February 22, 2012

Ummh, that’s not something any of us really think about at all. We slap up a picture that looks palatable on a LinkedIn and never really give it a second thought. But yesterday as three of us at Argentus nervously sat waiting for our new headshots to be taken for our website/LinkedIn profiles (and for other social networking mediums), we got talking about the importance of the visual impression people make in business through social networking. Is it important? Should it be important? Why is it important?

The answer is simple, a great first impression is critically important. Humans are visual no matter which way you slice it. It’s human nature to be visually motivated and it continues to amaze me how a significantly large group of professionals still don’t get the importance in business networking sites such as LinkedIn that not having a picture puts them at a decided disadvantage.  Social networking has put us as a society at arm’s length to one another (sad but true) so individuals seeking to connect and network for employment, to consult, to strike business deals to name a few, really, really need to cultivate interest in one another by personalizing the LinkedIn experience and in so doing cultivating ones personal brand.

This starts with a great picture. And that’s exactly why anyone who is serious about networking on LinkedIn especially for career reasons must rush out and get their picture posted NOW. The interest in you will improve dramatically – it is the way of the jungle and there is no point in fighting what exists.

So having dealt with the camera shy group, here are a few words for those who have pictures on business networking sites that are better kept for Facebook. Plunging necklines, eveningwear, tuxedos, bathing suits, miniskirts, provocative looks (we have all seen them along the way and shaken our heads) and such really send the wrong message for business networking. They don’t do anything for ones credibility. To other networkers (who range from assistants to CEO’s) looking at your business credentials, that first visual impression speaks volumes and can scream – I don’t take things seriously – which is probably the furthest thing from the truth. So perhaps it’s time to take a rethink of your photo choices and leave the fun stuff for Facebook.

Photo appropriateness or inappropriateness comes in many shapes and sizes in business networking. For recruiting, hiring managers usually go to LinkedIn before they decide to meet with a candidate we present for open positions. Why not, it’s great background material for the hiring process. A less than appropriate photo can be a deal breaker or just leave a ho-hum impression. Not good – you want to blow a prospective employer or recruiter away with a strong personal brand. Baseball caps or really hats of any kind are not a go on a LinkedIn unless of course it’s a cultural headdress. T-shirts (I’ve just been out to do the laundry or for a run), photos in social setting like at the beach, gardening, in a group (which one are you) are also not good choices. Pictures from twenty feet away – not a good choice – can’t see you!!! And if we can see up your nostrils you are way too close. Being silly – also leave that for Facebook this is business. In a bar where someone took the snap you post or against a beige wall or a brick wall (you look like a drinker or perhaps you just broke out of jail – just kidding – but seriously you are not doing yourself any favours)

So here’s the deal. I have been in the Recruiting field for over thirty years. I work with CEO’s and middle management so I would say that I have a good understanding of how to pitch oneself in the most favourable light. It is certainly money well invested to take an hour to book time with a professional photographer and get some really modern upscale and professional shots that sell your personal brand. Some people have amazing shots that say it all. Spend a couple of hours and look at what you think comes across as confident, professional and in vogue.

I am keen to get a good discussion on this going because branding is so critical.

Over and out for now



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