What’s in Your LinkedIn Profile’s Background?

Make that space work for you.

Because LinkedIn is the world’s biggest database, it is imperative that your profile be clear, concise and compelling.

One visual element of your LinkedIn profile is the background behind your photo. Based on research on how best to manage this valuable piece of real estate, most people under-utilize this promotional area and fail to highlight their skills and personal brand.

Surprisingly, career coaches considered by peers as leaders in the field of LinkedIn guidance, and even graphic designers, are deficient in deploying their LinkedIn background to their advantage.

Which of these best describes your LinkedIn profile background?

    • Gray LinkedIn default background: You’re a LinkedIn coach and you have not changed the background! Pshaw.
    • City landscape: Wow. You work in NAME OF CITY! I visited there. How does that location make you excel at resolving my financial issues?
    • Podium photo or jam-packed photo montage of person speaking at events: You speak to groups? So do I. Does that mean you have insight into my company’s operational issues?
    • Stock photo of people in a room: I have employees, too. Who are these folks and how do your best practices in personnel management relate to my problems with staff burnout?
    • Company logo: I have a company logo. And, what comes next?

You get the idea. Keep away from these stereotypical formats.

Your LinkedIn background should captivatingly indicate the services you offer, how they align with the reader’s situation, and how she can get in touch with you to learn more.

LinkedIn instructs you how to change the background, so be creative. Use the space to your benefit.

Look at two profiles that are distinctive: Beth Granger of New York and Marc Miller of Texas. Click to see how each neatly summarizes their services — and even displays their email address and phone number, making it irresistibly easy to reach out to them on the spot.

Now, let’s look at YOUR LinkedIn background.

If it is the default gray, you now know you can do better. (Don’t feel badly. Plenty of graphic designers have yet to change from the blue background.)

A sidebar — if your employer has mandated that you use the company logo as a brand ambassador, that’s part of being a team member, so follow the rules.

To those who have a city landscape, speaker podium photo or stock photo as the background, consider the proactive approach outlined here.

  1. Reinforce the search terms and keywords that may have led a potential prospect or referral source to look for you on LinkedIn.
  2. Display that text artfully and incorporate your contact information into the layout.
  3. Finally, check to make sure the background reads well on a tablet, where your photo is displayed in the middle and not in the lower left corner.

Then, when a new visitor arrives at your profile, you confirm that you are who you say. By prominently posting your website URL, email and phone, you are immediately accessible. A call to action is implied.

(Drum roll) Here’s my LinkedIn profile with the new background. Please let me know what you think and whether my design aligns with the above recommendations.

This Month’s Tip

Get the LinkedIn background format for the DIY-er. Open a free account on Canva; here is a LinkedIn background template, plus there are formats for other social media platforms. Experiment with different text, fonts, colors and images. When you are ready, save the file; then have a design professional review and polish your work for viewing on a computer and on a tablet.


Ready to graduate from default LinkedIn? Call me at 212.677.5770, set an appointment here or email me at Janet@JanetLFalk.com. Let’s brainstorm the words and ideas for text, plus elements, that will make your profile’s customized background stand out from the crowd.

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See also Close-up of Your Digital Portrait and Three Steps for More Success on LinkedIn

Note: This newsletter was published in September 2018. LinkedIn changed its default background in 2020; the image and text have been updated accordingly.