Thanks to those who joined the webinar I presented to The University of Chicago Alumni Association webinar. Here are the slides and replay, if you missed it or would like to review parts or all of the presentation.
If you are seeking out Board positions, straddling between multiple audiences or currently unemployed, check out the Q&A at the end of the webinar.
Anne MarieSegal, executive coach and Nationally Certified Online Profile Expert, will guide the workshop and webinars with content-rich handouts and real-time advice. Her clients are executives, attorneys and board candidates,and she has written and reviewed hundreds of LinkedIn profiles.
Is LinkedIn a platform that you want to make work for you, but you haven’t had time to figure out how to do that?
Do you struggle to write your LinkedIn profile?
Are you worried that you may be missing opportunities because you are not more active on LinkedIn?
Do you want to know how recruiters use LinkedIn’s powerful search features, powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning?
If you want to get up to speed quickly on a range of topics related to LinkedIn, I am presenting a one-hour webinar this Thursday, March 14, 2019, for The University of Chicago’s Alumni Association.
It’s called LinkedIn for Job Search, Networking and Career Building, and it’s free for UChicago alumni and invited guests (including you!) with the link.
Thursday, March 14, 2019 12:00 pm CST
LinkedIn is simply the most powerful online tool for job search and career building today, and it keeps evolving. In this webinar, executive coach and writer Anne Marie Segal discusses how to build your credibility and opportunities on LinkedIn, including profile writing styles, job search tools and tactics, networking strategies, thought leadership and profile optimization in the age of artificial intelligence.
This hands-on presentation includes content-rich slides and handouts to illustrate advanced functionality and help you leverage the LinkedIn platform to move your career forward.
What makes a “good” photo is subjective and somewhat elusive, right?
When you are talking about art photography, yes. What appeals to one person may not make any impression on another. In the case of LinkedIn profile pictures, however, there are some basic principles that apply. I have addressed some of these in my earlier articles here and here, and in response many readers have asked me to post what I would consider “good” LinkedIn profile shots. So here are some great shots of four different men (credit: Adobe Images, not real profiles).
Remember that the tone of your LinkedIn profile photo should match the brand that you wish to portray. If you want to project that you have executive presence, your LinkedIn profile photo should communicate that (see images 1 and 2 below). If you tend toward the creative in your work – regardless of your field, from visual, theater or culinary arts to science, technology or even (in some cases) finance – a more creative photo may be appropriate (see image 3 below). If you are a professional but more about substance than form and rarely wear a suit, you may wish to skip the suit in your profile picture (see image 4 below). In all, your LinkedIn photo and profile generally should be a calling card for who you are if someone were to meet you in “real life” (in a business context, of course).
Remember that your LinkedIn profile picture will likely not be the same size as the original image, so pay attention to the background and finer details with an eye for the ultimate image as it will look when cropped to size. In image 3 above, the peeling paint (and tousled hair) add to the creative look of this shot, but otherwise the above backgrounds are interchangeable and not tied to the image each is hoping to portray. Some people like to have a background with more “visual information” while others prefer a clean, neutral look. Note that neither of the original shots for the first two images were centered, and in the second one the background could have been distracting in the original composition but it nonetheless works for LinkedIn.
One last note, as I see this far too often on LinkedIn (and almost as much as a shot of someone with another person cropped out – don’t do that!). Make sure that when you take an image or have one taken of you, that the camera is or zooms in close enough to the subject so that the image does not look blurry or pixilated when cropped. Below is an extreme example, but I see this often with clients who have a spouse or friend take a picture and then send it to me for review. If you are out of focus, you will not project the confidence and presence that you wish to convey.
This last image has another issue, of course, which is that it was cropped very close and has a very light background, so the person looks more like a talking head than a professional candidate.
If you would like to compare the do’s and don’ts of LinkedIn profile pictures, you can also visit my prior articles on LinkedIn photos here and here.
At least once a week, I am asked to comment on a LinkedIn profile picture. As an executive coach with a prior background in art (in addition to law), I base my opinion not only on good taste but also on the principals of photography and design.
I mentioned in my last post that I wanted to give my readers an opportunity to view and contemplate some LinkedIn-sized and styled pictures before giving my recommendations and highlighting insights that each one can teach us about our own profile shots. In this post, I have included many of those prior images and more.
There are some of the obvious points, such as good focus and high enough resolution, that we can all see (if we are paying attention). But what else could we do to make our images even better?
If you clicked on a LinkedIn profile for this person with the image below – full disclosure: all of these are samples from Adobe Images, not from real profiles – would you be inclined to connect with him or her?
I give some feedback below that can help you understand how to look at images more objectively and improve your own profile picture on LinkedIn.
