The answer is... YES... you should DEFINITELY smile in your profile picture. If you want a simple yes or no, you've got it... and you don't have to read any further. Yes, yes, for the love of all things good in this world, PLEASE SMILE!
If you want to know why, please continue reading :)
You should think of your profile picture as your first impression to a business professional contact. In today's social media world, many times we are using LinkedIn to look people up before going in to meetings.
So, envision yourself in any professional scenario- interview, meeting for a promotion or raise, meeting a new customer or client... imagine meeting that person, shaking their hand... and NOT smiling. Would you do that? Really?!! REALLY?!
NO! You would NEVER do that! You'd always smile. Even if you didn't want to, even if you were faking it until you were making it... you'd smile!
And why? Because smiling is the socially acceptable way of greeting other people and making them feel comfortable with us. It's our way of saying, "Hi, I'm nice, I'm normal, I'm warm & friendly and you want to talk to me."
I've been a recruiter for many many years... I've met many many strangers in my life... and if someone DIDN'T smile when they were meeting me for the first time... that would be a HUGE red flag. It would be just... totally... weird. And it'd make me feel really uncomfortable, really fast!
Plus... we just LOOK BETTER when we smile. Now.. there are some people in this world that are PROFESSIONALLY TRAINED to look good regardless of whether they are smiling or not. These people are generally called actors, models, spokespersons, public speakers perhaps? They work with professional photographers who have taught them how to be engaging and how to tell a story with their face and their eyes without having to smile.
98% of us DO NOT fall in this category. And that is OK :) And even if we do... we still wouldn't walk in to (very many) professional situations 'acting' or 'modeling' our faces to complete strangers. RIGHT? (I mean, I hope not... #awkward). Even those who audition regularly still walk in to a room smiling, looking their best, and hoping to allude an approachable, friendly, 'you want to work with me' energy!
To prove my point, I've treated myself as a case study and I believe the pictures below speak for themselves. Not smiling makes me (and so many others... you've all seenthose photos before!) look angry and/or (I'll go there) murderous. Then there's the 'I'm trying to smile with my face, but not my teeth'... this is just weird... and not true to real life. We smile with our teeth, our lips, our entire faces... that is what makes a smile so inviting.
SMILE... Be Happy! You only get one First Impression! And many times that first impression now comes on Social Media. And... you only get ONE LIFE... SO BE HAPPY :o) (Or... at least try... OR... fake it until you make it... at least for ONE PICTURE)!
(and yes, yes... my hair is lighter right now than in my profile pic... it's my summer 'do... I'm not convinced it's my permanent 'do... so I have not committed to changing my entire LI Profile yet... but maybe I should?) :) ;)