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Show Your Face! October 10, 2008

Posted by Chuck Musciano in Networking.
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This week, LinkedIn took a huge step forward when they finally started including profile photos in the popups that appear when you hover over a person’s name. Previously, the popup displayed a textual summary of a person’s profile data. The addition of the photo makes the popup profile much more useful.

I am a big fan of including pictures in your online profiles for these kinds of sites. The primary reason is selfish: it makes it easier for me to remember names and faces when I can see a person’s picture. I make it a practice to copy these photos into my Outlook address book; they’ll appear in the header of emails when possible and get synced to my phone as well. On more than one occasion I have been at some sort of gathering and used the pictures in my phone to confirm someone’s identity before walking up to say hello. They also show up in the caller ID display when I receive calls.

Photos are a huge part of social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace, but are notably missing in most professional sites like Plaxo and LinkedIn. Why? I suspect that most people are too self-conscious to include a photo with their professional profile, or only have casual photos that don’t convey an appropriate professional demeanor.

Too self-conscious? Get over it. The value of your photo in cementing connections with people far exceeds your concern over having a “good” picture of yourself online. Moreover, most people are far too picky in choosing a picture of themselves. People who know you accepted what you look like long ago. Few of us are supermodels; the rest are just average-looking people.

Inappropriate photo? Not a problem. For online photos to be effective, you must crop them tightly, showing only your face. The latest fad is to crop even tighter, clipping off the edges of your face. Either way, those embarrassing background details won’t show up. Just find any photo that shows your face clearly, crop out everything else, and get it posted online.

So get going! Find a photo, crop it, and post it. Your profile will be much improved as a result, and I’ll certainly be happier, along with everyone else in your online network.

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