Business Culture Clash: What’s in a (LinkedIn) photo?

People’s preferences about what’s professional or not never cease to surprise me.

Was running yet another LinkedIn course in Norway last week, and had gotten to the point where I put up a slide filled with photos I’d lifted from different LI profiles. Intending to show what not to post on what is after all a digital business network:

  • the guy in full biker’s gear posed at the starting line of a race
  • the woman clasping a Chihuahua to her chest while sitting on her porch
  • the sailor in shades firmly grasping the wheel of his yacht
  • the guy with the glassy eyes taking a selfie in what appears to be his bathroom mirror

You get the gist?

So when I then put up a slide of what I considered to be an appropriate LI photo, I expected no opposition to my choice. A pleasant portrait shot of a woman dressed in a white blouse and dark blazer smiling at the camera. Not action-packed or heartwarming or…kinda strange…, just nice and professional.

A tough crowd

And was surprised to hear a collective groan rise in the room, quickly followed by scattered comments from both men and women:

  • she looks too polished, I don’t like it
  • she looks too fakey, I don’t trust it
  • she looks like she’s trying too hard, I don’t get it

Tough crowd! Tried my best to persuade them otherwise, but they were having none of it. You’d never catch them dressing like that for their LI photo.

Conservative or liberal – who knows?

Culture clash about clothing here? American conservatism vs Nordic liberalism? Am I a Republican for promoting this type of business look? Am I out of touch with how people dress in the working world these days: fashion fossil?

Or are they too casual? Do they need to adapt to outsiders? Or do we, since we live here, need to adapt to them?

This is getting very complicated.

Better consider changing that slide for my next course session.

But maybe not – have to admit that as a teacher, it was great to get people riled up a bit – and talking, talking, talking – about what is after all such a personal choice – what do we put on our bodies? For LinkedIn or otherwise?

Is it really about the image we want to show others or the one we should show? Who decides?






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