by Wendy Terwelp
Who would you, your customer or a potential employer hire? The silhouette above or one of these smiling faces below?
Your image is part of your brand. Having your smiling face in your social networking profiles helps build your “know, like, and trust” factor. People do business with those they know, like, and trust.
Not only that, have you ever said, “I know the face; I just can’t remember the name…”
Your face, your professional headshot, helps people remember you.
When attending networking events, you leave with loads of business cards, many with names, contact information, and logos, but no face. How do you remember if the name you found on LinkedIn is the right person you met when the profile has only a silhouette?
That smiling mug of yours is part of your brand, use it!
Having your face in your social networking profiles helps people connect with you and know that it’s YOU they met at last week’s event or conference.
According to psychologist Albert Mehrabian in a study about non-verbal communication, “Total liking = 7 percent verbal liking + 38 percent vocal liking (i.e., tone of voice) + 55 percent facial liking.” Fifty-five percent facial liking — that’s significant.
This likeability factor plays a role in helping you build your brand, your connections, and more. People ask me all the time if they need a professional headshot in their social-networking profiles. YES, you do.
Here are a few excuses I’ve heard as to why there’s no photo:
“My head is too big.” It’s been said that Oprah has a large-sized head, and she seems to be doing just fine.
“I want to lose weight before I pay money to get a professional headshot.” When’s your next networking event? Your next conference? Your next sales call? You are fabulous just as you are now. As most people Google you before they meet you, when you arrive, people will immediately recognize you and know that you are the person they were scheduled to meet (not you from 1980, but you 2012). When you lose your planned weight, fantastic! That certainly will warrant a brand new headshot of skinny you.
“I don’t have any money for a professional headshot.” Find a well-lit space in your home or apartment and a light-colored empty wall (no dings either). Wear something professional, smile big, and have your friend take a photo — or several so you can choose your favorite. Save a bit every week and you can invest in a professional headshot soon.
People relate well to facial photos. They like to do business with a person, not a logo or your cat.
Your photo is part of your brand image. Make it congruent to your professional goals, in alignment with your personal brand.
On LinkedIn, it’s important that your profile picture is professional (like the examples above) versus a crazy pose or body shot. One client told me about a person who had a service they wanted to use.
“I Googled him before we met. He had this crazy picture on LinkedIn with his mouth open and head turned sideways. I wasn’t too sure about heading for the meeting after that.”
You can do some fun expressions on Facebook if you wish. Do keep in mind the “Mom and Boss Test” — if you’d be embarrassed if your mom saw the photo or fired if your boss did, then keep your profile photo clean and professional. Not too outlandish.
Twitter’s profile-picture spot is very tiny. Keep that in mind when uploading your profile picture. For Twitter, I do recommend having just your face in the profile photo. Your whole face, not your eye or a tiny picture of your full body. It’s too hard to see.
George Blomgren, of MRA — The Management Association, said, “We will judge you not just on your profile, but your overall mastery of LinkedIn (especially for IT, sales, marketing, human resources and recruiting jobs). We look for a professional headshot, a powerful summary, at least several hundred connections, a complete employment history (including descriptions) and a good list of relevant groups.”
Final Thoughts on the Face of Your Brand
Start by getting your professional headshot and let’s see your fabulous face online!
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
This article is part of Job Action Day 2012.
One of our Quintessential Careers Career Masterminds, and author of Rock Your Network®, Wendy Terwelp of Knocks.com is a recognized career industry leader. Named in the Top 100 Career Experts to Follow on Twitter and Top 51 Job Search Blog posts, Wendy was dubbed “LinkedIn Guru” by The Washington Post, She’s also regularly quoted in national media including, The Wall Street Journal, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Business Journal, More Magazine, Fast Company, Careerbuilder.com, Monster.com, ABC, NBC and other major media.
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