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The Top 9 Mistakes People Make With Their LinkedIn Profile Picture


When it comes to LinkedIn, I would say that your profile picture is one of the most important factors for making new contacts. LinkedIn is all about personal branding and your profile picture is what makes a great first impression. I’ve seen thousands of LinkedIn profiles and there have been many times where I just shake my head as I skip people because of their profile picture.

LinkedIn gives you many chances to find new people on their platform. But all of them include seeing a profile picture, and a short tagline. The profile picture makes up most of the real estate and should be inviting enough to get potential prospects or connections to look at your profile. The image that you choose to represent you on LinkedIn will help people make a split decision on whether they want to learn more about you.

In this article, I am going to share with you nine common mistakes that I see people on LinkedIn make when it comes to their profile picture.

Here are the top mistakes that can be easily avoided:

#1 No Profile Picture

When I come across people who don’t upload a picture to their LinkedIn profile a thought flashed across my mind. They were probably told to set up a LinkedIn profile at one time, but they weren’t serious about it. In my mind, these people have no intention of meeting anyone on LinkedIn. If this isn’t true, then you should really consider putting something up there.

When I use LinkedIn, at some point I may want to meet my connection in real life but it’s hard to make a virtual connection without even knowing what you look like. If you don’t have a profile picture, chances are that you don’t have a good profile and I don’t want to waste my time learning any more about you.

#2 Using A Cartoon Avatar

I ran into this yesterday. I was scrolling through my network connections when I came across a profile that was using a Simpson’s style avatar. Not only were they using a cartoon avatar for their profile picture, but they had one for their cover image at the top of their profile. This is just weird. I could understand if the person was a cartoonist, but I still wouldn’t use a cartoon to make a first impression with your LinkedIn profile picture.

This is almost as bad as not having a profile picture. Sure, there are people that are shy and scared of the camera, but a cartoon doesn’t make it better. Remember, the point of LinkedIn is to show your personal brand and connect with people. Nobody wants to connect with a cartoon.

#3 Multiple People In The Picture

When I see people, who use a profile picture that has multiple people, I just chuckle to myself. How am I supposed to know which person are you? LinkedIn is about personal branding and making a great first impression. The goal of connecting with people on LinkedIn is to…eventually connect with them in real life. Again, people want to visualize doing business or meeting up with you at some point.

I think people may choose a picture because it may a time when they were happy, they are honoring someone they admire, or because they may look nice in the picture, but keep it simple. You have seconds to get someone’s attention and you don’t want to make things complicated for them. By the way, that picture you took with Tony Robbins…we know you paid for that. The jig is up.

#4 Picture Is Really Dark

Here is another type of profile picture that screams, “I’m hiding from the world and don’t want people to know the real me!” In your profile picture, we want to be able to see your face clearly. I have seen some “artistic” overlays that completely hide people’s faces. Sometimes the lighting is just wrong for the picture and you can’t be found in the darkness.

Use a picture that great lighting and shows your face clearly.  It’s helpful if your photo has some color that can add vibrance to your presence. Increasing vibrance and saturation on your profile picture while still look natural will add an extra edge to your picture that will make it “POP.” So, don’t waste your time with a picture that is dark and shadowy.

#5 Dressing Too Casually

This is a tough one to cover. When you choose a profile picture to represent your personal brand on LinkedIn, represent yourself the same way that you would in the marketplace. If you wear jeans and t-shirts in the market, then use a profile picture that represents you. But I don’t recommend choosing a picture with you in a swimsuit or on stage at a bodybuilding competition. You wouldn’t walk into your office like that.

#6 Dressing Too Formally

On the other hand, I have seen way too many pictures of people wearing tuxedos. Again, these are probably pictures dressed up and looking good. When I see pictures of guys in tuxedos then I still wonder how they would dress on a day to day basis doing whatever it is their profile says they do.

I suppose that when I see your profile pictures on LinkedIn, I must make a split decision on whether I think you can do what you say that you do on LinkedIn and whether I should invest any time trying to get to know you. If your picture is in a tuxedo, I’m probably wondering if it’s worth my time. After all, there are 500 Million other people that I can look at.

#7 Using A Logo

Business owners are obsessed with their logo. Many times, they are terrible. They want their logo bigger. They want it to pop. They want it to stand out. They want it on everything. They want their logo to represent who they are. So, they use their logo as their profile picture.

On LinkedIn, this comes off as…salesy. When I see you using a logo for your profile picture, the first thing I think is that the second we connect, you are going to try to sell me whatever it is you offer, and I don’t want to waste my time. Again, by not using a picture, you aren’t allowing me to visualize doing business with you.

#8 Using A Cropped Picture

Are you in a group picture and you think cropping yourself out will work? Stop! Again, LinkedIn is about personal branding and you want to make a great first impression. So, you have a great picture of yourself with Tony Robbins and someone told you it was a bad idea. Cropping yourself out of that picture still looks weird.

Remember when you paid extra so that you could put your arm around his neck so that you could look like buddies? Now your profile picture just looks weird. What is your arm doing?

#9 Your Picture Is Not Up To Date

People change over time. Hair fashions change. Clothing fashions change. We change in size. Some people get bigger. Others get smaller. Some of us get gray hairs popping up. Hanging on to that headshot that you took 10 years ago is not going to do you any favors.

There have been times when I have reached out to have coffee with people that I am connected to on LinkedIn. If you’ve never met them in real life, then the only thing that you must go by is by their profile picture. So, here I am, waiting in the coffee shop, staring at their profile picture on my phone when someone walks up that looks completely different. Do me a favor, update your profile picture.

There is no reason to skimp on your headshot. You want something that clearly shows your face, has some vibrance and color to stand out, is up to date, and properly represents who you are when you do business in the marketplace. Remember, people want to visualize doing business with you. A great headshot can take you a long way.

Some people don’t like it when you use selfies on LinkedIn, but I think that you should if it’s the best that you can do. My preference is that you hire a professional photographer to take a couple of shots of you that you can use. It is well worth the investment. If you must use a selfie-style picture though, then I recommend that you get some feedback on it before using it on your professional profile.

I recommend checking out Photo Feeler. Photo feeler is a place where you can upload your picture and get ratings for certain criteria based on what your purpose is. For LinkedIn, you want to get feedback for business type profile pictures. People will rank you on whether you look competent, likable, and influential. You can get great feedback in a short amount of time and let you know if you have a good picture to use.

James Bullis

James Bullis is the founder of Ventin Media, specializing in transformative digital marketing and web design for SMEs. With over 20 years in the industry, James's expertise in SEO, social media, and conversion optimization has empowered countless businesses to achieve sustainable growth. He’s passionate about sharing actionable insights through his blog, helping clients and readers navigate the digital world effectively.

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Hello. I'm James Bullis.

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