Some people like to have “action shots” that show them in leadership roles. To that extent, the image above works. However, pointing off to the side of the image takes the viewer’s eye in that direction as well, and away from one’s image and profile generally. It also makes this person look closed off rather than approachable. Further, the words in the background are distracting and do not add any credibility (compare, for example, someone on the Tedx stage). That said, an action shot that is professional and well-done can sometimes work well.
A lot of things are done well in this picture. It is generally well-cropped – it could be a bit tighter at the top – and the person is dressed professionally. However, she does not look happy in this shot, and the lighting on her hair and background is distracting. This is the most common type of picture that I see, i.e., one that makes the person look “good enough” to be happy with the picture but nonetheless does not show him/her in the best light (literally and figuratively). Some people don’t like to show their teeth, but you can smile more with the eyes in that case.
The above picture has the same issue with the distracting lighting in the background, although the lighting on the individual is better. This woman has chosen to have her hand in the picture, which sets it off as a more individualized shot and may be appropriate for certain fields where someone is asked to connect with people emotionally. For example, a therapist or a fiction writer may benefit from an image like this. By contrast, a litigator who needs to show an ability to meet challenging situations head on would not want to have an image that is too “approachable” or “soft.”
Some people like to highlight their hobbies in LinkedIn profile pictures. Here’s my response. First of all, if you crop too closely (first image of two), you lose the entire point of the picture, and the various design elements end up looking distracting. This is the same point I would make to those who put up a photo with another individual cropped out of it (such as a shot at a wedding, with a spouse or significant poking into the side or corners of the image). The resulting image is similarly distracting and does not communicate that you are a serious, focused candidate.
In general, being too dressed down or too dressed up (think tuxedo for men, for example) may also give the impression that you are not willing to adapt yourself to a work environment but instead have your own agenda which will always or often trump the employer’s. So only if (1) one has an independent source of income, and LinkedIn is not a significant source of career or business leads or (2) these details are actually related to one’s career or business (e.g., if the man above were involved in marine work), would such a LinkedIn profile picture make sense. This is where the “LinkedIn is not Facebook” distinction comes into play. LinkedIn is about work, not pleasure, so wear your work face (presentation, wardrobe, etc.)
I should add that if you look closely at the man’s face, the top half of his face is in shadow and the bottom half is in sun. Once you notice this element of the photograph – as some of your LinkedIn viewers will do – the uneven lighting is quite distracting and casts a soft shadow (pun intended) on your attention to detail. In this image, it is not as pronounced as in other photographs I have seen.
There is a lot I like about the shot above. It is clean, interesting and engaging. But don’t miss little details. The red nail polish, that is, has got to go. It is out of character and distracting, and it shows a lack of attention to detail.
This is a good shot in many ways, although the person is not looking into the camera, and the cropping is quite close. In an artistic field (for example), this may be appropriate, but not in a corporate setting.
When I look at the above shot, I can’t help but wonder if the individual dresses like this all the time and if it conveys his “true self.” Not all of us need to be in suits, and some people prefer LinkedIn to express how they will show up every day. If that is your personal brand, then this sort of image may work.
In this shot, the person’s shoulders are off-kilter, which is distracting and could subtly take away from her credibility. The background is also overwhelming – especially the lights – as is the lipstick. If this person were my client, I would suggest she try again with a new shot.
For this last one, I would say watch the sleeveless look as well as the posture and “pout.” Again, LinkedIn isn’t Facebook. Would you wear it for a meeting with the CEO? If not, it’s not the right look.
As an executive coach and writer, I help people tell their own professional stories and present themselves in the best light.
Among other ways of interacting nowadays, social media is one of the key places we tell our stories. In the professional context, for many of us, a hub of such interactions is LinkedIn, and a personal photo serves as the centerpiece of any well-crafted LinkedIn profile.
Yet many of us give surprisingly little thought to our photos beyond whether they make us “look good.” Hair OK? Check. Don’t look old or fat? Check. What little thought goes into the analysis – as I often find with friends or clients who ask me to review their photos – is not about expressing a personal brand but rather simply not embarrassing ourselves.
I speak from the heart on this one. Before attending law school (and completing a 15-year career as an attorney that led to executive coaching), I was an art and photography major, and I worked in several art-related settings, putting up “new masters” on the walls of museums, galleries and other locations. The idea of using your profile picture (or any other image) as a means of communication is in my blood.
I want to impart that knowledge to you, and I would like to do it in stages. Knowing that the best way to teach is to show, rather than start with my analysis of the images in this post, I will let them sit with you for a while. Draw your own conclusions, and feel free to post in the comments about what stories you believe these images tell and whether they appeal to you. Here are some ideas to get you started.
