Editor’s note: Updated 6/7/2019
Who would you, your customer or a potential employer hire? The silhouette above or one of these smiling faces below?
Your image is part of your brand. Having your smiling face in your social networking profiles helps build your “know, like, and trust” factor. People do business with people they know, like, and trust.
Not only that, have you ever said, “I know the face; I just can’t remember the name…”
Your face, your professional headshot, helps people remember you.
When attending networking events, you leave with loads of business cards, many with names, contact information, and logos, but no photo. How do you remember if the name you found on LinkedIn is the right person you met when the profile has only a silhouette?
That smiling mug of yours is part of your brand, use it!
Having your face in your social networking profiles helps people connect with you and know that it’s YOU they met at last week’s event or conference.
Photos matter because — science.
According to LinkedIn, members who include a profile photo receive 21x more profile views and up to 36x more messages.
Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov found it only takes 100 milliseconds to form an impression of someone just looking at a photo of their face. And 80 to 90 percent of that first impression is based on two qualities — trustworthiness and competence.
Social Psychologist Amy Cuddy explains:
When we form a first impression of another person it’s not really a single impression. We’re really forming two. We’re judging how warm and trustworthy the person is, and that’s trying to answer the question, “What are this person’s intentions toward me?” And we’re also asking ourselves, “How strong and competent is this person?” That’s really about whether or not they’re capable of enacting their intentions.”
Trust and likeability play a role in helping you build your brand, your connections, and more.
I’m asked all the time if people really need a professional headshot in their social-networking profiles.
YES, you do. No excuses.
And if you’ve got an excuse for no photo, see if these sound familiar:
“My head is too big.” It’s been said that Oprah has a large-sized head, and she seems to be doing just fine.
“I want to lose weight before I pay money to get a professional headshot.” And “People say the camera adds 10 pounds. In my case it adds 50!”
Ask yourself this, have you got networking meetings coming up in the next week? How about interviews? Sales calls? Speaking gigs? Ballgame? Hiding behind no photo online detracts from your brand and gives the impression you don’t know how to use basic tools like LinkedIn.
You’ll still be seen in real life regardless. Embrace it. You are fabulous just as you are now. Pop that pic in your profile. Later, when you lose your planned weight, that warrants a brand new headshot of skinny you.
Did you know most people Google you before they meet you?
LinkedIn is typically on page one of those search results. Having a current photo in your profile means that when you arrive, people will immediately recognize you and know that you are the person they were scheduled to meet (not you from 2004, but you 2019).
“I don’t have any money for a professional headshot.” Find a well-lit space in your home or apartment and a light-colored empty wall. Wear something professional, smile big, and have your friend take a photo — or several so you can choose your favorite. LinkedIn now has some tools in their mobile app to enhance your photo. Use them. Save a bit every week and you can invest in a professional headshot soon.
People relate well to facial photos.
People like to do business with people, not a logo or your cat.
Your photo is part of your brand image. Be sure it’s aligned with your professional goals and your personal brand.
On LinkedIn, it’s important that your profile picture is professional versus a crazy pose, wedding or group photo. The photo needs to be of your head and the top of your shoulders, like the above photos. A white background is preferred.
One client told me about wanting to use a service based on someone’s recommendation.
“I Googled him before we met. He had this crazy picture on LinkedIn with his mouth open and head turned sideways. I wasn’t too sure about heading for the meeting after that.”
You can do some fun expressions on Facebook if you wish. With any profile photo, keep in mind the “Mom and Boss Test” — if you’d be embarrassed if your mom saw the photo or fired if your boss did, err on the side of “professional.”
Twitter’s profile-picture spot is very tiny. Keep that in mind when uploading your profile photo. For Twitter, I recommend having just your face in the profile photo. Your whole face, not your eye or a tiny picture of your full body. It’s too hard to see.
Recruiters say, “We will judge you not just on your profile, but your overall mastery of LinkedIn (especially for PR, sales, marketing, human resources and recruiting jobs). We look for a professional headshot, a powerful summary, at least several hundred connections, a complete employment history (including descriptions) and a good list of relevant groups.”
Final Thoughts on the Face of Your Brand
Book your professional headshot, add it to your social media profiles, and let’s see your fabulous face online!
© 2006 – 2019 | Wendy Terwelp | All rights reserved.
Wendy Terwelp, Opportunity Knocks, is a recognized career industry leader, dubbed a “LinkedIn Guru” by The Washington Post. Named in the Top 15 Career Masterminds (along with Richard Nelson Bolles, author of “What Color is Your Parachute?”), Top 100 Career Experts to Follow on Twitter, ATD’s “Best on Career Development,” and “Top 10 Career Helps” by Inc. Magazine, Wendy speaks about networking, social media, branding, and personal branding for career management to organizations worldwide. Wendy is also the author of Rock Your Network®.