Personal branding has never been more prevalent. As a Toronto based portrait and headshot photographer, I hear the terminology thrown around a lot… And the truth is, there’s no one singular definition that we’re all working from - what the heck does personal branding even mean?
In this age of social media, self-promotion and virtually unlimited access to “searching” a person… how we choose to present ourselves to our peers in a professional capacity is extremely important, and doesn’t just come into play in office environments and networking events - it also extends to your online presence.
The ‘image’ you are portraying to the world. The secret to a strong personal brand is to be intentional, yet authentic - and consistent in that image across everything you do.
The Importance of Your Online Brand:
That may sound like a no-brainer… but think about it for a second. With LinkedIn at the epicenter of social networking (possessing a staggering 562 million user-base)– it’s safe to say that if you’re pitching yourself for new jobs, speaker gigs, or any sort of professional recognition as an expert, you need to be intentional about how you frame yourself. You need to be in control of what your “brand” says about you.
Your brand goes beyond your behavior and your resume; it also extends to your visual image, namely your LinkedIn profile picture. In fact, Inc. reports that users that have a professional LinkedIn photo get 14 times more views than those who don’t.
Building Your Brand Proactively:
In my business, I see a lot of professionals approaching their headshots reactively. Rather than proactively investing in a quality set of photos they can use to present themselves powerfully on their climb up the ladder… they wait until they have a desperate need for a new headshot.
Maybe they’ve been invited to a speaking gig – or have just accepted a new, more senior position, but regardless of the reason, suddenly they’re scrambling for a professional headshot under the gun. Situations like these don’t yield the most natural or successful shots, and they’re usually more about a “cookie-cutter” result that meets the need, rather than a series that represents your personal brand authentically.
Instead of operating that way, I urge you to take control and book a session for personal branding headshots where you can drive the tone to get a versatile selection of photos that represent your best self.
Ready to try it out?
Read these 8 LinkedIn best practices that apply to any set of personal branding headshots:
#1) Do - Understand Your Brand:
Are you an entrepreneur with groundbreaking ideas? Or a Corporate VP who’s responsible for strategy? It’s important to understand your industry, your playing field, and what makes you special within the space. A picture is worth a thousand words; so make sure yours tells the story of the first impression you want to make. The good news is that your photographer is here to help you articulate your story visually, so lean on her to translate your vision into visuals.
#2) Don’t - Limit Your Vision:
Having a clear ‘end-game’ is important contextually for the photographer, however remember that headshots aren’t your expertise. Coming in with too narrow a vision about how you want things to look can be to your detriment. Instead, think of a brief of what you want to represent and how you want to make people feel; then be open to your photographer’s suggestions about how to bring it all to life. Trying different poses, settings and outfits can help open you up to magic – the photo you end up loving may not be anything like your initial vision.
#3) Don’t – Just Show Up:
Another important foundation of getting a collection of great photos is communication. Don’t expect to just show up on the day of your shoot and get a winning headshot. Instead, put thought into your vision and your brand, but also be diligent about sharing your career objectives, industry and backstory with your LinkedIn photographer in the prep process. Work together to develop a strong approach.
#4) Don’t – Cheat Your Connection w/the Camera:
Speaking of connecting with the camera, avoid a far off look – and never look away from the camera! Instead, aim for an energized connection. In any headshot, you want to connect with your audience to establish trust, in preparation for your future professional relationships, so make sure to appear open, engaged and genuine in your expression.
This photo is a first impression; avoid looking cagey, distracted or bored; connecting with the camera is the most powerful thing you can do.
#5) Do – Trust Your Photographer:
When it comes down to it, the best photos happen in the moment when you feel relaxed (even the professional ones). Would you want to trust a Financial Planner that looks anxious and uptight with your hard-earned money? Spend time finding the right photographer in your city. I specialize in portraiture and headshots in Toronto, so I can work with clients to set them apart when it comes to LinkedIn personal branding. Trust your photographer’s expertise on the day of the shoot and focus your energy towards getting into your zone of genius and connecting with the camera.
#6 Do: Wear Colors You Like
Nothing photographs better than feeling like yourself. Choose colors and outfits that make you feel happy and confident and represent you well. Solid colors tend to photograph better than patterns do. Stay away from bold patterns and white or pastels. If you’re planning to wear layers, make sure they are different colors to establish a distinction. And if you’ve booked a little bit more time, don’t be afraid to experiment with a few looks throughout your session.
#7) Do – Act Like Yourself:
Work with your photographer to find a setup that makes you feel natural and in your element. Think about what fuels you, where you feel most empowered and what really defines who you are. While being intentional about the brand you want to present is important – being authentic and “in your element” is also key. We all have qualities that make us special – whether it’s a keen intensity or a quirky sense of humor - but many of us are not attuned to what ours are. By getting comfortable with your photographer, putting on music and letting go, those authentic qualities are free to come through.
#8) Don’t – Expect to Use the Same Photo for Everything:
Consider investing in a package where you can work with the photographer to develop multiple looks for your brand assets - perhaps a professional setup, something relaxed and casual, and a scene where you’re in your professional element.
The most important factor when it comes to getting good headshots is preparing in advance, so that you can show up for the shoot relaxed, natural and feeling like yourself – because you know the photographer understands your vision.