What Does Your LinkedIn Profile Picture Say About You?

What Does Your LinkedIn Profile Picture Say About You?

When you were growing up you were probably told by your parents “Don’t judge on first impressions” and “Never judge a book by its cover”.  Well whether your parents were right or not isn’t important; what’s important is that you’ve been ignoring that advice ever since!

I mean be honest now – when you meet someone for the first time you make assumptions and draw conclusions. You might be open-minded enough to park those first impressions until you get to know the person better but the point is you made initial judgments.

So let’s turn our attention to LinkedIn and the sometimes dreaded profile picture. The first thing to accept is that people are going to look at it. Not only are they going to look at it but  they are going to click on it in an effort to make the picture bigger and see you better.

You can upload a smaller picture if you like but I know for myself, and I suspect you will agree with me,  that when you click on a profile picture and it doesn’t expand it’s a little disappointing.

And I strongly suspect that when you created your LinkedIn profile ‘disappointment’ wasn’t the emotional reaction you were aiming  to create  in your audience!

So people are going to click on your picture, enlarge it and then draw conclusions. Totally mistaken, inaccurate or biased those impressions might be but at that time, without knowing you personally, those impressions will form the basis for the viewers opinions of you.

So with that thought in mind what type of picture should you use? Well first up let’s consider the rules. In the User Agreement that you accepted when you joined LinkedIn you will find the official rules for profile pictures; namely:

Don’t undertake the following:

Upload a profile image that is not your likeness or a head-shot photo;

Clause 10.B.6 LinkedIn User Agreement Amended 16 June 2011

So that immediately rules out logos, group or couple shots and in fact even full body shots of yourself!

Now you might be tempted to say ‘So what?’ well LinkedIn are within their rights, and I have known them do it, to freeze a person’s account until such time as they upload a more suitable photograph. You have been warned!

My observation is that whilst the rules are very clear i.e. ‘head-shot’ only, LinkedIn only tend to take action when either the picture includes other people or it contains a company logo.

The good news is that even with a head shot you can convey quite a range of impressions and, if I’m really honest, this isn’t 1984 and an Orwellian state so you should be okay to have an upper body shot which gives you even more scope for creating the impression you want. (Please note that if you go this route and LinkedIn take exception to it I accept no liability – break the rules at your own risk!)

Before we go any further it might be good for you to quickly have a look at your profile picture and consider how closely it follows the rules above.


Consider what your current picture says about you

So what type of impression do you want to create? First up it should be the ‘real you’ and by that I mean the real work you. Consider what you are actually like in business. Are you a formal, by the rules individual, a serious business professional who is always keen to promote the right image or a dynamic individual who is full of energy?

The following three pictures accurately portraying each of those character types. Notice how the background, lighting and pose have been chosen to create a specific impression.

Gerald’s full profile                        Paul’s full profile                          Richard’s full profile

(As an aside Paul’s company GrassGreener, based in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England is recruiting (as at 8 March 2012) for graduate headhunters –

Click here for details


Some people are just fun to be with, naturally full of life and bubbly – even at work! That’s the rare type of person who can pull off a casual photo on LinkedIn

Patrycja’s full profile

I believe the above is a holiday snap yet it perfectly capturing this Patrycja’s friendly and open personality.

And whilst it doesn’t say ‘formal corporate’ it really doesn’t want to be as the audience she is looking to attract are not ‘formal corporate’. As a recruiter in a specialist field she is seeking to attract candidates who might be put off by an image that was too formal. A very popular and successful consultant; this picture works well for her.


I like black and white photographs and I think if you are looking to add a touch of class and difference you can easily do it by taking the colour out!

Chris’ full profile 

Also with this picture the angle creates an original image. Many years ago when I was at art college my photography tutor gave us all a hard time for taking portrait pictures that were head on to the subject. He made the point quite forcibly that

“a photo booth in Boots will take your photo for your passport like that – surely you can be more creative than a machine!”

