First Impressions in the Internet Age

On any given day we meet many different people and, like it or not, we all make judgements of these people within seconds of meeting them. Each morning, when I get dressed and ready for my day, I look at myself in the mirror and ask myself what kind of image I wish to project. As a lawyer, if I am meeting clients, I would never saunter into the meeting room in my pyjamas, with messy hair wearing flip flops. Regardless of how good I may be at my job, the first impression will not be that of a competent professional. I would certainly lose those clients.

So why in today’s Internet Age, where many professional connections are made online, via sites such as LinkedIn, do so many people saunter into the virtual meeting room wearing their pyjamas, with messy hair and flip flops?

Russian Blue Cat
Don’t post a picture of your pet as your profile picture!

It goes something like this. You have sent me a message on LinkedIn and would like to connect. You have taken the time and effort to build a virtual resume listing your experience, education and interests, however, the icing on the professional profile cake is the profile picture – and this is where so many profiles go horribly wrong.

Below is a small list of tips that I have compiled that may help you avoid being rejected by prospective connections and allow you to get connected with more professionals:

  • Don’t post a picture of your cat (or other pet) as your profile picture. I know for a fact that I never attended a conference with your cat, chaired a panel with your cat or negotiated an agreement with your cat. While Fluffy looks healthy and well fed, her image does not show me what you look like.  If I don’t know you, or have met you briefly somewhere, a current picture allows me to see who I am dealing with. I get many LinkedIn requests, and if I don’t know who you are, I will not accept your request. Period. Remember, LinkedIn is a professional network, if you want to post photos of Fluffy, save it for Facebook.
  • For the love of G-D don’t post pictures in ripped pants or shirts, T-shirts with slogans, food stained clothing, etc. You might as well not post a picture at all in that case – you will be much better off.
  • LinkedIn is not LavaLife, Match, or EHarmony. As nice as you may look in your tuxedo or floor length ball gown, and unless (a) your profession is to model such attire, or (b) you are a billionaire philanthropist who attends black tie galas de rigeur, do not post photos of yourself wearing such items as your LinkedIn profilephoto. Doing so looks pretentious and leads me to believe that you are trying too hard to impress. Nothing beats a nice close up profile shot of your face.
  • Unless you are a travel agent, own a swimsuit shop or are a Victoria’s Secret model, do not post vacation pictures of yourself in a bathing suit, or any pictures of yourself in bathing attire (or lingerie for that matter). Period.
  • That selfie you took at the Aquarium with your three kids and the big white shark in
    blink_if_you_want_me_tshirt
    Not a good idea!

    the background –cool and scary – but not the most appropriate photo for a LinkedIn profile.

  • That Ghostbusters Halloween costume that you wore last year… fantastic and so realistic… you look just like Dan Ackroyd! Don’t post it. Unless of course Ghostbusting is your profession, in which case, please go ahead.

The examples of LinkedIn profile photo faux pas are limitless, however, your chance at a first impression is not.

Present yourself as the best you that you can be. If you choose to post a picture, post a clear, professional looking picture. Your career will thank you.

-The Girl with the Red Briefcase

The Girl With the Red Briefcase is a seasoned lawyer having spent many years as corporate counsel to organizations both large and small. She was raised in Montreal and now lives in Toronto. 

 

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