We have lost count of how many LinkedIn profile photos we have captured for London clients over the years. Our usual approach to each headshot commission is to capture a batch of portraits with a serious expression and then another batch with plenty of smiling. This gives the client the choice to use either on their LinkedIn profile. We were asked the other day if you should smile in your profile photo. After thinking about this we are not sure and would always suggest that it is down to your personal choice and what best fits with your character and profession.
This got us thinking and we decided to do some research. Having found a video about how to make a great LinkedIn profile and it revealed some interesting points about whether you should smile in your LinkedIn profile photo. In the video by Lieven Buyse a communication trainer, he tells you about a service called photofeeler.com. This allows you to upload your LinkedIn profile photo and a group of people rank the headshot on three criteria. Likeability, influence and competence. He uploaded his current LinkedIn profile photo which he is not smiling and it ranked 88% competent 88% influential and 47% likeable. He then uploaded a headshot where he was smiling as he wanted to improve the likeable score. This ranked 60% likeable but the competent score dropped to 76% and the influential score dropped to 70%. He decided to use the profile photo where he was not smiling on his LinkedIn profile as he decided being competent and influential was more important in business than being likeable.
We found this really interesting for future advice to clients that potentially a smiling profile photo could actually produce a negative response to your LinkedIn profile. As mentioned earlier you have to use the right expression for your business sector. For example, if you work in legal or financial sectors you might want to appear approachable but think about what potential clients want from you. They might be trusting you with legal matters or after financial advice so it is critical that you appear competent and professional in your LinkedIn profile photo.