Is Your LinkedIn Profile Photo is Scaring People?

I have over 12,000 LinkedIn contacts, and I have seen it all when it comes to lousy LinkedIn profile photos! 

43% of US marketers find a customer through LinkedIn. So, it makes sense not to scare away potential customers then! Right?

Among my contacts, the most exciting photo examples are:

  • Topless women (at least it appears like that).
  • People with a third hand on their shoulder.
  • People jumping out of planes.

These people all make my LinkedIn Wall of Shame. Along with a hundred others. When it comes to LinkedIn and personal branding, I coach many to set the tone for their brand with their photo.

Your LinkedIn profile is like a home for sale. The curbside appeal is critical for people to make that next step to walk into the house. Your brand is that house. People want to see a great photo and get a great impression from you before they start to engage further with you!

5 Ways To Improve Your LinkedIn Profile Photo

Here are six easy ways to make sure your LinkedIn photo does not suck!

1. A recent photo is the first step toward authenticity

Change your photo every year. Use the new image or variations of it across your other social profiles! And make sure you have a picture, because ‘ghost profiles’ are sure to scare your network away!

2. You ought to be in pictures. But you ought to have someone else take your LinkedIn profile photo

By all means, do not take a picture of yourself in the bathroom mirror. And avoid the “selfie pose.” Both executions will be terribly unprofessional for your brand. Hire a professional to get your headshot taken. Before headshots were the craze, I hired a professional headshot photographer for our SAP Sales meeting. Over 2,000 people visited our Social Media Genius Bar to fine-tune all part of their LinkedIn profiles during our event. Including their photo. The professional headshot booth was one of the biggest hits of the event! I also have had great luck with my significant other taking my photo with rapid shots in various poses. If you cannot hire a professional photographer, use a friend who can take some rapid-fire pictures of your smiling face!

43% of US marketers find a customer through LinkedIn. So, it makes sense not to scare away potential customers with a bad profile photo then! Right?

Gerry Moran

3. Strike a close-up pose

How many lousy family photos have you experienced? You know, the images where you can barely tell who Aunt Mary is from Uncle Bob? Make sure to instruct your photographer to go close to your face for your photoshoot! Make sure to direct your photographer to take your picture against a bold and single-color background to focus on your face! And, don’t forget the lighting. If you are in the middle of trying to lose some pounds, then ask for your photographer’s help. They can take a picture of you from the top of a stool, ladder, or couch to hide that temporary double-chin!

4. Avoid the “I’m Too Sexy” post

I have seen too many profile photos by women who look topless since they are wearing off-shoulder clothing. Enough said.

5. Light up your personality!

But good light does not include shadows or direct or overhead light. Take advice from many photographers. Use natural light or lamp-like light from a higher angle to get that perfect look! 

More Ideas on How to Keep you Looking Good on Social Media

Do you have an engaging LinkedIn photo experience to share? Or, do you have a tip or an “interesting” photo of one of your contacts (please, no names!) Then please pass it on to

I explain something significant to my personal branding candidates. The first thing that people do when they meet you or talk to you on the phone is to check out your LinkedIn profile. Make sure you don’t scare them away with a LinkedIn profile photo that sucks!

NOTE: This blog post was originally published on March 1, 2013 at Your LinkedIn Photo is Scaring People and was refreshed on February 5, 2021.

Gerry Moran is a social media and content marketing strategist who's worked for large global brands and digital agencies. He's spent significant time in hands-on marketing leadership roles with HBO, IKEA, Ralston Purina, Kodak, and numerous digital agencies. He spent his last ten years working at SAP and Cognizant, where he built their content marketing operating models, developed social media training programs, and helped thousands with their LinkedIn makeovers and personal branding strategies.

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