In the course of my coaching and training work, I am often giving people feedback on how they show up, not just their attitude and level of preparation, but fundamentally how they look. It’s not always a comfortable conversation but if someone’s appearance is holding them back from success, they need to know about it.

So this is an open feedback session to all of you whose photos I have seen on LinkedIn and thought: really?

People look at your photo in the first few seconds of receiving your request to connect.  If they recognize your name, want to make inroads to your company or know someone you work with, they will spend a few more minutes assessing the potential benefits of linking with you.  However, if all they see is your name, an unrecognized company or association, and a ridiculous photo, they will shut you down. Even worse, they may forward your photo to others, with an unflattering emoticon attached.

Scuff your shoes in the dirt if you are guilty of one of these:

  • a group shot, taken at a party that involved some measure of alcohol, with your face not-so-cleverly edited or highlighted. We can see the other people’s shoulders for goodness sake! We can see your cousin’s wineglass over your shoulder!
  • a vacation snap with some significant world landmark in the background and you, sunburned and sweaty, in the foreground. This is a business linking platform, not a place for you to flag how much time off you expect to take if I work with you!
  • selfies. Enough said.
  • a head and shoulders shot of you wearing, inexplicably, nothing.  Oh, I’m sure you had a strapless something on, or a pair of shorts (see vacation snaps above) but the version we see implies you are completely naked, hoping to make business associations happen.
  • wearing a hat. No.
  • wearing a silly hat. Still no.
  • shot taken from above, with you looking up into the camera like a whipped puppy.

If any of these sound like your profile shot, please go immediately to your settings and fix it.  I’ll be standing by to hear about other categories of unforgivable photos in business applications.