Face Facts: Your Profile Picture is Part of Your Business Brand

Face Facts: Your Profile Picture is Part of Your Business Brand

Profile Picture of a businessmanHow much thought have you put into your LinkedIn profile pic? Or the profile photo you use for the ‘About Us’ page of your business website? They’re probably the same photo and chances are you may not have considered the massive impact your own photograph has for your brand.

Over 60% of the electrical energy of our brains is geared towards vision and our photo is an essential part of our business communications. It provides the most immediate and vital first impression when a potential client or business partner views our profile. Even a cursory glance through our own connections may reveal quite a range of images from the conservative professional to the decidedly casual.

Whatever your background or occupation there are some key recommendations I would make:

5 Tips to Nailing a Successful Business Profile Picture 

1. Choosing not to display a profile photo is NOT an option

If you are one of that select band who hasn’t got a LinkedIn photo it gives the impression that you can’t be bothered, a decidedly poor first impression! Leaving the image section of your professional profile blank is like having a’closed’ sign on your business door. It sends the message that you don’t want to do business.

When it comes to your business website including your own biography and those of other staff members, along with your photos, is vital. People want to buy from people, not just from a logo or brand. Remember that you are your brand and so you need to stand in front of it.

2. Consult with Customers and Colleagues Before Choosing your Profile Picture 

Before deciding on your LinkedIn photo or website profile image I suggest you ask 5 of your best clients how they perceive you and what your best qualities are. This may or may not be in line with your own perception but it should certainly inform your choice of photo. You want to appeal in the best way possible to your marketplace. Making sure your professional profile picture reflects the perceptions of your clients is therefore prudent.

3. Use a Professional Corporate Headshot Photographer 

Find a good professional photographer. The best photographers will engage fully with you to understand exactly what you wish to convey. They will take photos from a variety of angles, and you should remember to bring a number of jackets and shirts to see what shows you in the best light. If you have chosen wisely then trust your photographer. Remember a picture paints a thousand words.

Profile Picture Checklist – Dos & Don’ts
  • Depending on what you wish to convey a smile may be ideal.
  • Avoid holding pets or children or drinks. This makes you appear totally unprofessional.
  • Unless you are in a business partnership your photo should be of you and you only.
  • A head shot gives a clearer and stronger impression that one that includes the torso.
  • Unless it is relevant to your occupation outdoor scenes are best avoided.
  • Make sure you use a human image unless you wish to appear very childish.
  • Use humour with caution unless you’re a professional comedian or cartoonist.
4. Colour Code your Profile Pic

Depending on your industry colour may be very important. As a rule we expect those in a corporate environment, or professionals such as accountants or lawyers etc to present a serious and sober image. IT professionals are more likely to adopt an altogether more casual impression. Colours convey subliminal messages.

  • Blues imply calmness;
  • Black and grey imply solidity;
  • Brown is often viewed as dull and unimaginative;
  • Red is high energy, sometimes verging on aggression;
  • Yellow is best left to creative types who wish to stand out as being different;
  • Greens vary in shades ranging from conservative to decidedly ‘out there’.

Take advice and choose wisely!

5. Practice Makes Perfect

Many of us do not like having our photos taken. Set any such feelings aside. You are not doing this for yourself. This is part of advertising your business and how you come across is a vital part of your presentation. If you’re nervous or simply reluctant to be photographed I suggest you practice. Ask a friend to take multiple shots of you using a phone. Put on some music you like or have someone crack jokes as the camera clicks. Whatever it takes to allow you relax AND appear confident. The two do not always go hand in hand but subliminally we associate confidence with competence.

Final Words of Wisdom! 

Finally, remember that no matter who you are or how talented not everyone will like you or your photo. Being clear and confident about what you wish to convey is the most important starting point. You can always change your photo later if you want to refresh your profile.

Here’s another article worth reading when considering your LinkedIn profile.

Thanks for taking the time out to read this article and to CONKER for inviting me to guest post.

Joseph McGuire, Clearsight Communications


Joeseph McGuire Profile PictureJoseph McGuire is the owner of Clearsight Communications who provide personal evaluation services in the areas of senior level recruitment/promotion, negotiations, sales and HR. Individual consultation sessions are available both in person and via Skype. He is also available for group presentations, private functions and conferences.

