checkmeoutYour profile photo may be the most important part of your Linkedin profile.

So how do you know what makes a good pic for you?

We know profile pics are one of the things people click on most when viewing your Linkedin profile.  This was boldly illustrated by Heat Map Studies recently posted on Mashable and highlighted in a great post by Stacy Zapar on her blog in the post,Why You Should Include Your Twitter Handle in Your Linkedin Headline.

Alison Doyle,’s job search and employment expert posts a nice guide on How to Take and Choose a Good Profile Photo for Linkedin.

Her suggestions differ slightly from some that Jason Seiden and I offered on the Beyond Social podcast.  I like the contrast between the suggestions because I don’t think the same rules apply to everyone.

6 Tips for Picking the Right Profile Photo

1. Pick the Right Photographer. You do not need to hire a professional photographer. Simply ask a friend or family member (who knows how to handle a camera) to take several shots of you. Select someone who can make you smile in a natural way. A warm, friendly smile will make you look accessible, and encourage others to engage with you. Have the photographer (and a few other friends, if possible) look at the photos and ask them which photo makes you seem the most accessible.

If someone else is not available to take the photo, you can take a webshot of yourself using your computer’s camera (if you have one). But do not take the photo yourself using your phone or a handheld camera – self-photos often appear unprofessional.

2. Pick a Head Shot. Because profile photos appear as small thumbnails on LinkedIn, your photo should be of only your head, neck, and a bit of your shoulders. If you include your entire body, your head will appear too small, and viewers may not be able to recognize you.

3. Dress Professionally. Since LinkedIn is a professionally oriented platform, make sure that your photo depicts you in a manner appropriate for your field. Typically this means a dress shirt or blouse, a shirt and tie, or even a suit. Choose solid dark colors like blue or black. Avoid white; it can make you appear washed out. Avoid wearing a strapless dress or top; if you are showing your shoulders in the picture, a strapless top will make you appear naked (and definitely unprofessional)!

Dressing professionally also means dressing cleanly and simply: avoid wearing too much makeup, or any over-the-top, distracting hairstyles and jewelry.

4. Keep it Simple. Your photo should be of you, and only you. Do not include objects, pets, or children. Avoid busy backgrounds as well – standing against a solid-colored, light background is best.

5. Select a Current Photo. Do not include a dated photo. Use a current picture so people aren’t surprised when they meet you in person.

6. Be Consistent. When developing your professional online brand, consistency is key. Therefore, it is a good idea to use the same photo for all your professional and social networking profile pictures. This will make you more easily recognizable.

 Beyond Social: Top 12 LinkedIn Profile Photo Tips

1. You need a photo. LinkedIn registers a 40% uptick in click-throughs to photos that have photos vs. ones that don’t.

2. Your photo matters. There is actually quite a bit of behavioral science behind what makes a great photo.

3. A good photo is one that drives engagement. This was implied in the show but deserves to be stated explicitly; we don’t care as much about making you beautiful as we do about helping you achieve your goals.

4. Men, unless you know how to smile, you might be better off… not smiling. Many of you look like you’re in pain or unsure of yourself. Also, biologically speaking, there is a male/female dynamic at play as well, and women are not necessarily predisposed to favor smiling men.

5. Men, think about engaging in something interesting, or putting yourself in a setting that suggests an interest beyond work.

6. Men with pets works on dating sites, and we can personally vouch for it working on Twitter and blogs. (We haven’t tested this theory on LinkedIn.)

7. Women, smile and look at the camera. 

8. For both men and women, pure physical attractiveness does not account for as much as attractiveness in the compelling sense of the word.

9. No party shots—don’t have someone else’s collar visible in the corner of your profile pic.

10. Don’t get hung up on “professional” vs. “personal” It’s a “profersonal” world, and the two are intertwined.

11. Your photo should be consistent with your story. If you’re in a creative field, you might want a photo that’s a bit more… creative. If you’re selling insurance benefits, you might want a photo that demonstrates loyalty, stability, and/or family values.

12. Keep your photo consistent. Your visitors are busy; don’t suddenly be Gene Simmons tomorrow. That said, keep your photo up to date—no 12 year old photos of you a full head of hair and 35 pounds ago!

Hopefully somewhere here you can find the road to the right profile pic for you.  I’m a big believer that first impressions matter.  So don’t take this lightly!  People want to see what you look like.


About the Author: 

fishdogsCraig Fisher helps people and businesses find things, and get found; new customers, top talent, better jobs, and larger audiences.  He helped to create the 1st Linkedin Certified training in North America.

He does strategy, speaking and training for groups of all sizes, all over the world, including sales teams, recruiting teams, and professional organizations on Social Media and mobile strategy.

He is founder and host of the #TalentNet social conferences, now part of the GlobalTru Alliance with the #tru recruiting unconferences.  Follow Craig on Twitter @Fishdogs or connect with him on LinkedIn.