LinkedIn Best Practices | Make Your Profile Photo Speak Up

Most people want to do business with people they know, they like and they trust. So why is it that during my LinkedIn networking and marketing workshops and presentations I sometimes get resistance when I tell people not to be shy and hide behind the default LinkedIn icon? Instead I think they should overcome their fear of loss of privacy, become transparent and put up a great, professional photo on LinkedIn.

And you should follow this practice as well.

As a former professional consultative salesperson, it just makes good common sense to me to make your first impression count. The old saying still rings true: “A picture is worth a thousand words.” What does you profile picture on LinkedIn say?

LinkedIn Best Practice - Profile Photos No-No's
LinkedIn Best Practices Profile Photo Faux Paus

According to Nick Salter, Asst. Professor Ramapo College, N.J. A picture makes you more of a person and less of just a piece of paper. With no picture: “…people think…(you are) trying to hide something…didn’t take the time…you’re not technologically savvy.” (Source: Chicago Tribune 1/28/13) With the advent of Smart Phones, it’s really easy for you or someone else to capture a great photo even if you don’t have the skill set.

You must realize you may actually do more damage to your professional brand without a photo.

There are many good reasons to use a photo on LinkedIn, including:

    • People you knew in the past can identify you more quickly.
    • Many people (me included) have an easier time recognizing a face than remembering a name.
    • Someone looking at your LinkedIn profile after a networking event can associate a business card with a face (especially if they collected a great number of business cards).
    • According to LinkedIn’s own statistics you are 7 times more likely to get found (Source: in a search.

You may upload exactly one photo on the left side at the top of your LinkedIn profile. This is the most prominent place on your profile, especially in English speaking countries where we read from left to right.

LinkedIn updated the personal profiles to allow high definition photos in early 2013. I think it’s best to have the photo prepared ahead of time, so here are the formats and size limitations LinkedIn allows:

    • JPG, GIF or PNG file formats
    • 4 mg maximum file size
    • Image should be square (or can crop if needed after uploading). The ideal size is between 200 by 200 pixels up to a maximum of 500 by 500 pixels
    • Note: The photo will not upload if it is larger than 4,000 pixels

To upload or change a photo

    1. Move your cursor over your photo (or where the standard icon is now if you do not have a photo) in the top right of your LinkedIn black navigation bar. Scroll down the open menu and click on ‘Privacy & Settings’. Note: You may be prompted to sign in to LinkedIn again for security purposes.
    2. Scroll down to under “Privacy Controls” in the middle column
    3. Click on < Change your profile photo & visibility >.
    4. Browse your hard drive and locate the photo you want to upload and click on it.

You can specify who can see your photo in addition to users who you message. Your choices are: your connections, your network or everyone. Then click on <Save Settings>.

There are both good and bad (see image above) practices, so make yours a good choice. Make sure you are dressed in professional attire, appropriate to your work, position or desired position. Smile, look at the camera and relax. Your photo should be recent since you may be asked to coffee or Skype. You do want to avoid the jaw dropping experience at first meeting if your picture is 20 years old. Always pick one where you are in focus.

One word of caution. LinkedIn’s user agreement (10.2.6.) stipulates you should not undertake to: “Upload a profile image that is not your likeness or a head-shot photo…”. This means do not use an icon, picture of your business, dog, or family shots. Stay away from silhouettes, full body shots, black and white (unless there’s a reason), adding advertising messages, extreme close ups, standing in front of the garage or a closet door, photos that are out of focus, etc. Also avoid Facebook type gang shots at the bar, holding a bottle of beer, on the beach shots, etc.

Have several to choose from? Ask opinions of people you trust. Which one best represents you and what you do?

According to LinkedIn you have three chances to upload a proper photo. If not they can ban you from ever adding a photo again.

The photo at the top of this article are just some of the examples of what I consider to be violations of LinkedIn policy. The one I failed to take a screen shot of was a young man in a Santa hat in front of a Christmas tree.

Within a few hours of me telling him (paraphrased from memory): “… this is not Facebook! You are on a professional business networking platform trying to help your father promote his business,” he replaced it with one more suitable and I missed adding the image to my collection which is expanding.

About Michael Yublosky

Michael Yublosky, MBA, specializes in developing and implementing marketing strategies for new and existing small business Web sites, keyword research, search engine optimization as well as using free social media networking and marketing platforms such as WordPress blogging, LinkedIn, etc. since 2006. Yublosky also spent 30 years in direct sales, sales management and training as well as marketing. His Web site is found at and you can connect with him on LinkedIn at

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