Professional branding is one of those career management activities that can take relatively little time but does require ongoing maintenance in order to keep your brand current, relevant and aligned to your end goal, at all times. It’s your brand that communicates who you are, what you do and whether or not you have potential to be the best person for the job. So it’s important that your branding not be left to go stale. If you aren’t familiar with how to manage your professional brand, you might want to get a refresher with these posts: How to Communicate Your Best Professional Brand in 3 Easy Steps and 4 Winning Strategies for Building Your Professional Brand
There are a number of ways to showcase your professional brand but in recent years and especially now, one of the best places to maintain a professional presence is Linkedin. Within Linkedin there’s one critical element of the profile that should not be overlooked when conducting an annual professional brand audit: Your Linkedin photo.
Whether you are hesitant to add a photo or haven’t updated yours since your Linkedin join date, it’s important to understand just why this often overlooked profile item, is the most important when it comes to your branding efforts & career management:
1. People Are Attracted to Visuals
Much like fish, people are attracted to bright shiny objects. We like to see visuals. Hence the popularity of websites like Instagram and Pinterest. No one will be attracted to a Linkedin profile without a photo. (And isn’t being found part of the reason for being on Linkedin anyway)?
2. People Are Attracted to Beauty
Of course having any old photo is not enough. It has to look good. I’m not talking supermodel good but rather a high-resolution photo with a clear shot of the face and clean crop. People are beautiful in their uniqueness and the eyes are the window to the soul, so don’t be afraid to get up close and personal and take pride in your photo formatting skills.[wpcb id=”13″ text=”Click Here for a Free PDF Download of this blog post.” style=”black_flat”]
3. People Have Zero Attention Spans
As we’ve seen in user experience and design trends over the years, less is more. People are conditioned to skim when online, (not read 3 pages of wordy text). Consider how Linkedin search results are returned: just enough to skim headlines and headshots. It’s this that will either draw the reader in or cause them to keep moving. And for the record, having worked as a recruiter, I am guilty of passing over profiles with no photo (or a bad one). So it’s in your best interest to get it right.
4. People Hire People
At the end of the day, people hire people with whom they have a personal connection. You can’t establish a connection if don’t give the viewer even a glimpse of who you are. The photo works to establish that connection with a positive first impression long before you ever walk in the interview room. Your recruiter or hiring manager will feel like they know you and if your profile is clean you will be perceived as a competent individual (at least initially).
5. People Like Approachable
It’s not enough to just post a photo and walk away. Some careful thought has to be put into the type of photo and message it sends, including that of making it approachable. Think of it as a networking room. We are drawn to the person with a smile and open body language and the Linkedin photo is no different.
6. People will Make Quick Assumptions
Not having a Linkedin photo can communicate a number of false assumptions to the viewer including: “creeper,” “fake profile,” “not much to look at,” or worse yet, “not up with the times.” These wrong assumptions can be especially damaging to the Fifty-plus job seeker trying to combat ageism. Don’t give anyone a chance to assume. Communicate immediately that you are up with the times and you’re quite a looker at that! In addition to negative assumptions, people will also draw assumptions about your profession based on the type of photo you display. If you’re a hot-shot Marketer with a stuffy, serious photo, people might not consider you a very credible Marketer. (After all, Marketers are fun, creative and cutting edge, right)? Look at how the other people in your space are profiled and try to fit the mold when you find a vibe you want to portray to the outside world.
They say “a picture is worth a thousand words” but where career is concerned maybe it’s a thousand new clients, contacts or job opportunities. Make this the year that you put your best photo forward by tackling a key piece in your online career management and professional branding.
Be Sure to Follow NG Career Strategy on Linkedin for more great career management tips and tricks! You might also like these Linkedin blog posts: