Yeah, we thought that headline might grab you. But seriously, did you know that before you speak to a new client for the first time, it is likely they already have a first impression of you? Sure, an opinion that will become more well-rounded as they get to know you, but one that studies show is unlikely to change at its core.
How can this be if you have never met, or even spoken to them before? Studies show that glancing at your photo on either the company website or social media page is enough to form not only a first impression but an opinion on your trustworthiness, social-economic status, and even competence.
Did your hand just twitch to check your LinkedIn? I thought so.
Four ways to make a strong impression with your headshot:
1. General Body Language
This one may seem obvious, but we are always surprised to see just how many advisors are crossing their arms or sporting a severe frown (or both!) in their headshots. A study from the University of Austin found when looking through photos of 123 undergraduate students, they were able to determine each individual’s extroversion, self-esteem, religiosity, agreeableness, and conscientiousness with surprising accuracy (you can read more about the study here).
When your shoulders are back, your arms relaxed and open, and your face happy your photo exudes both confidence and agreeableness in less than a second of viewing. This kind of body language puts the potential client at ease and instantly adds to your credibility.
2. Your Eyes
One of the most significant factors in determining intelligence in a first impression is eye contact. Although you can’t make authentic eye contact with the viewer through your photo, you can replicate it in a way to have a similar effect. Look straight at the camera for your headshot so that your eyes are visible. Smiling, even if it is a soft smile, will help your eyes exude more warmth (read more here).
Thick glasses are also shown to help, however, aren’t recommended for your overall look unless you already wear glasses regularly (as in you will be wearing them if the client comes to see you in your office).
3. Your Attire
This study gave participants five seconds to look at photos with men in tailored and non-tailored suits and, you guessed it. Men in tailored suits were determined to be more successful. Just because you might bond with many of your clients over fishing or golf doesn’t mean your profile photo should indicate either of those things. Pictures from family vacations belong on your personal Facebook profile or an occasional strategic LinkedIn post, but certainly never in your profile picture or company headshot.
Women have a little more freedom in this regard. Dress fabrics often translate better than the thinner material of most blouses. Consider going for a solid color over a pattern so that your attire compliments your face, not distracts from it. Simple jewelry can add to this aura of success- again the goal is to complement, not distract (more tips on female headshots here).
4. Photo Quality and Age
High photo quality adds a significant amount of professionalism to your profile and bio. You can have a phenomenal resume to scroll through on LinkedIn, but what does it say about your attention to detail when your photo is 20 years out of date and low-quality? How is your client supposed to trust that you are on the cutting edge? To put it simply, they won’t.
We recommend you get a new headshot at least every five years by a professional photographer. In our April Fools Blue Paper (seen here) we joked about “Photocol” cracking down on advisor photo misrepresentation. While humorous (to some), there is an element of truth in a subconscious bait-and-switch when you look nothing like the photo on your LinkedIn profile or company website. We don’t have to tell you that as a financial advisor, credibility and trustworthiness on every level is critical during first impressions with your client.
For a great video summarizing first-impressions click here.
Written by the Advisorbox Team
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