I'm actively engaged in all kinds of sites that can be roughly described as social networking. Through this, and because of my My LinkedIn Open Connection Approach where I basically treat LinkedIn like a really big business mixer, I have lots of opportunity to "meet" new people online.
My guess is that about 25% of the people I run into do not have a profile photo. I'm writing this post to encourage you to:
- Spend a little bit of time to create a reasonable profile photo
- Attach it to every online profile when you create it
And when I say every, I mean every – don't join that new Ning group without attaching your photo. Add it to your Elluminate and WebEx profiles.
It doesn't take a lot to add a profile photo, and it's fairly significant. Why?
- It helps me believe that you are a real person. That your request isn't from some faceless person out there in cyber space. You are real. If you walk up and talk to me at a big mixer, I will talk to you. But if you are an unknown from cyberspace with no photo, it just doesn't feel as real.
- It helps me remember you. I have a hard time associating names with faces. A really hard time. Your profile photo can be really helpful to me to connect the dots repeatedly.
- It shows me you are serious. If I receive an inquiry or link/friend request from someone without a profile photo, I'm much more likely to ignore it. It's a signal that you are just playing around.
A few other thoughts on this topic:
- In business networking, using stylized photos or anything other than a normal photorealistic picture says – I'm playful and fun, but maybe not all that serious about all this stuff. It's your choice, but I believe it hurts you on all three of the above items.
- Have a reasonably complete LinkedIn profile and link to it everywhere. When I meet someone online, I commonly go search for them on LinkedIn to see who they are and what they do. If I can't find them or they have really limited information, that suggests they aren't as serious about online connections. In my experience, it's not as effective to spend time with them online. I'm not saying this is a rule, but there's a correlation in my experience. And while I'm at it, if you have less than 200 connections, you probably aren't trying all that hard online either.