Your profile photo is an important part of your online presence, especially if it represents your business. What kind of first impression do your potential customers, clients and business partners get when they come across your LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ or Twitter profile?  With a little effort, you can choose a picture that will set your business apart from the competition and build trust with people searching for your services. Just make sure you don’t make these common mistakes:

  1. Using a crop from a party shot:  There is nothing worse that cropping an image from a party and using it as your professional headshot. Yes, it might be the most flattering shot you have had in a while.  Yes, you might be wearing your best outfit and your makeup is spot on.  But really, nothing says “unprofessional” more than a drink in your hand and cropped arms and faces around you (or a group photo of drunk people).
  2. Not using a headshot: People want to know who they are doing business with! Especially if your business is to be conducted in or around their own home. Seeing your face beforehand can provie a comforting feel and also lets them know who to expect when you arrive. I think incorporating creativity into your headshot based on your specific profession can be a fun idea, as long as it doesn't take away from who you are and as long as you are still providing your customers with a clear view of your face.
  3. Not using a current image: I can see why this can be so popular- we all looked better 15 years ago.  But don’t you think your customers would notice what you really look like when they meet you in person?  It really sends the wrong message – that you are willing to put up the false façade to make you (or your business) look “better” than it is.  In reality, showing your age and a few extra wrinkles comes across as you having the knowledge, maturity and experience to provide the services your customers seek. If you haven’t taken a headshot in the last year – do it now! The bottom line is – you should look like yourself. You may not like how you look, but it is who you are.
  4. Using a smartphone image:  As wide-spread as it is, there is nothing professional about a profile photo you snapped in the mirror on your cell phone. While there is a time and a place for self-portraits, your business profile image is not it. Invest in some professional headshots with a photographer that can showcase your best qualities and make sure you come across as friendly, confident and approachable.
  5. Using avatars: People don’t want to connect with anonymous business entities. They want to connect with real people, not logos or pretty sunset pictures. Don’t be invisible! A photo of your fancy car or a dog wearing a party hat might look great to your friends, but it has no place on your business profile. Including a picture of yourself is a great way to personalize your listing and give your business a human face.
  6. Not using a professional photographer: If you don’t have a professional photo, people will often come to the conclusion that you don’t take your career seriously and you may not be very professional yourself.Doesn’t matter how much your sister-in-law likes to take pictures – if you want a professional looking headshot, go with someone who specializes in headshots. It’s also important to project a polished image by removing things like stray hairs and blemishes. But make sure you choose someone that can provide you with a retouched image that looks like you, and not like a plastic Barbie doll.
  7. No eye contact:  We look into a person’s eyes to make our first impressions. Don’t pick an image where you are wearing sunglasses or looking away.  If people can’t see your smile and your eyes, they wonder what else you are hiding. If you are not connecting with the camera – you are not connecting with your clients.
  8. Not smiling: Long gone are the times when business owners had to appear serious in their pictures. Make a good impression by showing your natural smile. A smiling image has been proven time and time again to make people feel more at ease. People also perceive that a person who smiles is more trustworthy.
  9. Wearing the wrong clothes: There is nothing more distracting than a wrong outfit in a headshot. A plunging neckline or a half-dressed beach picture never paints a “professional image”.  Would you wear that outfit to an interview with a potential client!?  Is that really the best way to “showcase” yourself!?  If the answer is “NO”, don’t use it for a business headshot.
  10. Not paying attention to surroundings: Too often people don’t realize the key role played by a background in even a simple headshot image.  Whether the image is taken outdoors or indoors, the background for headshots should be blurred and out-of-focus.  The standard background colors for studio headshots are white, gray and black. Any other patterns or colors can quickly become dated.

 So, did you pass the test?  Does it look like YOU or someone you know might be in desperate need of a new business headshot? If so, please contact us today to schedule yours!