Why My LinkedIn Profile Pic Includes My Daughter

Joe Mull“I love it, but it may work against you.”

Several years ago I began working to beef up my LinkedIn profile. As part of that process I chose as my profile picture a studio shot taken of me with my daughter, Lily. It’s one of my favorite pictures. We are both flashing genuine, authentic smiles. It’s clearly a professional, quality photo and I thought it was a tender way to provide a tiny glimpse into me as a complete person.

This apparently flies in the face of how one is supposed to use LinkedIn.

Since I chose that photo I’ve constantly encountered articles, blogs, and tips sheets on what should (and should not) appear in a LinkedIn profile. Almost every one includes some variation of “Don’t have other people in your photo.” And last year, when I asked a professional consultant to review my LinkedIn profile and offer feedback, she mentioned it right away.

“I love it, but it may work against you.”

Her feedback made me nervous.  Will people think I’m unprofessional? Does it signal to potential clients that I’m not aware of the culture of LinkedIn, or of professional presence in general? Is it overkill? Is it possible that a photo that includes a child will make a would-be client uncomfortable? I wrestled with these questions for a time and the more I thought about it, the clearer my perspective became:

All of that is complete, total, unadulterated crap.

First and foremost, the most important job I will ever have has a one word title: Dad. I work hard every hour of every day to raise a daughter and son that place a premium on kindness, intelligence, generosity, warmth, ideas, discovery and dignity and respect for all people.  It’s hard work. And I love every minute of it.

It’s also worth noting that the work I do professionally is remarkably similar to the work I do as a parent. I work with healthcare managers to help them become better leaders. Leadership is about building relationships. About creating the conditions that allow others to thrive. Leaders work to understand each person’s unique wants, needs, and skills, express feedback and opinions without making values judgments, and bring out the best in others.  Leaders pursue their own growth and development every day. Leaders are self-aware. Leaders recognize there is always something they don’t know and that their success depends entirely on others. They value teams and colleagues and put people first in everything that they do. It’s not a stretch to say that I’m trying to instill in managers the same qualities I’m trying to instill in my children. So yeah, it’s a lot like parenting.

But that’s not why I ultimately decided to keep using the photo.  It’s quite simply this: It’s one of my favorite pictures. We are both flashing genuine, authentic smiles. It’s clearly a professional, quality photo and provides a tiny glimpse into me as a complete person.  And if someone out there thinks I’m unprofessional for using that photo, or that there’s no place for it on my profile, I probably wouldn’t want to work with them anyway.

Last week I had a new photo taken, which you see above. It’s just been uploaded to LinkedIn. And I love it.

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4 thoughts on “Why My LinkedIn Profile Pic Includes My Daughter

  1. I agree with you completely Joe! As a consumer myself I would much rather work with a person holding a picture of their daughter! Its real, genuine, provokes trust and honestly. Keep the picture! Its wonderful! Well said! – Karen Himes

  2. Joe, I couldn’t agree with you more! That’s why I enjoy sitting under your teaching. You think like I think, only you have the degree to put it out there. I miss being able to sit in one of your classes. Keep on, Joe. You are making a difference and that’s what this world needs. 🙂
    I believe Tom Brokaw said it best when he said, “Anyone can make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference.”

    • Well if that isn’t just the nicest comment! Thanks Debbie! I miss so many of the great people I used to work with at UPMC like yourself. Fortunately my new venture allows me to keep in touch while continuing to do the work I love so much. Thanks so much for the kinds words and for stopping by the blog. Don’t be a stranger! 🙂 ~Joe

      • Joe, You are very kind and I would love to keep in touch. I enjoy everything you send out and am looking forward to your book. 🙂 Thank you for your kind and encouraging words….much needed to day. And, btw, I always tell my kids, you can’t fail at family. Your daughter is BEAUTIFUL.

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