Only do it if it fits your personality though – Chris likes to think outside of the box when he recruits so it fits him.


Ahem…well here we go quite far away from the rules so I repeat that I’m not necessarily recommending taking a photo like this but it is worth considering the impressions they make. Each of them creates an impact and reflects the personality of the individuals to a degree.

Dan’s full profile 

Kathryn’s full profile

Jason’s full profile

If you chose to use a picture like the above then be aware that people are going to talk to you about the picture – very often as the first thing that they say! If you don’t want to have that conversation then don’t use that type of picture!

As an aside I’ve taken screen shots of the photos above to give you a feel for the true impression these pictures make when first clicked on. Click on them to see them at the full size they appeared on my screen.

ACTION POINT take some time to consider the impression you would like to create with your profile picture and then take some time to create that perfect photo!

SECOND ACTION POINT I’m always happy to accept LinkedIn invitations so if you’d like to connect then click the picture below (I do wonder what impression it gives you!) and send me an invitation (and if you need an email address then use stephen.hart@edenchanges.com)

THIRD ACTION POINT (This one is optional) Email Edenchanges and ask for details of our personalised LinkedIn and social media training and consulting – we’d love to work with you! Email at enquiries@edenchanges.com 

Until next time;

Stephen Hart

Three management questions of value

Three Management Questions of Value

 Merging the Action theme from last week and this weeks theme of Values and I have three questions that I would offer you. These questions cover the topics of your most valuable client, your staff activities and your own skill set –  I trust you will find the answers enlightening!

Two of the questions are for you as a manager and one is for your team although there is nothing stopping you having everyone work through all three questions as a development exercise.

Question One – for yourself

Who is your most valuable client?

This is not necessarily the one that generates the most revenue or even the one that is the most profitable. It could be that a less profitable account when considered in the bigger picture is actually more valuable due to its strategic important or what having that client enables you to do (enter new markets etc.)

Once you have identified your most important client (or a short-list of three if you want to do this exercise in more depth) consider

  • When did you last speak to them?
  • When did you last visit them?
  • When did you last provide added value beyond the level they expected?

ACTION POINT If any of your answer to the above are ‘not recently or ‘not recently enough’ then either do it now or put a note in your diary system to do it soon!

Question Two – for your employees

The following makes an interesting, and potentially very useful, development exercise for your staff. Ask them the following as part of a development session

In your role what is your most valuable function?

Not a trick question but rather, in a similar vein as question one, an honest and direct question to get the person thinking. The question works best when the employee is allowed a chance to present their own ideas about their role. Whilst you might know what what they have been hired to do what they actual perceive as their most valuable role can be very illuminating.

TIP To get to the real heart of their role and unearth the most valuable function that a person performs it will be necessary to break their role down into it”s core components. Take a receptionist – they might greet people in person, screens calls, schedule diaries, order items, negotiate with suppliers etc. The question is within your business what is the most valuable function your receptionist does?

Once their most important role (or again three most important roles) have been agreed upon consider

  • What training has the person had recently to help them perform that aspect of their job?
  • How much time do they get to focus on it?
  • What prevents them from doing more of it?
  • Are they personally well suited to the task and do they enjoy it?
  • And finally – what can you do to help them fulfill that function easier, faster and generally better?!
ACTION POINT Ask your key members of staff if they would be willing to try a development exercise – make sure you present this as a positive thing – and then try the above. If the results are useful then roll out across the rest of your staff.

Question three – for yourself

What’s your most valuable skill set?

It’s always positive to take some time and consider our own skills. So take some time and make a list of your skills and whittle it down to either a single skill or a short-list of three or so.

Once you have done that consider

  • How much do you currently use it?
  • What results are you currently getting from using it that way?
  • In what way could you use it more?
  • What would have to be in place to facilitate you doing it more?
  • How could you increase your skill in this area?
ACTION POINT Make time to work through the above or at the very least sit back now and consider the questions!


