LinkedIn Rolling out Custom Profile Background Images (and How to Use This New Feature)

Guy Kawasaki's Profile with the new Custom Background Image

Guy Kawasaki's Profile with the new Custom Background Image

It was only a matter of time before LinkedIn would join the ranks of Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ and add custom background images to user profiles.

Influencers and Premium users will be the first to experience the new feature, followed by a roll out to the remainder of the user base.

Thanks to Guy Kawasaki for sharing this new feature!


How to Use the New LinkedIn Background Image


The sizing is is follows:

  • minimum 1400 x 425px
  • under 4MB

Showcase Your Personal Brand

Keep it professional but don't be boring, either. A photo of you speaking at a conference or your awesome creative work space would work best.

Portfolio Highlights

Highlight your best work by showcasing one piece of collateral or a collage of your best work. 


How would you use this new feature to show who you are?


UPDATE: Here is an article that showcases seven usage ideas for the new profile background image.

The LinkedIn Cold Call

Let's pretend it's 1994, before everyone had an e-mail address and LinkedIn did not exists. A sales rep (name Alex) just attended a training session lead by a self proclaimed guru and cold call expert. Alex could not wait to get back to the office to try out all the "amazing breakthrough" techniques he learned.

One of those techniques included asking someone to coffee or lunch the moment they connect via phone.

Alex decided to call Samantha, a potential customer. They have never met but Alex knows that they have several people in common so this should be an easy way to try out the guru's advice. 

The phone rings and Samantha recognizes the area code because she has friends from that particular city. 

Samantha: Hello, this is Samantha.

Alex: Hi Sam, this is Alex from Acme Inc. We know the same 20 people, let's get lunch. I want to get your thoughts on everything that you know. Also, I need your help on a project I'm working on and I want to sell you my services.

Samantha is baffled and a little creeped out. She's doesn't know who Alex is and has never heard of his company. The fact that they know 20 people does not help earn the trust. The rest of the conversation is awkward and Sam rushes off the phone. That icky feeling sticks and the damage is done, she will never do business with Alex or Acme Inc.


Twenty years later, this happens every day on LinkedIn.

The cold call is dead but there are a lot of misguided gurus still teaching the same techniques through these "new" communications channels. However, the social media channels require a different approach. 

We're in the trust economy now.

No trust, no sale.




How to NOT be creepy on LinkedIn


All relationships, whether they're professional or personal, require courtship. Yes, it takes time and is not always easy. There's no magic bullet that builds trust.

Also, don't be creepy about it. People don't like that.

Find Something in Common

What common interests do you have with the person you're trying to court? The fact that you know 20 people doesn't mean much. How do you two know those people? What are the common denominators in those relationship? Do your homework. 

Provide Value

Stop asking people for things (time, money, ideas, etc.) before you have given them something first. Give to give, not give to get. Providing value builds trust. Just don't be creepy about it. Don't overload them with information and make sure that the value you provide is specifically targeted towards that person

Get Referred by a Common Connection

LinkedIn has this handy dandy feature where someone you are connected with can refer you to someone who they're connected to. This is a less creepy way to connect with someone you don't know and comes with automatic trust that their friend will not refer someone who has no reason for connecting with them. This can also be achieved at networking events through introductions, or Twitter, or Facebook messages, etc. A referral is worth its weight in gold.


There's nothing wrong with asking someone to coffee or lunch to get to know each other better. Build the trust first, prove to the person that you're not a serial killer or trying to get into their proverbial and/or literal pants. There IS a better way to do it than to "cold call" someone on LinkedIn because some guru told you it works.


People do business with people they know, like, and trust. Be that person.




Brand Yourself: LinkedIn Profile Picture

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!!"

Get creative.

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?




4 Ways to Stay Top of Mind on LinkedIn

1. Sharing valuable and insightful content

“Top of mind” was one of the points I tried to drive home during the social selling training at our National Sales Conference.  It’s one thing to have a complete LinkedIn profile; it’s another to provide insights to your network with content and engage them in conversation.  But you have to be careful not to assume that “top of mind” means constantly posting crap just to stay visible.  There’s nothing worse than annoying your network.  Be relevant and practice constraint (there are apps that can help with that but more on that later).


A few days ago I noticed that LinkedIn has added a new feature on their home page labeled “Who’s Viewed Your Updates.”  This is an exciting new feature because it shows you how many people have seen your update and it allows you to analyze what information your network really wants to see.  That’s powerful information and best of all it’s available for free (detailed insights  are available for premium accounts)!



2. Like, comment and share others’ content

Content is only one part of helping you stay top of mind.  You have to be active by liking and sharing others’ content as well.  My personal rule of thumb is to keep 80% of my likes, shares, and comments specific to my industry and reserve 20% for all other interests. 

3. Endorse and recommend

Regardless of whether you love or hate the feature, endorsements can be a great tool not only as a “feel good” but to also remind someone of your existence. But I must caution you, do not do it just do it and only endorse people for things that you can honestly back up with a true recommendation.  This is why a recommendation is more powerful.  Recommend past colleagues, current colleagues, and customers.  Help others be viewed as experts and rock stars in their field.

4. Set what others see when you’ve viewed their profile to public

There are pros and cons to setting your profile view to public and for the longest time I hid behind the wall of anonymity.  Staying anonymous allowed me to view others’ profiles without their knowledge of who I was and in my past role it was a good way to screen candidates prior to their interview with our company.  Now my profile is set to public and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  This feature allows you to see who has viewed your profile but even more importantly, it allows others to see that you have viewed theirs. 

People do business with people they know, like, and trust.  Sharing content and staying active on social networks helps build your personal brand and helps you stand out as the Subject Matter Expert (SME) amongst a sea of others who do not bring value to their customers and networks.

And remember, it’s not all about you.  Give to give, not give to get.  Your activity should be 90% about others and 10% about you or your company.


Curating Tools:

Some days the relevant content floodgates open up and all you want to do is post it all at once to your networks.  Don’t.  Pick out several gems and post them at different times during the day (again, not all at once).  Save the others for when the waters run dry. 

My favorite tool for curating content for a slow day is  The free account allows you to have five different boards and you can push the article directly to LinkedIn from the site.  A premium account gives you ten boards as well as the ability to schedule posts.

Feedly is another great tool to keep all your RSS feeds in one place and allows you to share directly with your network.  Feedly is also tied to Buffer, an app that allows users to schedule posts. 

These tools allow you to stay top of mind even when you’re away.

The Secret to a Strong Branding Message

The article, The Secret to a Strong Branding Message? Focus, popped up in my LinkedIn feed early this morning.  It's as if the LinkedIn angels knew that I was about to get off track and pick the five things I'm best at and run with it.  "Not so fast," they said, "pick ONE!"

My favorite line is about sacrifice: 

Positioning is the art of sacrifice -- of sacrificing the things you could be to uncover the one thing you should be.

You can't  be all things to all people so how do you position yourself?  The author suggests the following:

  1. Create a core message that has an emotional and a rational side so that you can connect with people's hearts and minds.
  2. The message needs to be believable. 
  3. The core message needs to be relevant to a group of potential customers.  One must also ensure that there's a market opportunity, i.e. setting up a lemonade stand on Mars with no potential customers to purchase the lemonade.
  4. Keep it simple. 


Read the whole article here.

What is your personal branding message?