What does the profile picture you choose for your LinkedIn profile really say about you? Does it even matter?
The answer is a resounding yes! Almost half of all B2B buyers on the professional social networking site will browse your profile. What’s more, studies have shown that is takes just a tenth of a second for people create an impression based on your photo.
Just a tenth of a second. That’s hardly anything. How do you win someone over in under 60 seconds?
The good news is that enough research has been done about profile photos and the type that make the biggest and best first impressions.
Your LinkedIn profile picture is a critically important part of your LinkedIn presence. It can show off your professionalism and maturity level and in just that tenth of a second, people will form opinions, conclusions, and assumptions based on how you look in your picture.
While the way you look should not have any bearing on your eligibility for a position or people wanting to do business with you, more often than not, it does. Often, and especially in today’s world of social media and online networking, your first point of contact with anyone is your profile picture.
"A complete LinkedIn profile speaks volumes about your professionalism. The same goes for a professional picture which shows that you “get” the importance of brand, which is essential to any company and any role."-James Cann, Author and Serial Entrepreneur
In this article, we will look how to snap the perfect picture, and look at examples of exceptional photos and not-so-good ones, too.
Elements Required for a Professional LinkedIn Profile Picture
Let’s start with the basics – a quick list of elements that need to be present in your profile picture. We will expand on these in the next section.
- A friendly smile – a pleasant smile makes you come across as warm and welcoming.
- Professional clothing – depending on the type of job you have and your position, you should consider the clothing in your picture.
- A pleasant background – your background image should be clear and clutter-free, with no distraction or confusion present.
- Avoid high color saturation or too-dark pictures – your picture should be bright enough so that people can easily see your face, but avoid making it too bright or using high color saturation.
- Keep things simple – your LinkedIn profile picture should be of you only. Don’t include friends, family, children, pets, or objects. Stand against a light, solid-colored background.
- A current picture – use an up-to-date picture so that people know how you look at this point in time.
"Some people won’t read a word on your profile unless you have an attractive picture."- Neil Patel
Two Examples of Images Using the Correct FormatBelow are two excellent examples of profile pictures that use the right format.
- Ex-U.S. President Obama’s LinkedIn profile picture is a stunning example of professionalism. His face covers over 60% of the profile picture (we will discuss this a little further on) and there is a dark blue background. The background image is the White House, which both matches his profile at the time, and is clean, clear, and professional.
- Coca-Cola Company chairman, Muhtar Kent’s profile picture is also an excellent example of a professional image. His image takes up 60% of the photo and he has a pleasant and approachable smile. The white background compliments the professional photo.
13 Tips for Choosing the Perfect Profile Picture
The two examples above are outstanding, and while you may not be the U.S. President or the chairman of Coke, you can still post the perfect LinkedIn profile picture with these 13 top tips.
1. Choose a Photo That Actually Looks Like You
We’re not kidding about this one! Seriously, have you ever first seen someone’s LinkedIn picture, or any other social media profile picture for that matter, and then met them in person only to be taken aback by how different they look? If so, it may just leave you questioning their credibility.
With this in mind, make sure your LinkedIn profile photo is no older than 12 months and reflects how you look on a daily basis, including your makeup, hair, and glasses, if you wear any.
2. Make Sure Your Face Takes Up 60% of the Frame
We mentioned this earlier on in the article. Don’t be that guy who has a picture of himself on top of some distant mountain peak. Sure, it looks awesome, but people can’t see your face properly.
Instead, crop the picture from just above your shoulders to just above your head, allowing your face to fill the frame and show off your warm and friendly smile.
3. Choose the Perfect Expression
We’re all about perfection for your profile pic, and part of that is being able to smile with your eyes. Again, this help you to come across as warm and friendly to people viewing your profile. You don’t need a ginormous, goofy grin, but don’t look too serious, either. You want to aim for approachability so that people (especially potential business partners and leads or customers) imagine having a pleasant conversation when they meet you.
4. Wear Your Work Clothes
For your picture, wear clothes that match the dressiness in your daily work life. Avoid being over or underdressed and keep in mind that solid colors usually work best on camera.
5. Choose a Clean Background
Once you have put all that effort into your expression and clothing, don’t let a single thing distract from your pleasant face. Keep your background clean and simple so that you truly are the focal point of your profile picture.
6. Try Smiling with Your Teeth, Too
Did you know that a closed mouth smile risks making you look only half as likeable as someone with an open mouth smile? According to research, laughing while you smile for your photo can significantly increase your likeability.
If you are not entirely comfortable with smiling on command for a photo, spend a couple of minutes in front of a mirror practicing before snapping a photo. This will help you appear friendlier, healthier, happier, and more relaxed.
7. It’s Okay to Squint… But Only Slightly
A slight squint can increase the perception of influence and competence – which is exactly what you want to exude in your LinkedIn profile picture. The idea behind this is that wide eyes make you look uncertain and a little vulnerable, but slightly narrowed eyes make you look more confident and comfortable.
