My article on inc.com has been enthusiastically received so I think more detailed discussion than what I outlined, on each of the 8 ideas, is in order.
Decide if you need to update your headshot photo–remember: it follows you all over LinkedIn. Do you look professional yet approachable in your headshot; does that photo still look like you?
Get a new headshot once every 3-5 years. Use the background effectively: architects in front of a building; attorneys in front of a bookshelf, etc.
Probably like me, you’ve resisted sitting for a new headshot. “Too time consuming. I really look the same as a few years ago, besides my needs for a headshot never change…”
Your brand depends on a professional hi-rez photo that makes you look approachable.
Find a pro
Get referrals to a photographer who specializes in business professionals, look at his or her portfolio and venture into the “shoot” with the mindset it is an investment. The dividends are great, if I may say so. I am a big fan of mine, Brett Deutsch. He calmly and effortless put me through the paces.
Frontward looking, this is the brand of you, visually and with the impact that you want to convey. Products and services are designed to be visually appealing. We buy with our eyes and hearts, at first glance.
From 51 initial photos in my shoot to choose from, I consulted my most trusted advisors, and narrowed to 10 then 5 then 3. Two different backgrounds. Brett sent me 3 versions of each final shot. The second or fifth ones (see graphic) were properly sized and formatted to become my LinkedIn headshots. See this Help Center advisory on the topic: https://help.linkedin.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/1615)
- You can upload JPG, GIF or PNG files.
- File size up to 10MB maximum.
- Your photo should be square.
- The ideal pixel size for your photo is 400 x 400.
The rest will be, or have already been, used to refresh my other marketing materials.
So you see, the headshot investment can serve both your social media and other marketing needs.
What to wear?
Such a quandary. Did you know that every headshot you upload to LinkedIn has 4 different versions that appear on various parts of LinkedIn? For example, mine, with the 3 additional smaller photos below, is used in other sections of LinkedIn (you have no control beyond what larger headshot you upload).
So word to wise men and women, make your headshot shoulder-to-top-of-head so the 3 smaller ones remain large enough to make your face easily seen.
That digression leads me back to the issue of what to wear. If you follow my advice, the concern over wearing a suit or business casual attire means little if the bottom of your headshot is shoulder-level. The viewer is thus looking at your face, not at how formal an outfit you wore. There, easy fix. No more worry about formal or not.
Last year in my most recent headshot, I chose to wear a tie and blazer as a compromise between biz-caz and a suit. I chose the middle ground because I dress either way when I speak to groups or to a company and always ask the person who hires me what is appropriate. If in doubt, as my wife counsels me, dress in a suit.
BTW, stay away from fine stripes and plaids that can make us dizzying on TV and in low-rez photos. Great photographers provide guidance how to dress ahead of the photo shoot.
Don’t forget the photo’s background portrays a message too. As the needs arises, I intermingle using the formal white-background I showed you above and a blurred-out urban scene behind me for city-chic emphasis.
Attorneys I have met use a background of legal symbols such as the scales of justice (or bookshelves mentioned above); finance professionals can try backgrounds with their clients’ capital projects. CPA photos I have liked show them at their desk, crunching numbers. Consultants can appear from their desk to be looking up, smiling and open to a question. Marketing experts can use a photo of them in action, at a client or with a product launch. I collect the best (and the worst!) headshots I run across for my presentations. One last tip: White backgrounds are still fine (but don’t wear a white shirt in front of a white backdrop or your head will appear to be floating! I have seen that.)
Have some fun
Finally, this is a two-way effort. Laugh a bit with your photographer, get comfortable, smile a lot and you will then look and feel much more approachable.
Select the best of the look and impression you want tied to your mental brand. This is the immediate impact to a reader of WYDWYD.
See, looking great and dressing professionally on LinkedIn isn’t rocket science after all.