Tom Sweeney

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Archive for October 9th, 2012

LinkedIn Profile Photo? 5 Things NOT To Do

Posted by sweens on October 9, 2012 

If you’re reading this article, the chances are you will already be on LinkedIn. Today’s tip sheet post is about a key part of the profile that all us have spent either too much or too little time thinking about – the Profile Picture. This post is about why you need to have one, and 5 basic rules on what not to do once you’ve decided to put it up. Let’s get started.

You need a profile picture

In today’s socialised and connected world, anonymity is in full retreat.
While we all care about personal privacy, it’s incongruous to opt in on
being on social networks, and yet be there not showing your face.
Humanising your account through a profile picture is the first step in
an exchange of information that you tacitly agree to by being on the
platform in the first place. And it communicates a great deal – by
simply having a profile picture, it’s telling the reader that you
actually use the platform, that you not a spammer with zombie account
and that you are serious about networking with others. You don’t need a
Hollywood smile, Terry Venables perma tan or a Donald Trump hair weave –
you just basically need to be you.

Now here are 5 things to avoid when selecting your photo.


1. A Non Human Avatar

This is not War of Warcraft. Putting a comedy/fantasy/sci-fi avatar on a professional network like LinkedIn is telling the world that you value your imaginary life more
than your professional life – its not the kind of image that will
encourage employers or recruiters to give you a call. It’s the digital
equivalent of turning up to an interview with a Bart Simpson tie on –
your attempt at comedic differentiation will succeed only too well, but
in a way you did not intend and with consequences that will not be in
your interest.


2. The Body Shot

The dimensions for the average profile picture is approx 150 x 150. In other words, they are thumbnails, designed to display a human face, not your Olympian physique. I’m sure
you look great in the ball gown or in that muscle Tee you like wearing,
but that’s not the point of this photo. It’s about your face. If you
must, I think it’s OK to have head & shoulders but any more torso
and you will reduce the resolution on your face making you difficult to
identify, whilst also raising questions as to you are selecting a shot
of your body when everyone else is going with the head shot.


3. Special Effects

You can do wonderful things with image editing software; emboss your face, X-ray your outline, put everything into sepia or reverse it all into film negative. Do none of these things
on your profile shot. It may look great – if you are in art school –
but there is a time and a place and this isn’t it. Remember the primary
reason why the photo is there in the first place – to humanise your
profile. The viewer needs to be comfortable that you are a real person,
that you use the system and that you pass the freak test. Embossing your
face in gold will probably not help you achieve any of these


4. The Over Pose

I think I’ve just invented a term. Think David Brent and you’ll know what I’m reaching for here. Profile photo’s on LinkedIn should communicate personable plus professional – wearing a
white collar and smiling at camera is all you need to do. Anything more,
any attempt to add ‘character’ or gravitas and you will be entering
dangerous territory.


5. Change It All The Time

If LinkedIn is a online shop window for your skills, it will do you no favours to be switching your image around every day. The more you use LinkedIn, the more people will identify
with your image and too much change might well have damaging effects on
the nascent online relationships that you have been developing. Clearly,
there is an ethical imperative for currency – it won’t do to have a
picture that is no longer looks like you in real life, but if you’ve got
an accurate, up-to-date shot, stick with it.

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13 things that really annoy people on LinkedIn

Posted by sweens on October 9, 2012 

Great post, written by Firebrand Marketing Director Carolyn Hyams,

Almost everyone I’m in contact with through business is on LinkedIn these days (and if you’re not, you should be). It’s a brilliant, professional, online business networking site and a place where you’re expected to promote yourself through your own profile and other areas of the site. Having said that, I consistently hear people moaning about a number of things that their connections do that really annoys them.

Since my post on 18 things you should not do on Twitter was so well received, I thought I’d share my candid thoughts on what you should avoid on LinkedIn.

