Please don’t get me wrong, I’m all for puppies. I’m pretty keen on babies and kittens, too, but not in our profile pictures! There was a time when we framed and displayed those photos at home or, perhaps, on our desk at the office. Things are no longer as simple.
Today, our workplace is not limited to just one desk in just one office. To some extent, we’re all connected to others online and we still want to express ourselves by decorating our online office with our favorite photos. For those of us who are in Real Estate, the version of ourselves we put online matters. It can and will be seen by anyone interested in learning more about us.
The photo is important for a couple of reasons:
It makes it easier for me to recognize you. If I’m meeting you in person for the first time, having seen your photo will put me at ease knowing who I should be looking for (I Google you from my phone!). Similarly, if we’ve met in person and you send me an invitation to connect online, seeing your photo will help me remember you. If that photo is 8 years old, and air burshed – I might not recognize you!
Simply put, it humanizes you. I will not feel connected with an anonymous account, and what if people know you by Steve, and all of your online profiles are Stephen? I want to connect with a person. And, yes, this means that it’s time to finally add a photo to your Real Estate LinkedIn profile if you haven’t yet taken the plunge yet… ditto for Facebook and your business page on Facebook too! Remember, they give you 6 photos when you count the ones along the top!
Choosing the Right Photo
Head shot – Probably your head, neck shoulders. This can easily be done with your cell phone, standing in the Bathroom doorway (so you can see yourself). It should be the real you, not a cartoon or Mad Men version of you. And, by “real” I also mean the current version, 10 pounds heavier without the sun highlights if that’s where you are. It may feel like you were in high school only yesterday, but if you did the lindy hop at your prom, your old yearbook photo won’t do.
Logo – A For Sale Sign, or Sold Sign doesn’t tell me who you are. Unless your business is a well known brand (think Ford or Macy’s), it is probably best to use your photo rather than your Real Estate Company logo, or one of your For Sale Signs. In general, we like and want to connect with people, not businesses. It’s important to note that using a logo instead of a photo on LinkedIn would violate the User Agreement. On a Facebook Business Page, I see people using a logo much more often. If you are just using it as a place to slap up your listings, that is probably okay. Otherwise, skip the logo and stick with your own head shot, or something that represents the message you are trying to convey.
Keep it simple – This means we want to see you. Lose the baseball hat, those awesome sunglasses or anything else that competes for our attention in the photo. Same goes for busy backgrounds, remember my idea about the bathroom door?
You and only you – Getting back to puppies…in your primary profile photo is probably not the best use of your puppy photos. Ditto for you and a group of your best friends or you riding your bike. If you are part of a Real Estate TEAM, and you want to show a TEAM photo everywhere – go to Gravatar, and see if it will fit (It’s Free). Chances are, you will find that you can not get everyone in the shot. If it does, and you like the way it looks, use it.
Nudity – I know that they say Sex Sells… B-U-T, I’m a mom, I'm from the South, and I’m old school. If I can see your shoulders in your head shot, I want to see clothing. While you may be wearing a strapless dress, it’s all about perception. Don’t take the time to create a great profile only to leave people wondering if you’re actually naked. Ewwww! There is no difference between actually being naked and appearing to be naked in a profile photo. Ditto for those shots of you leaning over the balcony trying to show cleavage. I'm just sayin’!
Consistency – A great way to help build your online brand is use the same photo for all of your online profiles. Use the same photo on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube channel, your blog, etc. It will make it much easier for people to recognize you right away. REMEMBER WHERE YOU PUT YOUR PICTURE! As you are building your profiles, we strongly suggest that you create a Profile Keeper!
Smile – Don’t overthink your pose. Those who know me, are my friends on Facebook, and who have TAKEN pictures of me know that this is one of the things I personally struggle with! We all need to take time to take pictures of ourself until we get use to it! Attempts to look too serious can come off as intimidating. And none of those here-I-am-looking-busy-by-pretending-to-talk-on-the-phone photos. You’re not that busy. Put the phone down for a second so you can smile and have your picture taken.
Doesn’t need to be fancy – You don’t need to rush out and schedule a session with a professional portrait photographer. Having a friend take a photo of you in front of a solid background should be fine as long as the lighting is sufficient. I suggested earlier that you could take your own picture… you can. But truthfully, it will come out so much better if you do it with a friend!
There are Some Exceptions… sort of
I can hear you all the way across this internet connection, “But I use the different social networking platforms differently and that’s why I have puppies on Facebook and am wearing a suit and tie on LinkedIn.” You are in good company. If you must have a profile photo with your puppy/baby/surfboard/bottle of wine/cigar/goat, keep it on Facebook and only on Facebook. As long as you understand what can be seen when a potential client or employer Googles your name and you’re OK with it, that’s all that matters. My suggestion? Use those 5 photos along the top of Facebook to hold those Surfboard Rock Solid Abs pictures, but keep your profile picture “Clean!”
If you have questions about your Profile, or your web presence, you can call or txt Eleanor at 919-649-5057 @isellmoney. We are in the mortgage business too – so if you have a referral in NC, we’d LOVE to help them! Please call Steve Thorne with your mortgage questions at919-649-5058. We are starting a new website and Facebook Business Page - check us out! RETechNotes