Let’s create a pretend business for the sake of this article. I’m going to go with website designing, as it’s both a business that can be built on local networking referrals as well as online only. It’s a service and it also delivers a product.

Wendy Webdesigner starts a business and joins a local leads groups. This is a networking group that meets regularly with the goal of passing leads to each other. She meets a lot of cool people, some of which seem interested in her services and others, not so much. Soon, Wendy Webdesigner is designing sites off leads from a local SEO company… until that agency moves on to a different field of work or they have a falling out.

Now Wendy Webdesigner goes back to networking and meets a social media guru who tells her she can build a practice full of clients that find her online. No longer will she depend on the referrals from one source, but the whole internet. Sounds great, right? Well, where does she go first? How does she get seen by all these potential clients?

From the premise of networking, social media can be both an albatross or a boon. There are so many options! And there are so many options.

Wendy can hop on Twitter or Facebook and start doing the virtual yell of HIRE ME TO DESIGN  YOUR WEBSITE! I’M SO GOOD AT WHAT I DO! Or she can treat her online networking time the same way she treated her in-person networking time. It’s an opportunity to build a relationship.

If you join a small Facebook group, it’s easy to make a splash with a clever intro graphic, and since Wendy Webdesigner is a clever designer she can whip that up quickly. It’s a bit harder in a large group to be memorable, but this is her strength and she can pull it off. But to stay at the forefront, she needs to interact. To get involved, to join in on the conversation. To contribute.

Bob Burg is famous for his quote, “All things being equal, people do business with, and refer business to people they know, like and trust.”

When Wendy went to the networking meetings in town, she showed up professionally. She didn’t need to wear a power suit, but always showed up with her hair done and presenting herself as a professional designer. That’s what attracted the SEO guy in the first place! He complimented her on looking creative and professional at the same time.

So Wendy looks at her Facebook profile image, her LinkedIn photo. And she notices it’s a photo that doesn’t look as professional as she’d expect from an expert designer, someone who knows visuals. In fact, you can still see her husband’s shoulder – she cropped the photo from their brother’s wedding. She looked spectacular that day, who wouldn’t want to show that off? Except, now that she looks at the photo, you can obviously see it’s a family wedding photo.

So Wendy Webdesigner changes her profile images on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram. She chooses a photo of just her. No husband, no kids, no pets. The photo even shows off those fabulous shoes her girlfriends drool over! And she pats herself on the back. “Job well done,” she thinks.

And then Wendy goes to post in her favorite business Facebook group and realizes after posting, she can’t even see herself – or her fabulous shoes – in that tiny thumbnail on the group thread. She’s so small! So she crops that photo, too, to her head and shoulders. Now they can see my smile and like me more, she muses.

Luckily, she notices right away that even though the profile photo looks great in groups, in its full size on her own profile page it looks kind of blurry. She calls a photographer friend and after a little tip from her friend, she re-uploads the photo so it isn’t blurry. Apparently, cropping a photo and enlarging it doesn’t always work.

So she’s good now, right? Well, yes! She is! She’s presenting a professional image, her photo shows her eyes and face and smile to build connection, and it’s a photograph with good quality. Wendy Webdesigner now knows she’s ready to collaborate and contribute in Facebook groups. She knows that when she posts a recent portfolio piece on LinkedIn, she’s presenting the same professional image to the online world that worked so well in local networking. And that’s the first step of building a brand others will know, like, and trust.

For more tips on how to present a professional profile image in your own social media, visit Britney Gardner’s website to download a free guide detailing the 7 major mistakes entrepreneurs make in their profile photos.

Britney Gardner is a personal brand strategist and marketing photographer, on a mission to change the world one person at a time.bb_18134795900 She translates what it feels like to work with you into branding you can use to build a business full of the best clients for you.

Creator of the Brandscape Photo Experience and The Know Like and Trust Podcast, Britney serves entrepreneurs who are ready to level up to the premium clients they’ve been waiting for.

Visit Britney’s website here>>