Happy Birthday Emoticons! A picture is worth a thousand words and you’ve been telling stories for 30+ years.
The father of Emoticons — or emotional icons — was Scott Fahlman, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. In 1982, he proposed that the following character sequence be used as a joke marker: : – )
These characters were quickly added to the lexicon.
The emotional characters spread like wildfire, capturing every conceivable expression with a keystroke or 2 or 3…
Simple as they are, these pictures convey a lot (maybe not a 1000 words but a lot) about what you’re trying to say in your communiques. In the same way, your photo on a site like LinkedIn is your professional emoticon, and it behooves you to think with care about what the photo you post conveys.
First and foremost, “professional” is the key word here. Whether you’re looking for a job or connecting with professional colleagues, you can be sure that your photo will be seen. The question is “how” will it be seen.
Save the cute puppies, your precocious toddlers, wild dancing, and fashion bling shots for the family album – hopefully tucked safely away in some trunk in the attic. Remember, there is no such thing as privacy online. Your photo is part of your brand, and unfortunately, a goofy picture may turn the people you hope to reach off before they ever get to the brilliant words with which you have crafted your professional acumen.
For some valuable, practical advice, check out this article, 11 Tips for Choosing Your LinkedIn Photo, by Norine Dagliano at CareerRealism.com.
- Don’t use an old photo. There are few things worse than meeting someone for the first time and not recognizing them because the profile photo is from 10 years ago (or longer)!
- Use a photo of YOU in your profile — not an object.
- Smile! Your face should radiate warmth and approachability.
- Photos should be professionally done, if possible (but not glamour shots).
- Wear your most complementary color. Bright colors can attract attention, but avoid patterns.
- Don’t have other people in your photos (and don’t crop other people out of your shot — there should not be any errant body parts in your online photo!).
- Make sure the background in the photo isn’t distracting.
- Relax. Look directly at the camera.
- Take multiple shots and ask people for their opinion on which one makes you seem most “approachable.”
- Tips for Men: Wear a dark blue or black dress shirt. No t-shirts, Hawaiian shirts, or busy/crazy patterns.
- Tips for Women: Wear something you feel comfortable in. No t-shirts or big/busy patterns. Soft, dark v-necks look great. Black always works; avoid white.
You don’t need to hire a professional photographer. Find a friend who’s good with a camera, with whom you can relax and smile with confidence. You want to be accessible and engaging so those finding you online will be eager to hear what you have to say.