1. Don’t use the first photo that comes to hand.
That old picture taken at your cousin’s wedding last year… don’t do it!! Get a professional photo taken and really engage with the process. Think about how you want to look, research other people’s profile pictures and go into the session in a positive frame of mind. Even the world’s greatest photographer won’t be able to crack it if you’re not prepared to work for it too.
2. The clothes aren’t quite right
Don’t overthink what you wear, keep it simple and true to your usual style. Bold patterns will distract, the viewer should be looking into your eyes rather than thinking, “that’s a nice tie”. If you wear a tie to work, or if you put on a tie for a client meeting, then wear one for the photos. Most photographers will be more than happy to shoot you in various outfits – but check with them first.
3. Expression – no fake smiles please!
Having photographed many politicians over the years, I know a fake smile when I see one – and so will your clients. There’s a whole spectrum of personality between the ear-splitting grin and the “I’m in a serious business, so I won’t smile” people. If you want to look serious all that’s needed to make you look approachable is a hint of a smile. A good photographer will be able to get a range of expressions but please don’t ask them to “tell us a joke”.
4. Your photo is way out of date.
Styles change and a profile picture from 2008 will stand out for all the wrong reasons. A stale picture can suggest that you’re behind the times. If you change your appearance, change your profile photo too. Don’t forget that the simple act of updating your profile picture on most social platforms will increase your visibility as the update will result in a notification going out to your whole network.
5. A little bit of research goes a long way.
Find other people’s profile pictures you like…. people similar to you. Be realistic about the comparison – there’s no point showing your photographer a photo of a 25 year old musician if you’re a 50 year old doctor. Think about what it is that drew you to the photo and how you can apply that to your photo.