Make Your Profile Picture Work for you
Your resume is perfect. Your qualifications are stellar. Your interpersonal skills are phenomenal. You are the whole package. So WHY are you still getting passed over for that promotion or first date?
Check Your Profile Photo Often
Whether it’s “just” on social media or on your company’s corporate directory, you better believe that the people you want to reach are doing their homework, checking you out before making any major professional or personal decisions about you. And while it may be very true that your qualifications as an awesome person and business rock star are above and beyond where they need to be, the fact is that our image–how we choose to represent ourselves to the world–directly informs how the world perceives and interacts with us.
Real World Eye Candy
Our daily lives contain a bombardment of visuals that it’s easy to forget each and every single image produced by a company or brand, (whether it’s on Instagram, a billboard on the side of the street, or a magazine cover in the grocery checkout line), is a product of a carefully-crafted, and consciously-curated conversation.
Every professional photo represents countless hours of brainstorming and vision boards, lead-up and day-of preparation, and coordination involving a team of several people. Don’t forget the post-production work: photo selection, layout design, color correction and retouching, not to mention tens of thousands of dollars in budgets. Minimum.
All the time and money it takes to produce a photograph is, at its core, a business investment in image and brand identity that major companies deem crucial enough to take part in several times a season. Without those visuals, their product, (movie, tv show, celebrity, home decor or fashion accessory, etc.) would be unsellable.
What Does this Mean for You?
Your image is perhaps the most important selling tool at your disposal.
While it might not be in your budget or lifestyle to produce your own $25,000+ photoshoot a few times a year, the lesson to learn from the big dogs is that your image is of absolute importance and worth the attention, both in a personal and professional setting.
Think about it. When you meet somebody new in person at a bar, friend’s house or career mixer, the common first order of business is to go home and google them. When you’re referred to a new realtor, esthetician or dog walker, isn’t your first instinct the same?
Based on what you find, are you excited to find out more about this person or company and spend your valuable time or money with them? What social networks do they maintain actively? What is their website about? Based on their website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Yelp and (fill-in-the-blank-internet-platform), what is this person or company really all about?
But, Wait. Rewind.
If the main profile photos don’t resonate with what you’re looking for in a friend, romantic interest, professional contact or service provider, you, like any audience, might not even get to asking those important questions.
That split-second first impression, based on a photograph that has captured merely a split-second in time in this person’s existence, can set up an entire framework and tone by which he or she is perceived and judged. The same is true for you. Superficial? Maybe. Reality? Absolutely.
By being conscious of the direct effect that a photograph of you has on your online identity and brand, you also create for yourself a major opportunity to reach your target audience, be it a prospective employer or eHarmony subscriber.
You have the power and ability to put your best face forward, and effectively communicate who you are and what you’re all about.
Example: Ashley, An Easy Fix
For example, my friend Ashley is a successful real estate agent in San Diego.
While the first shot is a beautiful photo of my gorgeous friend, it simply wasn’t establishing her as the knowledgeable-yet-approachable expert that is. A short 20-minute session with a staff photographer on The Headshot Truck was able to yield a photo that was right on target with the image she wanted to create. Clean light, a put-together appearance, and a warm smile can go a long way.
Now that you see how easy your solution could be, let’s go over why your photo might not be working for you.
Might be time for a new photo, right? In the next installments of this series, I’ll walk you through the whole process of getting new photos done, from crystallizing your objective at the beginning, to figuring out who will shoot it, to picking images to use after your session.