Today the first official portrait of Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, was revealed in London. The duchess described the painting as “amazing”, but critics referred to the image as “evil,” “rotten” and even “dull.” As a member of the Royal Family, Kate Middleton is one of the most scrutinized women on the planet. It’s perhaps not surprising that a lot of fuss (both good and bad) is often made about the duchess. Still, many people were surprised by all of the portrait drama that infiltrated the internet this morning, but maybe they shouldn’t be. After all, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” or so the saying goes. In this day and age, the first impression people might make about you could be a direct result of a photo or your online presence.

Given all the interest in the duchess’ image today, we thought this might be a good opportunity to point out how important your image is on LinkedIn. Here are a few things that you might want to keep in mind before you click that upload photo button.

  • Add a photo on your profile. It matters. A lot. You’re seven times more likely to be viewed if you have a photo on your LinkedIn Profile.
  • Keep it professional. The photo that you upload shouldn’t be a picture of you in pigeon pose, unless you’re a yoga instructor. Your profile photo also shouldn’t depict you riding into the sunset on a horse, unless you own a dude ranch. Swimsuit photos and wedding pictures should all be saved for your personal albums. The image you select will say a lot about you to potential business partners and hiring managers. If you’re using an unprofessional photo, that photo might not portray the message you really want to convey on LinkedIn which is, “I”m a person you ought to be doing business with.”
  • Simple is better. Your best bet is to upload a simple headshot with a white background. In the photo you should wear attire that reflects the atmosphere of the profession that you’re currently in, or hoping to join.
  • Some people are better with faces than they are with names. Adding a photo increases the likelihood that people will reply to your connection requests and discussion threads. (This is especially if you got married and changed your last name, have switched professions or even moved to another city.) A former college classmate might think, “I don’t know anyone named Katie Smith from Texas, so I’m going to ignore than connection request.” Seeing a photo attached to that LinkedIn Profile could change that knee jerk reaction into, “Oh, that’s Katie Reynolds. I had no idea she had gotten married/changed her last name and moved from New York to Texas! I can’t wait to hear what she’s been up to.” As a side note, you can, and should, display your former name, maiden name, or nickname on your profile so people can search for you by those names too.
  • Show you’re social media savvy. By having a photo on your LinkedIn Profile, you’re also signaling that understand how to use an integral business tool like LinkedIn. Professionals use the LinkedIn to uncover new clients, to get new jobs, find important industry insights and to accomplish a number of other business related tasks. If potential partners or hiring managers look at your profile and see that it doesn’t have a photo or that it is incomplete, they will might assume that your social media skill set isn’t up to snuff. It’s a lot like when you’re selling a house. If there’s no photo, it might make people think, ‘there must be something wrong with this property.’
  • Stick with a colored image. It’s also a good idea to stick with a colored image rather than black and white shots since that’s what you’d look like in person.

Perhaps one of the biggest takeaways you can learn from the duchess’ debacle is that while your LinkedIn Profile photo should be professional, it shouldn’t be too serious. (A number of people were wondering whether Kate was smiling or grimacing in her portrait.) Your photo should come alive. Make sure that you don’t select images that look sad or angry and definitely get rid of photos that have vacant stares.