With internet access at our fingertips 24/7 a quick search lets anyone carry out due diligence prior to taking the next step to connect with you. Whether it’s a prospective client, employer, or a joint venture partner, your online profile photos are instant insight into your visual identity.
It’s tough enough to get in front of your audience without having your photo be a barrier and cast doubt about your ability and expertise. A picture does tell a thousand words a judgement will be made, whether you like it or not. So, how do you create the perfect profile picture so you can leverage the time, money and energy you invest into your online presence?
Profile photos that don’t hit the mark tend to fall into one or all of these categories. It’s never too late to redefine or re-inject life back into your profile photos and here are 3 easy ways to look current, relevant and align with your personal brand online:
- Out-of-date photos – Thinking the photo you took in 2005 when you were slimmer, had more hair and less character lines is a better option to use as your profile photo is a common mistake…think of it as false advertising. Embrace who you are today and people will connect with the real you not a memory of a different time in your life. Reviewing your photos every 6 months will ensure that they remain relevant to your audience and truly reflect your personal brand.
- Misalignment between you and your personal brand – Who is your target audience? What do you do and how do you do it? Knowing the answers to these questions gives you guidance and helps you reflect these qualities in your profile photos. Smile, make eye contact with the camera and wear clothes that make people want to approach you, not scare them away for good. Keeping a neutral colour scheme will ensure that people aren’t distracted by your clothes or the background. Simple and classic can work really well.
- Bad quality photos – Too small, too far away, and out of focus make it difficult for people to see you. Get your head and shoulders in the photo and make sure it takes up most of the space. Imagine you’re looking directly at someone (preferably someone you like) and smile at them, feel relaxed and happy that you get a shot to connect with them…let the true you shine through.
There is one type of profile photo that hasn’t been mentioned yet and that is the ‘grey androgynous’ substitute that is put out there when no hint of a profile photo exists. It is one of the greatest sins of the online world and says ‘I want to participate, but I’m not going to show up or I’m hiding something’.
Sending disinterested or disengaged signals to your potential audience can be harming to your business, your career and your professionalism. Whatever your reasons are for showing up online, make a decision to be current and align with your personal brand or remove any profiles that no longer serve you.