My Do’s And Don’ts Of LinkedIn Profile Photos

If you are between the ages of 25 and 55, then chances are, you probably already have a LinkedIn Profile.  And chances are, you probably don’t think about it very often, unless you are job hunting (in which case, you may be updating your profile almost daily.)

Most people only update their work experience or skills when they revise their LinkedIn profile. More savvy B2B folks find ways to optimize their LinkedIn profile so that they rank higher in the LinkedIn Search results.  Others may ask for recommendations from former coworkers or clients.  But how much time and thought did they put into their LinkedIn profile photo?  My guess is most people have not thought about their photo since the day they uploaded it. How many times have you changed your photo?

LinkedIn has published guidelines for profile photos, but unless you are posting your company logo, your tagline, your favorite animal, or landscape, they will pretty much accept any photo as long as you are in it. If you break their easy-to-meet guidelines three times, they supposedly will not let you upload any more profile photos. However, I have seen some profiles of people who somehow got around this rule, and have a pet as their profile photo.  My guess is they uploaded the photo before the rules were created or enforced, and now they are essentially ‘grandfathered in’ (or would it be, ‘grandfather-Linked-In’?)

Remember that the FIRST thing someone sees when you show up in a LinkedIn search, or “People You May Know”, is your photo, and those first impressions count!  Yet for most people, the profile photo is the LAST thing they worry about!  So what kind of photo makes a good LinkedIn profile photo?  What makes for a bad one?

Here is my short list of Do’s and Don’ts of LinkedIn profile photos:

1. DON’T use your wedding photo, or a photo someone took of you while you were attending someone else’s wedding.  These are far too common and very easy to spot. Will you be wearing that tuxedo or strapless dress to your next interview?  Dapper!

Black and white professional headshot
My professional headshot in black and white

2. DO yourself a favor and get a professional headshot taken at least once every 5 years. No one likes meeting an older version of you after they saw the younger you online. Request a full color headshot and a black and white version of the same photo.  Beyond your LinkedIn profile, its good to have “your best face” on hand for other reasons like company newsletters, bylined articles, online dating sites, obituaries … “you never know when you are going to go” is my motto.  Might as well be ready for it.

3. DON’T use a photo that is obviously a cropped photo of you and someone else.  This is just as common as the wedding photos and drives me berserk!  Just because you were wearing a tie that day does not mean you look professional.  You look sweaty! And if you are going to crop out other people, you should also crop out that drink in your hand.

Example of cropped photo taken at a wedding
Cropped photo taken at a wedding

4. DO make sure to smile in your LinkedIn profile photo. Just like dating sites, people on LinkedIn want to work with happy people. Save your Resting Bitch Face for after you get the gig.

#LMRBFO = Laughing My Resting Bitch Face Off
#LMRBFO = Laughing My Resting Bitch Face Off

5. DON’T keep your profile photo blank.  If you don’t have a profile photo yet, then you probably should not have a public profile yet either.  No one wants to work with a ghost.  Plus, without a photo, how can the people you have previously worked with know that its actually you, and not someone pretending to be you?

6. DO include other items in your profile photo that are relevant to your career.  For example, if you are an audio engineer who typically works at concerts, then a photo of you standing next to a huge audio mixing console certainly adds value to your online resume.  It says “yes, I have done this before, so I am qualified”.  Or if you are a bowling coach, its okay to have bowling ball in hand.

7. DON’T wear sunglasses. Hey, I understand where you are coming from: I think I look better in sunglasses too, but its not appropriate on a professional networking site. Your eyes are the window to your soul, and by wearing sunglasses, you just closed the shades. The one exception to this would be if the person was visually impaired, or if they wear prescription glasses that transition to sunglasses in sunlight.  Also, if you use a photo taken outdoors, make sure your face is clearly visible.  Oftentimes, outdoor photos have too much contrast between the sunlight and shadows.

Sunglasses and Dreadlocks
Would you hire this shady dude?  I sure wouldn’t.

8. DO wear something that resembles what you would typically wear to your job on a day to day basis.  No wedding dresses, no hats, no tie-dyed shirts, no sports attire.  I don’t care how much you love your team; there are people on LinkedIn who do not.  Why jeopardize your career just because you are still bitter that the Hartford Whalers moved to North Carolina in 1997, and left Connecticut without any major sports team?  Not cool, Whalers!

9. DON’T have a coworker, friend, or family member take a photo of you using their mobile phone camera, standing in front of a wall or a tree.  Unless you are the photogenic type, these types of photos will never be as good as a professional headshot.  AND NO SELFIES. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Photo taken on Easter
Photo taken by my friend on Easter

10. DO make yourself stand out, but be careful: this can be a double-edged sword.  You may be wearing a t-shirt that says something funny in your photo, but others may not get the joke.  Better to use a photo from that time you went sky diving, or snorkeling.  These types of “adventure photos” will create instant conversation when you connect with someone new on LinkedIn. Photos of you receiving an award also show you are valuable.

