A strong professional profile photo is one of THE most important parts of your LinkedIn profile.

Your profile picture appears in all of your LinkedIn searches and on Google, and it enables you to connect with others on a more personal level.

In fact, LinkedIn says that members who include a profile photo receive 21x more profile views and up to 36x more messages.

A study of 800 profile pictures found that people view you as more likable, competent and influential if you smile in your profile photo. The study also found that people with open mouth smiles were considered twice as likable as closed mouth smiles, so smile big.

You won’t impress anyone – employers, bosses, clients and prospects – if you give off the wrong impression with a bad LinkedIn profile photo.

Your goal is to post a smiling, warm, engaging picture of yourself on LinkedIn.

Looking approachable and professional are key. But looking professional doesn’t mean you need to look serious. Aim for genuine and personable, not intense.

Ensure that your LinkedIn profile photo is a high-resolution, professional headshot sized at 400 by 400 pixels.

Crop the picture from the top of your shoulders to just above your head so that your face fills the frame. There’s no need for a full-body view of you.

Make sure the background of your photo is simple – you can change the background easily in Canva or other photo apps. Nothing should take away from you.

To convey the right professional image, choose your outfit carefully. You don’t need to wear a suit and tie anymore unless that’s the way you dress for work every day. You should wear clothes that you would wear to work in your LinkedIn profile photo. Plain, solid colors tend to work best.

It goes without saying that your headshot should look like you in a daily basis. Meaning you today, not you from 10 years ago. Don’t be that person who looks different in real life or over zoom – that can give someone pause.

Here are a few more LinkedIn profile photo don’ts:

  • Don’t include a pet or child in your photo
  • Don’t use an image of you on vacation or on a beach, golf course or mountain
  • Under no circumstances should you use a selfie
  • Don’t post a photo of you taken in a car
  • Don’t wear too much makeup or no makeup at all – look as natural and polished as possible
  • Don’t wear casual clothing or too much jewelry
  • Don’t use a group photo (If you use a group photo as your profile photo, they may be unsure which person is you)
  • Don’t use the photo you use on Instagram or Facebook. Think professional
  • Don’t use a low-resolution or blurry photo
  • Don’t use a photo of you that is more than five years old – remember, it’s okay if you are losing your hair or getting gray – your clients want to see the real you, the person with whom they interact each day. Your photo should reflect how you look on a daily basis (glasses, hair or no hair, etc.)
  • Don’t wear sunglasses or hold a drink (this goes for all photos on LinkedIn period)
  • Don’t post anything in the profile photo area other than a photo of you – not the logo of your company or charity, not a sunset – just you.
  • Don’t use a full body photo. Your profile photo should only showcase your face.

I recommend getting a new headshot every two years and taking several photos in different outfits to give you options when you post on social.

If your company doesn’t offer headshots, it’s still easy to get a new headshot. Many local photographers will take individual professional portraits of you at a low cost (use Google, Instagram and word of mouth to find someone).

A great LinkedIn headshot is attainable and essential for the platform. Remember you are your brand on LinkedIn, so put your best foot forward with a strong profile photo. Try out these tips for a LinkedIn profile photo that gives a more polished, professional impression and showcases your best qualities.

You can see some options here using my French bulldog puppy Scarlett. Which one do you like best for her LinkedIn profile photo?

Check out this video for more on the topic.