By Alan Carmichael, Capricorn Photography
Do we need a professional or at the very least a decent headshot for LinkedIn?
Yes, we do. Why, I hear you cry? I will give you three reasons:
The first reason is first impressions, your profile photograph could be the first time someone sees who you are. LinkedIn and other professional networking platform, plus your website and social media all play a part in our business development, our face helps give depth and a personality to our company and brand. Two LinkedIn statistics, i) “profiles on LinkedIn with photographs have a higher InMail response”, (Hisaka, 2016), with a professional headshot that percentage can only increase, and ii) “a series of experiments by two Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov reveal that all it takes is a tenth of a second for people to form an impression of a stranger from their face, and that longer exposures don’t significantly alter those impressions.” (Pewelec, 2017).
The second reason is that your face is the logo of your personal brand. Having a decent headshot shows that you have invested in yourself. I think we can both agree it would be inappropriate using a holiday snap of you holding a can of lager wearing next to nothing.
The third reason is a decent or professional headshot can promote trustworthiness, competence and professionalism. If a person is making contact with you for the first time but hasn’t met you yet and is researching you to put a face to a name, how would like them to respond to your photograph? Appropriate attire is a high consideration, dressing in line with your personal and professional brand and profession. If this sounds like marketing rhetoric then consider this, if you are a solicitor, you would you a photograph promoting you and your services of you on a night out with the girls, with fake eyelashes, fake orange tan pulling a duck face, you would be taken seriously; likewise, if you are a landscape gardener, would present yourself in a three-piece pinstripe suit, this is not reflecting your personal and professional brand, plus people will think that it won’t be you do the work that they have asked you to do.
These three points need to be part of your marketing strategy and marketing budget. If you have employees, do they convey the same personal and professional branding as your image does. Is your imagery consistently high across all you client platforms, both internal and client facing?
It’s all about you
A headshot needs to focus on you. That’s sounds obvious, but you don’t want someone to be picking you out of a group shot, who they think might be you, taken on a phone at a party in poor lighting. Or a daft photo of you because you think it’ll show your funny, approachable & creative side.
You want people to feel that you are competent.
You want people to see and feel that you are dressed for the part.
You want people to trust that you are who you say you are.
You want people to know that you are a professional and therefore….
You want people to feel that their issue is going to be dealt with by a professional.
So, next time you’ve going to have a headshot done, here are a few tips, these are fairly obvious so I don’t want to sound like I’m teaching granny to teach suck eggs; however, be careful of backgrounds – keep them plain, remember the focus is on you, wash and brush your hair, depending on your personal brand, have a shave or if you rock the stubble look then keep it, dress in-line with your profession, iron your clothes, wear solid colours or a simple pattern, nothing too busy and if you wish, just a little makeup.
Combine all that together, your first impression in the online arena is you are presenting your personal and professional brand as professional, credible, trustworthy but approachable. People buy people.