Profile Photos and Business Promotion

I’ve been networking more lately, and as I have moved from strictly business networking venues like Ryze, into mish-mash ones like FaceBook, some aspects of profile photos have become more obvious. There are people who have no concept of what a business promotional photo should be.

It is probably important to point out here that if your profile lacks a photo, you may as well not even bother signing up. People do not like networking with faceless entities, and for business purposes, facelessness in a small business is fatal. People accept facelessness for a corporation, but in a small business, a face is your primary asset – the person behind the business IS the business. So having that profile picture is a critical first step.

I’ve thought about it a lot, and here is what I’ve noticed works, is an advantage, or saves you time:

1. You want one or two standard photos that you can upload in a hurry anywhere online. You will end up using them more than you realize. Make them about 200 X 200 pixels for a good balance between visability and control over image quality. This size seems to work in almost all venues, and if you make it this size, it is more likely to be cropped to show a good view.

2. Make your face visible, even when the photo is scaled down. Some places scale your photo WAY down in preview shots.

3. No bikinis. No bare chests. C’mon folks, let’s be clear about what you are selling here! Skin shots are just NOT professional, and you’ll lose some of your best prospects as they assume you are there for purposes other than business.

4. Please do not hold your cell phone at arm’s length and take a shot of yourself. You are more likely to look like a bull moose in a bad mood than a friendly small business owner, because the camera distorts your appearance. Same problem with web-cams, unless you think your nose is just way too small, a web cam won’t give you a good shot!

5. Casual is FINE! In fact, for small business people in businesses where friendliness is a key selling point may do better if they ditch the suit. Professional photos are good also, but a clear, slightly fun casual shot is equally good, because it looks more “real”. Sincerity is a big deal with small business, so no matter what photo you choose, make sure it looks like the real you, and like are are comfortable and enjoying your life.

6. Make sure the lighting is decent. Again, it does not need to qualify for the cover of TIME. It just needs to be sharp and visible – no dark gloomies, no bright glares that obscure features. Sometimes you can adjust this a bit in a photo editing program, but there is only so far you can push it. There’s just no substitute for a well balanced shot to start with.

Look at photos of other people that make you want to get to know them. And keep in mind, no matter what you look like, friendliness is what counts the most. A shot of a less than glamorous person is far better than no photo at all. Even a candid and friendly looking shot of an overweight, middle aged, gray haired woman can a highly effective promotional tool. I know this from experience. Sure, some people may be turned off by my appearance, but if they are, they are not in my target market anyway, because I love working with people who have depth.

Get your photos scaled, cropped, and put somewhere on your computer where you can find them quickly, and then USE them every single time you are asked for a photo – Keep a larger copy also just in case someone wants one for print, but if they watn one for web, you are ready to go in seconds.

That photo will serve you well over and over.

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