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The Art of Online Portraiture (Lille)

The Art of Online Portraiture

By CHERYL LU-LIEN TAN

Social-media profiles are increasingly important in building your business identity. "It's a hugely powerful branding tool—and you have to be very strategic about building it," says Nicole Williams, connection director for LinkedIn.

A key component is the profile picture. The New York City-based Ms. Williams, who primarily splits her time among three social-media sites—Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn—says it is crucial to strike the right tone.

First, you should have a profile picture. LinkedIn research shows that a page with a profile picture is seven times as likely to be viewed as a page without one, she says.

Think of these pictures as the modern-day version of the oil paintings that estate owners once commissioned. The smallest details in them will convey volumes. It's best, Ms. Williams says, to have your profile picture feature you alone, not your pet or significant other. "Being so strongly identified with your dog or your husband might not be appropriate unless you're a vet or a marriage counselor and that's part of your professional image."

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