressing according to your career, and appearing approachable.
What Should A LinkedIn Profile Picture Look Like?
There are several characteristics your LinkedIn profile picture should contain–and a few you should undoubtedly avoid. This simple but powerful list of LinkedIn profile pic do’s and don’ts will help you create a better LinkedIn profile picture for all of your business needs.
1. Professionalism Is Key
The last thing you want is for your LinkedIn profile picture to be a reflection of your nights and weekends with friends and family. This means you want to avoid selfies and snapshots of you and your friends at the local bar. LinkedIn isn’t meant to be a view into your free time the way other social media sites like Facebook and Instagram are.
Your LinkedIn profile is about you, your skills, and your contributions to the business world. And you want to use social media sites to grow your business, not destroy it. For that reason, the vibe behind your profile picture should be professionalism.
Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to pay for professional headshots–although that’s a great idea if you can afford it. However, at the very least you should choose a photographer that has some basic knowledge of how to take a great photo–even if the photographer is a family member or friend.
Proper lighting, cropping and use of enhancement tools must be done correctly. Your profile picture should look as professional as you can afford it to.
2. Look Healthy
Some people focus on looking “smart” in their LinkedIn profile picture. Instead, work to take a profile picture that shows you in a healthy light. Be sure your complexion is rosy and not pale, and that your eyes look bright and not tired.
If you’ve scheduled your photoshoot and wake up feeling not at your best, you may want to reschedule. Having a profile picture that gives the idea that you’re tired or worn down can be a deterrent to potential employers or business connections.
3. Be “You”
It’s important to convey your real personality in your LinkedIn profile picture. Headshots, head and shoulder shots, and 3/4 body shots are all acceptable, however, you’ll want to reflect the real you in the picture.
For instance, if you’re not a fan of working out, don’t crop in a fake background of you at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. Let your profile photo reflect who you really are, whether that’s a photo of you at the local farmers market or hanging out at the library.
4. Dress Accordingly
Let your outfit reflect your career.
For example, if you’re a lawyer, you may want to wear a suit and tie, or at the very least a dress shirt. If you’re the owner at an auto repair shop, wear what you would normally wear to work and consider taking your profile picture at your shop.
You want people to be able to envision you working in the type of job you like to work in. For that reason, it’s important to dress with your career or potential career in mind.
5. Keep It Simple
Another tip? Don’t go overboard as you create and select your profile picture. A simple photo with a nice smile where you are the main subject is best.
This means no distracting backgrounds, no photos of you doing a handstand, etc. You’ll want to avoid drawing viewers away from looking at you because they’re interested in what you’re doing or what’s going on around you.
Andy Foote, a LinkedIn profile expert, gives some specific examples of great LinkedIn profile pics. Take a look at his article, “5 Stunningly Good LinkedIn Headshots” to see what he looks for in a profile picture.
6. Make Eye Contact
Eye contact is vital to connectivity, so be sure you’re looking directly at the camera when taking your profile photo. Eye contact in a photo helps create a connection with your profile viewers, and it can establish a sense of trust.
Photos without direct eye contact can promote a feeling of insecurity or a lack of trust for viewers. Your goal for your profile photo is to appear confident and trustworthy.
7. Face Slightly Left
While eye contact in your photo is important, it can be helpful not to face the camera head-on. Instead, turn your face slightly to the left, while still looking into the camera.
Doing so will create an easy line toward your LinkedIn name and profile, making it easier for viewers to jump to important facts about you.
8. Appear Approachable
It’s also important to appear approachable in your LinkedIn profile picture. What does it look like to appear approachable? First, start off with a great smile.
Have your photographer or a loved one help make you laugh during your photoshoot. Or keep some funny incidents in the back of your mind, and pull them out when the camera starts clicking.
And don’t flash just any smile. Having your teeth showing is a must-do. Closed mouth smiles can create a sense of hesitancy.
