Profile pictures in social and professional networks always provoke much discussion and debate: why do you need them? Are they risky? Which should you use (formal? informal? Representative and abstract?)
Why is having a profile picture so important?
First and foremost, your profile picture stands for your online identity, of who you are. The basic essence of a Profile Picture is equal to proving ownership of a profile: this is not just a test, or some random activity of someone. There is a real person behind this profile. And not just any person, your picture confirms it is really you behind the virtual wall. Having no profile photo can be compared to sending someone to a cocktail party to give away your business card – how would someone know it is really YOU?
After deciding to put a picture on your profile, the next question would then be what is the type of profile photo will you choose to have there? Formal? Maybe less formal to give a flavor of other aspects of who you are? A headshot? Full body? Animated? What’s the proper profile photo to put on your profile page?
One of the more interesting sessions I attended this year in SMJCES, led by @davetaylor was about identity as depicted by a profile photo. Would a symbol of you give a better representation of the ideas behind of which you stand, than ‘just’ a headshot snapshot? Or will it make those who want to connect with you a little apprehensive of connecting worrying that may not be who they think that person is?
There is no straightforward answer to this question and it is very much dependent on personal decisions, what you see as representing you and what could give your audience the most accurate flavor of you.
The most important thing is to have an actual photo on your profile, be it one that shows you or is representing different sides of you. As long as you claim responsibility and ownership on your profile, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.
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