The first thing that a potential LinkedIn connection sees (depending on your privacy settings) is your profile photo. While job description, location and degree of connection are clearly more important than physical appearances, it is also important for people to know that you are professional and also serious about your career. If you threw one of your old high school senior pictures (that looks like a much younger version of yourself) or a selfie on to your profile page, it is time to take that picture down! Those photos will make it harder for other professionals to get a clear sense of you and your purpose. It is important to be thoughtful and conscious of your professional presence, so what better place to start than with a professional headshot? Here are five general guidelines to help you out:
This is your photo, so you should be the complete focus of the shot. Specifically, the picture should contain the top of your shoulders to the top of your head. There are plenty of profile pictures that do not follow this rule, but again, the whole point of your profile is to sell yourself. If you have a photo where you are at a conference table with other professionals, the focus on what the photo is about will be blurred. In the end, your profile is all about you!
2. Make it professional
Since this is a picture for your LinkedIn account, this is not the right setting for a selfie. Have someone take the photo for you! Also be sure that the image is captured on a good quality camera. As a college student there is no need to spend a fortune hiring a professional photographer. This is not for an editorial magazine; it is just a headshot so do not stress about this as an added expense. It is very likely that a friend or classmate has a great camera or knows someone who does. Ask around!
3. Simple Settings
This ties in with the first point, but simplicity is key! Stay away from having any kind of prop or distracting background in your photo. A well-lit and uncomplicated space is an ideal backdrop for this kind of picture. Again, the focal point of this photo should be you. If you bring other elements into the picture, it distracts from what you are trying to convey.
4. Show Some Personality
While this photo is about your professional side, you should try and show some personality. Give other professionals a sense of who you are! It can be as simple as a friendly smile. Just try to avoid looking stiff and unwelcoming. People want to know that you’re approachable so that they feel that much more comfortable sending an invitation to connect!
5. Look the part!
Dress professionally even if it is just for one picture, and yes that means business attire. If you look the part, you will feel the part! Just a simple effort of professionalism will prove to employers and potential connections that you are serious about your career. After all, LinkedIn is a professional network.
In the end, be proud of your accomplishments and your capabilities! A professional headshot is a great way to display your confidence and let others know you genuinely care about building connections. If you follow these guidelines, you should be well on your way to having a powerful LinkedIn profile!