Note that a straight-on headshot isn’t always necessary when trying to appear approachable. You can have the photographer take a shot when he or she is situated higher than you too, like if she’s standing on a stool or bench.
This type of pose can help display your willingness to take direction.
9. Give a Squinch
Try squinching your eyes a bit in your LinkedIn pic. Check out this comparison as an example.
Photos that were rated for likability and other factors showed that wide-open eyes give off a sense of fear. However, slightly squinched eyes will denote a sense of comfort and confidence. Those who used squinched eyes in their photos were deemed more competent, likable and influential than those who didn’t squinch.
10. Stay Up-To-Date
Having an up-to-date photo is important too. You don’t want to go into a meeting or interview looking 20 years older than what your LinkedIn profile pic shows.
Similarly, you don’t want the clothing in your photo to reflect a mid-nineties vibe. Using an older photo can give viewers apprehension about the honesty of the rest of your profile.
Instead, use recent, up-to-date photos (within five years) that show who you are now–and be proud of that person.
11. Use A High-Resolution Picture
Using a high-resolution photo is important as well. You’ll want your profile pic to be clear and to have an air of professionalism.
This means no photos with your bottom-of-the-line smartphone. If you’re not going to use a professional photo, at least ask a friend who has a great digital camera or use a smartphone with a high-quality camera.
LinkedIn suggests a 400×400 pixel photo at the least. Avoid smaller, low-resolution photos. See this research study on what makes a great photo for more information. And then read these “don’ts” for LinkedIn profile pics.
12. Avoid These LinkedIn Profile Pic Mistakes
So, you have an idea of what you want to include in your LinkedIn profile photo. Here are some tips on what NOT to do.
Be Careful About Filters
Filters can be funny and entertaining on Instagram and Snapchat. Again, your goal is to appear professional and competent, so making yourself look like a puppy probably isn’t the direction you want to head. Good news though! LinkedIn now has some built-in editing capabilities and six specific filters for your LinkedIn profile pic.
This short video walks you through how to use them.
Keep It In Focus
Blurred out photos can be great for your home decor tastes. But you’ll want to avoid them in your LinkedIn photos. Clear shots where you are making eye contact with the camera are best.
Close Up Please
Head-and-shoulder shots and 3/4 body shots are acceptable on a LinkedIn profile, but try to stay away from full-body shots. The closer up the photo, the more a viewer will feel they can connect with you.
Don’t Include Pets In Your Photo
Another “don’t” in your LinkedIn profile pic is to avoid including your pets. Yes, you love your pets and want to brag about them to the world. However, a first introduction is not the place to do that, and that’s exactly what your LinkedIn profile photo is.
This first introduction of you and your career skills should be about you; not about your pets. Keep your profile photo about you alone, and leave the pet photos for your office desk.
Crop Your Photo Carefully
Cropping photos properly can be difficult. You don’t want your profile picture to be an obvious hack-job of you at the bar with friends, sharing bits and pieces of others in the background.
If you can crop a good photo of yourself and still have the photo appear professional, go for it. If not, choose another photo of yourself alone, or get someone to take a more professional shot for you.
Get Other People’s Opinions
Another tip to selecting a great LinkedIn photo is to get others’ opinions on the photo you are thinking about using.
Photofeeler is a free tool that helps you get opinions on your photos when you share your thoughts on the photos other people upload. Yes, you could go to family and friends for opinions, but you might get more honest feedback when asking strangers.
Don’t Leave The LinkedIn Default Photo Up
Last but not least, don’t simply let the LinkedIn “shadow” default pose as your profile photo. Doing so can make you appear unprofessional, and it can lend an air of secrecy or deceit to your profile.
Summary On A Great LinkedIn Profile Pic
Your LinkedIn profile pic is a “first impression” glance of who you are and what you can bring to the professional table. It’s your 10-second chance to show people who you are and what you have to offer.
Don’t mess up your only chance at a good first impression by using a sub-par photo. Take the time to use your LinkedIn profile to put your best face forward. You never know what kind of opportunities you might gain by doing so.