A manager should be adding value to all their customers, whether internal or external.

Checking the value of activities and personnel on a regular basis will help keep your firm evolving and moving forward.

Until next time, add some value!

Stephen Hart

Why have a dog and…

Why have a dog and bark yourself?

We live in a fast paced world with the business world in particular seeming to be in a constant state of flux. As a result managers have it tough.

Not only are they expected to direct their teams efforts towards the business goals but they are also expected to be able to assimilate the new techniques and approaches and pass those on to the team without missing a beat. A tough call.

So what is a sensible, modern  manager to do? 

In a word…manage.

Yes the clue was in the title. A manager should manage all the resources at their fingertips. Including their team’s knowledge and abilities. So for example if a manager is sitting at home one Sunday reading the papers and thinking

‘oh wow smart phones can do a lot. I wonder how they could help the sales team or operations team work more efficiently?’

rather than doing all the research themselves a sensible manager should ask around their team. Identify the person who already has that knowledge and give them the task of explaining or doing any additional research. It’s classic delegation with a modern focus.

New technology has been coming out since someone created the first wheel. The difference is nowadays is that the people who actually know about the new stuff are often not the ‘specialists’ rather just regular individuals who happen to be early adopters. This is a phenomena common to those of us with children of high school age.   My daughter has given me the low down on several new websites that previously I had not heard of.

So before you go putting in hours learning new things ask around – you might already have the required knowledge within your team!

Until next time; happy learning.

Stephen Hart

07733 88 11 90 (yes I use a smart phone that I picked out myself!)


Power cuts, lunch and a mid January review

Power cuts, lunch and a mid January review

A power cut provided me with an unexpected break from the office and it gave me the opportunity to have lunch with a business professional I have known personally for several years and who by happy coincidence happened to be working close to my office yesterday.

Over lunch we were talking about 2012 and our expectations. We both have the positive view that 2012 has good potential and that indeed it could even be a great year. We also share the view that it is going to take hard work, consistent effort and good planning.

On the topic of planning we got to discussing how January is often the Achilles heel for people and that as we rapidly approach the mid-point of January too many people were still ‘warming up’ after Christmas. In different ways and to different degrees we both admitted some guilt on this point. Neither of us were quite where our plans for January said we should be.

For my lunch buddy it was a mental hesitation to fully embrace the reality of being back to work and for me to was a slower start to my new marketing projects than I had scheduled.

The good thing is that having had that honest conversation I know what needs to be done. Before next Monday comes, which represents the half way point of January (if you are counting business days) I will take stock with my associates of our combined efforts and progress and ensure that any short fall is made up.

I don’t know your situation but it might be constructive for you to run a quick strategic review just to check your ship is on course and on schedule!

Until next time, be successful!

Stephen Hart
Corporate trainer and consultant



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Where would Batman be without Alfred

Where would Batman be without Alfred?

From hero to psychologically crippled costumed vigilante the public perception of Batman has changed over the years. This is, I suspect, a reflection of society changing focus from beyond the obvious and into the specifics. As well heroes now seem to be something to be analysed and broken down rather than upheld as paragons of virtue.

Within the very lore and comic world of Batman itself there have also been significant changes over the years. Sidekicks have come and gone (dramatically so in recent years). Batman himself has ‘died’ and many varied costume changes have been witnessed.

In all that time though there has been one constant; Alfred.

Batman’s loyal and faithful butler has stood by his master’s side and been a voice of worldly advice, caution and encouragement.

I can live with Batman without Robin but I can’t picture him without Alfred. Alfred provides a grounding, a real person perspective and moral compass to this masked hero.

But here’s a question; why does Alfred stay? The easy answer is out of loyalty. And whilst that might be right that’s not a deep enough answer because it raises a bigger question – where does this loyalty come from?

Fundamentally Alfred recognises that no matter what Bruce Wayne as Batman may do he is working with better moral thoughts in mind. His intentions are good, even if his actions break legal and sometimes bend moral laws.

