How to Look Friendlier in Your LinkedIn Photo, According to Psychology
No grumpy, boring, sourpuss faces allowed.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
LinkedIn is by far the top social media choice among professionals, at least when it comes to basic networking, finding a job or hiring. The image you use in your profile matters big time, sending a first impression to the viewer just the same as if they saw you in person. Looking attractive (in the sense of amiability) is easy to do with a little psychology behind you.
1. Dress down (a little).
Sure, there are some industries that still favor more traditional formal attire. But all in all, the trend is to go more casual. The idea is that comfier, more relaxed clothes go against the status quo or too much authority, and that they demonstrate a great combination of confidence, openness and relatability. This concept already has found its way into recommendations for interview attire and easily extends to professional social media. Something like a sport jacket and dress shirt sans a tie, or a cardigan over a button-down shirt, is just right.
2. Add a pop of color.
Black has been used for business clothes since practically forever, but there's some evidence to suggest it can send negative connotations--people wear it at funerals for a reason, for example. The psychological effects of other colors also are well-documented--people associate blues and greens with calm, for instance, and they connect yellow to happiness. Warm and darker colors make objects and people seem closer and cozier, so you've got plenty of options that can match your personality without clashing with the photo background or your skin tone. Choose solids over prints (see the next tip), and remember that the eye is drawn to the lightest thing in the photo, as well.
3. Watch the busy-ness of the background.
While it's OK to have an interesting setting, too much in the background draws attention from the star of the show--you! Aim for basic color contrast rather than saturation, and keep objects in the frame simple.
4. Include more than just your face.
Research from PhotoFeeler looked at 800 profile photos to see what made people appear competent, likeable and influential. They found that close-up (face only) shots decreased likeability scores. Meanwhile, full body shots negatively influenced competence and influence. The happy medium is a bust (head and shoulders) or torso (head to waist shot). For the former, some experts have gotten very specific and recommend that your head take up 60 percent of the shot. For the latter, try to create a natural balance of line and curve, such as putting your hand on your waist, and don't cross your arms, as this conveys that you're closed off.
5. Relax your eyes.
You know that phrase, like a deer in headlights? Well, wide, open eyes in your linked in photo remind people of that, giving the impression that you're scared or unprepared. To seem attentive, confident and approachable instead of afraid and tense, try a squinch. This is just an ever-so-slight, natural-looking closing of the eyes.
6. Keep your chin up.
The neck is an incredibly vulnerable area, so when you show it in a natural way, it conveys self-assurance and invites others to you. Keeping your chin up also ensures that your gaze doesn't look heavy or tired.
7. Turn slightly.
Facing the camera straight on can make you seem boxy and bulky, which isn't warm. Turn about of the way toward the camera maintains eliminates this problem without losing the benefit of an open posture.
8. Show your teeth.
It's a given that a smile looks friendlier to others, but in everyday life, when we really enjoy something and are happy, we use open-mouth smiles. The subtle effects on the face from this, such as lines around the corners of the eyes, are noticeable and convey your genuineness to others. Some people purposely keep their mouths shut in pictures because they're self-conscious about their teeth, but don't worry about this. Photo editing software easily can fix minor imperfections. My personal trick to get a good grin and overcome the formality of a portrait session? Just think of a few favorite, hilarious memories as the photographer works, rather than relying on their "say cheese" cue. Since your memories and pleasure you get from them aren't fake, the smile won't look fake, either.