Most places online that support a profile ask you to include a picture with your information. Given the value people put on images to process information and assign credibility, you should give a lot of thought to selecting the right profile picture for each need.
Being aware of what is perceived positively is key to a successful personal brand. Here are some things you should think about when selecting the right photo.
Pick the right photo for the context.
Having the same profile photo on all social networks can make it easier to recognize you. At the same time, many sites are not used in the same way, so the same photo might not be optimal in all cases. Use your best business head shot for places where you are connecting professionally and a more casual photo for your personal networking sites.
The only subject should be you.
Profile pictures are generally small, so keep the focus on your face. Minimize distractions in what you are wearing, the background, etc. Don’t use photos of your kids or pets – unless that’s specifically relevant to the site. The purpose of the profile photo is to put a face with the name; don’t work against that goal.
While you can easily use cell phone shots for blog posts, it’s not a good idea for your profile picture. Hire a photographer or find a friend with a good camera and a good eye. Be open to suggestions and work with the photo-taker to get a variety of images to pick from. We all have a hard time looking at ourselves objectively.
How many times have you thought that someone’s profile picture was a bit regrettable? Did you ever say anything? Most likely, the answer is no. No one wants to criticize, but most of us will offer our genuine opinion if asked. So, post the photo and ask a few people in the network if it is effective.
Remember, one size does not fit all profiles. Different audiences do not find the same photo appealing and the lack of customization can impact how you (and your content) is perceived. Be strategic about your choice of photo for each need.