As the chief marketing officer of Me, Inc., always think of yourself as that one-of-a-kind brand called You. According to Dan Schawbel, the leading personal branding expert for Gen Y and the author of Me 2.0, everyone should have a personal branding tool kit. And in this toolkit, you’re going to need a good-quality photograph of yourself. Why? Because the right photo can help establish credibility, build trust, and promote engagement.
A well-done current photograph is an important part of your professional packaging because it can be used on your business cards, Web site or blog, and social-networking sites. Furthermore, if you’re ever featured in a magazine or newspaper or asked to speak at a conference, you may well be asked for a photograph and you’ll need to have one on hand that you can e-mail in an instant.
The key is to get the right headshot, one that captures the real, authentic you. Here are a few suggestions.
Hire a professional photographer. Don’t even think about asking your brother or favorite uncle to take a shot with his digital camera (unless he’s a professional). If you’re a woman, go the extra mile and hire a professional to style your hair and apply flattering makeup for a flawless appearance.
Select the outfit that best represents you. Wear something slightly conservative that won’t go out of style in a couple of years. Make sure it hangs nicely whether you’re standing or sitting. Wear a solid color that flatters your hair color and complexion. Choose a look that appropriately fits your corporate culture and your personal brand, as well as your clientele and marketplace. Save the glamorous, rugged, or dramatic looks for personal use. Your photograph, like your brand, should mirror your professionalism and credibility.
Take a variety of photos from different angles. Ask the photographer to shoot photos of you looking left, right, and directly into the camera. By doing this, you will have more options when using your photos for promotional purposes. For example, when you post your photo on your Web site, be sure your face points towards the text, not away from it.
Experiment with outdoor settings. Contrary to popular belief, studio photographs tend to look more staged and artificial. Ask your photographer to take photos of you outdoors using natural light. This is more interesting than the boring, head-against-a-backdrop pose.
Finally, if you’re still using the same professional photograph you used back in college, it’s time for another photo shoot. Try to get new headshots taken every two or three years. It is somewhat jarring to meet someone who looks nothing like their photograph.
What are some of the worst headshots you’ve seen in business? Please leave a comment below.