Visual connections are the first that we form when meeting someone new. It’s vital we own them.

We’ve recently been interviewing for a few positions here at CircleBack, and the other day, something really interesting happened: we reached out to someone we’d met through LinkedIn. This person, on the surface, had everything we wanted, seemed personable enough, and had a very professionally constructed LinkedIn profile. “Great!” we thought. “This ought to be a no-brainer.”

And then it happened… this person walked in for the interview, a full 25 years older than anything in their profile had indicated. The go-getter 30-something we’d met virtually was a 55-year old in person. It threw us for a loop and raised a few red flags.

We thought to ourselves: if this person misrepresented their age, what else is untrue?

And this is exactly what you don’t want to happen.

On LinkedIn, creating a strong professional impression is vital to your success, whether prospecting, transitioning, or just looking to network. But, if you mislead those that are most interested in you, you risk undercutting your professional experience and being considered untrustworthy.

The Perfect LinkedIn Profile Picture In 5 Steps

  • First and foremost, use an age-appropriate picture: Yes, we all looked better when we were younger, but no one faults you for getting older. Be sure to use an age-appropriate picture to avoid any connections feeling misled upon meeting in the flesh.
  • Dress the part: If you want a suit-job, wear a suit for your profile picture. If you want a sweatpants and sport-shorts start-up job, wear… a polo or a nice dress. Start with the assumption that you are a professional (business casual) and work your way up from there, dressing as necessary to suggest you belong where you want to be.
  • Pick the right background: The bar, the beach, on top of Mt. Rushmore… these are all great places, and all backgrounds that you don’t want for LinkedIn. Be sure that the background doesn’t draw attention away from you, doesn’t imply any sort of irresponsibility or compromised values, etc.
  • Look sincere and happy: Because your face is the star, the one thing that recruiters, prospects, etc. will actually connect to, make sure it’s doing what it needs to do. Smile, look friendly, outgoing, able to charm and impress and get to work when necessary. Ensure lighting isn’t casting unattractive shadows, and that the secret scowl you wear is tucked out of sight.
  • Don’t selfie: The selfie offers a particular look, a kind of “I look really amazing; look at me looking at myself in my bathroom mirror” self-involvement that turns people off. Should you look good, confident, and capable in your LinkedIn profile pic? Absolutely? Should you look like you care more about your LinkedIn pic than you do about any job you might get? Probably not.

Managing professional impressions on LinkedIn isn’t hard, and, done well, it can lead to about 14x more profile engagement than otherwise. Just be sure that you’re approaching it honestly, sensibly, and in such a way that acknowledges you know LinkedIn is, first and foremost, a professional network.

Looking to learn more about building connections? Check out our blogs:

Why People Don’t Update Their LinkedIn Profiles
10 Transformative Career Apps
Should I Carry Business Cards and Other Networking Questions You’re Afraid to Ask

And once you make those connections, be sure to manage them with the CircleBack app for iOS or Android. CircleBack, a powerful, intelligent contact manager, ensures that your professional address book is always accurate and updated so that, when you need to make contact with a connection, you can.