She’s not getting older, she’s getting …
A lot of things happened to me that have changed my look over the last eight years. The most prominent event was my dance with ovarian cancer in Spring 2011. I lost all of my hair during chemotherapy. When my hair grew back, it was different – darker and much curlier. Now people tell me that I don’t look like my picture. That’s a problem for me when I show up for speaking engagements.
Why the bait and switch?
I remember one government leader in my state who was a regular speaker at a major women’s conference for several years running. Her official government portrait would be plastered on the web site, in the program booklet and on the big screen at the conference itself. But when she got up to speak at the podium, it was obvious that she was some twenty years older than her photo. I never understood why she chose to do this, because her current image was just as vibrant, dynamic, beautiful, and engaging, even with a few strands of grey hair showing. For whatever reason, she kept using that outdated official portrait and it became an obvious oversight.
How current is your online photograph?
Take a look at the photograph that you are using on your LinkedIn profile. I hope that you have one, because a photograph is essential to begin the rapport building and personal branding process.
How about the photos that you are using on your company’s web site, professional biography or other publicity channels? Do you like that photo of you? How long ago was it taken? Does it look current? That is, would anyone recognize you from your professional photo? If not, it’s probably time to update your professional portrait.
Put these ideas into Action
Conduct a review of the professional images that you have been using online and offline for the past few years. Note down the date of the photo session. Line them up side by side and compare. If you see a big gap in the years between the times you have taken these images, it may be time to reinvest in your professional image with a professional portrait session.
You may be tempted to pull out your Smart Phone and have a friend snap one of you. Or perhaps you are good at cropping, and can cut out your picture from a group shot taken at an event. Both of these cheap options are just that, cheap, and you deserve better. Don’t subject your professional image that kind of amateur treatment.
I recommend that you update your professional portrait at least every two years or so. Get referrals from people in your networks that have had good experiences with photographers, and have a high quality professional portrait to show for it. Interview a few photographers and ask tons of questions. Understand their process and the quality of their work.
Lastly, don’t judge a photographer by his/her price sheet. A quality photographer does much more than point and click. A talented photographer will help you discover and capture your personal brand. It’s worth the investment. It’s your career.
In the end, you will be surprised by how much you enjoy the process of a professional photo shoot, highlighting “you”. You will actually like your photo and find that it helps to position you for greater professional success. Now, picture that!