Picture Perfect: Make A Great First Impression with Your LinkedIn Profile Photo

December 28, 2018

  • LinkedIn Profile Photo Tips

Editor's Note: Enjoy this special encore post which was one of our readers' favorites in 2018. Happy New Year!

We all know you can’t judge a book by its cover. But the fact is that if a cover isn’t inviting, people aren’t going to open that book up to read what’s inside.

Humans are innately wired to make snap judgments based on appearance. In face-to-face interactions, this might mean reading physical cues and expressions (job interviewers are well versed in such practices). On social media, a profile picture represents our sole opportunity to make a strong visual first impression.

Follow these LinkedIn profile photo tips to ensure you are projecting a warm, professional, and trustworthy image to professional contacts and potential B2B prospects.

Why Is an Effective LinkedIn Profile Photo Important?

In a world of commerce now ruled by digital interactions, your profile photo is a chance to remind people that there is a living, breathing human being behind your online persona. Statistics show that LinkedIn members with a photo receive far more engagement: 21 times more profile views and 9 times more connection requests.

When you dress sharply to a job interview, you’re telling the employer you mean business before even speaking a word. In the same vein, taking a few simple steps to improve the quality and polish of your profile photo on LinkedIn can go a long way toward sending the right signals to anyone who happens across you on the platform.

Making the Right Impression with Your LinkedIn Profile Picture

If you don’t have the time or resources to enlist a professional photographer, you can snap some photos on your own, provided you have access to a tripod and remote or timer. You could also coordinate an informal photo session with a peer or friend.

Think about wardrobe options, lighting, background, and equipment (camera or smartphone) days before the actual session. Make a list of some low-trafficked places with simple backgrounds to experiment with. Set aside a couple of hours for the whole process.

Location is one of the most important factors in creating a quality headshot. Temperature, noise, and surrounding activity all weigh in on making you relaxed and comfortable, or distracted and uptight. Those feelings could come out in your facial expressions and body positioning on camera. You want to appear warm and welcoming, not stiff and impersonal.

Below are some other helpful tips to help you capture a primo LinkedIn profile photo.

The best profile photos show subjects who are:

  • Dressed appropriately for their role
  • Wearing attire that flatters their body style, in colors that complement their hair and skin tone; no busy textures, patterns, or logos
  • Smiling with their eyes to appear approachable and confident
  • Making eye contact with the camera
  • Wearing minimal jewelry, buttons, and headwear
  • Layering clothing and accessories (shirt and jacket; sweater and loose scarf)

Photography basics to follow:

  • Avoid direct sunlight, shadows, and fluorescent lighting
  • Use a solid, bright background color; avoid white in most cases
  • Stand with your body in a ¾ angle to the camera, placing one foot slightly ahead with hands clasped loosely in front of you
  • Capture waist-up or mid-chest up (avoid head-only and full body images)
  • Apply the rule of thirds in the shot composition to make it more interesting; the subject should stand to the left or right a bit rather than dead center

Technical tips to remember when uploading your LinkedIn profile photo:

  • Make sure the photo is in full focus
  • Opt for a square image, although this can be cropped at time of upload
  • The image should be about 400px x 400px
  • The file size limit is about 8MB

You’ll probably take a lot of photos, and that’s okay. It’s worth the time and effort to capture an image you’re really happy with. Don’t hesitate to touch up or edit the shots you like best, provided the shots still look natural and you’re recognizable to those who know you.

Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile Background Photo, Too

Your profile photo and background image work in tandem as a joint visual asset. Consider how they play together. Here are some tips for a strong aesthetic presentation:

  • Choose a background photo that won’t visually compete with your new profile photo.
  • If using anything other than a solid color for the background image, it should conform to the design theme and style of your profile pic.
  • Keep the background image simple. Don’t overlay a lot of text or use a complex graphic that can’t easily be discerned.
  • LinkedIn profile background photos should be sized for 1584 px x 396 px in file formats JPG, PNG, or GIF.

Need some inspiration? John T. Meyer, founder of infographics company Lemonly, does a nice job incorporating his company’s name and website URL into his background photo while not overwhelming the viewer. Matt Heinz, president of Heinz Marketing, a firm supporting sales acceleration, uses a creative background incorporating his company logo and values.

When tackling your LinkedIn profile photo, don’t hesitate to ask for opinions for earnest outside input. As a final task, pull up your LinkedIn profile on a tablet, computer, and mobile phone to confirm you’re happy with how your photo and background image appear on various devices.

Your professional LinkedIn profile says a lot about you. Make sure it’s saying the right things by downloading our latest eBook, Read Me if You Want to Create an Effective Sales Profile on LinkedIn.