What impression do you have of the person in each of Images 1, 2 and 3?
Would you want to connect with him or her on a professional or personal level?
Does the cropping of the image change how the story is told?
If you saw this image, as a viewer, what recommendations would you make to improve it?
I will check back in next week with more thoughts. Thanks!
We have all heard about the measures large corporations take to protect their data. What about yours? For example, what would happen if tomorrow, for any reason, you no longer had access to your data on LinkedIn? What would you lose?
You have spent a long time perfecting your LinkedIn profile and building your online network, and you expect (but cannot guarantee) that you will always have access to it). Here are some key steps to mitigating an interruption to access or loss of your profile, contacts and other critical information on LinkedIn. A longer version of the article below was published as “Are You the Boss of Your LinkedIn Account? How to Own Your Data.”
If you have been following the news about LinkedIn’s acquisition by Microsoft and changes that may be afoot, you may be wondering if there’s anything you can do to make sure that your data is protected, especially during any time that you may not have full or the same access to your profile if parts of the system are revamped, etc.
For most users (including my clients), here are some basic steps that are advisable:
1) Print your profile.
2) Request a profile data dump.
3) Export your LinkedIn connections.
4) Update your email address.
5) Print others’ profiles, especially if critical to access on a timely basis.
For details on how to take these steps and why they are important, please visit the original post on LinkedIn Pulse.
Anne Marie Segal is a coach, strategist and writer who guides attorneys, executives and entrepreneurs to and through career change, growth, advancement and satisfaction. In 2015, she founded Segal Coaching, serving local, national and international clients out of Stamford, Connecticut.
Prior to executive coaching, Anne Marie was a practicing attorney for 15 years with White & Case LLP, Wexford Capital LP and other firms. She has recently published a comprehensive workbook and reference guide on job interviews, Master the Interview: A Guide for Working Professionals.
LinkedIn® is a lightening rod, charging up diverse opinions about the best way to approach it. At one end of the spectrum, you hear that being on LinkedIn is a waste of time or, worse yet, only for those who wish to commoditize themselves. For many others, LinkedIn is the best thing to happen to online networking, a free space to invite the world to hire you, connect with you, buy from you, etc.
I will not say that the truth lies somewhere in between, as I don’t think LinkedIn (like anything else) lends itself well to one-size-fits-all. Rather, when I teach groups or individuals about LinkedIn, I suggest you start with the end in mind: what do you want LinkedIn to do for you? Once you know your target, you can devise the best strategy to get there.
Here are nine basic LinkedIn strategies. Which one works best for you?
1) No Profile. The No Profile approach is favored by a range of individuals, from those who wish to signal they are too elite for LinkedIn to those who conduct business exclusively offline, whether by choice or association. If your professional strategy is to maintain a low online profile and let your reputation and in-person dealings speak for themselves, then LinkedIn may fail the cost-benefit analysis. If this strategy appeals well to your target audience (be it family offices or firemen) and doesn’t lead to a number of missed opportunities, then it is probably the best choice for you.
2) Stealth. Those who have a Stealth profile want to be able to search for others without revealing anything (or very little) about themselves. They are similar to the No Profilers, except that they want access to LinkedIn’s goods without making an offer in return. Like the No Profilers, the Stealth strategy is helpful if you believe that you have nothing to gain, and only something to lose, by putting your talents “out there” into the marketplace so that someone may discover you. Note that the Stealth Profile is often similar to the Just Getting Started Profile, which is not a strategy at all, just someone who has not bothered to understand or master LinkedIn. (Also note: beware Stealth connectors, who may be looking to hack into your network.)
3) Minimalist. A Minimalist profile, if done intentionally, also conveys that someone has “better things to do with their time” than be on LinkedIn. In some cases, this strategy is effective. However, like the profiles above, it probably will not generate interest (or new opportunities) among LinkedIn’s reported 100 million users. That said, having a Minimalist profile does allow you the benefits of building a network among your close connections. It also may be useful to have a minimal presence if your company actively restricts what you can post or obviously frowns on LinkedIn, as it does allow people to search specifically for your profile and find you (if they know what they are looking for). For those in finance or information technology, for example, a Minimalist approach is sometimes the only way to enjoy some of the benefits of the LinkedIn service without risking account or policy breaches.
4) Basic Professional. The straight-shooting Basic Professional LinkedIn profile includes a bit more information than the Minimalist profile, such as a professional picture, descriptions for some or all jobs, and possibly a summary. It may also include some keywords (i.e., important nouns that can match up to online searches by hiring managers and recruiters), and it has enough information to actually allow the reader/viewer to understand who you are and what you do professionally. It often does not give personal details (that could create a connection), and generally there is little or no creativity in the text or enhancement beyond completing the basic profile fields. Often, it is written in the third person.
