Mind your first impressions
How many times have been setting up your profile (in LinkedIn, social media, or any other platform) and when it comes to uploading an image of yourself, you can’t find one that is good enough?
…After a while you settle with a photo taken at the last family reunion where you happened to be smartly dressed. Or worse, you grab a photo from the last party you went to, crop yourself out of it and you think to yourself: “who’s going to notice anyway?”, right?
In fact, we pay much more attention to those profile pictures than we believe we do. Lengthy studies have been made on body language and personal impressions, and it has been proven that we stubbornly create fixed first impressions of the people we meet and have lots of trouble changing our minds about them. What’s even worse, it takes less than a second for our brain to do this when we see someone new.
Nowadays with social media, online job applications and dating platforms, it is fair to say that our profile pictures make up almost entirely for how we are perceived by others at a first glance. Our photos have become more than just a reference, they are representatives of who we are and they have a strong influence -be it good or bad- on our online presence and in real life (think job hunts, partner hunts, meetups, professional opportunities, etc).
So, “what’s to be done?”, you ask? First, find someone other than uncle Ted to take your picture, be very selective since apparently your future dream job or future love-of-your-life may depend on it. If you can afford a professional, even better. Second, get friends and family to help you choose your best photo. It has been proven that we are our worst own judges; we are very partial, self-conscious of defects that may be invisible to the rest of the world, and on top of it, we’re wired to see ourselves the wrong way around -mirrored!
With these two steps, you will at least be several steps ahead of the average profile picture. Now if you feel like digging deeper, you must take a look at this infographic from Donna Svei & Ann Pierce, explaining what traits have been tested and shown the best results. The simplest of them all, is going for the full smile, it makes wonders on how you will be perceived! Oh and always avoid the single-sided-half smile. That half smile that we thought made us look cool, actually communicates contempt! So scratch it habibi.
Ok, so you have your profile photo now, but you’re still not sure how you will be perceived. There is a tool that may help you: PhotoFeeler. This is a great platform, it is basically a site where real people will tell you how they feel about your photos by ranking them in three different categories. And yes, people can be harsh on the internet, but isn’t this why we’re talking about profile pictures?
Hoping this may have a positive effect in your near future, I leave you with this infographic and my latest corporate portraits – see if you can find any of them on LinkedIn 😉