Hey, You're Doing LinkedIn Wrong.

So, we live in this simultaneously wonderful and dreadful time where, if you have any professional presence online at all, you can quickly make or break your career with one misstep. Everyone from recent college grads to seasoned professionals are now faced with the annoying reality that their online presence, particularly on LinkedIn, is, like, actually important.

You know that thing your mom told you over and over again about first impressions being important? She wasn’t kidding, they’re really important, and your photo on LinkedIn in your first impression to the WHOLE GROWNUP INTERNET. You never know who could run across your profile at some point, and what awesome opportunity you could be missing out on because you failed to impress with your profile photo.

So, here’s a few things to consider when choosing your profile picture…

 Don’t Be Super Exciting
Those photos in your really awesome bathing suit? Yeah, those don't belong on LinkedIn. Alcohol, drugs? I mean, obviously those should be nowhere in the vicinity of your profile photo, but some of you make weird life choices, so I'm just going to clarify that one.

Don't Be Super Boring
Yeah, that’s right, the counterpart to not being wayyyyy too exciting, don't be super forgettable either. Try to have a profile picture that has a little spark, a small window into your personality. Let’s just say “no” to the deer in the headlights headshot against a white background, am I right? JUST SAY NO.

Your Photo Should Probably Actually Look Like You
Yeah, you know what I'm talking about. That 15 year old photo isn't really an accurate representation of your current appearance, now is it? You definitely wouldn't want to meet a future employer or networking contact and have them not recognize you. Talk about awkward. Similarly, you want to avoid excessively photoshopped photos that no longer look like you. Which brings me to….

This is really mostly directed to the millennials out there, but no matter how long your arms are, we are not fooled.  We know that your profile photo is a selfie. It doesn't matter if you're wearing a suit and looking professional as sh*t, it’s still a selfie.

Professional Quality Is Good
Steer clear of a photo that’s “facebook quality” (AKA anything that looks like it was taken at a party with a cell phone.) Try to use a photo that was taken with a good quality camera, is well lit, and clear focus of the photo is your beautiful shining face.  When in doubt, you can always have a professional portrait taken.  I might just know some fantastic photographers in Hampton Roads...

Adhere to these guidelines and you might win at LinkedIn. Go forth and connect.