If you want to win new business online, especially on LinkedIn, you have to go back to an era before computers (let alone the Internet and social media) even existed.
For as long as human beings have been alive and doing business together, people have often decided who to give their trust, affection and money to based on some rather simple (and, some would argue, shallow) factors, including one's personal appearance and dress.
Love it or hate it, this is the truth about how business often gets done in-person and online.
This is especially true on LinkedIn, where personal appearance matters far more than you might think.
On LinkedIn, Looks Matter
Case in point: Statistics from LinkedIn show members who include a photo receive up to 21 times more profile views and up to 36 times more messages.
What's really alarming is there are still people on LinkedIn today who don't have a a photo uploaded on their profile page!
Although, it should be said, if you upload the wrong type of photo on LinkedIn, you can do more harm to your personal and professional brand than if you'd had no photo at all.
With all that in mind, I want to spend the rest of this post ensuring that your LinkedIn profile photo helps prospective clients and customers get to know, like and trust you.
Tip 1 - Be Professional
LinkedIn is not the place for a goofy Snapchat selfie or to crop your head out of your wedding photo. It is also not a place to upload your company logo as your profile photo. Nor is it a place to show you holding your kids, hanging at the beach or playing fetch with your dog.
Instead, you need a professional photo. That means a clear, high-quality head shot of you looking your best and dressed to impress.
Also, the photo must be a "close up" of your face, because LinkedIn will use that image all over the platform in various sizes, and people want to associate an easy-to-see face with the posts, comments and messages you send on LinkedIn. If your face is too far away or too small in the photo, it will be hard to see when LinkedIn displays your image in smaller sizes.
Tip 2 - No Clutter
Remember to use a clean, clutter-free background for your profile photo. A simple, white background works well.
Tip 3 - Don't Wear Sunglasses
You're not Corey Hart - you don't need to wear your sunglasses at night, and you don't need to wear them in your LinkedIn profile photo, either.
I'm still shocked at how many people I see on LinkedIn with sunglasses on, and that's why I'm including this tip.
Remember, people want to look you in the eye (even online), and if they can't see your eyes, they can't trust you.
Tip 4 - Smile!
I had a goofball friend named Brad Schwie growing up who always had a smile on his face everywhere we went.
"Why are you always smiling?" I'd ask him.
"Because smiles are free!" he'd reply.
And, funny, Brad has more friends than I can count ... everybody likes the guy, because he's always smiling, friendly and welcoming. His smiling face instantly puts strangers at ease.
See how this works?
Even if it kills you, it's critical that you smile in your LinkedIn Profile photo. Smiling is so important that I've actually told LinkedIn Riches students of mine to go back and get retakes of their profile photos because they weren't smiling.
Tip 5: Use a Professional Photographer
According to LinkedIn, users who have a professional headshot get 14 times more views than those without.
Especially if you are asking potential clients and customers to spend thousands of dollars with you or your company, you need to look the part.
A professional, high-quality headshot shows you're serious, competent and able to deliver on what you're promising.
Look and Learn
At first glance, it might feel silly to worry so much about what goes into your LinkedIn profile photo.
But when you are first "meeting" someone online, it's these little things that matter most.
You don't get a second chance to make a first impression, and your LinkedIn profile photo is usually the first (and sometimes only) chance you have to impress a potential client or customer.
So take it seriously!