8. Try to Accentuate Your Jawline
An outline of your jaw, in the form of a shadow line that runs all the way around, can increase likeability and influence.
9. Look at the Camera
Several studies have shown that the more people make the effort to look at one another, the more they will like each other. The same goes when looking at a picture of someone. People whose eyes are obstructed by hair, sunglasses, a shadow, or a glare in their profile picture seem to receive lower ratings and profile views compared to those who make eye contact with the camera for their photo.
10. Stick to Head and Shoulders or Head to Waist
Close-ups of just your face can bring your likeability score down, but a full body photo can negatively impact your influence or competence.
11. Avoid High Color Saturation and Photos That Are Too Dark
Dark photos or those with high color saturation are best left to Instagram. Also, try to avoid taking a picture where there are overhead light sources or direct sunlight. Instead, position yourself in front of a soft light that is filtering through a window, or pose in a lamp-lit room for a warm glow. That is, of course, if you are not having your photograph professionally shot.
12. Choose a Bright Background Color to Make Your Profile Picture Stand Out
While there are colors that make us feel calm, and those that induce anxiety, there are also those that sell.
According to studies, that tenth of a second that it takes for people to form an opinion about you is as much as 90% based on the color of your photo or its background.
13. Use Company Branding in the Cover Photo
We must make quick mention of your LinkedIn cover photo, since it should complement your profile picture. Incorporate imagery that reflects the field you work in (like Obama’s White House cover photo above). You don’t need to deck yourself out in company-branded clothing, but you can incorporate your business’s branding within your cover photo.
Negative Images and How to Avoid Them
Now that you know what to do in order to create a “get-me-noticed” LinkedIn profile picture, let us take a look at what not to do so that you can avoid creating a negative impression with people who view your profile.
- While the below image is nurturing, a mother with her baby is not a professional image for LinkedIn. Remember, your picture should not include other people or family members.
- Here’s the mountain top image we mentioned earlier. We can’t see the person’s face. Remember, your picture (head-to-shoulders or head-to-waist) should cover up to 60% of your picture frame.
- Here is another example of an unprofessional photo. In the professional world, this is not an acceptable pose and should be avoided at all costs.
- Not only is this an unprofessional image, we cannot see a real person’s face, and therefore, people cannot identify who is behind the mask.
- This picture is just too casual for a professional platform like LinkedIn. Avoid having other people, pets, or objects in your profile photo. Your profile should represent you and only you.
The Technical Specs – Getting Your Profile Picture LinkedIn-Perfect
Before you even shoot your profile pic, there are a few specs to keep in mind. If your photo file is too big, the site will reject it. If it is too small, you will look like a blurry mess.
Here are our top tips to getting it right:
- It’s Okay to Be Square – your profile picture should be a square once you upload it to the site.
- A Circle or a Square? – you can choose for your profile picture to show up in a circle on the LinkedIn site and mobile app, if you really want to. If you want to go the circular route, make sure you don’t crop the image too tight or you risk losing a little bit around the outside edges.
- Pick a File Format – Both PNG and JPEG files work well as LinkedIn profile photo files. JPEG works particularly well for portraits whereas PNG works well with graphics and logos.
- The Perfect Size – if your photo is larger than 20,000 pixels tall or wide, or your file size is over 10 megabytes, LinkedIn will reject your profile picture. The minimum requirement is that your picture is at least 400 x 400 pixels – but be careful, this could be too small for your profile picture to stand out.
Now, you are ready to upload your sensational profile picture and choose its visibility settings.
Uploading Your Profile Picture and Setting Photo Visibility
To upload your profile picture from your mobile or desktop device:
- In your profile picture space in your LinkedIn page, click on the space and choose the photo you want to upload
- click “open”
- click “upload photo”
- Select who you would live the photo to be visible to
- Click “save”
To adjust the visibility of your profile picture:
- At the top of your homepage, click on the “me” icon
- Click on “view profile”
- Click on your profile picture
- Close to the bottom of the pop up screen, click on “Visible to:” and you will be presented with the options of who can view your profile photo
- Click “apply” to save your changes
You have the choice of setting your photo visibility to:
- Everyone – this is the default setting
- My Network
- My Connections
If you would like to change the visibility of your profile picture, you can:
- Click the “me” icon
- Choose “view profile”
- Click on “view your public profile” which is on the right of the screen
- Look at the right sidebar of the page. Change the elements of your profile that are visible to the public under the section, “customize your public profile”
- Click or unclick the box that is next to “picture”
- Click “save”
With more than 4 million businesses registered on LinkedIn, you do not want your profile to get lost or glazed over. Your LinkedIn profile picture, when done correctly, may actually become a very important aspect of your brand, business, and career.
If you need help with your LinkedIn profile, talk to our experts at GlobalYogi Labs today.