A woman in a red dress takes a photo of herself using her phone on a stand with a ring light.

How to Pick a Great LinkedIn Profile Picture as a Nonprofit Professional

Did you know that having a profile picture on LinkedIn makes your profile 14 times more likely to be viewed? That’s 14 times the number of people who might learn about your nonprofit through your profile. And if you’re trying to get the attention of a potential major donor or supporter, having a warm, friendly picture can increase your credibility, build trust, and help you get your prospect’s attention. 

But what makes a good LinkedIn profile picture — and can you take your profile picture yourself if you don’t have a professional headshot? Use this quick guide to take a great LinkedIn profile picture at home using just your smartphone. 

What is an appropriate profile picture for LinkedIn?

Your LinkedIn profile picture should only feature you, so opt for a solo picture, rather than cropping a group shot. 

It’s also best to use a recent photo. You might have an old picture that you love, but if it doesn’t reflect how you look today, this could confuse prospects when you schedule a video call or meet them in person for the first time. Whenever you make a dramatic change to your appearance, like dying your hair or adopting glasses, consider snapping a new picture. 

What should I wear for my LinkedIn profile picture?

Think of your LinkedIn photo as an opportunity to show potential donors or corporate partners what you would look like if you walked into a meeting with them (which might happen after they decide to connect with you!). Choose your outfit and accessories based on that hypothetical meeting. 

Many people opt for clothing that is smart without looking too formal, such as a blouse or button-down shirt. Solid colors tend to look better than patterns on camera, so color blocking your outfit is a great way to make your picture stand out.

Should I smile in my LinkedIn profile picture?

It’s totally fine to smile in your LinkedIn photo. In fact, research shows if you’re smiling in your picture, you’re more likely to be seen as likable, competent, and influential. What’s more, smiles that show teeth are rated twice as likable as closed-mouth smiles. 

That said, your profile picture should feel natural. Try practicing different expressions in front of a mirror or with a front-facing camera to see which one feels the most comfortable.

What size should my LinkedIn profile picture be? 

The best size for your LinkedIn profile picture is 400 x 400 pixels, and the maximum file size is 8MB. Avoid small, low-resolution images, since these may make you look pixelated.

When you upload your photo, LinkedIn will automatically help you crop it into a round image. Using the built-in editing tools, you can easily reposition your photo and zoom in or out. Aim to crop the picture from the top of your shoulders to just above your head so that your face fills about 60% of the space. 

Can my LinkedIn profile picture be a selfie?

If possible, ask a friend, coworker, or family member to help capture your LinkedIn profile picture. Front “selfie” cameras on smartphones typically produce lower-quality images than rear cameras, so having someone take the picture for you can produce a better result.  

Posing for a picture with both arms free also allows you to adopt a relaxed posture, rather than having one arm sticking out in front of you. 

What background should I have in my LinkedIn profile picture?

Simple backgrounds work best on LinkedIn, allowing you to be the star of your picture. Think trees or a painted wall, rather than cluttered shelves.

Where you snap your picture can also affect the lighting. Try to find natural, indirect light, such as standing near a window or outside in a slightly shady area. For the best results, avoid taking the photo in direct sunlight or under harsh overhead office lighting, and don’t stand with your back to a window, as backlighting may make it difficult to see your face.

Build a strong personal brand on LinkedIn

Choosing the right profile picture on LinkedIn is the first step to building a strong personal brand — making prospects more likely to want to talk to you and engage with your nonprofit. 

If you’re looking to connect with potential donors, grantmakers, and other decision-makers on the LinkedIn platform, LinkedIn Sales Navigator can help take your research and outreach efforts to the next level. Contact our team to learn more.

This post was inspired by the LinkedIn Talent Blog article, “10 Tips for Picking the Right LinkedIn Profile Picture,” authored by Lydia Abbot.

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