If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter all have a new admirer in LinkedIn.
Following in the footsteps of the other major networks, LinkedIn has finally implemented the ubiquitous “cover photo.” An image that individual members can upload to their profile that gets displayed across the top of their profile when viewed has been a long time coming.
And interestingly, LinkedIn did implement something along those lines for both Company Pages and Groups, so it has seemed odd that it’s taken so long for personal profiles to get them.
However, rather than pick on LinkedIn for being sluggardly, let’s compliment them on coming to the conclusion that such an upgrade is quite welcome for LinkedIn members.
UPDATE: The cover photo option is now available to all LinkedIn members, not just Premium accounts, as of 7/17. Read more.
Setting Your New LinkedIn Cover Photo
Adding your own custom cover photo to LinkedIn is easy enough. Log into your account, go to your own profile, and click on Edit. You will then note the Upload Image button where your cover photo would be.
The image itself should be 1400 x 425 and under 4MB so that it will appear nicely across the top of the screen. Smaller images will be stretched and larger images will be cropped and scaled, so just as with all of the other social network cover photos, I recommend using the optimum size (for reference, you may want to bookmark the Social Media Cover Photo Guide which will always have up to date dimensions for all networks).
Note that your profile image and header area is superimposed over the cover photo in the lower center, so be sure to avoid placing any important information there. It appears to cover the lower half of the image center. Some of the top and bottom of the image is cropped, and the profile header area is also somewhat translucent. So be prepared for some challenges when creating your custom cover photo, but it’s worth the effort!
Premium Cover Photos are only visible to logged in LinkedIn Members.
Here’s what mine looks like:
Suggestions for Your LinkedIn Cover Photo
Now that you understand the technical details, let’s get into the fun stuff – what to use as your image!
Now, this is where I’ll have to put my business consultant hat on. If you’re using LinkedIn for fun or for personal employment perhaps, than your goals are different and therefore my recommendations would be far from what you’re interested in. In those instances, make sure that any image you use is professional at least.
For individuals representing a personal brand or business, your cover photo can be used to quickly communicate any number of messages! For instance:
- Use an image that shows you doing something that reflects your style.
- Use a custom graphic that communicates your business and contact info.
- Use a graphic that is consistent with your other branded profiles.
- Show off a new product or service.
- Highlight a happy client and testimonial.
- Promote an upcoming event or seminar.
Kudos to Guy Kawasaki for noticing this change on his own profile initially.
Additional New Benefits for LinkedIn Premium Members
In addition to the gorgeous cover photo, LinkedIn Premium members can also take advantage of some additional new benefits, including:
– Set their profile to Open so that every LinkedIn member can view your full profile and reach out to you for free.
– Use LinkedIn’s Suggestions to add specific keywords to your summary to optimize it for search.
– Premium member profiles will stand out more in search results.
– New comparisons for ranking against other professionals in your niche.
If you’re a LinkedIn Premium member already, check out your upgraded profile and get to work on a new, custom Cover Photo. And if you aren’t a member, this might be the incentive you needed to upgrade. A custom, branded profile is an important aspect for those wanting the best possible LinkedIn profile.