Body language accounts for 55% of the effect your communication has on the receiver. The only body language your network has to be affected by on LinkedIn is your profile photo.
Potential customers, employers, recruiters, prospects, and peers are all forming a first impression of you based on what's in that little square. According to studies, appearance affects whether we end up liking someone and our assessment of their trustworthiness. On top of that, a first impression formed online is often more negative than a first impression formed face to face (Wood, 2014).
It is with this in mind that I present to you, The Many Faces of LinkedIn:
The "Stretched Face" - You look like your head is being blown up on the side of a balloon. Consult an aspect ratio specialist.
The "Fuzzy Face" - Focus! Unless you are blurry in real life (See: Mitch Hedberg's Bigfoot joke), you should not be using this photo.
The "Someone Is Clearly Cropped Out" - Whose upper arm is that? If it's a good, professional photo of you, then this one isn't bad. However, it does make one wonder what mystery person that corner of a forehead belongs to.
The "Glamour Shot" - The lighting is a little too bright and there's a glossy finish. This is the person you barely recognize when you actually meet with them.
The "You Took a Picture of a Picture" - This is fine for Throwback Thursday on Facebook, but the glare is a giveaway. And how old is this photo if you have prints? (If it's a Polaroid I'm blocking you)
The "Picture That Is Too Little to Fill the Full Square" - That gray border around your head is distracting.
The "In Action" - On the phone, giving a speech, shaking a hand... you look like the opening credits of The Office on pause. This one can be pulled off effectively, but usually looks noticeably staged.
The "Gray & White Silhouette" (AKA no photo) - I bet on Twitter you're an egg. It's 2015, add a photo to your professional networking profile!
The "Not a Person" - A step up from the silhouette but whether it's a photo of your company logo, product, or something else completely random, it can come across gimmicky.
The "Extreme Close Up" - Back up a little, my friend. That's too much face for that little box.
Some of us are guilty of one and others attempt to combine these like a mad scientist of visual arts. Obviously we shouldn't all commission a photo shoot for use on LinkedIn. And I appreciate that we should not all be using the exact same approach when it comes to presenting ourselves. Creativity is a beautiful thing and I've seen many LinkedIn photos that surprised me or made me laugh in a positive way.
The goal here is to have some fun by picking on those that clearly could be representing themselves' better. If the point of being on LinkedIn is to appear capable and competent, completing the task of uploading a professional photo should not be particularly challenging. Maybe it's time for an update!
Which of these faces do you notice the most of in your network? Which do you find the most egregious? Are there any good ones I'm leaving out? Please share in the Comments section...
Written by Joshua Weber