What the heck – We’ve recently published articles on how to be an effective vendor at workers’ compensation conferences, and how not to be a drunken, lecherous moron at these same events. I might as well extend my wit and common sense wisdom to improving your LinkedIn profile. Now that we have prevented you from either being a boob on the expo hall floor or grabbing one on the reception dance floor, it is time to address the way you look in the digital realm.

I am, of course, talking about the profile picture you choose to share with the world via LinkedIn.

Many people do a respectable job with their profile photo. They use one that was professionally taken, or at least appears respectable on the site. Some people, however, have different ideas of what conveys a professional image.

We have those who put other objects in that spot, like children, cars, dogs, logos and other unrelated items that are supposed to convey God knows what about them. My LinkedIn profile was just viewed by a “top” (according to her description) medical recruiter, whose picture includes both her, and presumably, her dog, sitting in her lap. We can infer from this that she is either kind to animals, or if you want to hire a dog of an employee, she is your go to gal.

Some people choose to be anonymous, and are simply satisfied with a two dimensional gray outline of a person that screams “insert photo here”. A few people are in their profile photo, but appear to have been standing 6 miles from the camera. And a smattering of people like to post “action shots” of one of their conference presentations, usually striking a pose reminiscent of Adolf Hitler addressing the Reichstag.

The absolute worst, however, the bottom of the barrel, as it were, is the “LinkedIn Selfie”. Selfies, as you may already know, are all the rage in the twittersphere at this time. They are digital self portraits, photos taken by oneself, and are usually tweeted, facebooked, poo-pooed or pish-pawed around the world wide intergalactic web in some manner or other. They are also a favorite early retirement tool for idiot politicians whose egos are bigger than the personal objects they selfie-tize. Even our President, by odd coincidence, made international headlines this morning engaging in a jovial “selfie” with the Danish Prime Minister while others around them mourned the loss of Nelson Mandela. But long before they were called selfies, the self portrait had found an unfortunate home in the LinkedIn profile.

Selfie - how not to present yourselfPeople, I implore you, get a decent photo of yourself. Some of you look like you’re sitting on the toilet after a long night in Tijuana; or are using a mug shot taken during your most recent arrest. It may be hard to believe, but that fuzzy, distorted shot captured by your webcam doesn’t necessarily show your best side. And as attractive as you may think your right nostril is, it shouldn’t be the only thing we see when we look at your profile.

This phenomenon is not new, and in fact is merely a reinvention of an older problem, mostly brought on by aging realtors who insist on using their high school photo on their business cards. I once went to an open house and (I swear this is true) thought the woman there was the realtors grandmother, based on the photo on her card. The “I Like Ike” button on her lapel in the photo should have been a clue, I suppose.

My point is, if indeed I actually have a point, is that your LinkedIn Profile and related photograph are a professional presentation of who you are. It is a digital resume, and you would be doing yourself a favor by putting your best foot forward there. We are a visual society, and will likely judge you as much by your image as we will the content describing you.

Lest you desire to be known as an overbearing Nazi or a Tijuana toilet troll, your LinkedIn image should present the real you – as seen through the eyes of a professional photographer with excellent Photoshop capabilities.

Scrap that selfie and invest in yourself. The rest of us would really appreciate it.

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