How to Select the Best Photo for Your LinkedIn Profile

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Did you know it only takes 100 milliseconds to form an impression of someone from just looking at a photo of their face? Or, 80 - 90 percent of that first impression is based on just two qualities—trustworthiness and competence?

Your goal on LinkedIn is to establish credibility and give your connections a reason to trust you, this is done psychologically just by your profile picture. Also, profiles that have a professional photo get 14 times more views than those that don’t.

Those data points right there are enough to justify a high-quality professional photo. Now, the next step is the recency of that photo—when was it taken and how much does it still look like you? My answer to that is, if I have never met you, I should be able to go to your LinkedIn profile, walk into a coffee shop, and immediately know who you are. If I can’t do that, then you need to have a new one taken. Generally, this is every other year or every three years at most.

When you do select the photo that you are going to use, remember there is a difference between a portrait or the full image and how it will be displayed on LinkedIn. Yes, you do need to upload a nice, high-quality photo and you need to edit (once uploaded) so that it displays well as a small icon about the size of your thumbnail. This means you will zoom in tight on your face, about 60 percent of the image, or from the top of your shoulders to the top of your head. Initially, you may feel weird about this, but ultimately you want to make sure that your face is easy to see when your picture is super small.

Ok, now that we have your profile photo, now its time to talk about your banner image. This is almost as important as your profile picture. I like to describe this as your personal billboard. What image shows your personality and visually displays your personal brand best? Your profile photo and banner image are what profile visitors see first. They create that important first impression of your reputation and personal brand.

If you work for a company, you can use a branded image of an underused visual asset. An example of this was when I visited Zappos a few years ago they had their logo made of Legos. A Zappos employee could use a photo of this for their banner image.

Here is a list of other ideas for you to consider:

  • You could use an image of a result that you achieve for your clients.
  • If location is important, use a skyline.
  • A photo of a tool or object that you use as a camera if you are a photographer.
  • Professional photos of you at work.
  • A solid, brand color that is easily recognized by your market.
  • A hobby that you have.
  • Share something personal.
  • Display publications you’ve been featured in.

When you select your image, you want it to be personalized to you, but not distracting. Minimize the text that you put on it as it just becomes hard to read when your profile is viewed on a small device like a phone. Make sure that the photos are not pixelated or distract from your profile picture, and don’t use images that scream STOCK PHOTOGRAPHY. We want to get to know you and images that look like stock photography only say, “I’m generic and not interesting.”