This blog which I write on a daily basis goes to a number of different audiences, but that one that garners the most attention is via Linkedin. And on my Linkedin profile page as is the case with every other Linkedin member, there is an opportunity to include a photograph of the person.
Now some have decided not to include a photograph on their page at all, and a generic shadowy image of a body comes up as a default which can be replaced by any photo the person chooses to upload to the platform. I suppose some people don’t want to include their photo for reasons of privacy, vanity, security etc. and that decision is theirs alone to make. I’m certainly not going to apply pressure to anyone who chooses not to include their photo to change their mind.
On the other hand, many more individuals have taken steps to include their photo as part of their profile, and the photo certainly helps me I know for one when I am reading their profiles, or chatting with them in the various discussion groups. You know from experience that we tend to judge and make assumptions about others within the first few seconds of meeting people. Just looking at a photograph, we tend to see a person as likable, friendly, serious, professional, casual, business-oriented, successful, quiet and reserved, free-spirited etc.
So if you have a photo, or are thinking about either adding one or changing your existing one, what does it communicate to others about you? In other words, how do you choose to brand yourself? Is is just a head shot, a full body picture, are you alone or with others, at your desk or at the beach, standing firmly with your feet planted aka Superman, or holding up a glass of wine at a picnic? How much thought have you applied to this photo?
Consider that in addition to the content on your Linkedin page, your photograph may be the first thing a potential Recruiter or employer sees when they search your name. What used to be the first physical impression as you were greeted in the reception area heading into an interview, has been backed up to what pictures on the internet reveal you to be like; even though those pictures are still frames.
In my own case, I sat down once when first setting up my Linkedin account, and just took a picture with the laptop camera in my living room. “I’ll replace that soon with a better photo in time” I said. Well I only got around to doing that this past week. The reason I left it wasn’t because I was lazy, more because the photo was getting recognized by others as representative of me, my posts, my comments in discussion groups…in short I was tired of the photo but it was being imprinted in the minds of others and I was being recognized so why change it? Consistency of branding vs. updating the photo to better portray me in the way I wanted.
Still I decided that a new photo was in order and asked my wife to take some in our backyard. I sure am glad the neighbour’s weren’t around as they would have thought it funny to see my posing. I went for what we both call the ‘Real Estate’ photo. That’s a pose where arms are crossed, body slightly turned. No I’m not in Real Estate at all, but the picture captures some facial recognition for others while also having a pine tree as a backdrop representing keen personal interests of mine – gardening and nature. I made sure the hair was groomed, the shirt I wanted was on, and the lighting was bright enough to capture the image I wanted without having me squint.
Consider too that if you are on multiple social media platforms, you may see on Facebook for example that many people have pictures representing them which are actually of their kids, their pets, things both real and imagined. The other thing about Facebook photos is that I’ve noticed some people change their picture or Avatar as it’s called, quite often. Some more than once a day. Why? Well it shows others they are constantly on Facebook, updating information and they remain relevant.
On Linkedin however, my advice would be to find a picture of yourself that your satisfied communicates what you want professionally, and then stick with it. Of course when you do change your photo or update information, many times your connections will be notified of this automatically and may be prompted to check out your profile to see what’s new. This can drive traffic to your profile. Make sure if this is your strategy, that you’ve got a solid profile when the traffic arrives!
On a personal note, when I’m discussing some topic with another connection, I know that being able to see their picture helps me with the entire process, and I get a better idea of who they are as people. When I’m looking to expand my network, those without a picture are less likely for me to connect with and I don’t know if this is true for others or just myself.
Anyhow, something to think about when weighing that decision!