LinkedIn is an essential component of your professional life. Not only can it serve as an important tool if you are conducting a job search, but it can also help you with personal branding, professional networking, and maintaining your business identity. Often, recruiters use the platform to identify potential candidates for a position, and hiring managers may take a look at your profile along with (or even instead of) your resume to better understand your background, skill set, and work history.
There are many crucial elements of your profile, but your LinkedIn image is one of the most important. It showcases you and your expertise. If you don’t have a profile photo on your LinkedIn page, you could seriously be missing out. For starters, people are more likely to click on and view your profile if you have a picture there.
Wondering why a picture is essential for your LinkedIn profile? Here are three reasons why you should add a photo or update your current headshot.
1. A LinkedIn profile photo helps you showcase your personal brand.
Set yourself up to get the kind of job or professional opportunities you want by figuring out exactly what it is that you want first. Your professional goals and ambitions are part of your personal branding.
Take a moment and do a brain dump of what your ideal job or work opportunity would look like, feel like, or sound like. Write down what the various components of your ideal workday would be from beginning to end, and think about how these elements would look, feel, and perhaps sound. Be as detailed as possible, taking into account the kinds of experiences you want to have, ideas you want to cultivate, and workload that would suit you and your personality best.
Through that lens, choose or take a profile image that captures your personal brand.
This exercise offers a shift in reasoning as to why you must have a LinkedIn profile photo. Shifting from a reactionary image (passive) to an intentionally focused, action-driven image will draw to you the best opportunities for you. The profile image you put forth to the world will draw certain kinds of people from specific industries to look at it and come to your profile.
2. It helps you set a clear professional intention.
In 1908 Rev. Fred E. Marble delivered a speech, which included the now famous quote, “First I tells ’em what I am going to tell ’em, second I tells ’em, and third I tells ’em what I told ’em.”
Decades later, this age-old advice is still relevant for cultivating a public image—and for your LinkedIn profile photo.
Your profile picture is an opportunity to set the tone for your profile. It is your chance to make a good impression. As Shannon Dalton Giordano of Serendipity Social Media Inc. shares, “Your LinkedIn profile photo should reflect who you are and how you like to interact with the world. The key is that it should be professional, but it also must let your personality shine through. The beauty is that you can use this photo across multiple social platforms and your followers and friends will know they've found you.”
That means you can use this image for your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram profile as well. Another benefit in using your picture across social media platforms is that it will help your other profiles come across as more professional, so if a hiring manager, client, or colleague sees it, it will align with the professional image you put forth on your LinkedIn profile and in your working life.
3. Consistent messaging, including through a profile photo, makes you more recognizable.
We all agree that consistency is key across social media platforms and imperative within your messaging of your ideal job opportunity and connections. Be sure to make consistent messaging part of your professional intention—this is essential for cultivating and maintaining your personal brand, identity, and image.
Just like a flashing neon sign, a quality LinkedIn photo is your first impression. As Jake Belcher, of Jake Belcher Photography, Boston shares, “From my experience working with clients in a social media driven job market, your professional headshot is your first impression and recommend working with a professional photographer. Before you get started with your photo session, let your photographer know about your brand and branding goals, make your photo session a collaborative experience, and always stick with clean backgrounds. If you can do all three of these things, your message about who you are and what you represent will be clear to your audience.”
So, take a few pictures and try different poses to see if they are in line with your intention. Before you actually take your photo with a professional photographer, you might try out these poses with a friend and have her snap a couple pictures to help you see how the various poses and expresses come across through the camera lens.
Working with a professional photographer will ensure you are portrayed in a light that reflects what your personal job intention is. It can also help you avoid disappointment and missed opportunities, since a professional headshot is more likely to attract and impress the people who look through your profile, and they will see that you are taking your professional image seriously.
Make sure you dress in a professional, appropriate manner that reflects your personality and the image you want to put forth. Make sure you don't put on too much makeup, too. While a little is okay, try to keep it subtle. A smoky eye is better left to a party or social event. Your photographer can probably offer some tips for how to best dress and prepare for profile photos as well; most likely, this is not her first go around with creating LinkedIn profile photos.
Stay focused while prepping for your LinkedIn profile. Think thoughts that will keep you calm and help you project an image that captures your professional persona and your genuine personality. You want the world to see the real, professional you.
Kristen Darcy is an author; speaker and emotional recovery coach who help her clients get to their clear intentions and how to manifest the life that is best for them. Visit www.kristendarcy.com.