Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Five Reasons You Need a Profile Picture.

How do I look?
Don't you recognize me?
I was recently scanning the connections in one of my Ning groups, and was shocked at how many people did not have a profile picture. This is a business social networking group set up for people to connect, get to know each other, and to build trusted relationships. How am I going to build a trusted relationship with a blank profile or an egg shape? Or, when it's a group photo, you're too far away to see your face, or it's a picture of your family pet? After all, we don't walk around in public or go to work with a bag on our head.
So, let's look at five reasons you need a picture on your social media profile:
  1. It's about being social. It's called social media or social networking. If you don't want anyone to see your face, don't go out in public and don't join a social network. Unless you're in the federal witness protection program, we want to see what you really look like. Facial expressions are universal and tell us a lot. A good picture also helps us identify you and feel comfortable with you. 
  2. First Impressions. Do I really need to say more about this? First impressions are difficult to overcome. If your profile picture is blank or a cartoon character, how do I take you seriously about anything. I love it when someone says they are into social media, or God forbid, some sort of social media expert and they don't have a decent profile picture.
  3. Seriously. Do you honestly think a prospective employer or collaborator is going to take you seriously if you are too lazy or can't figure out how to upload a decent profile picture? If you want to be taken seriously in any respect (not talking about the banker or accountant type of serious), upload a recognizable photo of yourself.
  4. Legitimacy. Spammers and bimbos are everywhere. There are also millions of interesting and legitimate people on line, too. If you use a fake picture or one that doesn't look like you (from a few years ago), it makes me wonder what you're hiding. Make sure you don't get lumped in with the spammers and bimbos by not having a profile picture or one that's a little too PG 13.
  5. Meet ups. Let's face it, it's awkward enough meeting a person for the first time in a neutral location like a local coffee shop or restaurant. I've been in the situation a ton of times where I didn't know what the person I was meeting looked like. After a few embarrassing attempts, I found the person I was supposed to meet. Don't make it more difficult by not having a profile picture. Most people are going to do a search to get some background information from sources like Facebook or LinkedIn before they meet you. Make it easy on them by having a good profile picture. It makes that first meeting much more comfortable.
 A few final thoughts. You don't have to spend a fortune to get a decent profile picture. Just make sure it's close enough that people can see your face clearly. Remember, the thumbnail picture for your profile on some sites is pretty small.
When I talk about a good profile picture, I don't mean a picture like the ones we all got in grade school. It doesn't have to be the same as everyone else. You can be creative and artistic. Again, the idea is that it represents who you really are, and that we can identify you.
What would you add to list of reasons for having a profile picture? I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas.
That's my two cents...

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