What is your profile picture saying about you?

Social media, blogging and on-line networking are main-stays of almost every industry in the world today, and certainly in most cultures, employees of every rank and status have access to the internet either from a home computer, a work computer or a smart device of some kind (phone, tablet).  Increasingly we network, not in person, but through websites – our own, our competitors, sites that bring us together professionally (eg. Linkedin) and personally (eg. Facebook, Instagram).

25 years ago, most of us didn’t know what most of you looked like!  Your seniority, importance, professionalism and expertise were generally judged by your title.  Even 10 years ago, business portraits were still mostly reserved for Executive Teams and the CEO (or really famous folks!) … and we had to actively hunt you down on-line to see what you looked like!

Today we broaden our horizons with the click of a mouse.  Instantly.  You email me … I ‘google’ you.

And when I ‘google’ you … what do I see?

Well … that’s where it gets interesting!

I’m going to use Linkedin as an example.  I have over 400 connections (not huge, I know … but not bad for a Photographer!).  Today I went through pages and pages of ‘People You May Know’ with this blog post in mind.  Here’s what I found:

30% of people actually had professional business portraits, some a little dated / cheesy but OK

35% of people are clearly using ‘snaps’ taken at social events, sometimes in evening attire and often with someone cut off on one side or another to create a head-shot

30% have no photo at all, just the grey and white ‘I don’t have a photo’ visual

5% have photos of their pets, their kids a random object … or a scanned physical photo that is clearly not recent

If I were a company looking to outsource marketing (for example) … would I hire the Marketing Director pulling a funny face and peering through a bunch of flowers?  How does this communicate professionalism or demonstrate her expertise?

If I’m a  CEO researching a new Executive Team member, is it really possible that someone with a resume dating back to the 80s still looks not a day over 30?  How will I know you will have my best interests at heart when you are still pretending to be your younger self?

If I’m a recruiter looking for sales staff, why would I even bother to look beyond your moderately drunk demeanor in your bow tie at the bar.  Is this your best foot forward?

Worse still, if you have no photo.  Really?  There are NO PHOTOS OF YOU IN THE WORLD?  I now feel like you can’t really be bothered … or maybe you are not real!

It’s 2015.  We are in a visually engaging on-line world of networking.  A good business portrait will last you 4-5 years … and then you SHOULD get it renewed.  That’s an investment of about $50-75 a year (depending on your Photographer).  I found that I was absolutely drawn to the light bright images that were relaxed yet professional – the images where I can see your eyes (and they are looking at me), where you look groomed and not too smiley with a pleasant expression that says ‘this is me, I have pride, I care enough to have an appropriate photo on my profile’.

Less than 0.5% of my contacts have no photo.  If a lowly Photographer is not connecting with your ‘no photo’ profile … I’m sure colleagues, employers and companies looking to contract you will hesitate too.

Just my 2cents worth!

Call a Photographer (hopefully me!).  Invest in yourself.  Be real on-line!