The Basic Professional profile is most effective if your strategy is to use LinkedIn for “verification” purposes – giving the reader/viewer comfort that your profile matches the information they already have about you – rather than to generate leads through LinkedIn. It will not be sufficient to propel you to the top of LinkedIn search results (when someone is searching for an individual with your background and talents), so if that is your end game, you should consider a more robust strategy. That said, for certain individuals who want to maintain some distance with the public, as a matter of personal branding or due to the nature of their work, a Basic Professional profile may strike the right balance.
5) Inviting. The strategically Inviting profile can be a variation of the Basic Professional, or it may be more creative and “loose” in its presentation. Inviting profiles often incorporate keywords but are also geared toward making a connection. To that end, an Inviting profile, which is often written in first person, is written with a “human voice” to be appealing and develop a bond or kinship with the viewer/reader. Most job seekers and entrepreneurs benefit from Inviting profiles, especially if they are Active (see below), and thought leaders use them to their advantage as well.
Inviting profiles are in some ways what LinkedIn is all about. They say more than a résumé format ever could, and they encourage people to connect with you because they highlight your talents, accomplishments, interests and goals as an individual. In addition, they can facilitate an interview or other professional conversation (whether for networking, business-generation or employment), because you have already made a good first impression and answered some of the basic questions, including your value proposition, with your Inviting profile.
6) Highly Creative. A Highly Creative profile is similar to an Inviting profile, although rather than putting down a welcome mat for all, it goes all purple shag carpet to say, “Look, I’m different. I am on LinkedIn, but my way.” This strategy works best if you are the one to call when someone is looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack (rewritten, of course, without the cliché.) Like the earlier profiles on this list, the Highly Creative profile generally works best when your reputation precedes you, although the link can be included in marketing materials and”worked” that way, and keywords can be gently massaged into the message to increase the likelihood your profile is found by the right audience. Needless to say, this profile works best for those who are solidly ensconced in a creative field, where innovation is prized. It does not go over so well in banking.
7) Active. I include Active as a separate profile strategy, although it often piggybacks on one of the strategies above. An Active LinkedIn profile is one that includes all of the basic elements of LinkedIn (picture, summary, recommendations, keywords, skills, etc.), which are points that LinkedIn’s algorithm uses to “score” how high up you appear in any given search results. In addition, LinkedIn rewards its users (again, as far as search visibility) for being active within LinkedIn, such as participating in groups, sharing, posting and interacting with others’ posts.
A note about Active profiles: It is often hard to start up an Active profile without triggering a concern that you may suddenly be in the midst of a job search. Being at least minimally active on LinkedIn before you need it is part of the Active strategy.
8) Transition. A very light touch is needed for a Transition profile. The trick is to continue to appeal to one’s current audience without tipping your hand about a possible change, while adding enough keywords and information to your profile to hook and appear credible to your new audience as well.
A subset of the Transition profile is an analogous strategy that is often overlooked. Another goal of a Transition profile may be to use LinkedIn not to find a job at a new company but to highlight your talents within your current company – i.e., get promoted or make a lateral move – so that CEOs and others with whom you are connected can see not only what you offer to your current position but also what you will bring to the company in the new role. In many ways, LinkedIn is the perfect platform to reinforce your goal to have your talents recognized, because it is unlikely (unless asked) that you will be sticking your résumé under the nose of senior management. To be effective in this strategy, you need to highlight aptitude rather than simply focusing on what you have done.
9) Straddler. Like Career Changers, Straddlers target more than one audience, but a Straddler has one role he/she wishes to keep and another one to add. For example, a lawyer may also be a budding fiction writer or aspiring corporate board member, wishing to highlight both sets of talents and appeal to both networks. Rather than creating entirely separate profiles – which can be time-consuming and confusing – a Straddle profile is created by weighing the relative merits and costs of each element added to maximize the benefits of a combined profile while minimizing the risks that any key target audience might not find this approach appealing or effective. A Straddler must very carefully evaluate whether the “second part” of a profile enhances the Straddlers credibility for his/her main target roles or detracts from it. Each audience will respond to different aspects of your profile, and the trick is to highlight the relevant parts without appearing disjointed.
Unless you want to approach LinkedIn haphazardly, each of the above types of profiles represents a choice of how you wish to present yourself and what return you are seeking from LinkedIn. Whatever strategy you choose from the above, it behooves you to approach LinkedIn with your goal in your sights rather than simply writing about yourself and posting it to the world. As with anything in life, if you know your target, you are more likely to hit your target.