This article was originally posted in Entrepreneur.com.
As entrepreneurs, we need to put considerable focus on personal branding. You are a brand; even during down time. You need to reflect this everywhere you go. Your appearance should enhance your message, not distract from it. Hair, makeup, clothes and accessories say a lot about you.
I believe effective personal branding attracts people who resonate with your business, and are aligned with your core values — the same way corporate brands reflect company values.
One often overlooked element is headshots — the photos you use for profiles, websites, article bios, book jackets, speaking engagements and more. A picture says a thousand words. Shouldn’t yours say something… compelling?
For headshots that reflect your true values and help tell the story of who you are and what your business is all about, focus on three elements — wardrobe, pose and background.
If you value spontaneity, you might look for patterned or textured fabrics, bright colors and unexpected touches. That could mean a vibrant tie, a fun scarf or statement earrings. If you value professionalism and simplicity, opt for a tailored suit with understated accessories.
My core values are fun, brave and real. I look for dresses with fun a-line skirts, brave colors and patterns and accessories that reflect realness like leather belts or gemstone earrings. Hold up each piece and ask, “Does this reflect my core values?” If it’s a no, move on.
A headshot is a close up of your head and upper torso. You could take some different shots, but I recommend mostly close ups. For one, most media outlets request them. For another, eyes tell a lot about who we are and help others connect with us.
Think of people who share your values: professionals, celebrities, athletes… anyone who resonates with you. Image search their headshots for inspiration. I opted for an angled pose. It’s a subtle change that I feel captures my values of fun and realness, and better reflects who I am. If you value power, look for “power poses” or image search powerful people. If you value relationships, choose a pose leaning into the camera. If you value joy, you may want want a mid-laughter shot.
No need to go crazy with your pose (unless you want to!). Even subtle adjustments can tell a new story.
If you value nature or freedom, an outdoor setting might appeal to you. If you value outgoingness, perhaps a photo of you on stage. If you value hard work and diligence, an office setting might resonate. A city street could reflect energy or youthfulness.
I do recommend a few headshots with a white background, as some media outlets will request this.
Write your values next to your headshot. Are they aligned?
Have a favorite candid shot of yourself? Try to capture a similar energy in your headshot (do not use candid shots in place of a professional headshot).
Have a tagline or mission statement? Read it while looking at your headshot. Are they aligned?
Unsure of your core values? Download my free e-book, “6 Steps to Determining Your Core Values.”
Invest in a professional photographer.
Image search your values to get a feel for how values can be expressed visually.
Headshots are a powerful branding opportunity. To attract the right people and opportunities for you, all aspects of your brand — including your headshot — must be aligned with your inner truth. Corporations do this all the time to connect with their audience. Take time to fully understand your values and to align them with your branding. You will attract clients you will love working with.
Here is to you being the CEO of your life!