The top 6 LinkedIn profile picture mistakes - You may need to fix your pic now

by Richard Foord

So I have been trawling LinkedIn recently, and have been amazed at what people pass off as an adequate vision of themselves. LinkedIn is where people hook up to discuss and share ideas in a broad professional context, as well as to network and support their hunts for better jobs or to look for new staff for their own teams.

So here's the problem ... what many are passing off as the vision of themselves in a professional context seems to range from me-at-the-pub, me-at-the-beach through to just outright bad images. 

You need a good shot
You need to connect with the camera
You need to convey your character in a single quick glance

... this doesn't mean be boring - but it does mean - think about the platform and the audience.

Your profile picture headshot is an integral part of your personal brand - make sure it's good enough to stick on the front of your product. 

The top 6 mistakes you should avoid

  1.  Forget Black and White 
    You are not entering an art contest nor trying convey the sense that maybe Ansel Adams was your photographer. In LinkedIn black and white images just look dull and flat. Sure get a shot for your spouse / family / parents etc. to frame and put on the wall but stick with colour  for this simple web presence even if your corporate website theme is black and white.
  2. Too Cool for School 
    Guys - loose the sunglasses. No-one trusts a person whose eyes they can't see.
    Girls - forget the "glamour" shot, Glamour shots are not real and don't convey reality or personality. Just like with black and white - get these done - hang them on the wall - leave them off LinkedIn
  3. Restaurants or Out and About 
    If you really have to use a shot that was taken out of doors then please don't use one from your last beach, ski, holiday or dinner outing. This isn't Facebook or Google+ or any of those general social sites. Try to keep the background obscured and plain or if you really need something in there then ensure it is relevant to work and not the dominant item in the shot. Your shot should be about you. Simple, plain, muted colours in the background are best.
  4.   It's my Passport or Security Pass image
    I know very few people with reasonable passport, security pass or driver's license images. If you see a shot that looks like that on LinkedIn then it probably is!! Very few of these have any emotional connection with the camera and you might as well be in a police line-up.
  5.   It's a Headshot, dude 
    It's your face people want to see. If I can see your waist then I can see too much. Nothing below the chest will ensure that it is your face and who you are that is the focus
  6. Light It 
    We want to see your face. Not only half of it or have to struggle with a very light background and squint to make the features out in the foreground image. Have it well lit, fairly evenly and try to avoid shadows that are too deep on the face or lighting hotspots - even if its a friend or family member taking the shot make sure the final image has the face well lit.

Why are these mistakes ?

Because the shot has to be about you - anything else is a distraction and any distraction subtracts from the reader's experience of you. 

Final Tip - Lighten Up !! Nothing above says be boring. It just says make the image about you and not something else. Ultra serious - I'm a businessman type shots just imply more boredom. All the tips above apply to whatever industry you are in.

p.s. My profile picture on LinkedIn is not perfect but it doesn't suffer from any of the key mistakes above. The only real mistake it contains is the serious factor so if you know of a good photographer you can recommend then let me know so I can get it re-done.