Hopefully by now, you ‘get the picture’.  By putting a little extra time, effort, and yes, a little money into your LinkedIn profile, you will be sure to be putting your best business face forward, and your online resume will be much more professional. First impressions are everything, and online, that impression is limited to your profile photos.

Additional advice on LinkedIn:

If we are not yet connected on LinkedIn, here is my profile:


Social Media Networking

How To Get More LinkedIn Contacts (without being a L.I.O.N.)

By Paul Konikowski, CTS-D

If you are not yet on LinkedIn, it is kind of like Facebook-for-work.  There are no games or apps or Caturday videos on LinkedIn, and you do not need to be social friends with someone to be LinkedIn (connected) with them; you just have to know them through work, or have met them; or sometimes you just need to know someone that knows them.

LinkedIn is a great way to get business referrals and recommendations about your previous work experience.  Your LinkedIn Profile is essentially an online resume and portfolio of your past projects, and there are tons of LinkedIn groups where you can pitch or answer questions. There are also LinkedIn Company pages you can follow, and daily news articles, but LinkedIn is really about making valuable business connections and building your network.

What is a L.I.O.N? When LinkedIn first started gaining popularity, a small group of power users saw the potential for a completely open network of random connections pooling their contacts, rather than each person actually knowing their contacts.  These LinkedIn Open Networkers added the acronym L.I.O.N. to their LinkedIn user names to tell others they were willing to ‘LinkIn’ with anyone.  There are a lot of positives to open networking platforms like Twitter and Pinterest that allow anyone to follow anyone else (one way connections), but most LinkedIn users are not L.I.O.N.s.  Most LinkedIn users want a network of professionals they have actually met, or know someone they know, and trust. To me, LinkedIn is all about organizing your work contacts, keeping in constant contact with them, and building new business connections based on reputation.

So how does one go about getting 500 or even 1000 LinkedIn Contacts without being a L.I.O.N.?  Well believe it or not, you might want to start with your family members.  They can help to proofread your profile, and who knows, and they may even learn what you do at work!  By adding all of your family members to your LinkedIn Network, you can kick-start your Contacts with people who know you well, and are (hopefully) willing to recommend you to others.  By adding you to their networks, many of their contacts will be alerted to your profile and skills, which may turn into more business for you. Because with LinkedIn, it’s not just who you know, it’s who they know.  Go ahead and add your trusted friends too, one at a time, or using the email search tools, but keep in mind LinkedIn is really supposed to be about work, so don’t expect the same types of posts as you see from them on Facebook.

Adding Contacts On LinkedIn
Adding Contacts and Connections on LinkedIn

Next, add all of your current and past coworkers; there are a few ways to do this.  You can search them one by one by name, or you can search by company in the main search box.  As you add your current and past coworkers, its good to look at their contacts to see if you happen to know any of them too, but don’t get carried away.  You can also use the LinkedIn search tools pictured left to add your classmates from college.

If you are the type of person who keeps business cards in a Rolodex or similar filing system (physical or electronic), I applaud you, and challenge you to take on this next step: Go through your business cards one by one, find each person on LinkedIn, and send them each a request to connect. Depending on the size of your business card collection, it can be quite a task, but I can honestly tell you it was the best thing I ever did to increase my presence on LinkedIn.  I suggest you do it in small bites, ten or twenty business cards at a time.  You will be amazed how many people will be happy to connect with you.  If they don’t, please don’t take it personally.  Some people just use LinkedIn when they are unemployed!

QR code to LinkedIn
This QR code on my business card is a mobile path to my LinkedIn profile

As you move forward in your career, you will continue to collect business cards from the people you meet.  I suggest you find them on LinkedIn within a week of meeting them, and then ask them to connect.  Keep it simple, something like “Hi we met at that seminar last week, I would like to add you to my network if you are interested.  Thank you”.  It’s still good to keep the business cards and continue to print your own, as the physical versions add another level of interaction. I like to bridge the gap between the physical world of business cards and the online world of LinkedIn by adding a QR code to my business cards. This makes it easy for someone with a smart phone to easily look up my LinkedIn Profile, and connect, without having to type out my email or last name!