Alfred also recognises the risks and efforts that Bruce takes to be Batman – whether it is going out into the field injured, refusing to back down against overwhelming odds or spending years dedicating himself to his martial arts training. (Least we forget Bruce Wayne as Batman is a major league superhero in a fictional world populated by super powered aliens and mutants despite Bruce only being a biologically normal human being!)

But if his loyalty was based only on those points it would be more hero worship than genuine loyalty. Any examination of the relationship between the characters will show that their relationship is founded on much deeper connections.

Bruce Wayne recognises that Alfred has skills and abilities he does not have. Alfred is a moral compass and a voice of compassion and reason when Bruce gets too obsessed. Alfred remembers more clearly the lessons of the past and offers suggestions on the routes forward from a perspective less clouded by angst and fervour. He also acts as medic, supplies manager and sometimes match maker amongst other things!

But, and this is a key point, Bruce’s internal recognition of Alfred’s worth wouldn’t help build loyalty. What is needed is for Alfred to know that he is appreciated. And he does know it; so the real question is: how does he know he is appreciated?

First Alfred is told directly by Bruce that he is appreciated, but such direct validation is not practical, nor effective, all the time. Arguably, more powerfully, Bruce demonstrates his appreciation of Alfred. Further he shows an appreciation for different aspects of Alfred; which is a point worth bearing in mind.

This is transferable to the real world. Everyone has certain strengths and abilities. If you have someone in the office who is punctual and you hold them up as an example to the rest of the team that’s great recognition. However if that is the only strength or ability of theirs that you repeatedly refer to or highlight then it becomes singular and one sided.  Very often the person ends up frustrated that their other abilities are not being recognised especially when they believe they have stronger or more important strengths in other areas. So strive to identify multiple strengths in your people.

Back to Batman (a phrase you won’t see on just any business blog)…

Bruce recognises and makes it clear that Alfred is a good person with a strong moral core as well as being an individual with a significant range of skills and abilities – and almost supernatural powers of discretion.

He demonstrates it in the same way that a good manager should demonstrate their faith in their team members…

Bruce asks for help; he discusses matters with Alfred (actively seeking his views) and he keeps Alfred informed of events. By doing so he is sending the clear message that he respects Alfred on a number of levels; first as a person who has an intrinsic right to know what is going on and secondly as a talented individual with his own skills and views who might well be able to help.

Consider that you tend not to discuss something with someone where you do not expect them to be able to understand or comment sensibly. Consequently choosing not to share information, thoughts or ideas with someone sends the message that you don’t expect them to say anything of value. And if you aren’t interested in them why should they be interested in you?

Bruce and Alfred are also bonded through shared experiences. Yes Batman goes out fights crime, gets hurt, returns and Alfred patches him up. But that’s not the shared experiences I’m thinking of. There have been occasions where Alfred has taken centre stage and fought with various villains. Such front line, shared experiences build common ground and also create occasions for direct appreciation.

Let’s say you are a sales executive who works with an account manager. Unless you take them on a sales appointment with you it’s very hard to be able to say,

“Well done on dealing with those objections and thanks for the prompt to talk about our new services, (I’d forgotten about those)”


“I didn’t realise you spoke French, that was very helpful”

Or whatever the situation in the meeting might have brought up. The point is if you don’t create the opportunity for those situations to occur then you won’t have the chance to voice your appreciation.

Another aspect of sharing common experiences is that it tends to create a mutual flow of appreciation of each other’s worlds. People have views and opinions about what other people do for a living but experiencing it tends to be quite different. It pays real dividends for all managers to spend active time shadowing their team members to truly understand how they do business.

And in my experience, with understanding often comes recognition of other’s challenges which in itself can generate respect.

One of the most common mistakes I hear from managers is when they say,

“I know what they do”

Knowing and experiencing are two very different things – just ask any new mother!

