“I’m not letting that guy see me naked!”
A friend of mine asked for referrals for Omaha’s best masseuse. That guy came highly recommended, but when my friend looked him up online, she saw a duck-lipped selfie shot from that guy’s car while wearing a backwards ball cap. He lost money that day because his profile photo didn’t communicate that he was a leader in his industry.
First impressions are important–you only get one chance at them. How you present yourself to the world is how the world will perceive you. Most people who are in personality-driven professions want to come across as somebody who is likable yet knowledgeable. This includes financial advisors, attorneys, medical providers, realtors, coaches, and bankers. People in these professions ask their clients to expose their finances, health, and physical bodies—their most intimate vulnerabilities.
A Princeton University study showed that it takes people only 0.1 second to judge whether a person is likable and trustworthy when looking at a photo. Their first impression is unlikely to change, so you need to look like someone with whom they want to conduct business.
It’s important to consider two questions when choosing a profile image, especially on professionally-driven platforms such as LinkedIn:
1. Who is your audience?
2. How do you want to portray yourself to that audience?
If you’re the type of person who receives online referrals, the answer to the first question is probably your customers. If you run a business that targets budget shoppers, a cell-phone selfie might be on brand.
If you want to portray yourself as an industry leader who offers a high-quality product or service, then anything less than a headshot from a professional photographer who is equally skilled at their craft might be detrimental to your bottom line. A professional headshot is a small investment that can go a long way toward reinforcing your brand and gaining a loyal customer.