Navigating Linkedin, a good headshot is just the beginning.

Your headshot. Your first impression.

Linkedin is different than other social media sites. Since creating a Linkedin profile page can be a little bit intimidating, I turned to Waylon McGill, Account Executive at Linkedin for some information and tips on how to make the most of it.

Our Q&A is below.

Marisa: Tell me a bit about your role at Linkedin.

Waylon: It’s probably easiest if I give a bit of an overview of LinkedIn and our three business lines to provide some context and then I can tell you what I do specifically.

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with nearly 350M users, and growing at over 2 new users per second. Our goal is to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and we do this by helping them do 3 things. Hire, Market, and Sell.

corporate headshots for Linkedin

Examples of professional headshots taken by Donna Santos

Hiring solutions is our biggest business, doing over $1B in revenue, helping companies find and attract top talent. Recruiters use premium paid accounts to search the network for individuals with specific skill sets and experience and then reach out to them through the platform. This is actually how I got into LinkedIn; I was contacted by a headhunter who liked my profile.

Marketing solutions helps companies advertise on the network and gives them the ability to target very specific individuals with their messaging based on things like their title, job function, industry etc.

Finally, our newest business, and the one that I am a part of, is Sales Solutions. Our goal in Sales Solutions is to elevate the sales profession and transform the way companies sell from the old method of high-volume cold calling to social selling. We provide premium paid accounts that help sales people to easily find their target audience, keep them up to date on those people and what matters to them, and then reveal relationships that can be leveraged for warm introductions to those people rather than cold calling them. Neither buyers, nor sellers like cold calls.

My job as an Account Executive is to work with a book of named accounts to help them see the value in this new way of selling, and ultimately to get them to upgrade from their free accounts to our premium Sales Navigator accounts. It’s challenging because you’re asking people to change the way they’ve been selling forever, but it’s also very rewarding because as a sales person you understand and empathize with the battles your prospects are facing and it feels great to help people them achieve their goals.


Examples of unprofessional headshots vs new polished Linkedin ready headshots

Marisa: We know it’s important to portray a professional image, with a professional headshot on Linkedin as it reflects your personal brand. But what about the brand of the company you represent?

Waylon: We talk about this all the time at LinkedIn, the importance of having a strong profile whether you’re a sales person, a job seeker or even someone that’s happy in your current role. In a B2B sale, business is being transacted between two companies, but ultimately it’s individuals that are representing those companies and their profiles are a big part of that representation.

People should have a description about their company, and the value that their company brings to client relationships, as well as a summary section that articulates the specific value that they bring as an individual contributor.

This is the sort of thing that prospective clients are going to see, but it’s also what prospective head hunters are going to see and you want to be putting your best foot forward because ultimately the quality of your profile can determine whether or not someone returns your call, responds to your email, or extends an invitation to an interview for your dream job.

corporate photography, website photography, headshots

A cropped image that shows another person in the background (like the image in the far left) is not professional looking.

Marisa: You work closely with sales teams, do you think a bad profile headshot affects sales?

Waylon:  Absolutely. LinkedIn profiles with photos get an average of 7x more views than those that don’t have a picture. It’s the first impression that many potential buyers or recruiters will have of you, and they want to know that they’re dealing with a real professional.

We have published countless articles on the importance of a professional profile headshot, as well as what constitutes a good profile picture. Our general advice is to get a professional headshot even if you have to pay for it out of pocket. It’s your business card, and a great personal branding opportunity.

Marisa: What type of message do you think a Linkedin profile headshot should portray?

Waylon: This is partly going to depend on your target audience, but what I would do is think who it is that I most want to engage with on the network, then think what do those people want to see.

For most the answer will be that you want to appear professional, well kempt, and personable. You can take a professional look too far and appear staunch, which is probably not what you’re looking for. You want to look like the type of person that people want to talk to. It’s a fine balance, but one that a professional headshot photographer can easily help you achieve.

professional headshots, corporate photography, website photography

Examples of unprofessional grainy and busy backgrounds vs new confident beautiful headshots

Marisa: What type of profile headshots do you think people should stop using ASAP?

Waylon: It’s funny that it needs to be said, but party photos, shirtless flexing (I’ve seen this!), busy backgrounds, wedding photos and grainy photos of you from the 90’s are all no nos.

Marisa: In your opinion, what are some things professionals should avoid posting on their personal Linkedin account? What about their company page?

Waylon: Rather than saying what people should avoid, I think it’s easiest to suggest what people should think about when constructing their profile.

You need to determine who your target audience is on LinkedIn. If I’m looking for a job my target audience is different than if I’m already at my dream sales job.  In the former case, my target audience is going to be recruiters, while in the latter my audience is going to be my prospects.

For a company page, you have two goals, that will vary in relative importance over time. One is to attract top talent, so you want to speak to the benefits of working for your organization. The other is to articulate the value that you bring to your client relationships and why people should want to do business with you.

I see things on people’s profiles all the time that probably shouldn’t be there, but most of those mistakes could be corrected if people just considered who their target audience is.

Linkedin in banner example, corporate photography

Example of a creative banner image that can be used on Linkedin or on your web site.

Marisa: Can you tell us a little bit about the Linkedin banner image and why it was created?

Waylon: The banner section is just an additional opportunity for some personal branding. It’s less important than your profile picture, but a lot of people use it to convey more personality and things that are of personal interest to them.

LinkedIn, despite being a professional network site, is still a form of social media, and giving people additional info about yourself that they can connect with can increase the value of your communications and relationships.

The key here, is don’t choose something too busy that will distract from the more important aspects of your profile. Like your headshot.

Banner photo for Linkedin, website photography, digital content

Example of what can be created for your Linkedin, Twitter or Facebook banner image.

Marisa:  Anything else you’d like to add?

Waylon: I’m available for speaking engagements in and around the GTA to speak to how companies can leverage the LinkedIn network for sales.

If you’d like to learn more about Linkedin’s services you can contact Waylon here.

If after reading this you feel like it’s time to update your Linkedin headshot or banner image; we can help. Click here to get in touch.

That’s all folks.