Going back to the first example above and the final part; which was in brackets –  ‘I’d forgotten about those’ is obviously for those honest sales individuals who are willing to put their pride to one side. An important attribute as none of us are perfect and to admit a mistake sends a positive message that they happen and it’s okay to recognise that.

Again there have been occasions between Bruce and Alfred when Bruce has apologised and recognised that Alfred has been right all along. This builds respect between two people as being able to recognise a mistake and sharing that fact with another person demonstrates an openness of mind and an emotional maturity that people respond to well.

The act of giving recognition also generates respect. Nobody ever has to give recognition to another person; doing so is a selfless and generous gesture.

When you consider the above and think about Batman and Alfred, one thing perhaps underpins their relation more than any other – communication. And indeed on the occasions where their relationship is more strained typically this is through Batman withholding information and being secretive and self-centred.

In all relationships where you are hoping to cultivate loyalty increasing the flow of communication will work wonders.

Whether you are a morally ambiguous vigilante, a business leader with support staff or a sales consultant partnered with an account manager, the more respect you give, the more experiences you share with your team members and the more everyone communicates, the better the relationships will be.

Just leave the cape at home.

Until next time;

Stephen Hart

+44 (0)7733 88 11 90



Simply click the link Where would Batman be without Alfred


I’d like to thank Steve Townsley for the generous use of his fantastic art to head this blog – more of his work can be found at  http://scruffy-zero.deviantart.com/ he is also open for commissions! 

The artist known as JWMC also generously said I could use his work and whilst I went with Steve’s pictures I think it’s only fair to say thanks to JWMC – his work can be found here http://beowulf716.deviantart.com/

Be aware that not all of their art might be suitable for all audiences or for viewing at the workplace – you have been warned!

Batman and all associated trademarks are © DC Comics



Corporate trainers and coaches

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Suite A10 Riccall Business Park, Riccall ,York, YO19 6QR

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Four Questions for Your Business


 Four Questions for Your Business

As I’m flying to the Isle of Man shortly to deliver a Business Coaching course I thought I’d wear my business coaching hat and ask some questions this week.

To get the most from this blog really consider the questions before moving on. Indeed you might jot down some of the answers…

So here is the first question; think about, for your business

What is the most important business activity*.

*You can substitute ‘process’ for ‘activity’ if it fits better

Now I don’t know, for your business, if the most important business activity is winning new clients, manufacturing more goods, fulfilling orders, hiring staff or something else. I don’t know what it is for your business. But you do.

So please really think about it for a few minutes. Come up with the most important activity for your business.

Got it? Great.

Now here’s the second question:

How would it be if it took twice as long to do that business activity?

That’s right. Twice as long. What would the impact be?

Now I can’t see your reaction but I’m going to assume that the answer is some sort of negative. As one of my clients recently put it “Twice as long? it would be a “F***ing disaster”.

So assuming you are in agreement with my client let me ask you a third question

 What would be the benefit of speeding up that activity?

And the final question (for this blog although the process could certainly continue through a few more steps.)

What active steps have you taken recently to speed up that business activity?

And a tip here might be to consider a range of factors from people, machines, processes, suppliers etc

So I’ll leave that with you to ponder…or possible make some plans with a final word from Lee Lacocca, exCEO of Chrysler

I’ve always found that the speed of the boss is the speed of the team.

Until next time; be successful

Stephen Hart

Corporate trainer



Corporate trainers and coaches

Recruitment Training ♦ Sales Training ♦ Management Training ♦ NLP and Communication Training ♦ Linkedin Training ♦ Personal Development Coaching
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Based in York and working worldwide
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Feisty February

Feisty February

This is the first in a series of monthly blogs which will take a look at things to do to develop your business within the specific month.

This series of blogs is based on the idea that different times of the year demand different business tactics.

We’d have started with January but the idea for the series only came to me at the beginning of February so the January issue will be the last to be written!

So without further ado let us get busy with Feisty February.

Oh and why ‘Feisty’?