At this point, you should have added everyone you know or have ever known, right? Now its time to expand your network reach by optimizing your LinkedIn Profile for its internal search engine (SEO for LinkedIn).   This short video explains the basic LinkedIn SEO techniques better than I ever could.  Big thanks to Johnny D for sharing this with me:

Why didn’t I optimize my LinkedIn BEFORE I made all my initial connectionsyou ask? Well, it’s about flexing the muscle to build the muscle, and vice versa.  Each time you update your profile, a large portion of your LinkedIn network are alerted with news that “Mr. T has updated his profile”. The exact number of impressions (people who saw the update) depends on the size of the LinkedIn network, each person’s alert settings, and how often they log in.   In the screen capture below, I don’t know Eugene, but we share a connection named Allan who commented on his new photo.  If you update your profile every day, a large portion of your contacts will be alerted every day, which is too much, so try to keep your profiles edits to one day a week at most.  You want to remind people what you do for a living, not annoy them.

Linkedin Photo Update

By following the above steps, which may take some tenacity, you can easily double the number of primary contacts in your LinkedIn network.  But the key is to keep up with it: every time you meet someone new in a business meeting or trade show, and exchange business cards, you should subsequently try to connect with them on LinkedIn.  It can be very tedious, but it also means more business in the long run! It’s important to keep your LinkedIn Profile up to date, and to constantly build your network, even when you are not looking for a new job.  Engage in some relevant LinkedIn Group Discussions, occasionally comment on others posts, or even advertise yourself using LinkedIn Ads to reach a new business audience.  The strength of your LinkedIn network speaks to your credibility, both online, and in the real world.

And where is the real world again? asks the tech blogger aloud

Meow answers his cat.

If we are not yet connected on LinkedIn, here is my profile:

What Happens When You Die Online

Different Social Media Sites Handle Deceased Members, Differently 

By Paul Konikowski, CTS-D

It happened again this week: someone died in my Facebook News Feed.

We have all been there, at least once before.  You get on Facebook for some simple shallow status updates, and BAM, you get hit instead with a stream of R.I.P.s, photos, and favorite memories of the recently deceased.  Suddenly, you post your own barrage of memories of your former classmate, coworker, neighbor, or friend.  Tears start to well up in your eyes, and you feel compelled to tell everyone in the room that someone you once knew, is now dead. Ignoring their sympathy, you forget everything else you were going to do that day, and scroll down to search to see who else knows and all other things people are saying online.

Over the next few days, the Facebook funeral procession continues to pay their respects on the deceased Timeline (yes, its ironic).  Special photo albums and/or Facebook events are created for the wake, funeral, and/or receptions.  Sometimes, a widowed spouse, or a friend, or family member will actually log into Facebook as the deceased person and send messages to their contacts.  This can be very helpful the first few days, but it soon feels creepy getting messages from a dead person.

So what are you supposed to do when someone dies on Facebook?  I don’t think Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg had thought that far ahead initially, but luckily Facebook has provided a Memorialization Request form where friends and family can basically tell Facebook that someone is dead.  Of course, if you request a memorial page, you will need “proof of death” from an online obituary; that could take a few days.

Facebook's Memorialization Request Form

When a Facebook profile is memorialized, the following changes take place:

  • The deceased friends are no longer notified of birthdays, and no longer see them in the “Suggestions”. (Your dead grandmother only has 9 friends, help her find friends?)
  • Only confirmed friends can see the profile or locate it in search.
  • Sensitive information such as contact information and status updates are removed.
  • No one is allowed to log into the account, but friends can still post memorial messages to the Timeline.

Linkedin handless the deceased profiles a bit differently: they simply close the account and remove the profile on your behalf.  To have a deceased profile removed, you will need to fill out this form with the member’s name, the company they worked at most recently, your relationship to them, and a link to their profile. It’s also very helpful if you can provide the member’s email address.

I tried to figure out what happens with your Google+ profile when you die, but the only thing I found out is that no one cares about Google+.

Twitter is somewhat like LinkedIn: either you are on Twitter, or you are deactivated. But unlike Facebook and LinkedIn, they ask for an awful lot more information to be mailed or faxed to them:

How to  deactivate a deceased account on Twitter

Ironically, they insist on using email to write you back after insisting you mail or fax them.  What happened to Tweets?

Twitter Email Policy

I am sure that most people’s Twitter profiles will live on a lot longer than they will. Even if you knew an online friend was dead, wouldn’t it feel wrong to “unfollow” them? Hmm, this gives me a sick and twisted idea….

With programs like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck, Twitter users can schedule tweets months in advance. If I was careful, I could easily continuing tweeting long after I am gone:

@PKaudiovisual: It’s getting kind of stuffy down here, can someone turn on a fan or something? #fmd


@PKaudiovisual: Hey YOU, yes, I am talking to YOU! How many times did I tell you not to do that!


@PKaudiovisual: Is someone feeding my fish? I can’t watch over all of you, all the time!

That would beat “he’s still living in our hearts” any day!  If I were you, I would expect Tweets, status updates, and blog posts from me long after my death.  But seriously, we will all live forever online, in digital photos, status updates, contact lists, and RSVPs to past events.

Now if you will excuse me, I need to go listen to my dead friend’s playlist on Spotify.