Your profile picture gives people a certain impression of you, wherever people see it – on your website, your Facebook page, your LinkedIn profile, and other places. If you use this to promote your business or your services, it can make an important difference in whether people think they want to do business with you. You want a photo that looks professional and friendly, and that builds trust with the viewers. What impression is your profile photo making? Here are some common mistakes that people make with their profile pictures.
People connect with photos of real people. If you use a generic avatar, a picture of your adorable puppy dog, or your business logo instead of your face, then you lose that connection. Your goal is to personalize your profile, and give people a sense of the person that they would be dealing with. You want to make them think “That looks like a person I’d like to do business with.” Puppy dogs and logos just don’t cut it.
People want to see a shot of your face. That’s what matters. There is a good reason why people use head shots for profiles. In a business profile photo, nobody cares what your arms or legs look like. They connect with faces, so make sure your photo is zoomed in on the face. Don’t include a full body photo, or even one from the waist up. Just include your head and shoulders, and that’s it.
The easiest way to get a current picture of yourself is surely to pull out your iPhone and snap a selfie. However, this is certain to look amateurish when you post it on your professional profile, and that is not an impression you want to make. If you want to look professional get a high quality professional head shot. A good photograph can make you look capable, confident, reliable, and friendly.
Instead of grabbing a selfie some people look through their photo collection to find the picture where they look the best. This may be from last year’s Christmas party, but cropping out the other party goers is not going to give you the most professional profile shot. Other people’s shoulders, arms, or drinks around the edges of your picture do not send the message you want.
When you use a profile photo for business purposes, think about who you want to see it, and what sort of attire they would be expecting. If you are selling your services in estate planning, then you don’t want a picture of yourself in a Hawaiian shirt. On the other hand, if you are promoting your surfing school, then you can skip the pin stripe business suit. Make sure your attire fits what you are selling, and what your audience would expect. For creative positions it can be better to display a bit of personality through your attire and not as much rigid professionalism. That doesn’t necessarily mean crop tops and ball caps though .
People like people who smile, so give your profile photo a nice, natural smile. A smile puts people more at ease, and makes them think that you would be more friendly and likable. Studies have proven that we have an immediately positive physical response to a smiling face. A natural looking smile (as opposed to a forced one), will also make you look more trustworthy.