[gallery] It is so important to have the right photo on LinkedIn.  Having no photo on your profile leaves the recruiter wondering or doubtful about you and the wrong photo can drive them away.  It's not just about a photographic representation of you. Your online image must speak about who you are and embody the resume you are showcasing below.  Your picture is the heart of your brand.

So how do you get a great picture that says what you want it to say? Here are 5 tips for getting the right look:

1) DECIDE HOW YOU WANT TO LOOK. You could have a beautiful picture of yourself that strikes exactly the wrong note. So, how do you want to be perceived? This is probably the most important decision you can make for building your brand.  Do you want to look capable, strong, friendly, like a team player or a go-getter?  Do you want to be seen as creative or visionary or tough or like a strong leader? These decisions are key to building your brand.

2) FIND THE RIGHT PHOTOGRAPHER. A good photographer should put you at ease, listen to what you are trying to convey, ask you questions about what you like or don't like, and get to know you. Without solid communication, you probably won't get the right look for your portrait. Do they make you feel comfortable? Do you like the images they have taken? Is this a relationship you want to continue? You will probably need a new picture every 1-2 years and after every major look-change, like a new hair color or style, so you want to find a photographer who gets you.

Stay away from photographers who concentrate on actor headshots, who talk a lot about poses and whose images look dated because you will look dated, too.

3) CHOOSE THE RIGHT BACKGROUNDS. A great headshot should not look like a passport photo or your driver's license. Shooting outside can make you look accessible and real. A white background can look clean, modern and website-ish. Depending upon the work you do, it might be important to be photographed while you are working or in that environment.  What kind of location will tell your story and sell your brand?  Stay away from muddy-looking backgrounds and cheesy soft-focus images.

4) UPDATE YOUR LOOK. Look for a picture of yourself from 5 years ago. Are you sporting the same haircut, the same shirts, the same job? They say to dress for the job you want. This is especially true on LinkedIn. If you want to be in charge, look like you're in charge. If you want to work in a creative environment, look like you belong there. Choose your clothes, your haircut and your new look to reflect the jobs you want.

5) HAVE YOUR HAIR AND MAKE-UP PROFESSIONALLY DONE. There's only so much a photographer can do in Photoshop. If your hair is a mess and your make-up has faded, you won't look your best. Explain to your stylist that you are having your portrait taken and you need to look camera ready. Schedule the beauty appointment just before your session. You will feel so polished, your images will showcase your confidence.

If you are in Southern California and need a great portraits and a strong online brand, call me for a free consultation  626-221-6646

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