Just how important is having a recent LinkedIn photo?

Before saying, “haven’t we read enough about LinkedIn profile photos,” consider how important it is to have a recent one. I believe having one that’s no more than two years old is ideal and anything beyond four years needs to be retaken. Of course there are exceptions; you might age nicely, or you might age…not so nicely.

When asked in a LinkedIn poll, that’s still brewing, if voters’ profile photo is too old, 41% of 2,017 voters say it is. The definition stated in the poll of too old means their photo was last taken four or more years ago. Thirty-eight percent of voters say their photo falls within the two- to three-year range.

Where did the remaining 20% go? Those people “don’t see a need for a photo.” Shame.

There are many reasons why your photo should be more recent than ancient. In the comments of the poll, I shared an article I wrote back in 2016 called 4 ways your LinkedIn photo is an imposter. Trust me, the ways people’s photos are an imposter haven’t changed. Here is a rundown of what makes your photo an imposter:

  • You’re vain. This is the worst kind in my mind. Pride is listed as one of the 7 deadly sins. Vanity is a form of pride. As my father said, “We enter this world naked and we leave it naked.” As Popeye said, “I Yam What I Yam.” Why should we pretend to be someone different?
  • You don’t realize that eventually you’ll be outed. I’ve entered many a room where someone says, “Hi Bob.” It’s flattering, while at the same time a little creepy. People do recognize you on social media, so you will be outed, if you don’t update your profile.
  • You don’t realize that honesty is the basis for networking. One point I make in my Advanced LinkedIn webinars is that those who don’t have a photo on their profile will not be trusted as those who do. To gain complete trust, don’t put up a photo of you in college when you’re 20 years beyond those golden years. What does this say about your trustworthiness?
  • You aren’t concerned about branding himself. Your photo is a way to brand yourself in a positive light. It can tell people about your personality; it really can. My photo, old and new, I’ve always felt it tells people that I’m caring and nurturing and, hopefully, wise. Others can brand people as authoritative, creative, serious, intelligent, etc.

To further illustrate how your photo can be an imposter and therefore should be updated, my valued LinkedIn connection, Kevin Turner posted a photo (image above) of the younger Kevin and one of him now.

This image from Kevin speaks to bullet number four of my reasons why your photo is an imposter and needs to be amended. You have to establish trust when you’re networking, whether it’s in person (we’ll get there) or via Zoom.

Speaking of…I often have the opportunity to look at myself while I’m doing one of the thousand webinars I’ve done over the years, and I can’t help but think about how my photo needs to be updated. Judge for yourself. Below are photos of Bob three years ago and a screenshot I took yesterday.

What others say about the importance of having a recent photo, or not

The reasons mentioned below speak to: trust, being recognized, your photo being part of your brand (3), and how to get a photo properly taken.

You’re right Bob McIntosh, CPRW it’s all about building Visual Trust. You don’t want someone to remember who you use to be by posting an old picture, then showing up in person, and they can’t recognized you, feel duped, or worse just can’t pin point why they don’t trust you. Even if the Profile Picture is recent but you made a major change like shaving your beard or coloring away the gray (neither of which I plan to do) you then need a new picture that represents the current you. Trust takes time to earn, but only seconds to destroy.

Kevin Turner

I just got a new one, too, Bob McIntosh, CPRW. I want my pictures to look like what you see when you meet me at a networking event or conference, and it was getting a bit dated (maybe 6 years).

Marie Zimenoff

Bob McIntosh, CPRW even a newly taken photo may not reflect what we look like on a given day on Zoom, so I don’t worry too much, although I try to maintain a consistent smile.

With that said, I think a photo should be reasonably timely. My strategy! Each year I look for the intersection of available time, such as a client cancellation, with great natural light and a good hair day. Then I take many pictures and see if any work out well.

Tara Orchard

This is a fun poll. I recently got a new headshot—not because I didn’t like my old picture– but because I am getting older (and wiser)–and wanted to make sure my headshot is a true reflection of me now.

It’s important to remember that your photo is an extension of your personal brand and in a lot of ways like your “brand logo.” I think a lot of people who typically engage with my content aren’t recognizing me on the platform [with new photo]. This is an important takeaway for folks too– make sure your not changing your picture too frequently!

Sarah Johnston

This is a big one Bob! Most people don’t understand just how important your profile picture is. Whenever I update mine or work with a client to update theirs, I have them follow this process:

1. Hire a professional photographer or grab a camera with portrait mode

2. Go shoot 3-5 headshots with different outfits and backgrounds

3. Upload all of the images to Photofeeler.com and see which image scores the best That helps you know which one is landing best and will maximize your results!

Austin Belcak

I am still within 2 years, though when I do update my photo, you better believe it will still have an orange background. People have come to expect and recognize it!

Madeline Mann

I just changed mine today! I had a brand shoot last month and was much clearer on what I wanted from my photos this time around. I hired a photographer last year as well, but my business was brand new and I wasn’t super clear on my goals – it was more of a lifestyle shoot. Living and learning as an entrepreneur!

Karen Styles

Please feel free to read what the other 91 people said about their LinkedIn profile photo by going to the poll. You may decide to have a new one taken or stick with the one you have. Also, please vote, and I don’t just mean for the poll.

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