Online networking is quickly become the most important tool to help professionals connect and stay updated. There exists, though, a disconnect between the online profile and the person behind it. A good profile photo can communicate professionalism and, more importantly, help put a face to a name. Here are some tips on taking and selecting the best photo for your online profile.

  1. If possible, consider getting your photo taken professionally. If not, have a family member or friend take it. Anyone that can make you smile is best as a fake smile is easy to spot.
  2. Be sure to dress the part. Business formal and business casual attire work best depending on the dressiness of your work environment. Make sure that hair and makeup are work appropriate. Accessories such as earrings should be kept to a minimum to avoid distracting attention from the subject.
  3. Avoid taking a mugshot-style photo. Rather than face the camera straight on, tilt your body so one shoulder is further forward toward the camera than the other. Tilt your face slightly and smile. These all help to make you look more relaxed and natural.
  4. Your photo should make it easy to recognize you even in a small thumbnail. As such, only your face, neck, and upper shoulders should be in the shot. Full body shots make it too difficult to identify you. It goes without saying that group photos are also a no.
  5. You want your face to be the primary focus of the photo, so make sure the background isn’t distracting. If you are having a friend take the photo, a neutral colored wall, curtain, or even a projector screen make good backgrounds. Avoid anything with too much color or detail as they make it more difficult to identify you, especially in a thumbnail.

Most importantly, make sure the photo looks like you and reflects who you are. Your profile photo is your chance to introduce yourself digitally, so be genuine. Once you have your photo, it is important to keep it updated so people aren’t surprised when they meet you. For the sake of consistency, use the same photo on all social platforms.

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