Getting ReadyI do LinkedIn training for companies, associations, and even individuals. Training salespeople and business owners is my passion! The first thing I teach people is to “get dressed before you get busy.” This means doing the prep work that doesn’t directly drive business to you, but will definitely drive business AWAY if you don’t do it right. The first part of that is your photo.

I have one individual who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty that has a profile picture on LinkedIn from 1973 – the year I was born! Needless to say, he doesn’t look like this anymore. When I asked him why he chose that picture, he said “I like the way I look in that picture.” I’ll never coach him to use LinkedIn until he changes that picture.

If people see your picture and you look one way, and you look another way when you show up in person, the first impression is muddied and it’s one of distrust. Maybe you can’t put your finger on it, but it’s there.

It happens on the dating websites too – when people have a profile pic when they were skinnier, had more hair, and less wrinkles. It doesn’t work, and you’re fooling nobody except maybe yourself. But I digress.

Contrast this with a good photo on LinkedIn. Getting a professional to take your picture isn’t as expensive as it used to be. And a quality photo on a neutral background can be effective too. My pal Charles LeRette actually offers “headshot doctor” services to spiff up these photos and make them look as good or better than a professional one.

I recommend these things when you’re choosing a photo for LinkedIn and other social media you want to use professionally.

1. Get a photo of just you. No half arm shots with you bro-hugging your pals, or sorority sisters at a campfire. Just you.

2. Smile naturally. You don’t have to force it, but smile. Look at the photos of people smiling. You smile back, it’s a reflex. Now look at one of someone scowling. You are scowling back. Stop that. Go back to the smiling picture. Smile again. And make it natural. No forcing it or they’ll know.

3. Pick a neutral background. Use a light color background or mute the background out if you really must be location based. Like I said, Charles does this for folks, and it makes all the difference in the world. I encourage you to make it a light color if possible, as that will stand out in a sea of same, and it will brighten up your face.

4. If you change, your headshot should change. If you’ve gained weight, lost weight, gained hair, lost hair, changed hair color, or have gotten divorced, your headshot should change. Seriously, if you’ve gotten divorced, get a new headshot, especially if you were wearing a wedding ring in your pictures and it’s visible. Like in my old headshots. Whoops!

5. Make sure it looks good in an 800 x 800 and 150 x 150 square.  So many people do all of these things, but then they mess this one up, and then when they put it on LinkedIn, or their school directory, or their work directory, it gets all stretched out or parts get cropped out, and it just looks off. Like that picture from 1973, you may not know why it looks weird, but it does, and you’ll want to avoid that.

So, if a picture is worth a thousand words, what’s a great picture worth? If it makes you feel good, and it makes others smile when they think of you, I’d say that’s priceless. And I’ll tell you, my great pictures have gotten me job offers, speaking gigs and repeat business, because I look exactly like my pictures do, only with even more energy in person. What you see is what you get with me every time.

Get some great pictures done! It’s worth it. You’ll feel better and you’ll be perfectly congruent with who you are in real life. If you want help, contact Charles Tell him Phil sent you, and he’ll smile, and take even BETTER care of you than you he normally would!