Mastering the art of your brand starts with the leading edge of that brand – your headshot.
As we navigate the ever-changing and increasingly interconnected online corporate environment where many professionals are turning to personal branding to either propel themselves forward or elevate their business prospects, headshots that were once reserved for CEO’s and actors are now the leading edge of the brand of any individual in commerce and business.
According to the 2018 Sensis Social Media Report, LinkedIn being the second most popular platform (behind Facebook) is used by 82% of large businesses, 41% of medium businesses and 35% of small businesses.
As such how does a professional or business owner develop and master their personal brand?
Appearance is everything when it comes to the online personal brand which starts with a well-crafted headshot.
Developing a visual brand helps people recognise you as a professional who is knowledgeable, capable, approachable and confident. It also shows your commitment to doing business in an organised manner because you’re consistent in your all-around messaging (visual, verbal, personal & professional).
Co-founder of Park City Think Tank and Co-Author of ”I Am” Amy Blaschka said ”The strongest brands understand that consistency—in tone, look and feel, and messaging—is vital.”
She also said ”Consistency means that you maintain your voice, look and feel in all your communications. It’s the way you present yourself, the way you sound, the way you write, all of the visual and verbal touch points. So much so, in fact, that people come to expect—and anticipate— your specific point of view and unique perspective.”
Your headshot is a vital part or your online identity. Your unique value proposition to the world. You need to show you care about your appearance. If you don’t make an effort to project a positive first impression, you run the risk to be seen as unprofessional.
According to LinkedIn research, those with a good profile pictures are likely to be viewed 14 times more than others. With today interactions and communications largely based online where profile headshots have replaced handshakes in the first impression department, it pays to be visible because more professionals are building relationships and doing business without actually meeting each other in person.
A perceived level of expertise is just as important as being an expert.
When clients research you online, you need to be perceived as the authority.
The biggest fail of mastering the art of self-branding is the extraction of one’s headshot out of a family vacation, wedding, party, corporate event or selfie photos taken by a friend or colleague. Some professionals have attempted to have a professional headshot done against red brick walls or similar or with a cluttered and busy environment in the background.
Some businesses and individual use stock images which is a big no-no. Though well crafted, they can be used by many other people from around the world. It renders one’s brand unrelatable and inauthentic especially when your unique value proposition is you – the brand.
Professionals of all types and levels rationalise the abdication of their brand citing their lack of photogeneity, inconvenience or costs as the usual suspects. Rest assured that only 5% of the human beings on this planet are born photogenic. If you never like your photos before, then you are part of the other 95% and it was not your fault either. Being comfortable, camera invisible and photogenic is not a birthright, it is a learned behaviour.
Your online brand is an active force that can either propel you forward or hold you back. You are already putting money into your image content; you might as well invest in having a great headshot.
So in mastering the art of self-branding, do not neglect your headshot because it is the leading edge of your brand where you shake people’s hands first before you meet them in person.