For further information email: info@clearsightcommunications.com or call 087-246 1853.

What is an SSL Certificate and Why Does Your Business Website Need One?

What is an SSL Certificate and Why Does Your Business Website Need One?

What is an SSL Certificate and Why Does Your Business Website Need One?

In 2017 all business websites should have an SSL Certificate. If you’re not responsible for the upkeep of your website you may not be very familiar with this term.  However, as an internet user, you’ll be familiar with the green padlock symbol that you see next to website URLs in your browser window. The green padlock signifies that the website you are visiting is secure. That is essentially what an SSL certificate does.

It used to be the case that only e-commerce websites that took online payments needed an SSL certificate. Not any more. Websites that do not show an SSL certificate now display a warning to their visitors to say that the website is not secure. And that’s not good for business!  

As a business owner or manager you need to understand what an SSL cert is, why you need it and how you can get one. The following FAQs will help you get to grips with SSL certificates in a matter of minutes. After reading you’ll know what steps to take next.  You could even have an SSL certificate on your website by the end of the day.

What is an SSL Certificate?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. Its purpose is to create a secure (encrypted) link between your visitor’s internet browser and your website server.  What this means is that the data shared between your visitor’s browser and your server remains secure.  It confirms for the user that they are connecting with your real website and not a fraudulent website.   

Why do you need an SSL Certificate?

  • If you don’t have an SSL Certificate the data on your website is vulnerable to hacking. Clearly not good for business!
  • Displaying an SSL Certificate establishes your status as a reputable business and engenders trust in your customers.
  • SSL Certificates also improve Search Engine Optimisation. Google wants all businesses to have SSL Certs. As the SEO game goes –  Play by Google’s rules and your search engine ranking will be rewarded!
  • Websites with SSL Certificates load quicker. This is good news for user experience and also gives an additional boost to your SEO, since Google favours fast-loading times.

What is the difference between HTTP and HTTPS?

You may have noticed that some websites begin with HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) and others start with HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure).  HTTP is the unsecure connection (without SSL) and HTTPS is the secure connection (with SSL).

HTTPS is what you want for your business because it tells your customers your site is secure.  The way you get this is by adding an SSL certificate.

Why do I need to get an SSL Certificate sooner rather than later?

As I mentioned above, SSL Certificates were previously only essential for ecommerce sites or sites where sensitive information such as credit card details were being shared.  However, this all changed in January 2017 when Google began implementing a gradual plan to mark all http sites as “Not Secure”.

Since January 2017, Google displays your HTTP site as non secure if the website has credit card or password forms.   
The next step in the plan for HTTP websites is being implemented in October 2017 when Google are adding two more “Not Secure” situations:

  1. When a  user enters any data.
  2. When users browse in Incognito mode.

Eventually Google will simply show “Not Secure” for all HTTP websites.

So, now is the time to get your SSL certificate sorted.

How do I get an SSL certificate?

There are different levels and types of SSL Certificates.  Although some websites can obtain free SSL certs, others will need to purchase theirs with prices ranging depending on your website’s needs.  In general, it is a fairly inexpensive one time cost that is far outweighed by its benefits.

SSL certificates can be purchased from your hosting provider or an independent provider.  

How do I add an SSL certificate to my website?  

If you have a web developer or web design company who looks after your business website then they will be able to purchase and install your SSL certificate for you.

Another option is to get in touch with your hosting provider and see if they will sell and install the SSL cert for you.

Alternatively, if you look after our own website then SSL DIY is also possible and fairly quick and easy to do. You’ll find lots of guides specific to your website platform online.  

Thank You!  

So there you have it – everything you need to know about SSL certificates in a matter of minutes!  So now you know what they’re all about you can go ahead and get one for your website and reap the benefits!

If you have any questions relating to SSL certificates or other web development enquiries please feel free to leave a comment below. I am always happy to hear from readers and on the look-out for new relevant topics!  


Orla Veale

Commercial Director

Is My Irish Business Eligible for a €2500 Trading Online Voucher?

Is My Irish Business Eligible for a €2500 Trading Online Voucher?

trading online voucherFind Out if Your Business is Eligible for a €2500 Trading Online Voucher!

If you haven’t already heard about Ireland’s Trading Online Voucher Scheme then you are in for good news. Your business may be eligible for a grant of up to €2500 from your Local Enterprise Office to develop and promote your e-commerce capabilities.