Well I believe that February is the month to sort out all the great plans, ideas and ambitions that started in January but aren’t quite happening as they should be.

It’s a bit like personal resolutions from the new year. If people were serious about following through on them then February would be the month where they picked them up again or re-affirmed their commitment.

It’s a short, brutally honest month where people need to accept what they had planned for the year, accept their short fallings to date (coupled with acknowledgement of achievements) and then get on with driving things forward.

In other words…time to get feisty!

Systems and Procedures

February is the month to get the systems and procedures that you established, launched or revisited in January running smoothly. Review meetings are key here. Look at the plans that were laid down in January or were due to be enacted in January and ensure they are being applied as consistently as you had wanted.

Get the facts of the case and judge on those. If your sales team committed to a certain call or visit number per week and they are falling short then sort that out. If you had planned to stick to a certain email regime e.g. only reading your emails once or clearing your inbox every evening then now is the time to reapply that plan (possible altering it to make it more feasible if that is deemed prudent). Etc.

Staff and Personnel

January is a busy month in the recruitment world as people come back from Christmas and realise just how much they really do hate their jobs. Consequently you might have lost a few people. Have a look at who is left and give some serious thoughts to how you are going to develop them in 2011. Perhaps have discussions with them regarding personal and professional development goals.

No one has to work for you. So make sure the ones that do are being looked after and getting the attention and recognition that they deserve.

Equally you want the best team onboard that you can so consider the following:

  • If you had to work the entire year only with the people you have currently how likely is it that you would hit all your targets?
  • Who within the team has the capacity to mentor other members and which members would benefit from some mentoring?
  • If you had to lose one person from your team who would you pick?
  • What or who do you need to add to your team to achieve your vision of where you want to be at the end of 2011? (NB: not your goals but your vision)
  • Who started in January and could do with more support/further training?

Now take some actions based on the answers.


Most, (obviously there are exceptions), industries have poorer sales in December if for no other reason than less working days. Thus January is a time to get back on track. Unfortunately sales people can take a while to rev back up to full steam after Christmas and the New Year.

That needs to be sorted out in February.

Make sure your sales people are thinking in terms of business quarters. This puts February as the pivotal month for the first quarter. That kind of thinking can add some weight to your exhortations that they should be making calls and visits now rather than looking for March to save the quarter.

And a particular note aimed at all my recruitment consultant clients (and all other recruiters reading this) – with the typical four-six week sales cycle in permanent recruitment consultants need to be busy in early February to have a strong March.

For sales managers in February

  • Consider short, burst incentive schemes – for example a bonus prize given out weekly in February (something simply and quantifiable and on top of whatever long-term incentives exist)
  • Now is the time to get people to be consistent with their calls and visits – disruptions due to holidays and after Christmas events have gone and its the time for the sales machine to get into its stride and run smoothly
  • Who’s showing innovation and exploring new markets? Encourage expansion during February which can then be continued through the new year

On a personal level – yes time to talk about you

Be honest and consider what you haven’t done in the business or in your career that you had actually planned or simply thought about over the Christmas period.

Accept that you didn’t do it, or didn’t do it as much as you planned do and then either accept it wasn’t that important to you or put it into action.

So you might want to consider:

  • Sit and remember about your intentions and check your diary or journal to remind yourself what you were going to do both personally and professional this year – now consider what actually happened and make some decisions about that
  • If you didn’t have any real plans regarding making changes then maybe now is the time to consider what you could do more of or less of, on a personal level, through the rest of this year.


If January was the launch pad for the year then February is the month to check you are on the right course. Time for some feisty action!

Until next time; be feisty!

Stephen Hart

Owner, Edenchanges



Corporate trainers and coaches

Recruitment Training ♦ Sales Training ♦ Management Training ♦ NLP and Communication Training ♦ Linkedin Training ♦ Personal Development Coaching
Suite A10 Riccall Business Park, Riccall ,York, YO19 6QR
Based in York and working UK wide and internationally
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