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What your profile picture says about you

Your profile picture is the first impression you make on the world and the one you choose really says a lot about you, whether you realize it or not. I’ve been spending a lot of time on social networking websites lately, like Facebook and Twitter, and I’ve noticed a few things when it comes to profile pictures.

If you’re on Facebook for the sole purpose of connecting with family and friends, then your main concern should be that others can recognize you in your photos.

However, if you’re on Facebook for business reasons, there are many other factors to consider. Your profile picture establishes how people perceive you, so always keep that in mind when deciding which profile picture to upload.

1) The photo smiling directly at the camera: I start the list with my absolute favorite profile picture. When a person appears to be looking directly at you while smiling, it says a lot. This type of photo leads people to believe that you are confident, outgoing, and happy. It makes people feel like they can connect with you and even more than that, it makes people want to connect with you.

2) The photo of a random body part: Whether it’s your hair, ears, legs, or feet, photos of a particular body part can mean a few different things. Either you have REALLY amazing toes, your face isn’t that attractive, or maybe you just like to be mysterious. Either way, know that when a person can’t see her real face, they’ll wonder why.

3) The embarrassing image: Fortunately, I don’t see this too often, but every time I do I’m always speechless. The embarrassing photo is the one that literally makes you feel embarrassed for the person every time you see it. This is the profile picture that makes you wonder, “WHY would they post this?” Having an embarrassing photo as your main profile picture makes people question your common sense and sanity.

4) The photo of a celebrity: I’m always curious as to why someone would choose to use a celebrity profile picture instead of a picture of themselves. Do they actually like that person SO much that they give up their right to show the world what they look like or is it just that they want people to somehow associate them with that particular celebrity? I get it in Doppelganger week, but using a celebrity as your main profile picture at any other time is weird and a little creepy.

5) The random photo: We have ALL seen this. The profile picture that’s of something completely random, like a cartoon or a pair of striped gym socks, that you don’t even know what to say about. Having a random photo as your default image leaves people wondering what to think of you.

6) Company logo: When a person uses your company logo as their main profile image, it probably means that the main reason they are a member of that particular social community is to network and connect with other professionals. However, if you’re just trying to network, it’s always a good idea to let people put a face to your business name. So taking professional photos and uploading them to Facebook is definitely not the worst idea if your goal is to look professional and make connections.

7) The photo of your children: Choosing to set your main profile picture as one of your children instead of yourself shows that you’re on Facebook to connect with family and friends more than anything else. If this is not the case, you should save family portraits for Christmas cards and photo albums and instead upload a photo that shows who you are.

9) The random photo of the dog/cat/fish/other pet: This, to me, is absolutely the worst. It’s okay to love your pet, but JUST posting photos of your four dogs makes you look like you don’t have much life. Yes, photos of your cats sleeping on your bed and your birds eating ice cream are extremely cute, but they’re not exactly the best profile photos. Choose a profile picture that shows your best side, not your animals.

10) The mysterious profile picture: The default mysterious image is the one that only shows half of your face, so it makes you look somewhat mysterious. Setting a mystery photo as your main image usually makes people curious to know more about you.

11) The photo where other people are clearly cut out: We’ve all seen the badly cropped photos that only reveal the missing person’s hand or shoulder. I always feel bad for the person cut out of the photo because even though you took the time to take a picture next to them, you also took the time to cut them out, which says a lot. Photos that exclude other people make the world wonder what the story behind the photo is. Is the cropped person a former lover? An ex friend? Who is the missing person?

Other things to consider when choosing a profile picture:

1) Alcohol: Photos that contain alcohol, even if it’s ‘just a beer’, will make people see you as less professional. If you’re not trying to be professional, upload a picture of you and your friends taking photos or playing beer pong. But if you want to establish a somewhat professional online presence, definitely stay away from photos that have alcohol in them or look like they were taken in a club.

2) Skin: The amount of skin you show in your profile picture really says a lot about you. A little chest or leg never hurt anyone but types– Posting photos of yourselves in the bathroom mirror, shirtless is SO MySpace and it really needs to stop. Y Girls– Those photos of you in a bathing suit or even worse, in a bra, don’t say much about you other than that you are willing to allow complete strangers to see you almost naked. He usually seems pretty desperate and is definitely unprofessional. Is that the impression you want to give to the world? Think about that before posting.

3) What kind of faces are you making? The attitude you are presenting to the world is also a very important factor to consider. You’re smiling? Are you looking the other way? Are you making a kissy face? Are you telling the world to go to hell? what you really are doing on your main profile photo says a lot about you, so be sure to keep that in mind when you upload a new profile photo.

The bottom line:

Your profile picture on social networking websites is an introduction to the world. Think about the main reasons why you are on Facebook, Twitter or any other social community and then choose your profile picture accordingly.

What category do you fall into?! If you’re not sure, leave a comment with your Facebook link and I’ll tell you what I think your profile picture says about you. 🙂

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