First impressions matter – especially when you’re looking to build your brand and be recognized as a professional who is worth the while to connect with. As good as your credentials may be, the very first thing people notice on your online profiles is your profile photo. If it’s an egg or a shadowy silhouette, I’ll bet you’re not making as many as connections as you could be. I’m sometimes near merciless when teasing my small biz friends and colleagues who have yet to upload their photos – particularly on Linkedin. Again, first impressions matter – especially online where you often don’t have a face-to-face opportunity to project the real you. But as bad as eggs and shadows are as profile pics, there are (believe it or not!) worse choices!
Want to be taken seriously as a professional? Think twice before using any of the below as your profile photo…
Fido or Tiger
Lots of people ooh and ahh over dogs and cats, but using yours as your profile photo on a network you intend to use primarily to build your brand will make you look less professional. Well, maybe not if you’re a dog groomer or pet sitter…actually, even then it’s not a good idea.
It Takes Two
Posting a couples shot as your profile pic is…well…odd. MAYBE, if the face of your business is you and your spouse, it might be appropriate on your Facebook Page or G+ page. But not on your individual Linkedin profile. That photo should be all you.
Leaving too much to the imagination
Beware of bared shoulders and low necklines on photos that when cropped give the illusion that you’re in the buff. Awkward!
Sexy and you know it
While there might be a few professions (ahem) that justify putting on pouty lips and a seductive stare when saying “cheese” for a profile pic, it’s generally not the way to go.
Don’t mess with me
Making connections online is about being approachable. Your facial expression on your profile pic can either draw people to you or push them away. Don’t post a pic that makes you look menacing, mean, angry, or otherwise stand-offish.
You might argue that using a cartoon or caricature as a profile photo shows creativity. But if you’re trying to build your professional network do you really want to be known as the guy or gal who used a silly drawing for your profile pic? Even if it’s in the likeness of you. It’s not you.
Remember, your profile pic makes a strong first impression, so make sure yours is projecting the image you want prospects and customers to have of you. Realize, too, that even the profile pics you use on your personal online social networks can impact how others perceive you professionally. You have more flexibility on them, but be cognizant of the appropriateness of what you post when you’ve got business colleagues and clients within your personal networks.
What professional profile pic faux pas have you seen online?
By Dawn Mentzer
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