5 Steps to a Great LinkedIn Photo and Why It’s Critical to Your Success

The old adage “A picture is worth a thousand words” is more revelant than ever on Linkedin.

According to Linkedin expert Blair Decembrele, profiles with a photo get 21 times more views and up to 36 times more messages than profiles without a photo. No matter how great your Linkedin profile, it's not going to be viewed if there’s no photo.

LinkedIn profiles with a photo get 21 times more views and up to 36 times more messages than profiles without a photo.

Maybe you hate getting your picture taken, can’t find a photographer, or didn’t realize it was important. Whatever the reason, now is the time to grab the bull by the horns and let yourself be seen. My husband is a professional photographer so I see "behind the scenes" of headshot photography every week, and for many years at a previous job I arranged quarterly “headshot days” to get professional portraits done for our staff. Based on my experience, I will share a few tips on getting a good headshot photo for your LinkedIn profile:

1. Make it professional.

Don’t make the mistake of using the photo from your cousin’s wedding and cropping out your significant other. Be intentional about the image that you project -- a photo of you toasting the happy couple with a glass of champagne is not image most employers are looking for. Likewise, though the photo of you sailing in the Caribbean is one of your favorites, posting vacation shots on Linkedin is definitely a no-no if you’re serious about being viewed as a professional.

2. Make the investment in a professional photographer.

Professional headshots typically range from $150-500 depending on where you live and the experience of the photographer. This may seem like a lot of money, but you’d probably spend that much on the suit for your interview and you may not even get the chance to interview if there’s no photo on your profile. Invest in the expertise of a professional. They know how to light and pose you to look your best, and can do retouching to smooth out wrinkles, dark circles, blemishes, glare on glasses, or stray hairs. They will make sure you look your professional best.

3. Finding a professional photographer.

To find a pro, try Googling “Headshot photographer and [your location]”. Look at their websites to get a sense of their work and rates (you may need to call for rates). Often professional organizations will hold headshot days where they bring in a pro photographer and you can get a headshot at a discounted price. Another option is to use the LinkedIn ProFinder function which will alert photographers in your region that you’re interested in learning about pricing and they’ll respond via LinkedIn with proposals.

If you work in a larger organization, ask HR or Marketing if they have recommendations. Or suggest that the company bring in a photographer to do headshots for everyone who needs one. For organizations if there's a need for several headshots, booking at a photographer at a day rate can be more economical than paying the per-person fee for several people.

4. Getting ready for your photoshoot.

Take your headshot session seriously. If you are looking for a job, networking a lot, or are in sales, people will review your LinkedIn profile before meeting with you. You’ll want to look your best and also be recognizable. (Keep your profile picture updated with how you look now – not how you looked when you graduated from college 20 years ago.) Here’s how to get ready for your shoot:

  • Dress like you're already there. Wear a suit if that’s the norm, or business casual if your profession is less formal. If you are going for a management position, dress as managers dress in your profession. Dress like you're already there!
  • Groom yourself as if going to an interview. For men, shave and comb your hair. If needed, consider a haircut prior to your session. For women, do your hair, make-up and jewelry as you would for an interview. You may want to apply the make-up slightly heavier than normal as flash photography can sometimes wash out the complexion. Bring make-up for touch-ups during the shoot.
  • Bring a change of clothes to the shoot if you’re not sure what will look best or if you want to have more than one version of your headshot.
  • Avoid wearing busy prints or plaids. You want the focus to be on you, not what you're wearing. Solid colors and long sleeves usually look best in headshot photos.

5. Select your photo.

It can be hard choosing from among the shots because we don’t see ourselves all day, everyday like our family, friends and co-workers do. Take some time to get feedback from trusted friends and family before making your selection. Also, waiting a few days and going back to the photos can also help you choose which portrays you best. If you like more than one, negotiate with the photographer to buy an additional pose (or two).

Now that you have your professional headshot, post it on LinkedIn so visitors can see the person who built your great career. People like to hire and do business with people who they know and trust. Putting your professional image out on LinkedIn is the first step towards letting yourself be known.

Next week I'll share what to do if you can't afford a professional photographer.

Related: You’ve Got Great Ideas — Stop Editing Yourself!