The Scheme, which is part of the National Digital Strategy, is designed to support small and medium enterprises to trade online by providing financial assistance, training and advice. It’s all about getting traditional businesses to take advantage of the opportunities provided by today’s digital environment.

Sound’s good, right?  The results so far certainly indicate so. A 2016 Report by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources titled ‘Impacts of the Trading Online Voucher Scheme‘ conducted a survey of 800 participant companies. It found that:

  •  21% was the average increase in sales
  •  84% experienced an increase in customer enquiries
  •  73% said that the new online business was additional and did not displace existing sales
  •  growing businesses expect to recruit on average 1.4 more employees
  •  3 out of 5 businesses began to export, and
  •  89% said that the trading online component of their business will become more important in the next six months.

Over 2,000 Irish businesses have already successfully applied to the Trading Online Scheme and it continues to be rolled out nationwide in 2017. Perhaps this is the year for your business to get online or – if you already have a business website – to grow your business by successfully trading online?

We have put together some essential FAQs to help you figure out if the Trading Online Voucher Scheme can help your business. The very first thing you need to know is whether or not your business qualifies for the scheme.

Is My Business Eligible for an Online Trading Voucher?

Applications to the Trading Online Voucher Scheme are assessed within a competitive process. There are a limited number of vouchers available through each Local Enterprise Office. Key eligibility criteria include:

  • Limited Online Trading presence
  • Less than 10 employees
  • Turnover less than €2m
  • Applicant business must be registered and trading for at least 12 months

***As a counter to who is eligible,  it should be mentioned here that companies who work predominantly within the IT industries  do not qualify for  online trading vouchers. The aim is to help traditional business sectors to trade online, so if web design and digital marketing skills are already available in-house there is deemed to be no barriers to entry.

If it sounds like your business fits the bill then happy days! What you need to know know is how the Trading Online Voucher Scheme works and how you can apply.

What does the Trading Online Voucher cover?

One of the best things about the Trading Online Scheme is the fact that it can be used to pay for a broad range of activities required to grow your business online. Yes the Online Voucher can cover web design costs, but it can also help to pay for digital marketing. After all, there is little point in building or improving your business website if no one is coming to visit it. So you can claim the voucher against costs associated with Search Engine Optimisation, Pay Per Click Advertising, Social Media Marketing and so on. On top of this you can claim against digital marketing training or consultancy to make sure you implement the right online trading strategy for your business. Purchase of software that will help internet trading, promotion and monitoring is also eligible.

What Conditions are Attached to the Trading Online Voucher?

The most important thing to know is that the Trading Online Voucher does not cover the full cost of your web project spend.

  • Vouchers will be available to a maximum value of €2,500 or 50% of eligible expenditure (Exclusive of VAT), whichever is the lesser

This means that if your project costs €5,000 or anything higher you may b entitled to €2,500. If the total cost of your trading online upgrade costs €3,000 you will be eligible for max 50% of this i.e. €1,500.

Other important terms to note are as follows:

  • Voucher approval must be gained prior to incurring any expense. In other words, your Trading Online Voucher can not be back dated against previous expenditure. 
  • Brochure Websites don’t count. E-Commerce is key to Trading Online Projects. The words ‘trading online’ say it all – think booking systems, online shops, online sales terminals etc.
  • Own labour is not an eligible expense. Even if you are a digital marketing whizz you can not bill for your time in providing this service against your Trading Online Voucher.
  • Only Third party costs will be considered. So you need to engage a Web Design and Digital Marketing Company like CONKER to manage your project. Hands up to the cheeky plug! 
  • All third party/supplier invoices must contain proper business details (e.g. Tax and Business Registration details).

How Do I Apply for  an Online Trading Voucher?

The Scheme is run through Ireland’s network of Local Enterprise Offices. To apply for a trading online voucher you should :

It is compulsory for potential applicants to attend their local Trading Online Voucher information event which will asses eligibility criteria for the Trading Online Voucher Scheme and help to determine where monies are best spent for your business.

Good Luck!

Have a Question about the Trading Online Voucher Scheme that is not answered here? Simply pop us an email to hello@conker.ie. We are always happy to help and appreciate the opportunity to make our content better.