Using LinkedIn effectively

A profile picture that conveys what you want it to convey is critical to successful networking.

Man wearing fez.

I don't recall your name, but your fez is familiar.

Credit: Neil Turner / Flickr

"I don't recall your name, but your fez is familiar."

— Austin Powers

If you use LinkedIn more than casually, you probably get a lot of its "People you may know..." suggestions. Every time I access LinkedIn, I have dozens of these suggestions. The way I decide whether to immediately click on "ignore" or on "accept" or look at a suggestion more closely is by looking at the picture of the person being suggested.

Your picture is the most obvious part of your profile, so it should not surprise you that that is where I start. If you don't have a picture, you're eliminating me and all the other people who might see you as a suggested contact from saying to themselves, "I know that dude!" and then connecting with you. They may have blanked on your name, but they know your face.

If you do have a picture, there are questions you should ask yourself about it: Can a person tell without a doubt that it is you? Does your picture look professional? Does it look like you are using LinkedIn for serious purposes? Do you look like a business person who knows IT, or do you look like an IT person who knows only how to fix the projector? ("Have you tried Fn + F7?")

In selecting a picture for LinkedIn, you should not do the following:

  • Use an image of your company's logo instead of a picture of your face. If your company needs a LinkedIn page, it can get one.
  • Crop a picture and leave someone else's shoulder/arm/leg in it.
  • Use a picture in which you're wearing sunglasses. It will be harder for people to recognize you.
  • Use a picture that highlights your pets, children, grandchildren or anyone else but you. Save those pictures for Instagram or Facebook.
  • Choose a picture that has your favorite stuffed animal in it (unless you sell stuffed animals, and maybe not even then).
  • Use a picture that features the logo of your favorite team (unless you work for that team).

Your picture should:

  • Have one and only one person in it. You!
  • Have your face as the focal point. Head-to-toe shots make it more difficult for people to recognize you.
  • Be in focus. With cellphone cameras everywhere, there's no excuse not to retake a blurry picture.

A professional picture on LinkedIn can help you grow your network, so make your picture a good representation of you.

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