Your Image Matters: 10 Tips for the Right Profile Picture

It takes just one-tenth of a second for us to judge someone and make our first impression.[1] Like my mother always told me, “you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression,” and, in the case of social networking, your profile picture is the number one biggest visual impression that you make, every day, with every contact.

Your profile picture may be THE most important piece of information about you on the internet.  Really – just think about it!  It is the visual key to your digital brand.   It is the only visual connection that internet contacts may ever have with you.  Are you sure that the picture of you at your family picnic 30 years ago, or the one where you are making that weird face, is really how you want people to know you?

Your images matters.  And because we have less opportunity to be in each others physical space, the image of you in your little tiny profile picture matters even more. That digital representation of you is all that your colleagues, employer, prospective new employer, clients, followers, and so on, may ever see.

I’ve noticed that my profile picture shows up everywhere these days:  when I comment on someone’s posts, when someone sees me on Twitter or LinkedIn, when I send an email – it is that little ‘Lorian-head’ that people relate to first, before my text.

C.G. Lynch, writer of Social Media Matters for CIO magazine said: “Truth is, this photo may be used by people whom you don’t know very well as they try to size you up – personally or professionally. So it matters.”  You may not get a second chance to show them your face.

10 Tips To the Right Profile Photo

Here are a bunch of tips that I put together to help you pick the right photo for your online accounts:

  1. Use a current photo.  When I went to buy my house, I picked a real estate agent who looked about 35 years old in her advertising photo.  When we met face to face, she was in her 60’s.  It made me a little concerned about trusting her.  Realize that someday you may actually meet the people who see your profile picture, make sure that you are as recognizable as possible.
  2. Use a human photo of YOU — not an object – not an avatar. (Though I do love my avatar because she is eternally young and she may be the right version of me on my personal Facebook page, but not professionally.)


    Lorian’s Avatar

  3. Use a photo of ONLY you – no pets – no children – no vehicles – no drinking buddies.  Also, make sure that there are no errant body parts in the photo – like someone’s hand from an arm that you cropped out (that would be tacky).
  4. Smile! Your face should radiate warmth and approachability.  Smiling gives a positive signal, even in one-dimensional viewing.
  5. Make eye contact with the camera.  People want to see your eyes – it’s a trust thing. Look directly at the camera.  Don’t take pictures with a webcam, they just don’t look right.
  6. Create visual contrast.: There should be equal balance of dark areas and light areas. Take note of what you’re wearing, along with your hair color, when choosing what will be in the back drop.
  7. Chose your best clothes colors.  Think about other pictures that you look good in – what color were you wearing near your face then?  Wear clothes based on the professional appearance you want to present.  For most of us that is no t-shirts, busy patterns, or Hawaiian shirts.  Black and blue outfits always work well.  Photo experts say avoid white.
  8. Have a quiet background.  The less you have in the background of the photo the less visually distracting.
  9. Take a head and shoulders shot.  Look at other people’s profile pictures and see how much of their upper body they show.  A shoulder is always good.  But the profile shot is very small, so you want to be able to really see your face.
  10. You don’t need a professional photographer (though it would be nice), but take multiple shots.  Then ask people for their opinion on which one makes you seem most “approachable.”
President Barack Obama: Inauguration Day 2009

Not to get political here,  Just a good example of a profile picture,  And, if you must have a building in the background, the US Capitol would be one to have. – President Barack Obama 2009

“The goal is for your photo to reflect how you will look when you meet a customer, not how you looked at that killer party in Key West four years ago. The best profile photo isn’t necessarily your favorite photo. The best photo strikes a balance between professionalism and approachability, making you look good but also real.” – Social Ben Martin from his Social Media business blog

Do you have more profile tips to add to the list? What has worked or not worked for you when it came to your profile picture?


Keep up the good attitude. See you next blog.

– Lorian




(All the Social Butterfly’s views are her own)


  1. Willis, J., & Todorov, A. (2006). First impressions: Making up your mind after 100 ms exposure to a face. Psychological Science, 17, 592-598.
  2. Image @ Trevor Aston Photography Bad Profile Pictures Are Like Limp Handshakes
  3. What Does Your Social Networking Profile Picture Say About You? How you portray yourself on social networks like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn matters. June 17, 2009 by C.G. Lynch
  4. Careerealism: Because Every Job is Temporary ,11 Tips For Choosing Your LinkedIn Photo,
  5. Analogue Chic, How To Look Better In Pictures: The Profile Pic, January 19, 2011
  6. Ben Martin, 6 Steps to a More Marketable Linked Profile
  7. BrandYourSelf, 5 Ways To Make Your Website Profile Photo Work For Your Personal Brand Image, July 15, 2009
  8. NJ Ledger, Allan Hoffman: Does that profile picture make you look like a schlub online?, May 10, 2013
  9. Photo from “President Barack Obama: Inauguration Day 2009

18 Ways To Increase Your Digital Presence

1.analyzing_computer_tv_head_sm_nwmTo help you stay motivated on this hyperactive journey toward digital eminence, I have credited the Attitude Adjustment Rewards System.

Have you been playing along and doing your Attitude Adjustment Homework (check out the Attitude Homework page to catch up)?

Today I past 500 hits on the blog (Yeah!!!! 500 people looking and reading) and  to celebrate that milestone, I have put together a list of activities so that together we can look at all the good work we are doing toward DIGITAL EMINENCE and reward ourselves.  I have imbedded helpful links throughout the activities list to help you get your rewards.

