Looking Like Linking

April 16, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

LinkedIn (/ˌliŋkt.ˈɪn/n. A business-oriented social networking service. (Italics mine.)

I visit LinkedIn occasionally to market my services, catch up with business associates, and read articles posted by members. It works fine but I'd like to complain about something that's not LinkedIn's fault. It's yours.

Well, maybe it's not your fault — you exactly — but it's the fault of many who appear on the site. Being a photographer, my complaint is unsurprisingly photographic in nature and I'm going to deliver this rant on the assumption that people have a LinkedIn page because they want to do business, and I want to be clear up front, "if the shoe doesn't fit, please don't kick me with it."

Here's the thing. When I visit a person's page on LinkedIn, I want to see what the person looks like. We are business people and I want to see with whom I'm doing business. However, I see many profile photos that do not meet my expectations. The transgressions are numerous.

Examples, you demand? Okay, here are some and my reasons for criticizing them. (This is not a criticism of the person or their product or service — just my personal belief that their photo is not functioning on LinkedIn as I would expect it to.)

The Bad

I'm sure the person on whose page this appears is the one in the middle, but who are the other people? Why is the intended person so small? The tutus grab my attention but the face under the blue hard hat? I think it's a dude, but I could be wrong — and how does this presentation make me want to do business with him?

This guy on the right: he's also small in the picture plus the photo has been squeezed left-to-right. He's holding a cup of coffee in a nearly empty hangar. Is that supposed to communicate something positive about his business or business acumen? I wouldn't be able to recognize him on the street or in a meeting. Why, oh why, such a crummy photo?

I'm not looking for a horseman, and the guy on the horse is not selling his horsemanship skills on LinkedIn. Yet, here's his photo. I'm just going to be blunt and say I don't care that you roped a calf. You're too small to identify, though I might have some luck pointing to your horse in an equine line-up…

Here's a proud father or grandfather or I don't know. I'm sure he loves whoever this child is, and at least the man's face is large enough to recognize, but this photo is also distorted — to fit in man and child, both? But why show the kid at all? It doesn't make me more interested in you. It tells me something about you, I suppose, but I find the little tyke more eye-catching than additive to your profile. I like kids. I don't look for them on LinkedIn.

Okay, we're getting there. No children or horses but is this supposed to be an artistic composition? "Still life with woman and…", um, whatever that is in the background? It's not that hard, people! She seems like a nice person, but less than half this photo is helping me understand her; the other half I just don't comprehend.

Somehow this person thinks showing their back, doing their thing, makes a prospect want to reach out and buy what he's selling? This photo does not prove, to me, that he knows how to teach firearms, but it shows he doesn't know how to market himself.

 

The Good

Finally! Here's a straightforward example of what is appropriate for LinkedIn. A pleasant expression, professionally photographed, presented large enough to know who I'm dealing with. I see the person, get a sense of their personality, and am not distracted by extraneous elements or artistic croppings.

This woman's image is not cropped as tightly, but I still see who she is. I'd know her in a meeting or passing in the hall. Simple. Effective. Appropriate.

 

And here we have what might be termed an environmental portrait, except it's just a candid shot out in the world somewhere. But it's fine because what I see is a big ol' smile and his eyes looking right at me. He's not in a suit. He's not in a studio. But a suit and a studio are not required. All that matters is this image tells me who this guy is.

 

Same with this woman. Either a candid, well shot, or an environmental portrait shot with care to look candid. A large, smiling, face that gives me a sense of who she is. I like it and I already want to like her.

 

The Ugly

Just what in the hell is going on here? I don't know nor, based on this photo, do I want to know this guy.

And what about this guy/gal/space-alien? I'm not familiar with a rationale for putting up no photo, though perhaps a reasonable one exists. I would counsel against it, though, unless you feel there is a personal safety threat. You're on LinkedIn — be on LinkedIn.

 

The Wrap-Up

When it comes to LinkedIn, I'm not interested in your hobby, your hubby, your pet, or your "unusual" portrait — unless they apply to the business at hand. Put those portraits on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tinder, or wherever. For LinkedIn, especially in the world of aerospace, where we need clarity and honesty, use an image that let's us see who you are.

You might think I'm being a fuddy-duddy, but I'm totally open to interesting portraits where applicable, if they contribute to the cause, even on LinkedIn. The thing is, I've seen very few "interesting" portraits on LinkedIn that support what I feel is the purpose, the value, of the service: Connecting and interacting with business people.


P.S. If you hadn't guessed, that is me at the top of this article. Not in a suit, but with a hint of a tie, loosened, head tilted with a slight smile. You see some sense of me, yes?


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Photography is a massive field. Aerospace photography less so. In these writings I share stories and tips.
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