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Why You Need To Look Like Your Profile Picture

This sounds like a no brainer right?  Well…

The days of hiding behind pictures is over. People are attending Tweet-ups, Google+ Hangouts in Real Life, making videos, participating in Skype Interviews and Google+ Hangouts On Air.


When I host a meeting, attend a conference or plan to meet someone in person that I have only known on the internet, I look at their profile picture and that is the person I am looking for. At least once every time I am meeting a group of new people, someone has to introduce themselves because they look NOTHING LIKE THEIR PROFILE PICTURE.  This creates an awkward situation for the person that did not recognize you.

Let’s talk about how this can effect your brand. Do you trust a company that pulls a bait and switch on you? A cleaner that touts amazing cleaning strength and ends up being a dud. Designer clothes that fall apart after one wash? Food companies that quietly change the size of a product without announcing it?  You are sending the same message to a potential client by making this simple mistake. Your credibility takes a hit the soon as people see what you have done.

Lets have a heart to heart. Not everyone is delighted by the way they look. That is okay! Work with what you have. If you do not like it, do something to change it. I am 40 pounds heavier than I was in my 20′s. Am I happy with the way I look right now? Nope. Do I look exactly like my profile picture? Yup.  Do you know what is worse than having a profile picture that looks like you on the internet? People realizing that you look nothing like your picture because you are indeed balder, heavier, or whatever the reason may be. In my opinion, you end up looking worse than if you had just presented yourself as is.

Nikol Murphy talks about the importance of keeping your profile picture current.

How To Know When You Need  A New Profile Picture:

  • You no longer wear glasses.
  • You started wearing glasses.
  • You have changed your hairstyle
  • You have changed your hair color
  • You have lost most of your hair
  • You have lost a bunch of weight
  • (You know it’s coming…)
  • You have gained a bunch of weight

If you do not change your appearance very often, go with the one year rule. Every year you should take a new profile picture. Believe it or not, you do look different to the people only viewing your photo. This does not have to be expensive or time consuming!

Affordable Profile PIcture Options:

  • Many professional organizations will offer a headshot evening offering a professional photographer at a discounted rate.
  • Many photography buffs will bring their cameras with them to conferences. If you ask them for a quick headshot in exchange for a link, they will usually be delighted to help out.
  • Ask a friend or spouse  to use their cell phone. My cell phone has better resolution than my first DLSR did!

What To Wear:

  • I always suggest a classic look.
  • If you would like to wear something super cute and current, go for it! Just understand that you will need to update your picture more often.
  • Remember that you will most likely crop this photo to various sizes.
  • Make sure that you are not wearing clothing that would end up getting cropped out of the photo. Nobody wants to look naked on the internet. (Well… never-mind)
  • Consider the seasons. You will look silly in a tank top during Christmas and the same goes for a heavy sweater in July.

 Choosing The Background:

  • My first profile picture was taken in the mall by a chocolate shop. It had a nice white brick wall. I was wearing my company colors, so I had my friend take a picture with my cell phone.
  • Choose a simple background and try to avoid bold colors.
  • Keep your company colors in mind. Will your clothing or background clash?
  • Parks make excellent backgrounds.
  • Conference rooms usually have a good corner to stand by.





14 Responses to Why You Need To Look Like Your Profile Picture

  1. Mark Madere 17 July, 2013 at #

    Spot on Nikol.

    As a professional photographer, it drives me crazy seeing snapshots taken under poor lighting where the eyes are lost in shadow (your 2013 photo). They appear lifeless. (“The eyes are the window to the soul.”)

    Also, proper posing really makes a huge difference. Even though you may find a professional photographer at a conference, the setting and lighting just doesn’t match the quality of a studio setting.

    I meet a client in my studio, chat with them for a few minutes to get them in a relaxed state of mind, take some photos, review them with the client while they’re there, take their order and email the final, retouched images within a few hours. Only one trip needed!

    Based on the number of referrals I’m getting, my clients must appreciate the process.

    • Nikol Murphy 17 July, 2013 at #

      Thanks Mark,
      You are correct. I need to redo my 2013 photo. I made these suggestions mostly for solopreneurs, entreprenuers and people just starting out.

      We are often hit with so many expenses and we are already juggling so many balls in the air that the thought of a photo shoot involving both time and money creates a wall to what the person really needs. A current photo.

      Nothing replaces the perfect setting, but I recently asked a friend who came off of a photo shoot how much her investment was. $600

      After hearing that, I decided that done was better than perfect.

      • Mark Madere 19 July, 2013 at #

        Wow, I need to raise my prices! I do a phone clothing consultation, photo shoot, retouching of stray hair, wrinkles, etc and a digital file suitable for web pages for $94. Add $20 for a higher resolution file suitable for prints up to 2″x3″.

        Here’s a link to my Executive Portrait page so your readers can see the difference between a snapsho and a professionally done portrait. (NOTE: this link my be inactive soon as I am remaking my site in WordPress so it will have a new link structure.)

  2. Phil Bowyer 15 July, 2013 at #

    Nice post Nikol. My wife and I just updated our profile pics yesterday. We took an hour or so in the morning and walked around our tiny little downtown and took pictures in the “back alleys” that had some character as a backdrop.

    We used our cell phone cameras and they turned out great.

    It doesn’t have to be a major production, or a bad experience. We just had fun with it, and made it an adventure to find that perfect backdrop.

    • Nikol Murphy 15 July, 2013 at #

      Phil, you just made my day!
      You will have to find me on G+ and share your new photos. It doesn’t have to be a big deal you are right. :)

      Here is a link to my G+ profile:

  3. Kalynn Amadio 15 July, 2013 at #

    Nikol, I know people who can honestly say “No” to every one of your ‘How To Know When You Need A New Profile Picture’ and yet desperately need a new profile pic! Maybe you should include – It’s Been A Decade or More Since Your Last One. LOL!

    • Nikol Murphy 15 July, 2013 at #

      Ha ha Kalynn,
      I was trying to be as diplomatic as possible. Yes, I will point out that if Duran Duran was on the radio when your last picture was taken, you qualify for this article.

  4. Sharon 15 July, 2013 at #

    I hate having my picture taken but realised I needed a decent image for my social media profiles and website. Mine was done last year and I am really happy with it. Not sure I want to go through getting another pic done :-)

    • Nikol Murphy 15 July, 2013 at #

      I understand that it can be a big production. You really have to go with what you are comfortable with. Have some friends take a couple pictures of you when you are dressed up and see how you like them.
      That is why I suggest finding a photographer when you are at a conference. You are usually happy with your appearance at that point and the facility walls and lobby can make a very good background.

  5. Ted 15 July, 2013 at #

    Sound advice, Nikol. Thanks for stating it so well.

  6. Mark Traphagen 15 July, 2013 at #

    Great post Nikol. We need to help you get some social share buttons on your blog posts though!

    • Nikol Murphy 15 July, 2013 at #

      Oh my goodness Mark! I recently switched themes and didn’t notice that it had disabled my sharing plugin. Thank you for saying something!

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