The other day I was reading a post on LinkedIn when I received one of those, “People you may know” prompts. I didn’t know very many of the folks. As I scrolled through the LinkedIn suggestions I noticed something—there were a lot of profile photos that weren’t appropriate for LinkedIn. LinkedIn has been called the professional Facebook. If that’s so, shouldn’t your image be professional?

What I saw

I scrolled through 104 headshots, four to a row 16 rows, and 55 of the photos didn’t meet basic standards—nearly half! Was I seeing things? In this day and age don’t most people have a basic understanding of what a LinkedIn appropriate image should be? I guess not.

What I found

No image. This is a sin. If you’re not prepared to post a photo, then don’t open a LinkedIn account. It’s not that difficult to create a professional image, more on that later.

Non-work settings. The two worst were at nightclubs. Do you think that might come back to haunt those two? What were they thinking? Ans as heartless as it may sound, unless your job is coaching, people don’t want to see the photo of you coaching junior in the soccer league. Save that photo for Facebook. And save the pictures of you and your pet for Facebook as well.

Poorly cropped. I saw this a bunch. You could tell others had been cropped out.

Inappropriate behavior. This is a business network. We don’t want to see fish lips, come-hither expressions, and anger or be given the finger. (OK nobody did that—yet.)

Full body.  No, no, no. I don’t care how attractive and physically fit you are. Head shots please.

The wrong clothes. Wear what you wear to work, unless it’s too casual. If you want ideas on the best clothing choices, review a few dozen profiles and see what you think is professional.

Glamour shots. Save those for the boudoir. Not right for this network.

How to create a good LinkedIn profile image

If you can afford it, or get the company to foot the bill, by far the best way to go is a headshot by a professional photographer. Here are two Josh Humble Photography and Paul D’Andrea Photography. If you don’t have the funds, a good LinkedIn photo can be taken on a smartphone.

It’s all about you. And only you, no co-workers, pets, or children. No props or tools, just you.

Make it face time. At least one-half of the image should be your face.

Use a plain background. Use nothing busy. A light one color background is best.

Take advantage of light. Be sure the light is ample and behind the camera. Natural light is best. Do not use the flash. You’re not that good with the camera.

Smile. Simple isn’t it? I didn’t say a big horse eating grin—just a simple smile.

Dress the part. Wear your professional work clothes. If you wear T-shirts everyday, step it up a notch.

Say no to the filter. Unless you are a professional photographer don’t add filters or light to the photo.

KISS. Remember to keep it simple stupid and you can’t go wrong.

Does your headshot work?

Is it simple, clear, and professional? Is it of your head and face? Does it look like you? Are you smiling? Or is it cropped photo of you at the bar with your parrot on your shoulder as you slam a boilermaker? How’s that working for you?