Your LinkedIn headshot is an essential part of your profile and personal brand. It impacts how others see you at first glance and, by extension, what they assume (rightly or wrongly) about your competency, likeability and trustworthiness (not unlike the mere seconds it takes to make an impression when walking into a room). How you present yourself through your profile picture is critical to making a strong first impression, whether related to business and job opportunities, networking, speaking engagements or media inquiries etc.
Your headshot should reflect who you are today, not what you looked like a decade ago or before you lost 25 pounds or got contacts. It should also best represent you as a professional and speak to where you’re headed in your career. Interested in a board position? Look and dress like you already have a seat at the table. Aiming for the C-suite? Exude confidence and influence. Your headshot is like a visual elevator pitch, first round interview or email introduction; therefore, always present yourself optimally.
If you don’t have a profile picture, according to LinkedIn, adding one will enable you to receive (on average) 21X more profile views, 9X more connection requests and 36X more messages! While you might prefer anonymity on other social media, LinkedIn is different — one of its primary purposes is networking, so it’s vital for people to see you. Practically speaking, omitting a headshot makes it harder for other professional contacts to identify you, which isn’t something you want to happen, especially after meeting someone in person.
If you have a headshot, but don’t know if it’s optimal, consider replacing it with a better one if it includes:
- Sunglasses on your face or head;
- A pet, child or anyone else other than you;
- A body part (e.g. arm or shoulder) of someone else;
- A background like a beach, golf course or mountaintop;
- You cropped from a group shot;
- Blurry or low-resolution image;
- A selfie or webcam shot of you;
- You looking down or in the distance vs. straight ahead;
- A head tilt or awkward pose;
- An inappropriate outfit;
- Bad lighting (making your face hard to see);
- Or, if it was taken too close or too far away.
Remember, LinkedIn is not Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Professional presentation here really matters. While using a headshot yields more positive responses than none at all (on average), using a poor headshot can work against you and lower the likelihood that your profile will be viewed or that people will reach out to you. Moreover, a headshot with an overly serious, annoyed or indifferent expression can discourage interaction and opportunities too. People want to engage with someone who looks professional and approachable.
Related Reading: 10 LinkedIn Profile Mistakes You Must Fix Now
If you don’t have a good quality image, consider investing in the services of a professional photographer, preferably someone recommended. (You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a great shot either!) There’s no harm in reaching out to connections with sharp LinkedIn headshots and asking who took their pictures too.
Regardless of who takes your headshot, it’s important to dress and groom appropriately. Plan your outfit, how to style your hair (and makeup), and either clean shave or trim facial hair. Ensure the lighting and background position you optimally. Ultimately, make sure your photo focuses on your face and takes up at least 60% of the frame.
Your headshot is one of the most important aspects of your LinkedIn profile and a critical element of your personal brand. Don’t miss out on opportunities unnecessarily because you haven’t paid attention to your headshot. How you present yourself directly and immediately influences what others think about you, which can be the difference between someone taking a deeper look or skipping over your profile entirely.
Related Reading: What Your Style Says About Your Personal Brand