I first started experimenting with social media approximately seven years ago, marking me out perhaps as somewhat of a slow starter. With many early adopters as close friends, I was coached through the basics in a gentle way.
Facebook arrived in my life first, followed swiftly by Twitter and LinkedIn. I soon realised that whilst these networks are used by many almost interchangeably, I myself needed a distinct division between ‘professional’ and ‘play’. And whilst sourcing profile pictures for friends’ consumption through Facebook was easy, finding a photograph that hit the right note on LinkedIn and Twitter was far harder. Through these forums, I was effectively ‘selling’ the professional ME, with ideas to share and knowledge and experience to offer. The only photograph I had at my disposal that even came close to being called ‘professional’ was a rather bland shot of me looking like a bemused Mona Lisa. This photograph persisted across LinkedIn and Twitter for years… My personal brand clearly needed serious work.
It is fair to say that the process by which I secured a professional headshot for my online presence was something of an ambush! Perhaps if I had looked more closely at the agenda for the event I was attending I would have appreciated the significance of The Headshot Guy’s slot and invested some time in checking hair and make-up before arrival. Despite having done neither of those things I refused to pass up the opportunity to have a 5 minute ‘studio’ experience with John Cassidy. His short presentation provided a taster of his professionalism and with a little bit of coaching on posture, smile and how to ‘own’ the camera, John has produced a far more professional looking headshot than I could have expected with such little preparation and time.
The image I chose from that shoot is now smiling back at me from my profiles on Twitter and LinkedIn. It is important, I think, to use the same photograph across social media platforms so that you can be easily recognised and enable connections to be made.
In preparation for writing this blog, a colleague suggested I read the recent article by Claire Moriarty, a senior civil servant who is a self-confessed late adopter of Twitter (http://www.theguardian.com/public-leaders-network/2014/nov/26/-sp-women-twitter-work-social-media). Social media offers opportunities for “affirming, celebrating and connecting people” as well as promoting yourself and your ideas. To engage in this way you need a face. I knew I wanted an image that would portray me as a confident, approachable professional which is where the Headshot Guy came in. For which, much thanks!
Caroline Crewe-Read works as Head of Programme Delivery for English Heritage, currently leading an organisational change programme which will deliver a new model for the care and conservation of England’s heritage.