This is a common scenario for me whilst out networking: a new business acquaintance will ask me what I do. I tell them that I am a ‘business connector – I save people time and money by finding them the right businesses to connect with, either as potential clients or strategic alliances for their business’. I then usually get asked how I do this and I explain that one of the tools I use for Social Selling is LinkedIn.

Sometimes, however, their body language can then change dramatically. I have said the dreaded words ‘LinkedIn Profile’ which also means ‘LinkedIn Picture’. You can sometimes see actual fear behind their eyes; we have swapped business cards and they know that I am going to go back to the office, look them up and see that picture – if indeed they have one.

LinkedIn states that if you DO have a LinkedIn Profile picture, people are seven times more likely to click on your profile.

But just because I am a LinkedIn Trainer, please don’t be under the illusion that I am the only one who will be researching you from looking at your LinkedIn Profile and picture; nearly half of all B2B buyers will browse LinkedIn to find your profile.And studies have shown that it takes one-tenth of a second for someone to draw conclusions about you, based on that photo.

80 to 90 per cent of that first impression is based on just two qualities – trustworthiness and competence.

Social Selling is about establishing credibility and giving prospects a reason to trust you.

My top gripe is the ‘selfie in the mirror’ picture or the ‘self-cropped shot’ where the top of your head is cut off or you see part of the person next to you. These kind of photos should be reserved for Facebook and certainly not LinkedIn.

If you are serious about your business or about getting a new job, you really should consider getting a professional photographer to take your LinkedIn picture. It needn’t be a huge expense. I am not a fan of having my photo taken, but I knew that my photographer Tina Cleary of Clear Moments Photography would do her best to produce a photo that I could be proud of and she certainly achieved that.

Some further photo tips:

Dress to impress. Research has shown that formal dress raised perceived competence, and influences scores, more than any other factor tested. Formal suits and ties are not for everyone though, so wear what you’d normally wear to work.

Avoid sunglasses! I need to see your eyes to feel that I can trust you; or do you have something to hide?

Don’t forget to smile. This shows that you are warm and welcoming.

An easy rule to remember: unless you are a vet or work with animals, please don’t pose with your pet.

Also, is your LinkedIn photo up-to-date? I like to change my hair colour just like the seasons change. However, something as simple as hair colour and length can throw people and I particularly recall an instance where some business acquaintances had looked me up on LinkedIn prior to one of my LinkedIn networking talks and did not recognise me as I had changed my hair colour; hence an updated photo was needed!

I also vividly recall meeting a lady who was clearly still using a photograph from her youth because when I met her in person, she looked nothing like her picture. We all age… Ensure you get a professional LinkedIn photo taken at least every few years.

Solid colours tend to work better on camera.

Choose a background that isn’t distracting. Keep the background simple so that you are the focal point. Colours can matter. Read up on colour psychology; many people choose green or blue backgrounds, which convey trust and stability.

Consider personal branding. I highly recommend that you use the same photo across all of your social media and online platforms, including your website, in order to create consistency and let others immediately recognise you on other platforms.

As with anything in business, you often have to invest time and money to get the best results. Invest now in a professional LinkedIn Profile photo that will communicate that you are friendly, likeable and trustworthy. These attributes are vital for getting your prospects, such as new clients, employers or recruiters, to spend more time looking at and reading your profile.