To be clear, I’m not a nudist. I have friends who are, but I’m too much of a prude to be one myself. So imagine how tickled I was when I recently read a posting on LinkedIn that had been liked and shared and commented on by thousands of people about the topic of showing too much skin on LinkedIn. The article was posted by a recruiter complaining about how unprofessional it was for women on Linkedin to be pictured in their profile photo in their bikini. Now, I like to stay away from controversy but it intrigued me and I read the post and the comments. After having worked in the big Corporate world for 20 years and as the CEO of my own marketing consulting practice for the past 6 years, I’d like to add my 2 cents to the topic.
Who Is Your Target
While it might be inappropriate for a man or a woman to appear–shall we say under-clothed in their LinkedIn profile picture if they’re in an industry that isn’t looking for physical attributes in a job, it’s absolutely ok to be in a bikini if the target industry or consumer is ok with and actively looking for those cues. For example, the owner of a modelling talent agency might be ok with having their candidates in a bikini in their profile pictures. All business is not corporate business. It doesn’t require suits or a costume. LinkedIn, like the rest of the world is a representation of a multitude of businesses, not just the office-type jobs. Such as was the case of Candice Galek who owned a swim wear company and was initially pulled off the platform but then pleaded her case to be given an ‘influencer’ follow button. She got 250,000 profile views in the 90-day period ending on May 15, 2016. In comparison, a non-bikini post related to Bill Gates drew 44,000 likes. There are 7,000 invitations to connect awaiting action in her LinkedIn inbox. In fact, her brand Bikini Luxe’s LinkedIn traffic was higher than its main traffic driver Pinterest, where it usually receives more than a million impressions per month. Her business is booming!
What Is Your Brand Character
Although it might seem inappropriate to some, and indeed it might BE completely unacceptable for most industries, if you own a business that has to do with fitness or dance or physical appearance or even apparel, you might actually be better off having your LinkedIn profile picture reflecting the character of your personal brand as the owner of that company. At the end of the day, LinkedIn is a channel for the message you want to convey to an audience of mostly other businesses and employees. So why not use this channel to convey the essence of your brand, even if it is fit, fun, and showing more skin than someone in ‘proper’ work attire.
What Triggers You Is Always About You
The last point I wanted to make about the whole topic of ‘nudity’ on LinkedIn is that if it’s legal and it serves a business purpose for the people who want to use a bikini shot on their profile picture, who are we to complain about it? I’ve learned after many years of therapy, coaching and reflection that what triggers our ire about ANYTHING is always about something that has to do with an unhealed wound in us. It’s hard to hear and harder even to think back to where it could possibly be coming from but there it is..
So there you have it, if you do have a scantily-clad picture on LinkedIn and it’s to help promote your brand or cause or to help you effectively reach your target group, great. If you have some sort of exhibitionist thing going on, well that’s ok too but you’ll soon see that the job offers you want in offices aren’t really coming your way. And guess what, it’s ok with me either way because I know what I want and how to get it from LinkedIn.
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