  1. Don’t lie — you will be found out. And it will be embarrassing. After all, look what happened to former Yahoo CEO, Scott Thompson.
  2. Don’t send an invitation to connect stating that you’re a “friend” if you don’t know the person. People hate it and won’t accept.
  3. Don’t be lazy when sending invitations to connect. I get really irritated when people can’t be bothered to write a customised message to me when asking to connect. It makes me think they’re just trying to connect to as many people as possible, rather than looking to nurture a professional relationship. Unfortunately, on some LinkedIn pages like on “People you may know” (and on an iPad and smartphone), LinkedIn sends invitations to connect, without giving people the opportunity to customise their message and without warning. Cringe! LinkedIn should fix this.
  4. Don’t forget to read a person’s profile before sending them a personal message to connect. Don’t send the same message to everyone. True story: I received an invite to connect with a message asking to meet me for a coffee to explore a potential partnership. When I wrote back saying “What do you mean by potential partnership?”, the person wrote back, apologising and admitted that they didn’t read my profile properly. I guess no coffee then?
  5. Don’t use a logo as your profile image. No exceptions. LinkedIn is a professional networking site — people to people, not people to logos. There is a different place on LinkedIn to add your company logo, overview etc. called Company Pages. Here’s an example of Firebrand’s company page.
  6. Don’t use anything other than your full name on your profile. There’s an option to use your first name only with an initial for your family name, but why would you do that? It looks suspicious. I’ve seen spammers do this often. And whilst I’m on this subject, don’t change your privacy settings to “anonymous” when you’re looking at other people’s profile. It makes them feel like someone is stalking them.
  7. Don’t boast too much. Although LinkedIn was primarily built as a business networking tool, no-one likes to see you constantly talking about yourself or your company. Every now and then is okay. Like other “social” sites, sharing interesting information you’ve found is appreciated – even if you didn’t originally find it or write it yourself. And don’t forget to credit your source.
  8. Don’t overdo your status updates. Your status updates appear in the newsfeed of all your connections, so if you are constantly adding status updates through the day, it’s going to annoy those who are regularly on LinkedIn. My personal recommendation would be a maximum of 3 per day – spaced out over time. Try using the Buffer App to schedule your updates if necessary.
  9. Don’t add ALL your tweets to your LinkedIn status update. If you share all your tweets on LinkedIn during the day, we get back to my point about over-sharing updates and it will irritate your connections. Secondly, many tweets will contain @Twitter handles, hashtags etc — This might irritate people. Having said that, LinkedIn actually picks up ‘@’ handles and links them to Twitter profiles and hashtags convert to LinkedIn searches which can be quite handy. However my advice would be to make an effort to customise what you’d like to say on LinkedIn to encourage engagement and sharing.
  10. Don’t post links or your updates to every single group you belong to. Think about what you are posting and decide which groups would be interested in what you have to say or joining in a discussion. Warning — many groups don’t like members posting links to other blogs/websites. It comes across as a promotion masquerading as discussion. Some prefer pure discussions/questions. Have a read of the group rules to make sure what you are posting is appropriate.
  11. Don’t forget to check your spelling and grammar. Think of Twitter as a “cocktail party” and LinkedIn as a business conference and customise your messaging accordingly. On LinkedIn, you are expected to use good grammar and not make spelling mistakes. And certainly, using “u” “r” or “gr8” doesn’t cut it. You can get away with this a little on Twitter because of the character limit, but trust me, you will be “professionally” judged on LinkedIn.
  12. Don’t believe all LinkedIn recommendations. Seriously, at the best of times, LinkedIn recommendations are dodgy. To quote Firebrand CEO, Greg Savage in a post he wrote on LinkedIn “How can we possibly take LinkedIn recommendations seriously when they are mostly solicited, reciprocal, and worst of all – self-published! If you don’t like what they say, even in nuance, you don’t approve it.” Most recommendations tend to be a “LinkedIn tit for tat recommendation love-in” — simply reciprocal requests. If you’re doing a reference check on someone, don’t go by their LinkedIn recommendations, call up their referees instead and ask all the right questions.
  13. Don’t add a connection’s email address to your email database without asking permission. Just because they agree to connect with you, it doesn’t mean they want to receive your email marketing. They will report you and your company as a spammer. Likewise, don’t treat LinkedIn as an email database and email your connections every bit of news you can think of. They will remove you as a connection.

Have I missed anything? Please share your LinkedIn “pet hates” as comments to this post.

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