Profile Picture No No's

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profile photo No No'sHave you ever looked at a friend’s Facebook or LinkedIn Profile Picture and though, “WHAT??” How about the folks who only use a picture of their puppy, or a For Sale Sign?

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


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Shay Campbell
Universal American Mortgage Company - Raleigh, NC
Raleigh, NC

Eleanor As always your information is right on.  Thanks for sharing.

May 21, 2011 01:05 AM #41
Debra Hughes
Keller Williams Realty - Claremont, CA

I don't mind if they choose a cheesy pic but I hate it when you get a card and they look 30 years younger on it

May 21, 2011 03:09 AM #42
Donna Malone
Waterfront, Luxury, Family, Affordable, Cottage, Deals - Bridgewater, NS
Homes and Property for Sale Nova Scotia

Good points. Keep the photo recent, you want people to know it's you when they meet you.

May 21, 2011 03:49 AM #43
Donna Harris
Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - - Austin, TX
Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator

I agree except with your Facebook stuff. Facebook is not a "professional" networking platform. Facebook is where I am humanized and let down some guard and allow people to see me for me. They are my "friends".  The outside public cannot see me because of the security settings.

My AR, LinkedIn, Facebook fan page and other Facebook community pages are all professional pictures.

May 21, 2011 04:28 AM #44
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg IL Area Real Estate

Eleanor, good points here. I do have one pic with my dog but it's about 'The Blog Dog' and I'm the one that doesn't fit in the pic! Anyway, I want to say that there is someone here on AR that I swear is wearing a nightgown in her bio pic.  I think it's a little too sexy like a boudoir photo (a racier glamor photo LOL?). Not appropriate at all.

May 21, 2011 06:45 AM #45
Allen 2222
Austin, TX

Yup! All good advice! And that photo you used for the blog - ICK!

May 21, 2011 08:45 AM #46
Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

I love my dog but you certainly would see me kissing her tongue.

May 21, 2011 04:30 PM #47
Frances C. Rokicki
Fran Rokicki Realty, LLC - Bolton, CT

Eleanor, This was such a good read:)  Thank you for bringing up some very good points, not just about posting here on the Rain, but, throughout our social networks!

May 21, 2011 11:30 PM #48
Mike Jaquish
Realty Arts - Cary, NC
919-880-2769 Cary, NC, Real Estate


Good post!  I'm having a new photo shot on Wednesday.  By a pro.  That is cheap for the outcome, as he uses lighting and has a better photoshop eye than I do.

But, now, it seems that I wasted the money having my feather boa drycleaned.
And I have to wear clothes, too?
This is probably the most emotionally crushing blog I have ever read. 

May 22, 2011 06:02 AM #49
Bill Gillhespy
16 Sunview Blvd - Fort Myers Beach, FL
Fort Myers Beach Realtor, Fort Myers Beach Agent - Homes & Condos

Hi Eleanor,  Fun read !  Never understood some of the stuff used on a business platform.  Have a terrific Sunday afternoon !

May 22, 2011 06:04 AM #50
Laurie Gibson
Windermere Access Realty - Caldwell, ID
SFR, Canyon County Real Estate

It's interesting what people choose to say about themselves, personally, when I choose a professional in any line of work outside a veterinarian, I don't care about how much they love dogs.  Your photo speaks to the viewer, what do you want yours to say?  ( Hopefully, hire me!)

May 22, 2011 08:31 AM #51
Dawn Nuzzi
'Til Dawn Real Estate - Raleigh, NC

I couldn't show cleavage if I tried....sigh...

Great post! :)

May 23, 2011 12:09 AM #52
Tatyana Makarov
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - South Windsor, CT
Your Greater Hartford Area Realtor

I couldn't agree with you more... some photos are just WRONG!!!


May 23, 2011 01:00 AM #53
Marie Graham
Owner, The Refreshed Home White Plains NY - White Plains, NY
Westchester County Interior Decorator, Home Stager

Eleanor-you have a friend in Donne, who made you a 'STAR" this weekend! For all the times it's said, still do not understand why people do not use a photo of themselves. As a non-Realtor, I see some things more like a buyer/seller, and it's alienating not being able to visualize who's on the other end of the phone/email...great post, thanks!

May 23, 2011 02:17 AM #54
Cassandra Vickers, MBA, MCNE
RE/MAX Prestige - Houston, TX

Your first impression could very well become your last impression!!!!

May 23, 2011 02:57 AM #55
Amanda Christiansen
Christiansen Group Realty (260)704-0843 - Fort Wayne, IN
Christiansen Group Realty

Good post!  On my Facebook page I like to have a lot of fun with my pictures.  I change it often and like to keep it light.  I have a picture of me in the smallest tub I have ever seen, me doing carpet angels on a new construction sale, and a few other goofy pics like that.  I also have some that are more professional.  I think it's all in what you want to project.  For me it's fun and light.  No nudity though.  :)

May 23, 2011 03:43 AM #56
Cynthia Larsen
Safe Haven Realty - Cotati, CA
Independent Broker Serving Sonoma County, CA

Ha ha, I saw one photo on AR where I was sure the gal was naked. Not a good impression unless you are advertising another line of business.

May 23, 2011 06:56 AM #57
Patricia Aulson
Realtor - Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes

TTFW ......too tacky for words, how unprofessional....Hello.


Patricia/Seacoast NH & ME

May 23, 2011 12:08 PM #58
Dave Singery
Triinity Realty and Investment - Whittier, CA
Friendly Hills Homes - Whittier Ca

Eleanor, you left out one thing...make sure the photo is current! I was at an open house last week and an agent showed up with her client. I swear the picture on her business card was from high school and she was in high school when The Bee Gees were killing it on the disco scene!

thanks for the post

May 23, 2011 12:13 PM #59
Rosemary Brooks
BMC Real Estate - 209-910-3706 - Stockton, CA
The Mother & Daughter Realty Team

Yuk not into dog kissing on the lips but I feel ya.  Good points.

Jun 19, 2011 02:27 PM #60
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Eleanor Thorne

Equity Resources 919-649-5058
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