My blog post title this week sounds like either the start of a bad joke or the start of Johnny Carson’s Carnac the Magnificent comedy routine. Sadly, it’s neither. It’s a brief list of who’s invited me to connect on LinkedIn recently, based on their profile pictures.
What does that say about their professional, personal brand? Afterall, LinkedIn claims to be “the world’s largest professional network on the Internet with more than 225 million members in over 200 countries and territories.” Are any of those profile pictures professional?
Since I don’t know these people (yet), have not been introduced by a mutual connection and did not receive a customized invitation, their profile picture is a big part of my first impression. Do I need them in my network? Do I want them in my network? Perhaps. Or, perhaps not.
A simple definition of personal branding is how people market themselves and their careers. It helps demonstrate what sets you apart and what your unique value proposition is. A strong personal brand can position one as a subject matter expert and provide enhanced credibility. Naturally, it’s a big part of a successful job search.
So what do these profile pictures say about their personal brand? Is their profile picture supposed to convey proof of humor? Could it be misconstrued and leave an impression they might be overly snarky? Are they “rebels” defying the corporately conservative profiles of millions of LinkedIn members? And in the case of the individual with the default “ghost image” picture, it makes one question if they’re trying to hide something or simply lack the technical knowledge to change the picture. Unfortunately, neither makes a good first impression.
It’s always a good idea to review your own personal brand. Are you making a positive, professional first impression with your picture? Are you clearly communicating your unique value proposition with your profile content? The world is too competitive today to have a poor digital footprint. Find a trusted colleague or friend and have them review it to make sure your personal brand is strong.