In preparing for a New Year, having chosen “amplify” as my professional word for 2019, I was reading up on executive presence for an upcoming 5-day email challenge. That search led me to best practices for LinkedIn, which we know includes having a solid headshot. Which I have had now for some time. Or so I thought.
We all want to give the right impressions of ourselves on LinkedIn, right?
I discovered photofeeler.com through body language researcher, Vanessa Van Edwards. This new-to-me service promises you can find out what your pics are really saying about you. With unbiased voting (voters have no idea who you are), the user can choose photos that make the right impression for professional, social, and dating profiles. I tested my headshot in the business context. And it performed reasonably well.
However, having just completed a fresh photo shoot in October, I decided to test the old head shot with a new one. Surprise! There was a HUGE difference in perceptions between the two shots!
The photos for business context are ranked on three sensible indicators: competence, likability and influence. Also, these indicators are relevant to your self-identified job title. What makes a software programmer look competent doesn’t make an investment banker look competent.
See results and analysis below the image.
Read between the lines
What both photos have in common (besides the subject):
Both photos are professional and in both I’m wearing a blazer and white blouse, two recognized symbols of authority in the U.S. business context. You see a big smile in both.
What is different:
Although both red and grey pinstripe blazers exude power, the color red also suggests passion and a bias for action while black and pinstripes indicate a greater degree of authority.
However in the situation of LinkedIn profiles, the red option made a more powerful statement.
In said photo with the red blazer, I’m standing in a traditional power pose and I’m in a boardroom, both of which frame the way people interpret what they’re seeing. (This tendency explains why it’s so hard to recognize people in a different context from where you usually see them. Like if you run into a networking buddy at Whole Foods.)
You can see my hands (and fingers) in the higher-rated photo, which conveys trust. That’s why hand gestures are recommended when presenting to a group. If the people you’re with can’t see your hands, unconsciously they are wondering where they are. Show your hands.
Two comments about the photo with the gray blazer indicated discomfort with the close up angle. Perhaps it felt like I was too close for comfort? Social distance is yet another aspect of nonverbal communication, and is highly related to culture.
Results from changing photo
I changed the profile picture on LinkedIn before noon on Thursday, December 27. I immediately got 11 profile views, which is on the high side for me, but it’s hard to detect exact correlation with the photo change. I will keep you posted on how the new image helps me amplify the voice of Mixonian Institute.This analysis reinforces a message Mixonian Institute constantly iterates: people are busy and their brains constantly seek shortcuts in understanding who we are and what we offer. I am the exact same person in both shots but… Click To Tweet
It is our job to make it easy for others to understand us the way we want to be understood. You can’t force people to accept you or your message, but there are many elements you can influence.
Indications it’s time for a new photo
- You want to be more visible in your industry
- You have your eye on a juicy promotion
- You want to influence more people.
Yes, it take time, $ and effort to get a professional photo taken. Parts of the process are fun and some parts are tedious. Unlike other asset classes, investing in yourself always pays off. Click To Tweet
If you have specific questions before investing in your new headshot, feel free to contact me. If you want to analyze your own photo, check out photofeeler.com.