First impressions are everything, whether they are in person or online, make them count.
Your LinkedIn profile picture is more important than you think.
You wouldn't show up in your beach attire to a professional networking event then why are you wearing a towel around your waist and a fedora in your LinkedIn profile picture?
I'm all for folks showing off their vacation pictures, their toned bodies, their kids, their pets, their significant others and friends. It's what makes you YOU! However, those things do not belong on your LinkedIn profile.
What your LinkedIn profile should NOT be:
It should not be a selfie, a crop out of you at a party, poor quality (pixelated, out of focus, grainy), have more than one person, poorly lit, inappropriate, or boring.
How to make a good first impression with your LinkedIn profile picture:
Hire a professional photographer.
A good photographer is worth their weight in gold. They can guide you through wardrobe choices, locations for the shoot, and pose you properly for your headshot.
A few months ago, I attended a Local Levo event with complimentary services provided to prep a group of young professionals for a headshot. I got my hair blown out by the experts at blo charlotte, my make up applied by a Mary Kay professional, and my photo taken by Lindsay Wynne.
After I received my proofs from Lindsay, I posted them on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to get feedback on which picture I should use for my LinkedIn profile. After dozens of "votes" and comments, there were two clear winners.
I chose D, my favorite of the two.
Keep in mind that you should look friendly and inviting in your photo. Photo C got a lot of votes, however, I look like I'm about to cut someone. Not the first impression I want to make.
Do not be afraid to spend money on a good photographer and a crew of experts for a headshot. It's an important part of your personal brand.
"But," you say,
"I don't have the money for a professional photographer, I'm unemployed/new college grad/whatever!!"
Trade services with the photographer, crowdsource the funds, or ask for it as a gift for your birthday/graduation/whatever. Invest in you.
Do it Yourself
Find a neutral backdrop with good lighting, study proper posing by looking at YouTube videos and Pinterest, and have a friend take photos of you. It's more time consuming but if it's your only option, make it work.
Still not convinced?
Your profile is seven times more likely to be viewed if you have a profile picture. This is huge regardless if you're looking for a new job or not. People do business with those who they know, trust and like. Don't lose their trust with the first impression.
You wouldn't buy a house based solely on a text description, would you?