Admit it. Even you get a bad feeling when you look at your LinkedIn profile. Imagine what job hunters, potential business partners and investors see. Is your profile picture letting you down? Is your background image ho-hum? It’s time to take the bull by the horns and upgrade your graphics.

You and Your Profile Picture

Profiles with pictures are 14 times more likely to be viewed than those with the little generic square. You have to have one. But, you can’t use any old picture. There are good profile pictures, like Fergus Cleaver‘s and bad, such as Joe Burridge’s first profile picture. Quality counts.

It’s a Tricky Situation

New York University researchers conducted a study about what makes a LinkedIn profile picture effective. The “trick” to getting more views is to look happy – but not too happy. In other words, if you look like you’re having a great time, you’re way too happy. On the other hand, if you’re too serious, people won’t respond. What’s the answer?

The best impressions were of people who smiled slightly, looked positive, had a confident expression and upturned eyebrows and lips. You may have to practice to get that “a little happy” look.

Selfie or No?

Most experts argue you can’t get great profile pictures from your smartphone. Selfies, they say, just can’t cut it. It might take some work, but you can take a great profile picture with your phone.

Follow these tips to see what you come up with:

  • Use a recent smartphone: Smartphone camera quality has vastly improved in recent years. If you have an older phone, it’s best to have a professional photo taken by hiring a headshot photographer or use a DSLR camera instead.
  • Take care with the background: Light colored walls without clutter are your best background bet. The focus should be on your face, not what’s on the wall behind. Also be wary of photobombers who may try to steal the show. Like your cat.
  • Make use of natural light: Stay away from flashes and direct sun, which can cause unflattering shadows.
  • Look up: Look up at the camera, not down. Up is more flattering angle.
  • Include your head and shoulders: Head and shoulder shots make the best profile pictures. Avoid full body shots.
  • Dress appropriately: Dress in a way that doesn’t distract. Color is great, but avoid loud patterns and clashing colors. Unless you’re a clown.
  • Don’t goof off: Sure, you don’t want to look like the rest of the crowd, but guess what? You’ll never look like the rest of the crowd. You’re already unique and different. You also have to look professional. Don’t pout, smirk, purse your lips, look surprised or otherwise goofy. Unless you’re a clown.

If you can’t get the right profile picture from your phone, see a pro. It’s that important.

About Your Background Picture…

Although your profile picture gets most of the attention, your background picture is, if not as important, important enough to do some tweaking. The best background graphics reflect who you are and what you do. Background images are the ideal place to add branding elements.

Keep in mind that your background graphic should complement your profile, not overwhelm it. Also keep in mind that some of your background image will be covered with your profile and only so much of it will appear on mobile devices. Experiment using the “View Profile As” option as you work with your chosen background image and view your profile in a variety of devices.

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Billy Goodwin A.K.A Skaidon (my gamertag). As you can probably tell I love gaming. You will more often than not catch me with my headset on yelling online. I also love blogging, especially about the tech industry, hence the birth of the blog ' Skaidon'. Feel free to get in touch with me anytime or if you fancy a challenge add me online using 'Skaidon'.