Your profile picture is the first impression that you give to the world and the one you choose really says a lot about you, whether you realize it or not. I’ve been spending a lot of time on social networking websites, like Facebook and Twitter lately, and I’ve noticed a few things when it comes to profile pictures.

If you’re on Facebook for the sole purpose of connecting with family and friends, then your main concern should be that others can recognize you in your photos.

However, if you are on Facebook for business reasons, you need to consider many other factors. Your profile photo establishes how people perceive you, so you must always keep that in mind when deciding which profile picture to upload.

۱) The Smiling Directly at the Camera Photo: I’m starting the list with my absolute favorite type of profile picture. When a person appears as if they are looking directly at you while also smiling, it says a lot. This type of photo leads people to believe that you are confident, outgoing and happy. It makes people feel like they can connect with you and even more than that- it makes people want to connect with you.

۲) The Photo of a Random Body Part: Whether it’s your hair, ears, legs or feet, the photos of just a particular body part can mean a few different things. Either you have REALLY amazing toes, your face isn’t all that attractive or maybe you just like being mysterious. Either way, know that when a person can’t see your actual face it will make them wonder why.

۳) The Embarrassing Photo: Thankfully, I don’t see this too often, but whenever I do I’m always left speechless. The embarrassing photo is the one that literally leaves you feeling embarrassed for the person every time you see it. This is the profile photo that makes you ask yourself, “WHY would they post this?!” Having an embarrassing photo as your main profile picture makes people question your common sense as well as your sanity.

۴) The Photo of a Celebrity: I’m always curious as to why someone would choose to use a profile picture up of a celebrity instead of a photo of themselves. Do they actually like that person SO much that they forgo their right to show the world what they look like or is it just that they want people to somehow associate them with that particular celebrity? I get it on Doppelganger week, but using a celebrity as your main profile photo at any other time is weird and a little creepy.

۵) The Random Photo: We’ve ALL seen this one. The profile picture that is of something so completely random, like a cartoon or a pair of striped gym socks, that you don’t even know what to say about it. Having a random photo up as your default picture leaves people unsure what to think about you.

۶) The Company Logo: When a person uses their company logo as their main profile picture it probably means that the main reason they are a member of that particular social community is to network and connect with other professionals. If you are solely trying to network however, it is always a good idea to allow people to put a face to the company name. So having professional photos of yourself taken and uploading them to Facebook, is definitely not the worst idea if your goal is to appear professional and make connections.

۷) The Photo of your Kids: Choosing to set your main profile photo as one of your children instead of yourself shows that you are on Facebook to connect with family and friends more than anything else. If this isn’t the case, you should save the family portraits for Christmas cards and photo albums and instead upload a photo that shows who you are.

۹) The Dog/Cat/Fish/Other Random Pet Photo: This, for me, is the absolute worst. It’s OK that you love your pet, but ONLY posting photos of your four dogs makes you look like you don’t have much of a life. Yes, the photos of your cats sleeping in your bed and your birds eating an ice cream cone are extremely cute, but they don’t exactly make the best profile pictures. Choose a profile picture that shows your best side, not your animals’.

۱۰) The Mysterious Profile Photo: The mysterious default picture is the one that only shows half of your face, therefore making you appear somewhat mysterious. Setting a msyterious photo as your main picture generally makes people curious to find out more about you.

۱۱) The Photo Where Other People Are Clearly Cut Out: We’ve all seen the badly cropped photos that only allow you to see the missing persons hand or shoulder. I always feel bad for the person cut out of the photo because although you took the time to take a photo next to them, you also took the time to crop them out which says a lot. Photos that cut other people out of them make the world wonder what the story behind the photo is. Is the cropped out person an ex-lover? An ex-friend? Who is the missing person?!

Other things to consider when choosing a profile picture:

۱) Alcohol: Photos that have alcohol in them, even if it’s ‘just a beer’ will make people look at you as less professional. If you aren’t trying to be professional then by all means, upload a picture of you and your friends taking shots or playing beer pong. But if you want to establish a somewhat professional presence online, then definitely stay away from photos that have alcohol in them or look like they were taken at a club.

۲) Skin: The amount of skin you show in your profile picture really says a lot about you. A little chest or leg never hurt anyone but guys– posting photos of yourselves in the bathroom mirror, without a shirt on is SO MySpace and really needs to stop. And girls– those photos of you in a bathing suit or even worse, a bra, does not say much about you besides the fact that you’re willing to allow complete strangers to see you almost naked. It usually appears pretty desperate and is definitely unprofessional. Is that the impression you want to give to the world? Think about that one before posting.

۳) What kind of face are you making? The attitude that you are presenting to the world is also a huge factor to consider. Are you smiling? Are you looking away? Are you making a kissy face? Are you telling the world to f* off? What you’re actually doing in your main profile picture says a lot about you so make sure to consider that when uploading a new profile photo.

The bottom line:

Your profile picture on social networking websites is an introduction to the world. Think about the main reasons that you’re on Facebook, Twitter or any other social communities for that matter and then choose your profile picture accordingly.

Which category do you fall under?! If you’re not sure, leave a comment with your Facebook link and I’ll let you know what I think your profile picture says about you!:)

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