The Byrne Blog

John Byrne Communicating About Communications

LinkedIn just invited me to its publishing platform, so I thought I would do it the return favor of writing something related to LinkedIn. You can decide if LinkedIn’s judgment was sound in opening the publishing door to me…

As I was roaming around LinkedIn a couple of weeks ago, trolling looking for people to connect with, I noticed how absolutely terrible some people’s profile photos are. In a world where you never get a second chance to make a first impression, I was truly shocked at the quality (or, really, the lack thereof) of many professionals’ pictures. I started making some notes, and now here they are, distilled to a listicle because, hey, maybe some people will actually take the bait read this and take heed.

So, without further throat-clearing, here are the top 10 things NOT to do in your LinkedIn profile photo (in ascending order of importance as a nod to Mr. Letterman):

10. No selfies. Period. Really, do you need an explanation as to why not? Save them for Instagram.

9. No goofy costumes or “Superman opening his shirt” shots. Yes, I’ve seen people with these kinds of pictures on their profiles. No, I didn’t try to connect with them (and neither should you).

8. Don’t hold anything in your hand, unless you’re Sen. Robert Dole (he gets a pass). I’ve seen a profile picture of someone smoking a cigarette, and a few with a cigar (lit and not). Freud would tell you that cigar sends a lot of messages that you probably don’t want to send on a professional profile that is geared toward business networking.

7. Along the same lines, don’t put either — of both — of your hands up around your face. The ’70s called, and they want their pose back. (Skip the crossed arms, too. Who are you, Mr. Clean?)

6. Don’t stare off into space pensively or be looking out a window reflectively (pun intended). You’re deep. We get it. Look at the camera instead. Oh yeah — no squinting or goofy smiles or smug looks, either. You’re a professional, remember?

5. No screen captures from a speech or presentation video. Yes, we see in your profile that you’ve made 75 speeches and presentations in the past month. Yes, you’re a big shot, and that’s why we want to connect with you. But do you have to rub it in?

4. No bed head. Let me channel your mother for a minute: “Have you even looked in a mirror lately? I wouldn’t leave the house if my hair looked like that. Go brush it!”

3. Don’t be creative with your cropping. Cutting off half your head or leaving other parts of your face (ears!) out of the photo just looks weird. If your head is too big to fit in a profile picture, I don’t know, find another photo? Just a thought… Leave the artsy stuff for Facebook, already.

2. Don’t use your high school yearbook photo, especially if you were just at your 25th reunion. The photo needs to be from this century, sorry. A black and white photo is also a dead giveaway that you don’t look like your photo anymore. Save these aging gems for your profile on Match or Ashley Madison, instead.

And now, the number one thing NOT to do in your LinkedIn photo (drum roll, please):

1. Don’t leave your profile picture blank. Seriously? What part of social media don’t you get?

There you have it. I’m thinking LinkedIn will start looking better very soon.

Have your own photo tips? Add them in the comments…

One thought on “Top 10 Things NOT to Do in Your LinkedIn Photo

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