Your LinkedIn profile photo is one of the most important updates that you need to make.
You might update LinkedIn when you change jobs, take a seat on a board, or volunteer with a nonprofit. Maybe you even tweak your summary now and again or collect some new references.
That’s all great, but your profile photo is even more important.
It’s the first thing people see, and it’s the one way to make the most human contact online.
If your photo is old, low quality, or a cropped version of an image that wasn’t taken with LinkedIn in mind, you should change it now.
Which leads us to the next problem. It can be hard to get a good profile photo.
And that’s where this post will help.
I’m going to explain some simple and effective tips to help you get a great photo up on LinkedIn right away.
Before we get to that, let’s take a look at the most common photo problems.
The old photo
You make a great impression online with your thought leadership and innovative thinking. People are excited to meet you – to work for you, hire you, or just learn from you.
And then when they meet you, they find that you look nothing like your online photo because it’s from many years ago.
Maybe your hair has greyed, you’ve lost or gained weight, or you wear different glasses. For whatever reason you look noticeably different.
That’s not good. We humans detect small inconsistencies. When we come across something like this, we can’t help but wonder what else might be inconsistent about the person’s online presence versus what they are really like.
And besides — you want your admirers to be able to spot you in a crowd at the next conference!
The low quality photo
Sure, when social networks were new and everyone was feeling awkward about getting involved, we all had bad photos. We took the best of the lot and uploaded it to LinkedIn.
The trouble is that this type of photo shows you are not paying attention to changing times.
By keeping that low quality pic up there, you are showing yourself to be a laggard. Or at least someone who isn’t paying attention to details.
A good quality photo isn’t about vanity. It’s about projecting a professional image.
The cropped group photo
This one is may be the worst.
The odds of a professional photo of you being secretly embedded in a wedding, family reunion, or company meeting group shot are astronomically low.
Trust me, you have not beaten those odds.
And it again shows a lack of professionalism. People take dedicated profile photos. That’s the standard.
So, let’s get to that.
How to get a great headshot for LinkedIn
Option 1: Use a Professional Photographer
This is probably the best method.
You can hire one yourself. A quick Google search for “headshot photographer” plus your city name will probably get you some leads.
A search in the Boston area revealed several local shops that specialize in this:
On those sites you can get a good idea of rates and bunch of sample photos.
You can also find great photographers on Yelp, Craigslist, or Groupon.
If you look hard enough, you will likely find a professional photographer in your area that has reasonable rates.
The add-on maneuver
Another approach may be to add on a headshot to some other set of services a professional photographer is doing for your company or professional organization. You might even be able to work it into a family photo session.
Option 2: Do It Yourself
If a professional photographer isn’t going to work for you, you can still get a great photo with a DIY approach.
This approach will work well if you take a few simple steps.
- Set aside an hour or two for this project. Don’t make it a rush job.
- Enlist the help of a friend or colleague. Or, get a tripod.
- Use a space with good lighting. Tip: You will likely need multiple light sources to get a bright shot and to wash out shadows. Avoid using a flash.
- Keep the backdrop simple. The photo is about you and will be cropped in tight. The background is irrelevant at best and distracting at worst.
Now that you have the basic setting good to go, let’s talk about you.
- Dress professionally and check your hair.
- Lighten up. It can be super helpful to simply take a moment and feel silly about taking your own photo. Maybe you would like to watch a funny clip on YouTube or listen to your favorite song. Whatever the case, take a minute to get yourself pumped up and in a good mood. It will make a difference.
- Don’t worry about getting the perfect shot in one take. There is no film to waste, so take lots of photos with several different poses.
- Make eye contact with the camera.
- Edit the photos when done with your session. Bring it in tight around your face and make it square. LinkedIn’s profile photo size is 400 x 400 pixels.
Using your phone for this session should work great. Most modern smartphones have excellent cameras. And they come with a timer function so that you can easily manage the session by yourself if you have to.
You might also consider a small bluetooth remote as an option too. Anything that controls your phone via bluetooth, even a set of headphones can work. On Apple phones, for instance, when the camera app is running, the volume control will take a photo.
How to make sure you got a great photo
One more thing before you upload. Gather some opinions on your photos.
Having a friend or colleague help choose a photo from your shoot can help you get the right one. You might even get some advice that causes you to re-do the photo shoot. That’s ok too. You’re already setup and experienced now. A second round will be even easier!
There are also places you can go online to get feedback. Photofeeler is a site that specializes in just this sort of thing. And they even have a free trial that can give you some great feedback at no cost.
Here’s some feedback that I got there with my own LinkedIn profile photo:
You only get one chance to make a first impression. And one of the most important aspects of the impression that your LinkedIn profile makes is your photo.
Don’t leave an old photo up there. Don’t leave a poor quality image up there. And don’t leave a cropped photo up there.
You should update your photo regularly (at least annually) and make sure that it’s professional-looking.
You can hire a professional photographer or you can go the DIY route. Either will work fine, particularly if you enlist some friends or internet peeps to give you some good honest feedback and advice.
If you update nothing else on your profile, do this one simple but high-impact change.