Activity Points
1. Understanding What You Look Like: Exploring Google, Yahoo, to see how the world sees you (Taking Out The Digital Garbage) 1
2. Updating your LinkedIn picture (tips on background colour) with something more professional looking.  (That is how all the people and companies in cyberspace see you – don’t you want to look your best?) 1
3. Take that new picture and replace all your other profiles with it, so you have a singular face to the world. (It is easier to maintain one picture on all profiles, and easy is good.) 1
4. Rework your resume and create a one-page version.  Only send your long resume if people want it.  
5. Reword your LinkedIn profile (LinkedIn Profile Blueprint from Social Ben Martin)  to ensure that it represented the business information that you want the world to see.  Your personal brand.  Though you may still be working on ‘who you are,’ try to be as authentic as possible.  Branding is, of course, a dynamic process, so updating will happen often. 1
6.  Do you Tweet?  Update your Twitter profile and start to use it more (at least once a day, if it makes business sense for you).  Follow more industry people you admire (like me) and also spending some time checking out the links they post.  You don’t have to say anything, just listen to what’s tweeting. 1
7. TAGGING – tagging, tagging, tagging.  Tag yourself every chance you get.  At work, tag your profile,  tag your blog, tag people you know, tag your external profiles.  If you don’t have labels on what you do, and who you are, how are people going to find you. 1
8. Created a word cloud of your expertise and have other people help you see where your expertise lies. 1
9. Reading.  There is so much good info out there both on the web and in print.  I gave you a weekend reading list.  Personally, I am trying to spend at least a half hour reading a book every day.  I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but at least it is something.  Are you reading to expand your mind and increase your knowledge? 1
10. Follow some Communities or Groups, like TED: Ideas Worth Spreading Community.  Keep up with the pulse of one or two companies, industries, or movements. 1
11. Register and play with an app called BrandYourSelf 1
12. Offer you assistance in education or public speaking in your area of specialty, both physically and virtually. 1
13. Create your Attitude Adjustment Plan, and work on clarifying your vision, purpose, values and passion statements.  You can’t know what your brand is if you don’t know who you are and what you stand for. 1
14. Expanded your internal company and external network contacts (Are You Ready For Cyber Relations?) 1
15. Add valuable content and comments to articles and blogs online 1
16. Focus more on your listening skills.  Participate in activities like the 21-day Mediation Challenge with Deepak & Ophra to help quiet your mind. 1
17. Registered with to see how your score is changing on the internet 1
18. Read THEDIGITALATTITUDE blog every week and comment on how you are doing. 1
Total Reward Points

I know for a fact that these activities will help increase your digital presence.  But if my little Attitude Adjustment Reward System isn’t enough to motivate you, how about a piece of Dark Chocolate? Let me know your score. Need help with your one pager or your LinkedIn profile? email me:


Keep up the good attitude. See you next blog.

– Lorian

(All the Social Butterfly’s views are her own)

Today’s Attitude: Baby Steps

womanatdesk.gifTruthfully, creating and maintaining personal digital eminence is a lot harder then I ever thought. Developing eminence for a product or service seems like a piece of cake compared to self promotion.  But wait… I am the product now.  I am “The Digital Attitude,” the brand called “Lorian.”

For those of you that are following along with my journey, I realize that there is a tremendous amount of work to do, so I am going to need to do it in baby steps.

My first 24 hour’s attitude adjustment included:

(1) Reading the following stuff; Luis Suarez’s Blog –  Luis is an IBMer and his main focus is living social and working without email (It’s a cool concept, don’t you think), and, I am reading everything I can find by Chris , a guru on everything social and successful author.

cropped-summer122.jpg(2) I spruced up my LinkedIn profile (more on how in a future post), including a new picture.    My LinkedIn Adviser, a wonderful British gentlemen named Social Ben (Ben Martin), told me that profile pictures look best with a BLUE TO WHITE GRADIENT background.  Blue says ‘trust’ and White says ‘purity.’ I don’t have a professional business picture and I could not find one with a light background, so I am hoping this one works for now.  I guess I may have to invest in a professional shot.

What do you think?  Would you trust that face? –>

(3) I have been learning a great deal about tagging and keyword control.  I plan on blogging about that very soon.  I went and tagged my profile with a whole bunch of relevant keywords so that people can search me better.  If people can’t find me based on key words, then my profile is kind of meaningless. (I looked at what some other people had on their profile to get an ideas.)

(4) I went and endorsed a few of my colleagues for their skills on LinkedIn, so that I can help them adjust their digital attitude a little too.

If I have any time before I go to sleep I am going to try and follow a few strategic leaders, like Ginni Rometty (remember I’m an IBMer), and start to comment on what she discusses (if I have something relevant to add).  Comments help you build more eminence day by day.  (I think I am getting the hang of this.)  I also am going to take a deep look at my lack of network connections on both LinkedIn and Tweeter.  (I have a lot of work to do.  I think this week, I will make an Attitude Adjustment Plan, so I know where I am going.)

Doing all this stuff really is starting to set me off balance with my work/life things, and I know there must be a smarter way to incorporate social into my schedule. Are you with me?  Are you starting to make an Attitude Adjustment Plan to build your digital eminence? Are there topics you think I should explore?

Thanks for taking the journey with me.


See you in the Cloud – Lorian

(All views are my own)